Makkah’s Grand Mosque courtyard extension project nears completion

Time: August 22, 2019  

1 / 4
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.

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The Prophet’s Mosque

11 June 2019

Pictures of Shutterstock






  • 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


Medina, Hejaz, Saudi Arabia

Location in present-day Saudi Arabia


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





Classical and contemporary Islamic; Ottoman; Mamluk revivalist

Date established

  1. 622






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”.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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







Saudi Arabia







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.


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


  • 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.


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.

* * *


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.

* * *


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.

* * *


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.

* * *


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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Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah ready for half-a-million worshippers

Time: June 02, 2019  

1 / 5
More than 5,000 employees worked to achieve the necessary cleanliness of the Prophet’s Mosque and its surroundings. (SPA)
  • The mosque has more than 16,000 carpets, more than 300 tons of Zamzam water daily for more than 16,000 bottles and 40 reservoirs of cold water with clean, single-use cups

MADINAH: The Prophet’s Mosque is ready to receive nearly half-a-million worshippers for the night when the reading of the Qur’an will be finished, the Saudi Press Agency reported a government official as saying.
Reading and completing the Qur’an during the fasting month of Ramadan is considered especially holy as, in Islam, the prayer made once the Qur’an is finished is accepted by Allah.
Hundreds of thousands of Muslims are expected at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah for the important occasion.
The head of public relations at the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, Jamaan Al-Asiri, said the authority had finalized all preparations for the night.
More than 5,000 employees worked to achieve the necessary cleanliness of the Prophet’s Mosque and its surroundings.
The mosque has more than 16,000 carpets, more than 300 tons of Zamzam water daily for more than 16,000 bottles and 40 reservoirs of cold water with clean, single-use cups. There are 60 drinking sites with more than 385 fountains around the mosque, he added.


• Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court called on all Muslims throughout the Kingdom to sight the crescent of the month of Shawwal on Monday evening, Ramadan 29, corresponding to June 3.

• The Supreme Court has urged any person who sees the Shawwal crescent with the naked eye or through telescopes to report it to the nearest court and record his statement.

Mosque employees will be guiding visitors inside the courtyards of the mosque and implementing crowd control measures.
Al-Asiri said the presidency has set up external lighting, domes, umbrellas, and water-spraying fans. It has also put in place escalators and special transport measures to help the elderly and people with disabilities. There will be an increased number of gatekeepers on the ground floor and upper areas of the mosque. The presidency is working with the Red Crescent in case visitors need hospital attention, he said.

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Why Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque matters for Muslims

Time: May 29, 2019  

  • The shrine is Islam’s third holiest after Makkah and Madinah in Saudi Arabia
  • The first mosque built within the Al-Aqsa compound dates back to 638 AD

AMMAN: “There is a spot just in the center of Al-Qibli Mosque where you feel so light when you stand in it.”

This is the way Wasfi Kailani, of the Hashemite Fund for the Restoration of Al-Aqsa Mosque, describes his favorite spot within Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, the UNESCO World Heritage site also known to Muslims and Palestinians as Al-Haram Al-Sharif.

The spot that Kailani refers to is not far from Saladin’s pulpit, rebuilt by King Abdullah II of Jordan after it was destroyed in a 1969 arson attack.

“I feel that the holiest spot in the entire compound is in the center of the mosque,” he told Arab News. “It is the place from where Prophet Muhammad ascended to the heavens to meet God Almighty with all the prophets with him.”

For Ziad Khalil Abu Zayyad, a spokesman for Fatah, the Palestinian political party, the most special spot is a small room under the Dome of the Rock mosque.

“It is called the Souls Cave,” Abu Zayyad told Arab News. “I like it for the high level of energy and spirituality that can be felt while praying inside it.”

His views are echoed by Ahmad Budeiri, a former BBC staffer, who was born in Jerusalem and has spent all his life there. “I enter the mosque to experience the beauty of its architecture,” he said. “Then I go down to the cave and I get the feeling that all the spiritual meaning in the mosque is condensed in that small space.”

Abla Rweis, a mother of three from Nablus, told Arab News that her favorite spot is the mosque itself. “It has a special holiness to it as it is where the holy prophet Muhammad spent the night on his ascent to heaven.”

Rweis is talking about Al-Isra wa Al-Miraj, the two parts of a Night Journey that Prophet Muhammad took. In Islam, Al-Isra wa Al-Miraj signifies both a physical and spiritual journey.

A little more than a decade on, Caliph Omar was in Jerusalem and he began building the first Al-Aqsa Mosque. Al-Aqsa means “the farthest,” a reference to the distance of Islam’s third holiest shrine from Makkah and Madinah in Saudi Arabia.

For Khalil Attiyeh, a Jordanian parliamentarian, the feeling while going down the stairs from the Dome of the Rock to Al-Aqsa Mosque is special. But for many worshipers and visitors, the entire 144 dunum (144,000sq meters) of the Al-Aqsa compound is sacred.

Political activist Hazem H. Kawasmi said that his favorite
spot is across from the water fountain, where worshipers come for the ritual washing. “I have been coming to Al-Aqsa since I was a child. I love to sit on the stairs across from the mosque and gaze at the water fountain,” he said.

For Arafat Amro, the Islamic Museum located within the compound is special because of its priceless contents. “It is a window to civilizations and history,” said Amro, who is also the musuem’s director.

“Everything here, from parchments, wooden works and metal items to stone carvings, reflects different times. Visitors who came to this mosque down the ages from different locations went back with the history of their Arab and Muslim forefathers etched in their memories.”

The Islamic Museum is located close to both Al-Buraq Wall and a gate through which groups of Jewish extremists often make uninvited incursions with an armed Israeli security escort.

The area was cleared of Palestinians soon after the capture in 1967 of East Jerusalem by Israel, marking the beginning of the occupation.

For Hazem Shunnar, a respected Palestinian economist, Al-Buraq wall is what he often thinks about “because the Israelis took it by force.”

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Great Mosque of Mecca

27 May 2019

picture of Shutterstock

Arabic: ٱلْـمَـسْـجِـد ٱلْـحَـرَام‎, romanized: Al-Masjid al-Ḥarām, lit. ‘The Sacred Mosque’





Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais
Saud Al-Shuraim
Abdullah Awad Al Juhany
Saleh Al Talib
Saleh Al Humaid
Bandar Baleelah
Usaamah Khayyat
Yaseer Al Dosari
Khalid Al Ghmadi
Maher Al Muaiqly
Faisal Gazzawi


Mecca, Hejaz, Saudi Arabia


Saudi Arabian government

Geographic coordinates

21°25′19″N 39°49′34″E / 21.422°N 39.826°ECoordinates: 21°25′19″N 39°49′34″E /21.422°N 39.826°E




Date established

The era of Abraham in Islamic thought



1.5 million worshippers


400.800 m



Minaret height

89 m (292 ft)

Site area

356,000 square metres[5]

The Great Mosque contends with the Mosque of the Companions in the Eritrea city of Massawa and Quba Mosque in Medina as the oldest mosque. According to one set of views, Islam as a religion preceded Prophet Muhammad, representing previous prophets such as Abraham. Abraham is credited with having built the Kaaba in Mecca, and consequently its sanctuary, which according to this view is seen as the first mosque[that ever existed. According to another set of views, Islam started during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century CE, and so did architectural components such as the mosque. In that case, either the Mosque of the Companions or Quba Mosque would be the first mosque that was built in the history of Islam.
The Great Mosque is the largest mosque in the world and has undergone major renovations and expansions through the years. It has passed through the control of various caliphs, sultans and kings, and is now under the control of the King of Saudi Arabia who is titled the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.It is located in front of the Abraj Al Bait, the tallest clock tower in the world, the construction of which has been surrounded by controversy concerning the destruction of early Islamic heritage sites by the Saudi government.The Great Mosque of Mecca (Arabic: ٱلْـمَـسْـجِـد ٱلْـحَـرَام‎, romanized: al-Masjid al-Ḥarām, lit. ‘The Sacred Mosque’) is a mosque that surrounds the Kaaba in the city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is a site of pilgrimage for the Hajj, which every Muslim must do at least once in their lives if able, the rites of which includes circumambulating the Kaaba within the mosque. It is also the main phase for the ‘Umrah, the lesser pilgrimage that can be undertaken any time of the year. The Great Mosque includes other important significant sites, including the Black Stone, the Zamzam Well, Maqam Ibrahim, and the hills Safa and Marwa. It is open, regardless of date or time.

According to the Quran, Abraham together with his son Ishmael raised the foundations of a house,which has been identified by commentators as the Kaaba. God showed Abraham the exact site, very near to what is now the Well of Zamzam, where Abraham and Ishmael began work on the construction of the Kaaba. After Abraham had built the Kaaba, an angel brought to him the Black Stone, a celestial stone that, according to tradition, had fallen from Heaven on the nearby hill Abu Qubays. The Black Stone is believed to be the only remnant of the original structure made by Abraham.

After placing the Black Stone in the Eastern corner of the Kaaba, Abraham received a revelation, in which God told the aged prophet that he should now go and proclaim the pilgrimage to mankind, so that men may come both from Arabia and from lands far away, on camel and on foot.

Era of Muhammad

Upon Muhammad’s victorious return to Mecca in 630 CE, he and his cousin, Ali Ibn Abi Talib, broke the idols in and around the Kaaba, similar to what, according to the Quran, Abraham did in his homeland. Thus ended polytheistic use of the Kaaba, and re-began monotheistic rule over it and its sanctuary.

Umayyad era

The first major renovation to the mosque took place in 692 on the orders of Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan.Before this renovation, which included the mosque’s outer walls being raised and decoration added to the ceiling, the mosque was a small open area with the Kaaba at the center. By the end of the 8th century, the mosque’s old wooden columns had been replaced with marble columns and the wings of the prayer hall had been extended on both sides along with the addition of a minaret on the orders of Al-Walid I. The spread of Islam in the Middle East and the influx of pilgrims required an almost complete rebuilding of the site which included adding more marble and three more minarets.

Ottoman era

In 1570, Sultan Selim II commissioned the chief architect Mimar Sinan to renovate the mosque. This renovation resulted in the replacement of the flat roof with domes decorated with calligraphy internally, and the placement of new support columns which are acknowledged as the earliest architectural features of the present mosque. These features are the oldest surviving parts of the building.

During heavy rains and flash floods in 1621 and 1629, the walls of the Kaaba and the mosque suffered extensive damage.In 1629, during the reign of Sultan Murad IV, the mosque was renovated. In the renovation of the mosque, a new stone arcade was added, three more minarets (bringing the total to seven) were built, and the marble flooring was retiled. This was the unaltered state of the mosque for nearly three centuries.

Saudi era

First Saudi expansion

One of the entrances of the Grand Mosque, King Abdul Aziz Gate under construction as of January 2018 (right) it has been completed and made functional (Feb, 2019), King Abdul Aziz Gate as it stood after second Saudi expansion (left).

The first major renovation under the Saudi kings was done between 1955 and 1973. In this renovation, four more minarets were added, the ceiling was refurnished, and the floor was replaced with artificial stone and marble. The Mas’a gallery (As-Safa and Al-Marwah) is included in the Mosque, via roofing and enclosures. During this renovation many of the historical features built by the Ottomans, particularly the support columns, were demolished.

On 20 November 1979, the Great Mosque was seized by extremist insurgents who called for the overthrow of the Saudi dynasty. They took hostages and in the ensuing siege hundreds were killed. These events came as a shock to the Islamic world, as violence is strictly forbidden within the mosque.

Second Saudi expansion

The second Saudi renovations under King Fahd added a new wing and an outdoor prayer area to the mosque. The new wing, which is also for prayers, is reached through the King Fahd Gate. This extension was performed between 1982 and 1988.

1988 to 2005 saw the building of more minarets, the erecting of a King’s residence overlooking the mosque and more prayer area in and around the mosque itself. These developments took place simultaneously with those in Arafat, Mina and Muzdalifah. This extension also added 18 more gates, three domes corresponding in position to each gate and the installation of nearly 500 marble columns. Other modern developments added heated floors, air conditioning, escalators and a drainage system.

Third Saudi expansion

In 2008, the Saudi government under King Abdullah Ibn Abdulaziz announced an expansion of the mosque, involving the expropriation of land to the north and northwest of the mosque covering 300,000 square metres (3,200,000 sq ft) . At that time, the mosque covered an area of 356,800 square metres (3,841,000 sq ft) including indoor and outdoor praying spaces. 40 billion riyals (US$10.6 billion) was allocated for the expansion project.

In August 2011, the government under King Salman announced further details of the expansion. It would cover an area of 400,000 m2 (4,300,000 sq ft) and accommodate 1.2 million worshippers, including a multi-level extension on the north side of the complex, new stairways and tunnels, a gate named after King Abdullah, and two minarets, bringing the total number of minarets to eleven. The circumambulation areas (Mataf) around the Kaaba would be expanded and all closed spaces receive air conditioning. After completion, it would raise the mosque’s capacity from 770,000 to over 2.5 million worshippers.King Salman launched five megaprojects as part of the overall King Abdullah Expansion Project in July 2015, covering an area of 456,000 square metres (4,910,000 sq ft). The project was carried out by the Saudi Binladin Group.

On 11 September 2015, at least 111 people died and 394 were injured when a crane collapsed onto the mosque.[45] Construction work was suspended after the incident, and remained on hold due to financial issues during the 2010s oil glut. Development was eventually restarted two years later in September 2017.

In 2016, it was estimated that Great Mosque had cost 100 billion dollars.

List of former Imams and Mu’adhins


  • Abdullah Al-Khulaifi (Arabic: عَـبْـد ٱلله الْـخُـلَـيْـفِي‎)
  • Ahmad Khatib (Arabic: أَحْـمَـد خَـطِـيْـب‎), Islamic Scholar from Indonesia
  • Ali bin Abdullah Jaber (Arabic: عَـلِى بِـن عَـبْـدُ ٱلله جَـابِـر‎), Maliki Jurist of Mecca
  • Umar Al-Subayyil (Arabic: عُـمَـر الـسُّـبَـيِّـل‎), active member of Khatame-Nabbuwwat Organisation
  • Muhammad Al-Subayyil (Arabic: مُـحَـمَّـد الـسُّـبَـيِّـل‎), died in 2013
  • Abdullah Al-Harazi (Arabic: عَـبْـد ٱلله الْـحَـرَازِي‎), former Chairman of Saudi Majlis al-Shura
  • Ali bin Abdur-Rahman Al-Huthaify (Arabic: عَـلِي بِـن عَـبْـدُ ٱلـرَّحۡـمٰـن الْـحُـذَيْـفِي‎), now Chief Imam of The Prophet’s Mosque, and member of Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilaal Committee
  • Salah ibn Muhammad Al-Budair (Arabic: صَـلَاح ابْـن مُـحَـمَّـد الْـبُـدَيْـر‎), now Deputy Chief Imam of The Prophet’s Mosque
  • Adil al-Kalbani (Arabic: عَـادِل الْـكَـلْـبَـانِي‎)


The Great Mosque is the main setting for the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages that occur in the month of Dhu al-Hijjah in the Islamic calendar and at any time of the year, respectively. The Hajj pilgrimage is one of the Pillars of Islam, required of all able-bodied Muslims who can afford the trip. In recent times, over 5 million Muslims perform the Hajj every year.

Some of the rituals performed by pilgrims are symbolic of historical incidents. For example, the episode of Hagar’s search for water is emulated by Muslims as they run between the two hills of Safa and Marwah. The Hajj is associated with the life of the Islamic prophet Muhammad from the 7th century, but the ritual of pilgrimage to Mecca is considered by Muslims to stretch back thousands of years to the time of Ibrahim (Abraham).


  • The Ka‘bah is a cuboid-shaped building in the center of the Great Mosque and one of the most sacred sites in Islam. It is the focal point for Islamic rituals like prayer and pilgrimage.
  • The Black Stone is the eastern cornerstone of the Kaaba and plays a role in the pilgrimage.
  • The Station of Abraham is a rock that reportedly has an imprint of Abraham’s foot and is kept in a crystal dome next to the Kaaba.
  • Safa and Marwah are two hills between which Abraham’s wife Hagar ran, looking for water for her infant son Ishmael, an event which is commemorated in the saʿy ritual of the pilgrimage.
  • The Zamzam Well is the water source which, according to tradition, sprang miraculously after Hagar was unable to find water between Safa and Marwa


There has been some controversy that the expansion projects of the mosque and Mecca itself are causing harm to early Islamic heritage. Many ancient buildings, some more than a thousand years old, have been demolished to make room for the expansion. Some examples are:

  • Bayt Al-Mawlīd, the house where Muhammad was born, was demolished and rebuilt as a library.
  • Dār Al-Arqam, the Islamic school where Muhammad first taught, was flattened to lay marble tiles
  • The house of Abu Jahal has been demolished and replaced by public washrooms.
  • A dome that served as a canopy over the Well of Zamzam was demolished.
  • Some Ottoman porticos at the Mosque were demolished, and those remaining are under threat.

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Medinah mosque’s rich history

Time: May 27, 2019  

1 / 10

Many Islamic historical sites and monuments in the heart of Medinah are popular with visitors during the holy month.
Among the favorites is Al-Qiblatayn Mosque, built by the sons of Sawad bin Ghanem ibn Kaab during the Prophet’s covenant in the second Hijra year.
Since then the mosque has been known as the Al-Qiblatayn Mosque because the Prophet prayed first facing the Al-Aqsa Mosque and then before the Grand Mosque.
Renovations of the mosque were postponed until the Saudi era when King Abdul Aziz bin Abdulrahman Al Saud ordered its renovation, expansion and the construction of a surrounding wall in 1350 AH.
During the reign of King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, the mosque was demolished and rebuilt. The area in which the mosque is located has been redesigned and expanded using the latest technology and engineering designs, with an architectural touch of Islamic character.
(Photo courtesy: SPA)

This article was first published in Arab News

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