Mala Qadr Mosque

Authors: Emine Bala, Mohammed Abdulghani, Ali Bala, Didar Mohammed Fadhil.

Foundation and History

This mosque was first built in 1991 as an adobe, that is, made of mud and reinforced by scrap metal. After almost a decade, the building needed to be expanded due to a rapid increase in the number of daily visitors. From the very beginning, the mosque was supervised by Mala Qadr Khoshnaw, the popular imam for whom the mosque was named. The construction and later expansion was financed by donations from local people. The mosque was extended in 2002 as the neighbourhood continued to grow. In 2010, the mosque’s chief trustee, Mala Qadr, was asked to expand the mosque again. This call was answered, and permission was quickly given by the Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs to enlarge the mosque to meet the greater demand. As a result, the mosque’s haram grew fourfold to 400 square meters in size and can now host up to a thousand congregants for Friday prayer. The building work took less than six months.

Front view of the mosque. ©Didar Mohammed

Mala Qadr is originally from the Kamusak area near Kirkuk. He finished his studies at madrasas in various mosques in Iraqi Kurdistan and spent time in Iran. In 1990, he started his studies in the town of Ranya; when local communities were being burned by enemies in 1994, he went to Tehran to continue his religious education. After he returned to Kurdistan, Mala Qadr attended more than 16 education institutions in order to keep learning. In 2002, he was licensed as an imam by Mala Ali Khate. He does not belong to the scholars’ union. According to Mala Qadr, the mosque has had eight different mulas in a period of 28 years, something that is rare at a mosque. Circumstances in the region changed rapidly during this time and the mulas had to leave for various reasons. The two most popular of them are Mala Qadr Khoshnaw, the founder of the mosque, and Mala Nadr Kani Kuradyi. At first, the regional government did not give permission to build a mosque on that piece of land, which belonged to the government. Thanks to Mala Qadr’s dedication, combined with the donations and will of the people, the authorities finally allowed the mosque to be built.

Location and building

Mala Qadir Xoshnaw Mosque is located on Zanayan Street, right in front of Runaki Radio. Another entrance is on Langa Bazaar at 40 Meter Road. The neighbourhood around the mosque is modern and quiet, with a big open-air market. The stores on Zanayan Street behind the mosque sell a wide variety of goods. The mosque has a smaller gate on the right side which is typically used more often than the main gate.

The dome of the mosque is called the Dome of the Rock, dating from the seventh century and built-in Jerusalem style. The mosque owners estimate the dome is 12 meters long, 9 meters wide and 5 meters high. Two small minarets on the roof of the haram are also about 5 meters tall. Loudspeakers are installed at the top of the minarets.

The original building was designed in the simplest possible way. Most of that design has been kept, only it has slowly been getting bigger and bigger. The haram can hold almost 900 visitors; including the small outdoor area in front of it, the number may reach 1,200 at Friday prayers. The mosque has two floors, and the upper floor can accommodate 250 participants. The haram alone can welcome up to 700 people.

Prayer hall of the mosque (all three images). © Didar Mohammed

There is a small prayer area for women of around 200 square meters, with space for around 250 visitors. The mosque has an office for the preacher and malas. In the office there is a lending library for readers to return books as soon as they finish them. The books are mostly on religion and history. The library also has two small storage rooms. 

Prayer and Worship

Roughly 100 visitors join the morning prayer, which is fewer than at other times of day. However, the four other daily prayers each draw around 250 visitors including children, youth, teenagers, adults and the elderly. Women do not attend, except on Fridays.

            For Muslims all over the world, Friday prayer is obligatory and one of the most important prayers of the week. In the early morning, three mosque employers start cleaning the haram and the alley. Approximately one hour before the main prayer, the two official reciters start reading verses from the Quran until it is time to start the khutba.

At the khutba, the mosque tends to fill up completely. The estimated number of participants from both genders is about 1,500, with males accounting for 75% of visitors. Women’s participation at Friday prayer is low, because they can pray at home and have to do most of the housework. The sermons are geared to current issues in society and events in the region, but mostly deal with spiritual issues such as family, elaborations of Quranic verses, and the situation in the community. 

During Ramadan, every day after Asr prayer a short speech is held as a sort of prayer to remind listeners of the important rituals of Islam, so people will continue to pray actively. During the last 10 nights of Ramadan, visitors stay in the mosque starting from Isha evening prayer until shortly before morning prayer, especially during Qadir Night, which is accepted as one of the most precious dates on the Ramadan calendar, according to the Quran. Meanwhile, people read the Quran, pray, perform Sunnah, Tasbihat and do anything else that would benefit them for their resurrection day. On the feast days, after morning prayer visitors remain in the mosque while two people recite the Quran. After each verse is cited, everyone performs a brief Tasbihat out loud. At sunrise there is the feast prayer, followed by a short speech. Then people form lines and wish everyone a happy feast and ask for forgiveness. People return home afterwards to eat and open their doors to anyone who wants to share their joys with these families.

Community and Group Activity

During Ramadan, Mala Qadir Mosque congregants bring dates, drinks and lentil soup to prepare for the fast. Food is not provided as some other mosques do. On the feast day Eid-al-Adha, the mosque draws approximately 1,000 visitors on the first day, but is quiet in the days thereafter.

Public Relations

The mosque does not have connections to any house, store or piece of land around it, nor does it have any links with organizations or political parties. It does not publish a website or any printed documents.