The Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque is Central Asia’s largest mosque and is located about 7 kilometres west of the Ashgabat city centre in the village Gypjak. It was completed in 2004 by a French company. It can accommodate 10,000 people at a time and also contains the world’s largest rug, shaped like an 8-point star (the Rub el Hizb symbol). The mosque is the only one in the world that has writings from books other than the Qur’an.
The Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque was built by former president, Saparmurat Niyazov, in his hometown, two years before his death in 2006. Niyazov decided to include writings and quotes from his own book, Ruhnama (read more about Ruhnama here) in the mosque. This has created some controversy as it suggests that Niyazov’s writings are on par with the Qur’an.
The structure itself is built in white marble to fit the rest of the modern architecture of Turkmenistan. The mosque holds Friday prayers on par with all other mosques worldwide – however, the Turkmen do not follow the Islamic calendar, so Friday is an ordinary working day, which unfortunately means that the mosque is not used as much as other mosques. Next to the building stands the Turkmenbashi Mausoleum where the aforementioned president is buried.