As I said before, Malaysia is the first Muslim country I have properly visited, and therefore I wanted to check out a mosque. So I went to the Natonal Mosque, the Masjid Negara. This is a modern structure in the middle of Kuala Lumpur, in the leafy neighborhood just across the old railway station.
When I arrived, it was actually closed, due to prayer times. Muslims have set prayer times across the day, and therefore non-believers are not allowed to enter during these times. Hence I opted to go to the Islamic Arts Museum first and headed back here later. In case you are visiting, women should have a head covering, and arms and shoulders should be covered. Men should wear long trousers. People who don't have proper attire can borrow robes at the entrance. Shoes should be taken off as well.
As you can see, the design of the building is very modern. It is not your run-of-the-mill mosque. The roof of the main prayer hall is shaped like an umbrella, which is actually intended, because Malaysia after all is a tropical country, and it rains every day pretty much (yes, even when I was there). So the prayer hall's roof looks like an open umbrella, while the top of the minaret looks like a closed umbrella.
Only Muslims are allowed in the main prayer hall, which is not true of every mosque (in the Masjid Jamek, non-Muslims are allowed). They only have the restriction in place in this mosque because it is a National Mosque and therefore there are plenty of visitors.
The above pictures show some shots I took of the main prayer hall. When I visited, there was actually a Muslim volunteer who told us that if we were interested in a free tour, then we should hang out with him. So I did. We went all the way to the entrance of the prayer hall.
The mosque also features plenty of pillars, from the minaret, to the hall directly across from the prayer hall. This is also symbolic: Malaysia features a lot of palm plantations. In fact, if you land on Kuala Lumpur International Airport, you can see vast fields of palm trees planted for their agricultural use. So the pillars in the mosque also symbolize this. Since this was built intended as a national mosque, it features plenty of national symbols.
By the way, the minaret is connected to a speaker system, and an actual person calls Muslims to prayer. It is not a recording.
Near the mosque is the Makam Pahlawan, or the Heroes' Mausoleum. Several important Malaysian politicians are buried here. There is a long walkway that connects the mausoleum with the mosque, and can easily be accessed on foot.
Perhaps because I joined a guided tour, but I did learn a lot about this place. While I have other opinion regarding Islam as well as with other religions, I still admire the places of worship, as it definitely showcases a significant slice of human culture.