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Oman travel: Qiblatayn, a hidden architectural treasure.

by Shruthi Nair Qiblatayn in Ibra.

Ibra, one of the oldest cities of Oman located 170km from Muscat was once the Sultanate's hub for trade, art, and religion. The city that was once busy and bustling still holds a rich history, most of which is untold and unheard of today. Apart from being topographically attractive, Ibra has a number of forts, castles, souqs, and ancient mosques that add to the appeal of the place. The town of Al Kanata, which was once the epicentre of trade and commerce in Ibra, is now home to the remnants of the famous Al Kanata Souq. The walls of the ancient souq were still intact and spoke volumes of the glorious past of this well architectured market place. Everything from agricultural products to traditional handicrafts and even fish was bought and sold here. A little before the souq is the beautiful Al Kanata Mosque. It has been renovated using the same materials that were used while building the mosque originally. It has facilities such as a madrasa for children to study, and a prayer hall. In a secluded corner of Ibra laid out is a wide and long stretch of the Al Garbi wadi that remains dry for the most part of the year. However, when it rains the water levels rise up until the two hills that hold two humble mud-clay structures. One of them is called Qiblatayn, which literally translates into 2 Qiblas (the direction towards which Muslims pray). This is possibly the oldest mosque of Oman and was built during the pre-Islamic era. In those days, about 1,500 years ago all qiblas would face towards Jerusalem. However, according to the legend, it was Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) who requested the Almighty to change the prayer direction from Masjid Al Aqsa in Jerusalem to Masjid Al Haram in Mecca. Allah granted his wish and all the mosques that were built after that had qiblas facing towards Mecca and the ones that already existed had another qibla made. Qiblatayn in Ibra is a small clay structure with a wooden roof. It was very cool, dark and for some reason extremely peaceful inside. Not many people know about this mosque as it is in a far corner of Ibra and cannot be seen from the main road. The mosque doesn't see many visitors and surprisingly hasn't attracted much attention despite its rich history and legend. Location To reach Al Kanata by car, turn right off the Muscat-Sur Highway towards the Sultan Qaboos Mosque. Pass the mosque and keep driving for about two kilometres just after Safalat, the ruins will be on your right.

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Geographic Code:7OMAN
Date:Oct 11, 2016
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