Concept

The Last Tashahhud is a photographic documentation capturing desolated mosques scattered along the winding roads leading to the holy city of AlMadinah Al Munawerah. The mosques are built by philanthropists hoping to offer a haven for travelers, whom both seek to reap the rewards from these structures. Moath captures these mosques as flat forms that disrupt the natural lines of the landscapes behind. The images depict the construction of spiritual or religious realities; and affect a meeting point between barren landscapes, vibrant clear skies, and primitively designed structures. The structures appear to have sprouted from the desert: erecting a bridge between the heavens and earth. Moath emulates the structures unique ethos - displaced from the contemporary understanding of a house of worship, and only witnessed by travelers and passers. The Last Tashahhud (Al Tashahhud Alakheer) is an invocation said by the prayer when rising from prostration. Its linguistic definition translates to the last testimony, or perhaps even... the last witnessing.

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Background Story

Moath considers the holy city of Al Madinah Al Munawerah his studio, as well as an open museum; one that he endeavors to shed light on. Since 2013, he has been documenting the city, and sees himself as a gatekeeper of its heritage, promising to preserve its culture for generations to come. During one of his explorations in 2014 of a remote area outside of Madinah; an area in which plans have been put in place to connect Hail with Khaibar, he came across a simply structured, yet dilapidated mosque. The structure stood alone and abandoned, yet eerily beautiful against the barren landscape behind. For the past year he has explored and documented similar desolated mosques scattered on the side of the roads surrounding the city of Madinah.

Through his research, he came to learn that the mosques were built by the people living in the area or by philanthropists.  The mosques were constructed to offer a place to pray for the people, but predominantly for the travellers in need of a place to rest and pray; both travelers and philanthropists attempting to reap its religious rewards through its construction.

However, the apparent neglect to these structures raised questions in Moath’s mind. He strives to raise awareness on the condition of these mosques, in an attempt to either restore the mosques to its former primitive glory, or to perhaps cease the practice of building mosques without proper maintenance and upkeep. He refers back to a supplication that begins with, “I have been given five things which were not given to anyone else before me.” Narrated by Jabir bin 'Abdullah (Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 7, Number 330), in which the second of the five attributes of The Messenger is, “The earth has been made for me (and for my followers) a place for praying and a thing to perform Tayammum, therefore anyone of my followers can pray wherever the time of a prayer is due.”

In following this supplication, then the need for building mosques without upkeep is contradictory to the Islamic teaching. He sees the necessity in offering a haven for travellers, but without upkeep, the desolated mosques’ structure is of no consequence to anyone.

He has covered more than 1620 km around the city, and has documented more than 66 of these desolated mosques. He will continue to document these structures as well as the greater region of Madinah, in hopes of illuminating untold stories that make up the greater narrative of the city.

 

 

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