Grand Mosque in Moscow. Source: Valery Sharifulin/TASS
Moscow’s Grand Mosque has opened on Wednesday after a decade of construction work to become one of the biggest places of worship in Europe.
As a result of the construction work, the building’s floor space has been increased twenty-fold to 19,000 square meters and the mosque will be able to accommodate up to 10,000 people simultaneously.
The opening ceremony for the new mosque took place on the eve of Eid al-Adha, known in Russia as Kurban Bairam, a major religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide.
The main prayer hall of the Moscow Grand Mosque. Source: Valery Sharifulin/TASS
The event was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
The mosque was originally expected to open in May 2016, but authorities decided to speed up the work and hold the opening ceremony this year celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945).
Russia’s largest, the Heart of Chechnya, is located in Chechnya’s capital Grozny and can accommodate more than 10,000 worshippers. Cathedral Mosque in Moscow, built in 1904, is the second largest and has been under reconstruction since 2005, costing some $170 million.
President Vladimir Putin, center, President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, front left, and President of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas, third right, attend the opening of the renovated Moscow Grand Mosque. Source: RIA Novosti/Vladimir Astapkovich
Islam is the second largest religion in Russia, which has more than 7,000 mosques. Muslims constitute a majority in Russia’s regions of Adygea, Tatarstan, Bashkiria, Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia.
In the Soviet era, the Grand Mosque was not closed and was the only operating mosque in the Russian capital. Russia's Mufti Council has been granted permission to build another mosque in Moscow to accommodate 20,000 worshippers, destined to be Europe’s third largest after the Great Mosque of Cordoba in Spain and Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul.
The decision to step up the construction of mosques in Moscow comes amid a significant growth of the Muslim population. Russia is home to a total of 23 million Muslims representing 38 peoples, according to the Council of Muftis. In Moscow, Muslims account for at least 2 million or one in six citizens is Muslim.
First published by TASS.
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