Masjid-e-Faran is an excellent example of a successful blending of local traditional architectural techniques within a contemporary mosque. Situated southeast of an intersection of two major arteries (Sharah-i-Faisal and Korangi Road) and next to another architecturally significant large business complex, Finance and Trade Center (FTC), it is an elegant addition to the cityscape of Karachi. The mosque is a monumental landmark in its own rights and yet successfully avoids competing visually with the business complex. Instead, the two compliment each other, modern and modern Islamic architecture standing side by side.
Originally a small shed-like mosque occupied the site of Masjid-e-Faran. Being adjacent to FTC, some businessmen thought that it would be of great service to the surrounding business district and the users of FTC to have a local congregational mosque. This mosque became a major community project with large contributions made by the business community. The mosque is currently under the ownership of the Pakistan Navy.
The façade consists of earth-filled or bermed slopes on all four sides and landscaped with grass. It is a refreshing sight in a dry, brown climate. The only visible elements of the mosque are its flat fiberglass dome and the majestic square minaret that announces the presence and function of this monument. The cladding is of smooth panels of local Moro coastal stone, except at the minaret where the stone is caligraphed in relief with the ninety nines of Allah. This stone is acclimatized with humidity and salt in the air and requires little maintenance. The mosque has two entrances. The main entrance would at first glance resemble a side entrance since it opens up to a narrow passage between the mosque and FTC. The side entrance opens up to the south and onto a proper paved road that leads to the back section of FTC.
The structure of the mosque is Reinforced Concrete Columns (R.C.C.). The mosque is centered with a courtyard on three sides. The mosque has wood framed glass doors that open up to the courtyard on all threes sides except the west wall which is the qibla wall. The prayer rows in the courtyard line up with those in the prayer hall so during large congregations the courtyard can also be used for prayer. The ablution area is designed not to impede circulation or the sanctity of praying areas. A separate women area is also provided with an ablution area. The basement is used for paid parking that covers the yearly maintenance cost. It also houses all the support systems of the mosque.
All aspects of the mosque have been carefully considered. The soft grass serves to dampen and deflect street noise away from the mosque. Traditional methods of cooling through evaporation is used. Water sprinklers on the west and south are turned on during afternoons. The wind hits the wet slopes, gets heavy and drops into the courtyard of the mosque. Here water-absorbing Jhelum mountain stone is used as flooring that retains the moisture to create a cool micro climate. Direct/indirect sunlight is brought in to counter humidity through the drying effect. As a result, the prayer hall and the inner courtyard acts as a cool, quiet sanctuary in the midst of a bustling city center. Another traditional architectural element are the wind catchers that direct fresh air to the basement and drive out carbon monoxide. Cross ventilation through these wind catchers is ensured by the high wind velocity that is prevalent 10 months a year.
Misbah Najmi. Interview by Mahjabeen Quadri. Karachi, Pakistan, June 2002.