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The Grand Mosque of Masjid Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah | Cotabato City

Masjid Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah (Grand Mosque)
Usually for people to wake up in an unknown territory gives them a creepy feeling but in my case it even drive me crazy due to my curiosity on what the day would offer to my worthy noted adventures in places I'd never been before.

It was one weekend that I just found myself already in one of the hotels in Cotabato City unaware of my purpose coming hundreds of kilometers from Davao City. Prepping up for the day, my eyes were wide open yet my mind was still processing the idea that I was in fact walking on the street of Cotabato City, famous for "violence" resulted from political unrest in the region.

Towering minarets of the Mosque
As I walk along Sinsuat Avenue towards Ashreed Cafeteria for my very first breakfast in ARMM, I noticed that the lives in the city run in a way not much different from the rest of the places I have visited in the Philippines.

Everyone wakes up to prepare on their daily routine: students taking tricycles to catch up with their early  morning  classes , employees rushing to their respective offices, street vendors enthusiastically offering their goods to the windows of passing buses and to alighting passengers, city aides, sweeping the trashes of  yesterday's restless past.

While waiting for our Muslim friends from the DXOL FM Radio, we ran for a quick visit to the now famous Masjid Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah or popularly known as the Grand Mosque. 

This is largest mosque in the Philippines and was built and financed by  Sultan Bolkiah of Brunei and according to our guide the construction of the mosque have a staggering budget of at least half billion Philippine pesos to finish it .

The beautiful mosque stand still in the more than 5000 m2 field besides the Tamontaka River in Barangay Kalangana along Bubong Road. The mosque was pushed to finish before the Eidl’l Fit’r in 2011 and this humongous building can accommodate more or less a thousand people  in a single worship aggregation.

Spacious musallah or prayer hall inside the mosque
One ironic observation was that the mosque is co-maintained and protected by non-Muslim soldiers to which according to our guide, discrimination of individuals based on religion cannot be observed in Cotabato City. Both Christians and Muslims co-exist and help each other in a harmonious way to survive the day. 

The Mihrab , depression on the quiblah wall oriented facing Mecca
What people fear of are the groups of bandits that live to put terror in the once peaceful ground. In addition, Muslims are generally peace-seeking people and just like any other large sectarian group, they are praying to seek guidance from Allah and to morally live freely in harmony .

The courtyard
Upon reaching the site, entered the mosque with enthusiasm barefoot as a tradition and respect in entering the worship ground. 

Parts of the Mosque

The first part of the mosque  was the intended partition for the worshiping female Muslims located at the backside of the musallah or the prayer hall. The musallah is huge that it can accommodate at least a thousand individuals in a single worship day. 

The opposite of the mosque's entrance is the quiblah wall which is oriented to the direction of Mecca. In front of the great hall is the quiblah wall where you will find on its center a depression known as the mihrab, serving as the place of the Imam during worship.

Ablution fountains or wudu
Above the musallah is a small dome which signifies the vaults of heaven and sky. Outside of the prayer hall is the courtyard similar to a common hall where Muslims can meet without disturbing those praying inside. On the side are huge and long arcades where attendees can shelter temporarily from heat and rain.

Looking within the courtyard, grand and sky rocketing minarets are simply majestic. All stand tall and proud located on each corner of the mosque with a crescent moon  attached to each tower  symbolizing the faith of Islam Religion.

On the periphery of the courtyard are the ablution fountains or wudu , where Muslims wash their hands, feet, elbows before entering the musallah.

Setting my foot inside this worship ground, made my conviction and belief stronger that Mindanao is not a place of chaos , but a land of possibilities and promise! 


  1. I've never been in a Mosque. There is one in a nearby town but not this grand-looking. Reminds me of Aladdin. :P

  2. Finally, I saw even a glimpse of a mosque. Very important thing to remember, you must be barefooted in order to enter the worship ground. I'll keep that in mind, just in case.

  3. WendellGlennDrWendsCagapeNovember 9, 2012 at 7:28 AM

    this is the mosque I have yet to conquer myself and thanks for this post, it gives me the right glimpse into what to expect too :)

  4. Beautiful place. Its just sad that Filipinos already got the mind set that its a dangerous place too.. I hope the authorities would help the city to go back and claim its renowed beautiful reputation again.

  5. How neat. I am always curious how a mosque looks like in the inside without any people in it and see how majestic it was.

  6. Good thing you were allowed to take pictures of the mosque. Here in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, people are not allowed to take a picture of the mosque (so insane). But I was able to take some pictures from inside the car that nobody could see me taking pictures.

    Further, I just couldn't understand the media for their wrong decipher about Mindanao. Mindanao is a huge island composed with different dialects and governance. For example, there's a bomb explosion in a certain town, but the media posts on their newspapers and generalize the place "bombing in Mindanao". (sigh)

    I've also witnessed Muslims here who clean their selves by washing their feet, hands and even their face before praying on sala. (Muslims call the prayer time sala.)

  7. I would love to have the chance to enter a mosque and see it for myself especially the one you featured here which looks so grand.

  8. Subhanallah!

  9. It means "Glory be to Allah" ... i hope my translation is correct . Sukran for visitng :)

  10. everything is actually made dirty because of politics and greed over lands and other resources

  11. Great set of photos. Love the first picture. Indeed some kind of work of art.

  12. Wow, great. I haven't got a chance to see whats inside the mosque but base on what you post, its great and intriguing too.

  13. Maria Gemma Defeo-HilotinNovember 9, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    Is this really in Cotabato? beautiful place of worship! I pray for peace in our land of possibilities and promise! love that line!

  14. Wow, I haven't been to this place but I think it's great especially the arts behind this.

  15. I'm really curious on what's inside Cotabato City. I hope, after the signing of Bangsamoro Framework Agreement by the Government and MILF group, peace will prevail in this land.

  16. Grandiose it is! wait till you see the awe-inspiring of Architectural Mosques of Malaysia :)

  17. I've been living in Mindanao for 16 years now. It's a beautiful place, all right. One of my best friends lives in Cotabato.

  18. Rochkirstin SantosMay 9, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    Your pictures are enough for me to let me eyes wander and tour the grand mosque. It's good that you didn't meet the large crowd worshiping in the area so you had the chance to take clear spaces.

  19. so grand!Ito ung gusto kung puntahan this summer eh, but wala akong kasama :( mi plan kabang bumalik? hihi sama moko ha!

  20. sa june if matuloy , I will be attending a muslim wedding .. friend ko sa cotabato... (crossing fingers)

  21. I thought your in another country. I never heard about the Grand Mosque in ARMM. I'd like to visit the place if given a chance.