On February 22, 1978, Istiqlal Mosque was first inaugurated to become one of the largest mosques in the world. Established as part of the lighthouse construction project by Soekarno with the laying of the first stone on August 24, 1961, the mosque in the heart of Jakarta was inaugurated by President Soeharto on February 22, 1978. Since then, February 22 is commemorated as Istiqlal Day. Istiqlal is still recorded as the largest mosque in Southeast Asia. This mosque stands on an area of 9.32 hectares. Its capacity can also accommodate up to 200,000 worshipers to perform prayer services in it. According to the Head of Protocol Section and tourism service of the Istiqlal Mosque, Abu Hurairah, besides being magnificent, Istiqlal Mosque is also an embodiment of various symbols.
This mosque is a symbol of independence, because it was built in the form of a manifestation of the gratitude of the Indonesian people for the grace of independence. So, it was given the name Istiqlal which means independence in Arabic. Besides, this mosque is expected to be a symbol of religious tolerance. That’s why, it was built only a few meters from the cathedral church. And what's unique? This mosque was designed by a priest, Engineer Frederik Silaban,” said Abu Hurairah.
Located in the heart of the Capital City -Jakarta, a mosque was built in cooperation by Indonesian people across religions and races. It is not only a Muslim place of worship but also one of the tourist attractions in Jakarta. Abu Hurairah explained, over the last 3 years, this mosque has become a mainstay tourist destination in Jakarta. Foreign tourists and state guests are usually scheduled to come there. Now, the number of non-Muslim foreign tourists coming to the Istiqlal mosque increases every day. Tourists who most visit are from South Korea and Japan.
Now specifically on weekends (Friday, Saturday, Sunday), we can receive guests from 300 to 400 people. The number is only foreign non-Muslim tourists. Then on weekdays (Monday to Friday), there are usually around 200 people. That number will increase if there are holidays in Europe or in Southeast Asia.” said Abu Hurairah.
Not only praying in congregation, every day the Istiqlal Mosque has a variety of activities. On the 2nd and 4th Sunday, there is a study of Daarut Tauhid and Daarul Quran. At 41 years of the Istiqlal Mosque, Abu Hurairah hopes that the mosque which is pride of the Indonesian nation can become the center of activities for any Muslim group or congregation. He also hopes that more people across religions will visit the Istiqlal Mosque.