On a rare visit to the Anna Centenary Library, a public library in Chennai, I was surprised by the collection in the children’s section, but none more so than this book. I was lured in by the story, developing a fascination for the Mosque. For some reason, this book stayed with me over the years and I’ve often looked for it in bookstores and online, but was unable to find it at an affordable price.
Then lo and behold, after a wonderful webinar on Muslim Art in Picture Books with Bookworm Goa, I was reminded about this book again.
Based on a true story and is stunningly illustrated, THE MOST MAGNIFICENT MOSQUE by Ann Jungman and Shelley Fowles, is one of my top favourite books of all time…so much so that I was inspired to visit Cordoba and its famous Mesquita or Mosque Cathedral.
The citizens of Cordoba love their Mosque and people of all faiths meet and relax in the cool shade of the Orange trees and admire the fountains in its gardens. When three naughty boys, Miguel a Christian, Samuel a Jew and Rashid a Muslim, are caught for chucking oranges at the Caliph, they are ordered to help the gardeners weeding, sowing, cleaning and watering the gardens for three months. After work, they would go into the mosque and walk around it’s huge hall, under its thousands of arches. Over time their love for the magnificent building, it’s beauty and signigicance grows.
Years pass and the boys grow up, seeing less and less of each other. But when the new Christian king decides to pull down the Mosque, the old friends decide to bring together the Cordobans of all faiths...Jew, Christian and Muslim to protect their mosque which they all love, irrespective whether they worship there or not. Three different faiths, but one voice. One voice to protect a culture, irrespective of religion, that they all loved and considered their own.
A wonderful book about tolerance and mutual respect between people of different faiths.
The Mosque structure still stands in Cordoba, and it is spectacular. Part of the old mosque is a cathedral, the minaret now a bell tower. The Mihrab still stands untouched. People say “I am going to Mass at the mosque!”
This inspiring structure started out as a Roman temple to Janus, then the Visigoths used the site to set up a Christian church, it was then taken over by an Islamic ruler and made into a mosque, and finally changed into a church again.
At some point in history, it was used as both a mosque and a church.
Well, they do say that books take you places…this one surely did.
Yes! A picture book inspired me to travel to Córdoba and see its Mezquita - The Mosque Cathedral.....and what a structure it is!!!
Picture books inspire!!!
Pick one to read aloud that opens a window on worlds different from our own. .