Adventures of the Last Crusader – V


He sauntered towards the tourist entrance through the northern Bab al-Amara. Also known as Bab al-Faradis, it is one of the eight ancient gates of the old city of Damascus.

The ticket office was on the left.

A sign that read ‘Putting on Special Clothes Room’ brought a small smile on the tired but determined face, as J checked himself to make sure his clothing was in accordance with the regulations specified.

The women are provided with a hooded cloak that was a must for them to enter the mosque. Men in shorts or sleeveless shirts were also bound to put on the same.

It was Umayyad caliph Al-Walid I who took it upon himself to reconstruct the existing structure into an architectural monument to represent the new religion. It was he who pursuaded the Christians to give up the space, in lieu of him ensuring the safety of the churches around the city.

The construction of the new Umayyad was based on the mosque of Prophet Muhammad in Medina.

The new mosque became one of the the marvels of the Islamic world owing to not only its massive size but also its fine mosaics and minarets.

A grand courtyard and a spacious prayer hall greeted J as soon as he entered. Some of the very beautiful, original 8th-century mosaics are still there to be seen, along with a few glorious minarets.

An aged man, who went about greeting the visitors, throwing interesting tit-bits of information their way, informed J that the minaret in the south-eastern corner was called the Minaret of Jesus.

It derives its name from the ancient belief that this is where Jesus is supposed appear on the Day of Judgment.

Also ensconed within the mosque is a small chapel and shrine of John the Baptist. Legend has it that the head of John (Yahia to the Muslims) is buried within this structure.

***

J took it all in with a wide-eyed curiousity of a 10-year-old.

The resolute and imapassive facade of the crusader had taken a backseat to reveal a more vulnerable side, a side that gave one a glimpse into a young man who was essentially an avid explorer at heart, a young man who was more passionate than clinical.

To be continued…

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~ by eugenicist on October 23, 2012.

2 Responses to “Adventures of the Last Crusader – V”

  1. Very well written and the research on the stories about the mosque makes it even more intriguing. I am excited to see where this is going further. Can’t wait for the next installment 🙂

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