BISHKEK – The Central Mosque of Imam Sarakhsi, the biggest in Central Asia with the capacity of 30,000 people, has been inaugurated on Sunday in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek.
“This mosque is a splendid example of architectural understanding fusing tradition with a modern approach,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the opening ceremony, The Daily Sabah reported.
The mosque, named after a famed Islamic scholar who lived in the 11th century, was built by a foundation tied to Turkey’s state-run Presidency of Religious Affairs (DİB).
Erdoğan, who is on an official visit to the country, joined his Kyrgyz counterpart Sooronbay Jeenbekov for the opening.
Speaking at the inauguration of the mosque, Erdoğan said the place was “a complex” rather than a mosque and said he hoped it would revive “the historic bonds between Anatolia and Central Asia.”
“I hope this mosque will be a symbol of unity and peace between brothers and sisters. We are one nation with two states and beyond that, we are one ummah [Muslim community],” Erdoğan said.
Bishkek will be well known for this landmark “as much as Istanbul is known for the seven mosques built on its seven hills,” he added.
Construction for the mosque started in 2012 on 35-acres owned by the Kyrgyz religious authority.
The mosque closely resembles the spectacular Kocatepe Mosque in the Turkish capital Ankara and features Turkish-Islamic and Ottoman motifs in its design.
The mosque has 7,500 square meters of closed space that allows 9,000 people to pray at the same time. In both the open and closed spaces, the mosque can accommodate 30,000 people at once.
Along with prayer areas, the mosque has a large parking lot, classrooms, a conference hall for Islamic studies and a dining hall.
The mosque has four minarets with a height of 68 meters each and three balconies on each minaret. Two huge chandeliers hang from the domes of the mosque that have been decorated with Ottoman handicrafts.
A 37-meter-high large dome, which is 23 meters in diameter on the inside and 25 meters across on the outside, tops the mosque. White marble from Turkey was used in the structure as well.
Islam was introduced late to Kyrgyzstan, unlike other nations in Central Asia, and Muslims faced oppression in the Soviet era.
Religion thrived after the fall of the communist regime, and the number of mosques flourished.
Currently, 75 percent of the nearly 6 million Kyrgyzstan population are Muslims, according to CIA world factbook.