Patil visits ancient Ummayad Mosque in Damascus

Written by: Abdul Nisar
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Damascus, Nov 26 (ANI): Indian President Pratibha Devisingh Patil visited the Ummayad Mosque here on Friday, shortly after her arrival from the United Arab Emirates.

The mosque is one of the oldest and the largest in the world and is also known as Grand Mosque of Damascus.

The elegant colour combination with lighting makes the mosque even more beautiful.

The mosque has been created for over a period of 3000 years starting in 1000 BC.

On the same ground a temple was made for Hadad, who happens to be god of storm and lightning. The temple was made on a raised rectangular platform wit5h square corners on all four sides.

During the 4th century the temple became a church.

After the Arab conquest of Damascus, the mosque was built on the Christian Basilica dedicated to John the Baptist since the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine I. It is said to contain the skull of John the Baptist, as both Christians and Muslims regard him as a prophet.

Initially, the Muslim conquest of Damascus in 634 did not affect the church, as the building came to be shared by Muslim and Christian worshippers. It remained a church although the Muslims built a mud brick structure against the southern wall so that they could pray.

Under the Umayyad caliph Al-Walid I, however, the church was converted to a mosque, as many Christian churches were after the Islamic conquests.

Between 706 and 715, the current mosque was built. At that point in time, Damascus was regarded as one of the most important cities in the Middle East. It later became the capital of the Umayyad Caliphate.

The Umayyad Mosque has been rebuilt several times due to fires in 1069, 1401, and 1893.

India and Syria enjoy friendly relations based on historic and civilisatonal ties. President Patil will be in Syria from November 26-29. She is the first Indian President to visit Syria. By Praful Kumar Singh (ANI)

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