Community & Islam: A Moroccan Mosque Experience

Celene Barrera is a student at Bennington College and an ISA Featured Blogger. Celene is currently studying abroad with ISA in Meknes, Morocco.

Minaret-Lydia Ford
Hassan II Mosque, built in Casablanca by the sea. Photo by Lydia Ford

It feels great to be in Morocco! Traveling to a place where everything is different is startling yet refreshing. Having lived in the same place for most of my life, I’m enjoying the change in my scenery and ways of living. One of the more fascinating experiences I’ve had that has shown me such differences is exploring and understanding the presence of Islam within the country.

My second day in Casablanca, our group toured the Hassan II Mosque, commissioned by the late King Hassan II. At 200 meters high, the Hassan II Mosque has the tallest minaret in the world. The mosque rests by the side of the Atlantic Ocean, partly built there to symbolize a verse in the Qur’an: “And it is He who created the heavens and the earth in six days – and His Throne had been upon water (11:7).”

Hassan Mosque II cover-Celene Barrera

Honestly, I could describe to you how beautiful that mosque is for days, and you would hardly comprehend the entirety of it until you saw it yourself. One of the most prominent aspects of the architecture I’ve seen here are the intricate geometric/floral patterns, especially on the ceilings (which, in this particular mosque, can open!). This is very typical of Islamic buildings, mainly because physical depiction of creation is prohibited.

Seeing the presence of Islam in Morocco has been very humbling. While it is primarily a Muslim country, Morocco has surprised me with its welcoming and tolerant attitude towards those who come from different ways of living. Upon your arrival, and any time they meet you, Moroccans always welcome you to their country. Some even tell you, “Welcome to your second home.” In the presence of such hospitality, humility, and community, it’s easy to see why that is so.

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