Ajman mosque is also active community centre

The Sheikh Rashid Mosque in Ajman has retained its character despite numerous renovations.

Dates are handed out to worshippers for the iftar meal at the Sheikh Rashid Mosque in Ajman city. Antonie Robertson / The National
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AJMAN // Despite a number of dramatic renovations and expansions, the Sheikh Rashid Mosque in Ajman has maintained its character and its community spirit.

Mujahid Khan, a taxi driver, is breaking his fast at the mosque for the fourth year since he arrived in Ajman, and says he finds the place a comfort.

"I have already made several friends here. Some of them I even visit their homes and they also visit me," Mr Khan says.

"After seeing yourselves sharing the same meal for the whole month you become like brothers.

"One time I needed money badly and a brother I had met here gave me Dh600 and told me I am just giving it to you to finish your problems, I am not lending."

The mosque, which was built by the former Ruler Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid, was renovated and expanded in 1987 by Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid, the current Ruler, and can now accommodate 1,500 people.

"I remember in the [1980s] when we were growing up we used to play in the compound of that mosque," says Jalil Alwan, an Emirati resident.

"The mosque is today much bigger and the whole area has changed. There were scarcely any other building in the neighbourhood besides the Sheikh Rashid Ruler's Court."

It is built on an area of 1400sqm, according to Obaid Hamad Saif Al Zaabi, the director of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments office in Ajman.

The mosque is covered with natural rock as it was when it was built, and attracts worshippers and tourists from across the UAE. It is popular for the special holy month prayers.

"It is the only mosque that holds taraweeh and tahajjud prayers from the start of Ramadan to its end," says Mr Al Zaabi.

"In that mosque, the Quran is read two times as compared to one in other mosques."

It also houses one of the emirate's largest libraries - the Sheikh Rashid Bin Humaid Library.

"Researchers and students are all welcome to the library that opens its doors from 9am to 9pm at night," Mr Al Zaabi says.

"Maintenance of an Islamic dressing attire and traditions are a must within the library."

Most of the books in the library are in Arabic, although there are a few Islamic books that have been translated to languages including English, French, Urdu and Russian.

This month the mosque is organising a special iftar with the Sheikh Humaid Bin Rashid Charity.

The charity is distributing more than 4,000 iftar meals to nine mosques, says Sheikha Azza bint Abdullah Al Nuaimi, the director general of the charity.

"These iftar meals are direct gifts from the ruler Sheikh Humaid to his people," Sheikha Azza says. "The whole activities are co-ordinated between us and the mosque, and whenever there is more demand we always increase the supply."

The iftar is given inside the mosque, unlike other places of worship where it is taken on a verandah or in a tent.