Erdogan to open U.S. mosque complex in Maryland

The Turkish-Islamic culture center in Maryland, which includes a mosque, cultural center, community hall, guest house and 10 separate examples of traditional Turkish homes, will be inagurated by President Erdoğan

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will begin his visit to the U.S. on Tuesday, the highlight of which will be the opening of the America Religion Center located in the state of Maryland near Washington, D.C. on April 2. He will begin by attending the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit that will be held on Wednesday and Thursday in Washington D.C. Erdoğan, who will be in the U.S. between March 29 and April 2, closely followed the construction of the complex in Maryland over the years.

The center also aims to provide accurate information about Islam and Muslims, provide guidance to Muslims on prayers, morality and religious principle and create the necessary environment for dialogue through justice, peace, tolerance and mutual understanding.

The center includes a mosque, cultural center, community hall, guest house and 10 separate examples of traditional Turkish homes.

The mosque was built in accordance with 16th century Ottoman architecture and is the only mosque with two minarets in the country. It's capacity, with the garden included, will be 3,000 people. Beneath the mosque is an Islamic Art Museum.

The culture center was built in Seljuk architectural style and has a library, separate halls for conferences, exhibitions, meetings and receptions. The Islamic Research Center located within the culture center will assist Turkish nationals studying for bachelor's or postgraduate degrees in the U.S.

Erdoğan flies to US to open mosque complex

The museum will exhibit collections of Islamic calligraphy, miniatures and marbling. Guests will also be served the most famous dishes of the Ottoman court, Turkish coffee and traditional candy.

Apart from the permanent collections, the "Aşk-ı Nebi" (Love of the Prophet) calligraphy exhibition, which toured the world to much acclaim, will be shown as part of the opening ceremony.

Erdoğan flies to US to open mosque complex

The center, which is billed as the "world's largest Islamic-Ottoman social complex," is located just 10 miles from central Washington, D.C. It was formally called the "Diyanet Center of America" after Turkey's state-run Presidency of Religious Affairs (DİB) and is close to neighborhoods with predominantly Turkish and Muslim populations. Spread across 60 acres, it contains "one of the largest Turkish mosques" built outside Turkey, according to officials. The complex was constructed with the support of the DİB and nonprofit organizations.

Erdoğan flies to US to open mosque complex

Hilmi Şenalp, the chief architect of the project, had previously said that the complex was built to represent the "külliye" tradition, a complex of social and religious buildings that were common in Ottoman times. "Külliye was the basis for Muslim urban development as it combined structures for religious, social, economic and public health needs of the community with a mosque, madrasa [school], public kitchen, hospital, bathhouses and marketplace. So, we based our design of the site on this concept," he said. He also added that "The center is important for both better representation of the Turkish and Muslim communities and for addressing the needs of the community here. It is a mixture of traditional Turkish architecture and American construction experience. It will enrich American history of culture and civilization," Şenalp said.

The architect said they brought materials such as wood, china, marble and stones used in the decoration from Turkey, and Turkish artists and construction workers worked on the complex.

( Reprinted from DailySabah )

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