Sheikh Zayed and the Grand Mosque
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (1918-2004) was well known for his contributions as a leader of strong will, insight and vision. After achieving the foundation of the United Arab Emirates, Zayed was able to instigate and realize great contributions to his country which dramatically altered the life and destiny of his citizens on an economical, intellectual and social level. He was able to build a modern and sophisticated country while preserving the particular cultural identity of his nation.
Throughout his life-time, Zayed adopted a tolerant version of pure Islamic faith far from fanaticism or extremism. Zayed’s piousness and purity strengthened his relationship with God, the Almighty. For him, Islam is the main source of instruction and guidance. "If people understand Islam properly they will achieve miracles", says Zayed. He adds: “when the Arabs followed the instructions of Islam, they dominated the world achieving glories ".
Giving priority to moral values, Sheikh Zayed believed that developing a culture of tolerance is a project which deserves attention and concern like any other great initiative. To him, tolerance is the evidence of a nation’s vitality and proof of its ability to achieve more advancement and progress. Understanding human nature, Sheikh Zayed seeks to promote a culture of tolerance able to reconcile the entire human race through the emphasis on the common bonds that link mankind together. Through his insight, Zayed becomes aware of the damaging impact of hostile dialogue on the future of humanity. Therefore, Zayed admires the Islamic faith whose essence is based on respect of human beings regardless of their religion, color, language, origin and traditions. “Islam is great and we should be proud of our religion because Islam is against all forms of racism”, said Zayed. “To stereotype a fellow human being is to deprive him of his humanity”, said Zayed, calling for respect of man who is honored by God, the Almighty.
Sheikh Zayed’s enlightened vision came from the concept of diversity which is deeply rooted in the essence of Arabic–Islamic civilization. To him, diversity is a continued and habitual procedure sanctioned by God who created the entire human race from a male and a female. Throughout human history, the children of Adam and Eve advocate multiplicity of doctrines, religions, cultures and civilizations, however, they remain connected by superior human bonds. All the peoples, races, tribes and nations all over the world are united together regardless of differences in color and religion: “And among His signs are the creation of the heavens and the earth and the difference of your language and colors. Verily, in that are indeed signs for man of sound knowledge” (Surah 30, Ar-Rum, “The Roman Empire ", the Holy Quran).
The concept of diversity is personified in Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, a majestic marvel that reveals a spectrum of architectural splendors formulating a harmonious unity between different Islamic architectural schools. The Mosque also includes a variety of post-modern architectural designs enriching its historical Islamic tastes.
The late Sheikh Zayed aimed to establish a historical Mosque, personifying the Islamic message of peace, tolerance and diversity. He intended to turn the Grand Mosque into a living reference in modern Islamic architecture linking the past with the present in a harmonious melody.
The Mosque is the fruit of Sheikh Zayed’s unique vision. The father of the UAE has created an Islamic monument, a center for Islamic sciences and an emblem of genuine Islamic values, in order to illuminate the horizons of Islamic thought rooted in tolerance, love and peace.