Mosques in the Maldives | Islamic History in the Tropics

The Maldives is a gorgeous collection of islands located in the Indian Ocean. It’s a popular place for tourists to visit when they want to get away for some sun and fun on the beach. The ocean and marine life are some of its major attractions.

However, the Maldives has a rich cultural history. It was once a transit point for seafarers and famous for its cowry trade. The people who initially settled in the Maldives came from India, East Africa, Persia, and Sri Lanka.

You might be wondering, is the Maldives a Muslim country? Yes. Originally a Buddhist nation, the Maldives also had a significant settlement of Muslims, and the main religion changed to Islam. Mosques were built that still stand today. So if you’re wondering where to find a mosque while in the Maldives, look no further.

The Maldives is Muslim-friendly, and halal travel is quite easy on this collection of islands. We have cultivated a list of mosques that range from ancient coral stone to modern architecture. All you have to do is choose where you want to go.

Maldives List of Mosques

From the ancient structures to the more modern buildings, there are mosques on every island in the Maldives.

Coral Stone Mosques

A long time ago, timber and coral stone were some of the best materials to use when building as they were long-lasting. After 1153 CE, the Maldives converted its main religion to Islam, and thus, the people built more mosques. Porite corals were removed from the ocean, cut into blocks, and left to dry out. They were then used as the primary material when building these mosques.

Only six coral stone mosques in the Maldives are still standing today and are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You can visit these mosques to see their design or even to pray during prayer hours.

Malé Friday Mosque

Malé Friday Mosque is one of the most important sites in the Maldives. It’s the biggest coral stone building in the world and one of the most exemplary delicate structures. It has also been continuously used since its construction back in 1658 CE.

It’s located on the capital, Malé island, and was built during the reign of Sultan Ibrahim Iskandhar I. This mosque has quite a few structures. There’s the main mosque building, a sundial, a large minaret, and a cemetery with tombs and mausoleums that hold the previous dignitaries and kings of the Maldives. There are also two prayer halls with Dhaalas, which are veranda-like antechambers. The Mihrab chamber has the Mimbar located in the corner.

Of course, it’s the design that makes this mosque so unique. There are high-quality coral stone wells, and the walls are made with coral stone, too, which complements the timber roof. The mosque is also built on a coral stone platform. In 2008, UNESCO finally added this mosque to their Tentative World Heritage list.

Fenfushi Friday Mosque

Located on the island of Fenfushi, this mosque was built between 1692 CE and 1701 CE. It was constructed during the reign of Sultan Mohamed of Dhevvadhu. However, it was built on the site where a previous small mosque once stood. That mosque is believed to have been constructed by Kalhukamnaafaanu and her husband many years earlier.

The original small mosque was built with coral stone and lime mortar. You can still see and visit it; however, it is hidden due to the thick vegetation. In front of the door of the small mosque built by Kalhukamnaafaanu, there is a shrine that encloses a tomb believed to belong to her son.

The newer Friday mosque has mainly no damage to its original structure. There is a prayer hall with no Dhaalas. The Mihrab chamber and Mimbar are in the prayer hall itself. Like the previous mosque, this one has coral stone walls and a timber roof built on a coral stone platform. The roof, however, is two-tiered and has been given a modern metal finish to protect it. The mosque has timber columns and beautiful, delicate carvings that are some of the finest in the country.

The unique coral stone bathing tank is said to have been built during the Buddhist era. The coral stones used in the pool are a bit damaged. However, old Thaana Akuru writing on the pool walls is believed to have been done long after it was built.

Isdhoo Old Mosque

This old mosque was built on the island of Isdhoo in 1701 CE. It was built during the reign of Sultan Ali VII and is still used today. This is also the mosque where the copper chronicles Isdhoo Loamaafaanu were kept. These are the oldest historical writings found in the Maldives and are very rare and protected.

The Isdhoo Loamaafaanu found in this mosque dates back to 1195 AD and is now kept in the National Centre for Linguistic Research, where it has been translated. The mosque itself has very little damage.

There is a prayer hall with Dhaalas on three sides and the Mihrab chamber inside the hall. The common theme of coral stone walls, a timber roof, and a coral stone platform was kept when building this mosque. However, the roof was also given modern metal furnishing to protect it.

This mosque was believed to have been built with leftover materials from the Malé Friday Mosque. The mosque has columns made from coral stone and a gorgeous coffered ceiling. The platform is molded and does not feature delicate carvings like the others. There is only one entrance to the mosque.

Modern Mosques

With modern architecture and traditional Arabic flairs, these modern mosques may not be as old as the coral stone. However, they have their flair and charm.

Hulhumalé Mosque

This mosque is located on the island of Hulhumalé and was opened in July 2022. It can accommodate more than 1200 worshippers at a time. It was built by Rasheed Carpentry and Construction Pvt Ltd (RCC) in memory of the group’s co-founder, the late Abdul Rasheed.

The mosque was built with a contemporary design and has a wing solely for women. The modern design still encompasses the unique architectural patterns of the Mughal empire to keep the historic feel. It is considered one of the most beautiful mosques in the Maldives.

Guests are welcomed throughout the day but are asked to respect prayer times which are solely for followers of Islam.

Al-Yoosuf Mosque

Al-Yoosuf Mosque is located in Eydhafushi in the administrative division of Baa Atoll in the Maldives. It was built during the 1970s and can hold around 210 worshippers simultaneously.

The mosque was named after Yoosuf Kaleyfaanu and used to be where only the five daily prayers would take place. In the late 2000s, Jumu’ah, the Friday prayer, was added.

Their website has a full calendar of events to know the prayer times and information about other events at this mosque, including Islam 101 classes. They also record particular messages, specific prayers, and lectures.

This mosque also asks that only Muslim guests visit the mosque during prayer time. It is open to the public between prayers.

Islamic Centre

The Islamic Centre, Maldives, is one of the most famous architectural landmarks on the island of Malé. The full name of the center is Masjid Al-Sultan Muhammad Thakurufaanu Al-Auzam. It was opened in November of 1984 by then President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

This mosque was named after one of the most celebrated Maldivian heroes, Sultan Muhammad Thakurufaanu Al Auzam. He was known for fighting the Portuguese rule in the Maldives after the killing of Sultan Ali VI, and his victory is commemorated in the Qaumee Dhuvas, or National Day.

This mosque is the second largest in the Maldives, and one of the largest mosques in South Asia, accommodating over 5000 worshippers. The mosque also has an official library and offices and houses the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

Because of its location and gorgeous modern architecture, the Islamic Centre is a significant tourist attraction. The spectacular golden dome of the mosque is quite the standout feature that even forms part of the Malé skyline. However, the interior is just as beautiful. Arabic calligraphy and woodcarvings make up the walls of the mosque.

The mosque is open to the public. However, guests are asked to respect prayer times which are solely for followers of Islam. The Islamic Centre is a great place to visit during the rainy season in the Maldives if you’d like to learn more about the culture and history of the islands.

King Salman Mosque

The King Salman Mosque is also located on the island of Malé and is the largest mosque in the Maldives, accommodating over 10,000 worshippers. It is named after King Salman, who reigns over Saudi Arabia, and was partly funded by the country.

Construction of the King Salman Mosque began in 2018 and was planned to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Independence of the Maldives. The mosque is unfinished as of 2021 and has opened unofficially for prayers. The official opening will still be announced.

This mosque has six stories flanked by five minarets representing the five pillars of Islam. Instead of a traditional dome, they have opted to have the design resemble a Bedouin desert tent.

As of this time, only Muslims can visit the mosque during prayer hours. However, tourists can admire the beauty of the architecture from the outside.

Have You Chosen the Perfect Maldives Mosque?

From ancient coral materials and East African designs to gorgeous modern architecture, there’s a wide range of beautiful mosques to visit in the Maldives.

So while you’re there, you won’t have to worry about struggling to find a mosque.  We hope this guide has helped you decide where to go. After you’ve explored the country’s rich history, you can enjoy many fun attractions in the Maldives.