"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Monday, April 20, 2009

Damascus -- Sayyida Ruqayyia Mosque

On our second day in Damascus, we visited famous mosques. First the Umayyad Mosque with its large and beautiful courtyard and secondly this Shiite mosque called Sayyida Ruqayyia.

"The Sayyida Ruqayya Mosque is a modern Iranian-built Shiite mosque in the old city of Damascus. It is dedicated to the daughter of the martyr Hussein, son of Ali, who died when she was six years old. People come to visit her final resting place and offer up prayers in honor of her memory."

Shias make up a small percentage of Syria's Muslim population.
Most Syrians - like most Muslims (about 90%) - are Sunni Muslims.

However, with the influx of Iraqi refugees, the Shiite population in Syria has increased to about 10%. The countries with the greatest percentage of Shiites are Iran (90%), Iraq (a bit more than half) and Lebanon (about half). Many Iranians make a pilgrimage to Damascus in order to visit this elaborate mosque.

Samer, Basheer and Ahmad from Gaza
(Ahmad was praying at the Umayyad mosque and joined us for a few hours when we left. He and Basheer knew each other previously.)

Me and Andrew
Another full-body covering for me!

I had to separate from the guys in order to visit the shrine so I went to the women's section and watched the children eat and play while Andrew went with the guys and took these pictures.

I was so intent on looking at the kids that I was surprised when I suddenly heard "Susanne" over the intercom system. It took me a moment to realize I was being paged! Sure enough the guys were waiting for me. I have never been paged in a house of worship before. I've been in churches many times, but my first paging experience: a Shiite mosque in the Middle East! Kinda cool.

Pictures from Damascus, Syria
January 31, 2009


Joni said...

It's so beautiful! Was it gold plated inside? I once visited an old, old Catholic church where the alter was gold gilded.
If they were in America people would accuse them of using too many trendy 'y's in their name. ;)

Susanne said...

Joni, LOL about the Ys. :-) I know what you mean. I had one "y" in each word, but then noticed it with 2 when I googled it.

Something I read in my Lonely Planet guide about Arabic is that each consonant is pronounced unlike in English. Whereas my name has two Ns .. each of those would be pronounced in Arabic. Does that make sense? I don't know if "y" here has a vowel or consonant sound though since it can have both. Also these aren't English words and are really written in some cursive type writing which has to be transliterated into English letters which isn't always easy to do. This is why the "Jacob" of the Muslim world -- their prophet's name -- can be shown by some as Muhammed, Mohammad, Mohamad, Mohammed, Mohamet and so forth.

And, yes, it was really a fancy place .. gold-plated and all. I wonder how many millions the Iranians spent on building that thing!

Neat about the gold-gilded altar you saw in the old Catholic church. Do you remember where that was?

ellen557 said...

Woooow. That is beautiful! My in laws often go there and I've seen photos from the outside, but I didn't think it would be as beautiful as that.

Susanne said...

Ellen, I'm glad you enjoyed seeing the pictures. Thanks for leaving a comment. :)

Sarah Familia said...

Hello, Susanne! I was googling for photos of the Shi'ite mosque in Damascus and your blog was one of the first things to come up.

It's my favorite place in Damascus. I used to go there a lot when I lived there. The courtyard is beautiful and so incredibly peaceful, but the inside with all the mirrors took my breath away every time. I'd so love to go back someday--someday in a better time.

Susanne said...

Me,too, Sarah! Would love to meet you there one day. :)