24k pilgrims perform Umrah after Grand Mosque reopening with no reported virus cases

Time: 08 October 2020  

Strict health and safety measures had been introduced to protect pilgrims and help stop the spread of the virus. (AFP)
  • Tens of thousands of Zamzam bottles have been distributed among pilgrims on a daily
  • Air-conditioning systems and filters were receiving nine daily cleans using ultraviolet sanitizing technology

JEDDAH: At least 24,000 pilgrims have performed Umrah since the Grand Mosque in Makkah reopened its doors to worshippers on Saturday, with no reported cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), figures have revealed.

The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques on Wednesday said that strict health and safety measures had been introduced to protect pilgrims and help stop the spread of the virus.

“Our precautionary measures plan for Umrah with COVID-19 is based on protection, sanitization, crowd management, and raising awareness,” said presidency spokesperson Hani Haider.

“We have prepared four isolation sites for pilgrims with suspicious symptoms. However, no suspected COVID-19 case has yet been reported.”

In order to ensure social distancing, the presidency has designated special pathways for elderly and disabled people to help them safely perform Umrah rituals.

Haider pointed out that efforts were being concentrated on the sanitization of the Grand Mosque and its arenas with 4,000 workers doing an average 10 cleans a day. More than 1,800 liters of eco-friendly disinfectants and sanitizers were also being used to clean toilets six times each day.

Air-conditioning systems and filters were receiving nine daily cleans using ultraviolet sanitizing technology, and more than 200 hand-sanitizing devices had been distributed around the Grand Mosque.

A ban on food and drinks at the Grand Mosque remained in place but the presidency was looking to employ the latest technology to redistribute Zamzam water containers again while maintaining precautionary measures and preventing contact between pilgrims, added Haider.

Meanwhile, the presidency has been distributing tens of thousands of Zamzam bottles among pilgrims on a daily basis and its dedicated 1966 hotline was available around the clock to answer calls from worshippers.

The Saudi Ministry of Health announced on Wednesday 468 new cases of COVID-19 in the country, taking the total number of confirmed cases in the Kingdom to 337,711. There were currently 9,556 active cases, 913 of which were receiving medical care.

Madinah recorded the highest number of newly confirmed cases at 71, with Makkah reporting 53, Yanbu 31, and Al-Hofuf 29.

In addition, 596 patients had recovered from COVID-19, raising the total number of recoveries to 323,208. The death toll reached 4,947 with 24 new deaths reported.

Madinah was the Saudi city that witnessed the highest number of recoveries at 118, with Jeddah and Riyadh recording 43 each, and Makkah 34 recoveries in the past 24 hours.

Ministry spokesman, Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly, pointed out the importance of people adhering to rules about wearing face masks.

“Face masks are extremely important to maintain health in these circumstances and no harm will result from wearing them on a daily basis. Some people have been wearing them for years due to their work necessities without any harm coming to them,” he said.

Al-Aly noted that the Kingdom’s success in curbing the spread of infection was chiefly due to public diligence on the wearing of masks, adding that some countries were witnessing a second wave of COVID-19 partly as a result of people going too far in relaxing their commitment to preventive behaviors.

The ministry has so far conducted 6,828,117 polymerase chain reaction tests since the virus outbreak in the country in early March, with 52,184 carried out in the latest 24-hour period.

This article was first published in Arab News

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A history of devoted tradition holds firm in Makkah

Time: 30 July, 2020

  • Historians, geographers and painters preserve the past 150 years of Makkah’s history

MAKKAH: Historians, geographers and painters have all contributed to the preservation of the history of the Two Holy Mosques, conveying the urban, cultural and human heritage in all its manifestations and archaeological treasures.

Arab News took a trip through the 150 years of Makkah’s history to review the images that have found their place in the memory of the world.

Dr. Khadran Al-Thubaiti, former professor of geography at Umm Al-Qura University, said that the role of geographers is not so much in historical aspects as in natural, urban and civilizational aspects.

“The relationship between history and geography is close because the temporal dimension and the spatial dimension go hand in hand,” he said.

He explained that historians have played a major role in documenting the development and change witnessed in Makkah and the Grand Mosque area since the migration of the Prophet until the present.

The relationship between history and geography is close because the temporal dimension and the spatial dimension go hand in hand.

Dr. Khadran Al-Thubaiti, former professor of geography at Umm Al-Qura University

“No one can deny the prominent role that Al-Azraqi, Al-Fakihi, Al-Fassi and other (historians) have played in mapping the history and geography of Makkah,” said Al-Thubaiti.

Dr. Abdullah bin Hussein Al-Sharif, supervisor of the King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Chair for Makkah Historical Studies, told Arab News that Makkah occupies a special religious and spiritual place in the hearts of Muslims, and has received the attention of Islamic countries from the time of Prophet Muhammad and caliphs through to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which vigorously serves the pilgrims and visitors.

Al-Sharif said that in the Saudi era the Two Holy Mosques received special care from the great founder King Abdul Aziz, who was eager to reconstruct and develop them and provide the best services to the pilgrims.

“Historians, travelers, geographers, painters, writers and photographers have taken care to document the history of the Two Holy Mosques, pilgrimages, Umrah and visits, as well as the efforts of Islamic countries to serve pilgrims,” Al-Sharif said.

Al-Sharif explained that the series of images that span nearly 150 years clearly illustrates the historical transition and civilizational development that Saudi Arabia has witnessed and the services it has offered, as well as the great amount of money and unparalleled effort that it has generously provided in the service of Islam and Muslims.

“The main goal of the Kingdom, during the reign of its founder King Abdul Aziz and his righteous sons, the kings of the Kingdom after him, Saud, Faisal, Khalid, Fahd and Abdullah, was to take care of the Two Holy Mosques and provide pilgrims and visitors with the best of services so that they could perform their rituals with ease and comfort. King Salman followed in the footsteps of his predecessors and pursued this matter with vigor, drawing attention, in all his meetings and speeches, to the Kingdom’s keenness to proudly serve the pilgrims,” he said.

Al-Sharif added: “Vision 2030 is a national reform plan introduced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to develop the Kingdom. It represents the continuation of the government’s efforts and the major Saudi achievements in general, and in the Two Holy Mosques in particular. It reflects a great qualitative leap towards comprehensive sustainable development, progress and global leadership.”

He said that the Kingdom’s founder initiated various works to further develop the holy site “such constructing the Kiswa Factory of the Holy Kaaba in Makkah, building a door for the Kaaba, lighting, maintaining and painting the square of the Mosque, tiling and shading the Masaa area (the running course between Safa and Marwa), advising the expansion of the Two Holy Mosques.”

These epic efforts culminated in the expansion of the Grand Mosque in three phases, he said.  The first phase of the expansion was ordered by King Abdul Aziz and took place during the reign of King Saud and was completed during the reign of King Faisal.

“The second expansion, which took place during the reign of King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz, included the addition to the Grand Mosque of the historic Souq Al-Hazoora area, known as the Souq Al- Sagheer. Other modern developments were added, such as squares, escalators and the circumambulation areas (Mataf).”

The third expansion, the largest expansion of the Grand Mosque in history, began in the reign of King Abdullah and is continuing in the reign of King Salman. “It raised the capacity of the Grand Mosque, Mataf and Masaa to nearly 3 million worshippers, allowing them to perform the Hajj and Umrah rituals with comfort and ease.”

Historians have taken care to document the history of the Two Holy Mosques, pilgrimages, Umrah and visits, as well as the efforts of Islamic countries to serve pilgrims.

Dr. Abdullah bin Hussein Al-Sharif, supervisor of the King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Chair for Makkah Historical Studies

Al-Sharif explained that the three expansions are part of a system of facilities, works, projects and services to be carried out in the two holy cities and the holy sites, with the aim of providing integrated infrastructure, such as water networks through desalination plants and giant strategic reservoirs, electricity and drainage systems, environmental health and municipal services.

“The development projects also aim to offer adequate housing for visitors and pilgrims,” he said.

Al-Sharif said that modern sea ports, airports, roads, bridges, communications and trains, including the Haramain high-speed railway project and the holy sites project are being executed.

The Saudi leadership also took care of building the Mawaqit, entry points for pilgrims on Hajj roads and the holy sites mosques, including the Al-Khayf Mosque in Mina, the Al-Mashaar Al-Haram Mosque in Muzdalifah, the Mosque of Nimara in Arafat, and the historical mosques such as Al-Ijaba, Al-Raya and Al-Jinn mosques.

Al-Sharif stated that the Kingdom was keen to preserve the health of pilgrims and built medical cities, hospitals and health centers in Makkah, Madinah and the holy sites, providing medical services free of charge.

“The Kingdom has proven throughout its history its ability to host millions of visitors and manage crowds efficiently with its generous hospitality and services. It looks forward to receiving about 35  million pilgrims each year through its Vision 2030 projects,” he said.

He added: “The most important thing is to enable visitors and pilgrims to perform their rituals in a safe and healthy environment. The Kingdom was able to achieve this goal, enabling worshippers to perform their Hajj and Umrah ritual in security, peace, comfort and tranquility from their entry into the Kingdom and until they leave.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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The history of Makkah Grand Mosque’s expansion

Time: 29 July, 2020

  • The incredible achievements of the Saudi kings have taken the custodianship of the holiest site in the Islamic world to a new level

JEDDAH: Throughout history, Muslim caliphs and rulers responsible for Makkah, Islam’s holiest city, have gone to great lengths to guard, expand and care for the Grand Mosque.
“The Grand Mosque is the place to which Muslims all over the world turn their faces when starting their prayers, so it was the focus of interest of sultans, kings, princes, leaders and even wealthy Muslim people,” said Dr. Aminah Jalal, a professor of history at Umm Al-Qura University.
“They provided all financial support for the restoration and renovation of the mosque. Religious sentiments motivated them to send donations throughout the Islamic ages, as well as providing the workers and building materials necessary to take care of this blessed mosque.”
In days gone by, leaders also ordered wells to be dug and roads paved to make the journey to the holy sites easier for pilgrims, she added, but in the Saudi era, their efforts have reached a new level.
“The contributions of Saudi leaders in expanding and taking care of the mosque are beyond any comparison,” said Jalal.
Rashidun caliphate
According to a report by the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, the Grand Mosque was surrounded by houses from the time of Prophet Ibrahim until the rule of the second Muslim caliph, Umar ibn Al-Khattab. He bought the neighboring properties so that the circumambulation area could be expanded. He also ordered a nearly 2-meter high wall to be built around the space.
As the number of worshippers increased, more space was needed, and the mosque was extended during the reign of Uthman ibn Affan, the third Muslim caliph, in 647. The number of people using the mosque continued to grow, and 38 years later it was expanded again by Caliph Abdullah ibn Al-Zubayr. He also rebuilt the Kaaba after the structure was damaged.

Umayyad caliphate
Two further expansions took place during the rules of the fifth Umayyad caliph, Abdul-Malik bin Marwan, and his son, Al-Waleed bin Abdul-Malik.

Abbasid caliphate
According to the General Presidency report: “The mosque also (underwent) expansions during the time of the Abbasid Caliphate, as the Muslims’ 20th caliph, Abu Jaafar Al-Mansour, ordered a little enlargement to the north side. A minaret on the eastern side of the mosque was also built.”
The largest expansion project of this era was ordered sometime around the year 783 by third Abbasid caliph, Mohammed Al-Mahdi, who expanded the Grand Mosque after acquiring neighboring houses and demolishing them.
He died in 785, before the project was completed, so his son and successor as caliph, Musa, took over supervision of the project, which increased the size of the mosque by 12,512 square meters.
For the next 810 years, the Grand Mosque remained largely unchanged, with only restoration work taking place.

Ottoman reign
In the early 1570s, Ottoman caliphs Sultan Selim Khan and his son, Murad Khan, oversaw renovation and restoration works that included the replacement of the mosque’s flat, wooden roof with domes. They also installed additional columns to support the roof, and a stone arcade was added. The size of the mosque grew to 28,003 square meters.

Saudi era
Despite the impressive work of rulers throughout history to expand and care for the Grand Mosque, the incredible achievements of the Saudi kings took the custodianship of the holiest site in the Islamic world to a new level.
When King Abdul Aziz united the country and founded Saudi Arabia, he made the Two Holy Mosques a top priority and ensured they received special attention.
In 1926, he ordered a complete renovation to the Grand Mosque, including a directive to cover the entire floor with marble. A year later, according to the General Presidency, he ordered marquees to be erected at the Mataf (circumambulation space) to protect worshippers from the heat of the sun. He also ordered the Masa (the area between Safa and Marwah along which pilgrims walk in what is known as Saee) to be paved with stone for the first time.
In 1928, he ordered the establishment of a Kiswah factory to manufacture the cloth that covers the Kaaba. He even made it a condition in his will that his sons continue to expand the Grand Mosque in anticipation of the increasing numbers of pilgrims.
When his son, King Saud became monarch, the Grand Mosque covered approximately 28,000 square meters. In 1955, he launched a long-term expansion project that continued for nearly 10 years. The size of the Masa was increased, and an underground area and another floor were added.

Saud’s successor, King Faisal continued the expansion and development work. The building surrounding the Maqam Ibrahim was removed to provide more space for worshippers while circumambulating the Kaaba.
After King Khalid took over in 1975, the Mataf area was expanded and the stone pavement of the Masa was replaced with Greek, heat-resistant marble so that worshippers could circle the Kaaba more comfortably, especially at noon.
On Sept. 14, 1988, King Fahd laid the foundation stone for the largest expansion of the Grand Mosque in 14 centuries. The project increased its size to 356,000 square meters, enough space for up to 1.5 million worshippers to comfortably perform their rituals. In addition, two minarets were added to the existing seven.
The sixth Saudi leader, King Abdullah, who took the throne in 2005, initiated another major expansion project, which included architectural, technical and security improvements. The capacity of the Mataf area was increased from about 50,000 people an hour to more than 130,000 to cope with the growing numbers of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims.
The total space covered by the Grand Mosque and its open areas and facilities increased to 750,000 square meters, at a total cost of more than SR80 billion ($21.3 billion).
In 2015, King Salman launched five major projects designed to allow the mosque to accommodate nearly 2 million worshippers on a 1.5-million-square-meter site. Neighboring properties worth billions of dollars were acquired to provide the land that was needed.
The projects included expansions of the main building, squares, pedestrian tunnels, central service station and the first ring road.
Directives were also issued to take advantage of space on all floors of the mosque to accommodate more worshippers at the Grand Mosque and enable them to perform Tawaf (circumambulation) conveniently.
The capacity of toilets and places for ablution was increased to 16,300.
Technological improvements to the Grand Mosque include escalators and lifts that operate around the clock, air conditioning, lighting, a sound system, video surveillance and a fire control system.
A report by the Ministry of Finance revealed that projects within the most recent, third Saudi expansion of the Grand Mosque, which began in 2008, included the development of the main building, Masa and Mataf, external squares, bridges, terraces, central services, service tunnels, hospital and pedestrian tunnels, transit stations and bridges, the ring road surrounding the mosque, and infrastructures such as power stations and water reservoirs.
In Aug. 2019, the Saudi Press Agency reported that a project to add more than 3,000 square meters of courtyard space near to the Grand Mosque was nearing completion. It was designed to increase the capacity of the mosque and its courtyards to provide the best possible service to Hajj and Umrah pilgrims, assist with crowd control and ensure the safety of visitors.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Mosques in Makkah welcome worshippers for first Friday prayers after curfew lifted

26/06/20

Worshippers perform Friday prayers in mosques in Makkah for the first time on June 26, 2020 after a coronavirus curfew was lifted earlier this week. (SPA)
  • Worshippers were required to keep a distance of two meters from each other whilst praying
  • A curfew to prevent the spread of coronavirus was lifted in the Kingdom on Sunday

MAKKAH: Worshippers performed Friday prayers in mosques in Makkah for the first time on Friday since a coronavirus curfew was completely lifted in Saudi Arabia earlier this week.

Mosques in the holy city opened 20 minutes before the call to prayer and closed 20 minutes after the prayer had ended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Worshippers were required to keep a distance of 2 meters from each other whilst praying, bring their own prayer mats and wear masks.

Ablution areas and toilets in mosques remain closed and children are not allowed to attend as part of preventive measures.

Medical teams have also been stationed at the main entrances to the mosques in cooperation with the Ministry of Health.

A media awareness campaign has been launched to highlight safety procedures at the holy site.

Elsewhere in the Kingdom, worshippers also flocked to perform Friday prayers at mosques amid strict health measures.

Saudi authorities reopened all mosques for prayers as part of the Kingdom’s plan for a gradual return to normal life.

The minister of Islamic affairs, dawah and guidance said that the country’s mosques were ready to welcome back worshippers, following his field trips to check that necessary preparations had been made.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Mosques across Saudi Arabia prepared to ensure worshippers’ safety

20/06/20

People practice “social distancing” rules as they worship at a mosque in Al-Baha. (SPA photo)

AL-BAHA: The General Directorate of Health Affairs in Al-Baha continues to facilitate worshippers’ entry to mosques for Friday prayers in accordance with precautionary measures.

This comes in cooperation with the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance, and volunteers who helped worshippers perform Friday prayers in more than 136 mosques in the region.

Mosques have been prepared and sanitized, with stickers placed on each row to keep a safe distance between worshippers.

Meanwhile, Qassim police continue to ensure adherence to measures among worshippers, including social distancing and wearing masks.

Hafr Al-Batin Health Affairs continues to participate in a campaign to educate worshippers under the slogan “Return Carefully,” with more than 90 volunteers in 13 mosques, in coordination with the Mosques, Dawah and Guidance administration in the governorate.

The volunteer teams instruct worshippers to follow necessary health requirements, such as bringing prayer mats for personal use, and washing hands or using sanitizer before and after visiting the mosque.

These awareness campaigns come within the precautionary measures set in place by Saudi authorities to curb the spread of coronavirus.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Makkah’s Grand Mosque courtyard extension project nears completion

Time: August 22, 2019  

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A project to add more than 3,000 meters square of courtyard space near to the Grand Mosque in Makkah is almost complete. (SPA)
  • The project, which is due to be completed at the end of this month, aims to increase the capacity of the Ground Mosque and its surrounding courtyards
  • The work is 85 percent complete

RIYADH: A project to add more than 3,000 meters square of courtyard space near to the Grand Mosque in Makkah is almost complete, Saudi Press Agency reported.
The extension to the area will help control the movement of crowds near the mosque, the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques said. The work is 85 percent complete, the statement said.
The expansion work involves the removal of a number of places designated for ablution and installing them under the stairs of the courtyard. Toilets have also been installed around the edges of the courtyard.
The project, which is due to be completed at the end of this month, aims to increase the capacity of the Grand Mosque and its surrounding courtyards to provide the best service to Hajj and Umrah pilgrims, deal with crowd control, and ensure the safety of visitors.

This article was first published in Arab News

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The Prophet’s Mosque

11 June 2019

Pictures of Shutterstock

Religion

Affiliation

Islam

Leadership

Imam(s):

  • Abdur Rahman Al Huthaify
  • Sufyan Ahmed
  • Abdulbari Awadh Al-Thubaity
  • Abdul Muhsin Al-Qasim
  • Hussain Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh
  • Ahmad ibn Taalib Hameed
  • Abdullah Bu’ayjaan

Location

Medina, Hejaz, Saudi Arabia

Location in present-day Saudi Arabia

Administration

Saudi Arabian government

Geographic coordinates

24°28′06″N 39°36′39″E / 24.468333°N 39.610833°ECoordinates: 24°28′06″N39°36′39″E /24.468333°N 39.610833°E

Architecture

Type

Mosque

Style

Classical and contemporary Islamic; Ottoman; Mamluk revivalist

Date established

  1. 622

Specifications

Capacity

1,000,000

Minaret(s)

10

Minaret height

105 meters (344 ft)

Al-Masjid an-Nabawī (Arabic: ٱلْـمَـسْـجِـدُ ٱلـنَّـبَـوِيّ‎, “The Prophet’s Mosque“) is a mosque established and originally built by the Islamic prophet Muhammad, situated in the city of Medina in the Hejaz region of Saudi Arabia. It was the third mosque built in the history of Islam and is now one of the largest mosques in the world. It is the second-holiest site in Islam, after the Great Mosque in Mecca. It is always open, regardless of date or time.

The site was originally adjacent to Muhammad’s house; he settled there after his migration from Mecca to Medina in 622. He shared in the heavy work of construction. The original mosque was an open-air building. The mosque served as a community centre, a court, and a religious school. There was a raised platform for the people who taught the Quran. Subsequent Islamic rulers greatly expanded and decorated it. In 1909, it became the first place in the Arabian Peninsula to be provided with electrical lights. The mosque is under the control of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. The mosque is located in what was traditionally the centre of Medina, with many hotels and old markets nearby. It is a major pilgrimage site. Many pilgrims who perform the Hajj go on to Medina to visit the mosque, due to its connection to Muhammad.

After an expansion during the reign of the Umayyad caliph al-Walid I, it now incorporates the final resting place of Muhammad and the first two Rashidun caliphs Abu Bakr and Umar. One of the most notable features of the site is the Green Dome in the south-east corner of the mosque, originally Aisha’s house, where the tomb of Muhammad is located. In 1279, a wooden cupola was built over the tomb which was later rebuilt and renovated multiple times in the late 15th century and once in 1817. The current dome was added in 1818 by the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II, and it was first painted green in 1837, hence becoming known as the “Green Dome”

The mosque was built by Muhammad in 622, after his arrival in the city of Medina. Riding on a camel called Qaswa he arrived at the place where this mosque was built. The land was owned by Sahal and Suhayl, partly as a place for drying dates, and at one end had been previously used as a burial ground. Refusing to “accept the land as a gift”, he bought the land and it took seven months to complete the construction of the mosque. It measured 30.5 m × 35.62 m (100.1 ft × 116.9 ft). The roof which was supported by palm trunks was made of beaten clay and palm leaves. It was at a height of 3.60 m (11.8 ft). The three doors of the mosque were Bab-al-Rahmah to the south, Bab-al-Jibril to the west and Babal-Nisa to the east.

After the Battle of Khaybar, the mosque was “enlarged”. The mosque extended for 47.32 m (155.2 ft) on each side and three rows of columns were built beside the west wall, which became the place of praying. The mosque remained unaltered during the reign of the first Rashidun caliph Abu Bakr. The second caliph Umar demolished all the houses around the mosque except that of Muhammad’s wives to expand it. The new mosque’s dimensions became 57.49 m × 66.14 m (188.6 ft × 217.0 ft). Sun-dried mud bricks were used to construct the walls of the enclosure. Besides strewing pebbles on the floor, the roof’s height was increased to 5.6 m (18 ft). Umar moreover constructed three more gates for entrance. He also added the Al-Butayha for people to recite poetry.

The third caliph Uthman demolished the mosque in 649. Ten months were spent in building the new rectangular shaped mosque whose face was turned towards the Kaaba in Mecca. The new mosque measured 81.40 m × 62.58 m (267.1 ft × 205.3 ft). The number of gates, as well as their names, remained the same. The enclosure walls were made of stones laid in mortar. The palm trunk columns were replaced by stone columns which were joined by iron clamps. Teakwood was used in reconstructing the ceiling.

In 707, Umayyad caliph Al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik renovated the mosque. It took three years for the work to be completed. Raw materials were procured from the Byzantine Empire. The area of the mosque was increased from 5094 sq. metre of Uthman’s time to 8672 sq metre. A wall was built to segregate the mosque and the houses of the wives of Prophet Muhammad. The mosque was reconstructed in a trapezoid shape with a length of 101.76 metres (333.9 ft). For the first time, porticoes were built in the mosque connecting the northern part of the structure to the sanctuary. For the first time, minarets were built in Medina as he constructed four minarets around it.

Abbasid caliph Al-Mahdi extended the mosque to the north by 50 metres (160 ft). His name was also inscribed on the walls of the mosque. He also planned to remove six steps to the minibar, but abandoned this idea, owing to this causing damage of the woods on which they were built. According to an inscription of Ibn Qutaybah, the third caliph Al-Mamun did “unspecified work” on the mosque. Al-Mutawakkil lined the enclosure of Prophet Muhammad’s tomb with marble. Al-Ashraf Qansuh al-Ghawribuilt a dome of stone over his grave in 1476

The Rawdah (referred to as al-Rawdah al-Mutaharah), covered by the dome over the south-east corner of the mosque, was constructed in 1817C.E. during the reign of Sultan Mahmud II. The dome was painted green in 1837 C.E. and came to be known as the “Green Dome”.

The Sultan Abdul Majid I took thirteen years to rebuild the mosque, which started in 1849. Red stone bricks were used as the main material in reconstruction of the mosque. The floor area of the mosque was increased by 1293 square metre. On the walls, verses from the Quran were inscribed in Islamic calligraphy. In the northern side of the mosque, a madrasah was built for “teaching Quranic lessons”.

Saudis

When Saud bin Abdul-Aziz took Medina in 1805, his followers, the Wahhabis, demolished nearly every tomb dome in Medina in order to prevent their veneration, and the Green Dome is said to have narrowly escaped the same fate. They considered the veneration of tombs and places thought to possess supernatural powers as an offence against tawhidProphet Muhammad’s tomb was stripped of its gold and jewel ornaments, but the dome was preserved either because of an unsuccessful attempt to demolish its hardened structure or because some time ago Ibn Abd al-Wahhab wrote that he did not wish to see the dome destroyed despite his aversion to people praying at the tomb. Similar events took place in 1925 when the Saudi Ikhwan retook—and this time managed to keep—the city.

After the foundation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932, the mosque underwent several major modifications. In 1951 King Ibn Saud (1932–1953) ordered demolitions around the mosque to make way for new wings to the east and west of the prayer hall, which consisted of concrete columns with pointed arches. Older columns were reinforced with concrete and braced with copper rings at the top. The Suleymaniyya and Majidiyya minarets were replaced by two minarets in Mamluk revival style. Two additional minarets were erected to the northeast and northwest of the mosque. A library was built along the western wall to house historic Qurans and other religious texts.

In 1974, King Faisal added 40,440 square metres to the mosque. The area of the mosque was also expanded during the reign of King Fahd in 1985. Bulldozers were used to demolish buildings around the mosque. In 1992, when it was completed, the area of the mosque became 1.7 million square feet. Escalators and 27 courtyards were among the additions to the mosque.

A $6 billion project for increasing the area of the mosque was announced in September 2012. After completion, it could accommodate between 1.6 million to 2 million worshippers. In March of the following year, Saudi Gazette reported that demolition work had been mostly complete, including the demolition of ten hotels on the eastern side, in addition to houses and other utilities.

Architecture

The two tiered mosque has a rectangular plan. The Ottoman prayer hall lies towards the south. It has a flat paved roof topped with 27 sliding domes on square bases.Holes pierced into the base of each dome illuminate the interior. The roof is also used for prayer during peak times, when the domes slide out on metal tracks to shade areas of the roof, creating light wells for the prayer hall. At these times, the courtyard of the Ottoman mosque is also shaded with umbrellas affixed to freestanding columns. The roof is accessed by stairs and escalators. The paved area around the mosque is also used for prayer, equipped with umbrella tents. Sliding domes and retractable umbrella-like canopies were designed by the German architect Mahmoud Bodo Rasch, his firm SL Rasch GmbH, and Buro Happold.

Rawdah

The Rawḍah (Arabic: رَوْضَـة‎, literally “Garden”) is an area between the minbar and burial chamber of Muhammad. It is regarded as one of the riyāḍ al-Jannah (Arabic: رِيَـاض الْـجَـنَّـة‎, gardens of Paradise). A green carpet distinguishes the area from the rest of the mosque, which is covered in a red carpet.

Pilgrims attempt to visit the confines of the area, for there is a tradition that supplications and prayers uttered here are never rejected. Access into the area is not always possible, especially during the Hajj season, as space can only accommodate a few hundred people.

Green Dome

The chamber adjacent to the Rawdah holds the tombs of Prophet Muhammad and two of his companions, fathers-in-law and caliphs, Abu Bakr and Umar ibn al-Khattab. A fourth grave is reserved for ‘Īsā (Arabic: عِـيـسَى‎, Jesus), as it is believed that he will return and will be buried at the site. The site is covered by the Green Dome. It was constructed in 1817 CE during the reign of the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II and painted green in 1837 CE.

Mihrab

There are two mihrabs in the mosque, one was built by Muhammad and another was built by the third Rashidun caliph Uthman. The one built by the latter was larger than that of Muhammad’s and act as the functional mihrab, whereas Muhammad’s mihrab is a “commemorative” mihrab. Besides the mihrab, the mosque also has other niches which act as indicators for praying. This includes the miḥrâb Fâṭimah(Arabic: مِـحْـرَاب فَـاطِـمَـة‎) or miḥrāb aṫ-Ṫahajjud (Arabic: مِـحْـرَاب الـتَّـهَـجُّـد‎), which was built by Muhammad for the Ṫahajjud (Arabic: تَـهَـجُّـد‎).

The original minbar (Arabic: مِـنـۢبَـر‎) used by Muhammad was a “wood block of date tree”. This was replaced by him with a tamarisk one, which had dimensions of 50 cm × 125 cm (20 in × 49 in). Also in 629, a three staired ladder was added to it. The first two caliphs, Abu Bakr and Umar, did not use the third step “due to respect for the Prophet”, but the third caliph Uthman placed a fabric dome over it and the rest of the stairs were covered with ebony. The minbar was replaced by Baybars I in 1395, and later by Shaykh al-Mahmudi in 1417. This was also replaced by a marble one by Qaitbay in the late fifteenth century, which as of August 2013, is still used in the mosque.

Minarets

The first minarets (four in number) of 26 feet (7.9 m) high was constructed by Umar. In 1307, a minaret titled Bab al-Salam was added by Muhammad ibn Kalavun which was renovated by Mehmed IV. After the renovation project of 1994, there were ten minarets which were 104 metres (341 ft) high. The minarets’ upper, bottom and middle portion are cylindrical, octagonal and square shaped respectively.

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Imam Turki bin Abdullah Mosque

9 June 2019

picture of Shutterstock: Imam Turki bin Abdullah Mosque

 

Religion

Affiliation

Islam

Location

Country

Saudi Arabia

Architecture

Completed

1993

Specifications

Capacity

17,000

Interior area

16,800 m2

The Imam Turki bin Abdullah Mosque (also known as The Grand Mosque of Riyadh) is an active place of worship in Riyadh named after Turki bin Abdullah bin Muhammad. Seating 17,000 worshippers and measuring 16,800 m2, it is one of the largest mosques in Saudi Arabia.

The exterior and upper portion of the interior is primarily brown Arriyadh Limestone which appears golden when lit up at night. The lower portion of the interior is in white marble. The structure includes separate men’s and women’s libraries of 325-m2 each.

The mosque is directly connected from the first floor to Qasr Al-Hukm Palace via two bridges across Assafah Square.

History

A Grand Mosque existed on the site for decades but was rebuilt by the Arriyadh Development Authority and reopened in January 1993.

 

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Company created to undertake development efforts at holy sites in Saudi Arabia

Time: June 04, 2019  

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman chairs a board meeting of the Royal Commission for Makkah City and Holy Sites at Al-Safa Palace. (SPA)

JEDDAH: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman chaired a board meeting of the Royal Commission for Makkah City and Holy Sites on Monday at Al-Safa Palace, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The board approved a strategic plan for the holy city of Makkah and holy sites. It also ordered the start and preparation of the plan’s details, programs and partnerships.

It approved the establishment of a holy sites development company, and for the company’s headquarters to be in Makkah.

The company will act as the main developer and operator for creating and increasing capacity at the holy sites in order to serve the growing numbers of worshippers.

The board approved a regulation to address undeveloped areas in Makkah, and reviewed proposals on transport and endowment funds concerning the holy city.

The executive director of the Royal Commission for Makkah City and Holy Sites, Abdulrahman bin Farouk Addas, said the decisions and directives were in line with the wishes of King Salman and the crown prince to establish a sustainable future for Makkah and the holy sites, to provide the best possible services to worshippers and to enrich the quality of life in Makkah.

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Mosques that host some of the world’s largest Eid congregations

03/06/19

  • Muslims worldwide will gather this week in mosques and outdoor locations for Eid Al-Fitr prayers
  • Masjid Al-Haram in Makkah is the holiest mosque in Islam, being the site of the Hajj pilgrimage

DUBAI: Muslims will soon observe Eid Al-Fitr, the festival that marks the end of Ramadan.

Eid Al-Fitr, which means Festival of the Breaking of the Fast, will see Muslims gather for the congregational prayer in mosques or special prayer grounds around the world. Preachers congratulate Muslims on the blessed occasion, pray to Allah Almighty to accept their fasting, charity and good deeds, and wish them good outcomes.

MASJID AL-HARAM (GRAND MOSQUE)

Location: Makkah, Saudi Arabia

Capacity: 900,000 worshippers; 4 million during Hajj

An aerial night view of the majestic Grand Mosque in Makkah teeming with worshippers. (SPA)

History: Dates back to the era of Prophet Ibrahim, who built a smaller, simpler version with his son Ismael. The Grand Mosque, which surrounds the Kaaba, has a Green Dome in the southeast corner. First painted green in 1837, the dome is built above the Prophet’s tomb and the tombs of Caliph Abu Bakr and Caliph Umar. The late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz launched a major extension project in 2007 to raise the masjid’s capacity to two million. After passing through the control of various caliphs, sultans and kings, the mosque is under the control of the King of Saudi Arabia in his capacity as the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.

Significance: The Grand Mosque is the holiest site in Islam, being the place of pilgrimage for the Hajj and also as the main phase for Umrah, the lesser pilgrimage. The masjid includes sites such as the Black Stone, the Zamzam Well, Maqam Ibrahim and the hills Safa and Marwa.

* * *

THE PROPHET’S MOSQUE

Location: Madinah, Saudi Arabia

Capacity: 10,000 worshippers

The Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah. (SPA file photo)

History: Built by Prophet Muhammad in 622 AD, the original mosque was an open-air building and served as a community center, a court and a religious school. The structure was expanded many times over the years in the reign of the caliphs and the Umayyad, Abbasid and Ottoman states. The largest expansion operation was undertaken by the Kingdom in 1994.

Significance: Many pilgrims who perform Hajj travel to Madinah to visit the Prophet’s Mosque due to its strong connection to the life of the Prophet. The masjid is home to the tomb of Prophet Muhammad. Every year tens of thousands of pilgrims perform the ritual of Itikaaf, involving seclusion and staying in the mosque with the intention of worshipping.

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FAISAL MOSQUE

Location: Islamabad, Pakistan

Capacity: 100,000 worshippers

Faisal Mosque in Islamabad, Pakistan. (Supplied photo)

History: Impetus for the masjid’s construction came from Saudi King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz. In 1969 an international competition was held in which architects from 17 countries submitted 43 proposals. The winning entry was that of Turkish architect Vedat Dalokay. Construction began in 1976 and ended in 1986. The design was conceptualized as the national mosque of the country and a symbol of the hopes and aspirations of Pakistan. It was dedicated to the memory of King Faisal, who bore the cost of the project as a gift to the Pakistani people.

Significance: The shape of Faisal Mosque is inspired by a desert bedouin’s tent and the Kaaba in Makkah, flanked by four unusual minarets inspired by Turkish architecture but lacking both the traditional domes and arches of most other mosques. The walls are adorned with golden calligraphy, with large chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. The ceiling itself is a piece of art, designed with sharp lines and grooves. The mausoleum of General Zia Ul-Haq is located adjacent to the mosque.

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SHEIKH ZAYED GRAND MOSQUE:

Location: Abu Dhabi, UAE

Capacity: More than 40,000 worshippers and visitors

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. (Supplied photo)

History: Designed by Syrian architect Yousef Abdelky and constructed between 1996 and 2007, the project was launched by the late president of the UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan. The architects were British, Italian and Emirati, and design inspiration came from Turkey, Morocco, Pakistan, Egypt and other Islamic countries. More than 3,000 workers and 38 companies took part in the mosque’s construction.

Significance: Sheikh Zayed’s vision for the Grand Mosque was to incorporate architectural styles from different Muslim civilizations and celebrate cultural diversity. The largest mosque in the UAE, it is the key place of worship for daily prayers, Friday gathering and Eid prayers. The hollows of the domes are etched with verses from the Qur’an and painted with gold leaves in Naskh lettering.

* * *

JAMA MASJID

Location: New Delhi, India

Capacity: 25,000 worshippers

The Jama Masjid in New Delhi, India. (Supplied photo)

History: Commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan after he moved his capital from Agra to Delhi, the mosque’s construction began in 1644. The architect was Ustad Khalil, who used red standstone and white marble. The construction, involving 5,000 artisans, was completed by 1656. The masjid was inaugurated by a cleric from Bukhara, Uzbekistan, Sayed Abdul Ghafoor Shah Bukhari, on whom Shah Jahan bequeathed the title Shahi Imam. These days, the masjid is managed by the Delhi Waqf Board and the Jama Masjid Committee under the direction of the present Shahi Imam.

Significance: The mosque faces west toward Makkah and houses several relics of Islamic religious significance, including an age-old transcript of the Qur’an. Each year thousands of Muslims throng the masjid to offer special Eid prayers in the morning. Seven arched entrances are inlaid with inscriptions in black marble detailing the history of the mosque.

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