Every year, nearly two billion people observe Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, and tonight just so happens to mark the beginning of this holy time for Muslims. Ramadan is a time of reflection and prayer, intended to remind devotees about the virtues of patience, spirituality, humility and submission  to Allah. To mark this important month, here are some facts from The Barefoot Books World Atlas and Barefoot World Atlas app about famous Islamic holy sites:

  • Every year, millions of Muslims make the pilgrimage, or Hajj, to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The birthplace of Muhammad, Mecca is regarded as the holiest city in the Islamic world.
  • The Great Mosque of Djenne is the largest mud-brick building in the world. The bricks insulate the building from the sun’s heat, keeping it cool during the day, but they retain enough heat to keep the mosque warm at night.
  • Completed in 1629, the spectacular Shah Mosque was commissioned by Shah Abbas after he moved the Safavid dynasty to Istafan in what is now Iran. It is known for its beautiful multicolor mosaics and four large vaulted rooms.
  • The Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf, Iraq, is the third holiest site for Shia Muslims, after Mecca and Medina. The exterior of the mosque is covered in pure gold, with 7,777 tiles encasing the main dome and 400,000 tiles covering each of the 115-foot-high minarets
  • The Great Mosque of Samarra was built in 847CE and can hold up to 80,000 people in its open-air courtyard. The brick minaret is a towering spiral cone, with a long ramp anti-clockwise around the exterior, to a small room at the top.
  • The Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul is commonly known as the Blue Mosque due to the blue ceramic tiles that decorate the interior walls. Smaller mosques have one minaret, but the Blue Mosque has six minarets. Minarets are used to call Muslims to prayer, and symbolically they are intended to draw one’s eye towards heaven.

If you would like to learn more about Islamic culture, try reading The Wise Fool with your family and enjoy the adventures and mishaps of one of the world’s most comic characters, Mullah Nasruddin.



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