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Al-Masjid an-Nabawi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Al-Masjid an-Nabawi
ٱلْمَسْجِد ٱلنَّبَوِيّ
LeadershipAbdur Rahman As-Sudais
Ali ibn Abdur-Rahman al Hudhaify
LocationMedina, Hejaz, Saudi Arabia[1]
Location in present-day Saudi Arabia
AdministrationSaudi Arabian government
Geographic coordinates24°28′06″N 39°36′39″E / 24.468333°N 39.610833°E / 24.468333; 39.610833
StyleClassical and contemporary Islamic; Ottoman; Mamluk revivalist
Date establishedAH 1 (c. 622 CE)
Minaret height105 meters (344 ft)

Al-Masjid an-Nabawī (English: Prophetic Mosque, Arabic: ٱلْمَسْجِد ٱلنَّبَوِيّ‎) is a mosque established and built by the Islamic prophet Muhammad, situated in the city of Medina in the Hejaz region of Saudi Arabia. It was one of the first mosques built by Muhammad, 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.[3] 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 center, 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.[4] The mosque is under the control of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. The mosque is located in what was traditionally the center 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.[5] One of the most notable features of the site is the Green Dome in the south-east corner of the mosque,[6] originally Aisha's house,[5] 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 late 15th century and once in 1817. The current dome was added in 1818 by the Ottoman sultan Mahmud II,[6] and it was first painted green in 1837, hence becoming known as the "Green Dome".[5] It is made with limestone.


Early days

Part of a series on
Muhammad circular symbol

Construction and First Expansion

The mosque was built by Muhammad in the first year of the Hijrah (c. 622 CE), after his arrival in Medina.[7] Riding on a camel called Qaswa he arrived at the place where this mosque was built used as a burial ground.[8] 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).[8] 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 Bab al-Nisa to the east.[9][8]

After the Battle of Khaybar, the mosque was "enlarged".[10] 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.[11] The mosque remained unaltered during the reign of the first Rashidun caliph Abu Bakr.[11]

Second Expansion by Umar

The second caliph Umar demolished all the houses around the mosque except that of Muhammad's wives to expand it.[12] 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.[13]

Third Expansion by Uthman

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.[14] 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 filza .[15]

Middle years

Al-Masjid an-Nabawi during the Ottoman Era, 19th century
Al-Masjid an-Nabawi during the Ottoman Era, 19th century

In 707, the Umayyad caliph al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik (r. 705–715) renovated the mosque. It took three years for the work to be completed. Raw materials were procured from the Byzantine Empire.[16] The area of the mosque was increased from 5,094 square metres (54,830 sq ft) of Uthman's time to 8,672 square metres (93,340 sq ft). 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.[17]

Abbasid caliph al-Mahdi (r. 775–785) 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 minbar, but abandoned this idea, owing to this causing damage of the woods on which they were built.[18] According to an inscription of Ibn Qutaybah, the caliph al-Ma'mun (r. 813–833) did "unspecified work" on the mosque. Al-Mutawakkil (r. 847–861) lined the enclosure of Prophet Muhammad's tomb with marble.[19] The Mamluk sultan al-Ashraf Qansuh al-Ghawri (r. 1501–1516) built a dome of stone over his grave in 1476.[20]

The Green Dome, in Richard Francis Burton's Pilgrimage, ca. 1850 CE
The Green Dome, in Richard Francis Burton's Pilgrimage, ca. 1850 CE

The Rawdah (referred to as al-Rawdah al-Mutaharah), covered by the dome over the south-east corner of the mosque,[6] was constructed in 1817 C.E. during the reign of the Ottoman sultan Mahmud II (r. 1808–1839). The dome was painted green in 1837 and came to be known as the "Green Dome".[5]

Mahmud II's successor, Abdul Majid I (r. 1839–1861), took thirteen years to rebuild the mosque, beginning in 1849.[21] Red stone bricks were used as the main material in reconstruction of the mosque. The floor area of the mosque was increased by 1,293 square metres (13,920 sq ft). 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".[22]

The Ottoman Empire ruled Medina from 1517 until the end of the First World War. The "Desert Tiger" Fahrettin Pasha's end of Madinah Defense on January 10, 1919, 400 years of Ottoman rule in the region ended. Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566) rebuilt the east and west walls of the mosque, and added the northeastern minaret known as Süleymaniyye. He added a new altar called Ahnaf next to the Prophet's altar, Shafi'iyya, and placed a new steel-covered dome on the tomb of the Prophet (Cell). Suleiman the Magnificent wrote the names of the Ottoman sultans from Osman Bey to Kanuni with the verse stating that Muhammad was sent to the right and left sides by reviving Babürrahme (west gate) and his right and left sides. The pulpit that was used today from Murad (1574-1595) was built. II in 1817. Mahmud completed the construction of Ravza-i Mutahhara on the southeast side of the mosque covered with a dome. The dome was painted green in 1839 and has been known as Kubbe-i Hadra (Green Dome) ever since.

During the reign of Sultan Abdulmecid I (1839–1861), the entire mosque was reorganized, except for the tomb of the Prophet, the three altars, the pulpit and the Suleymaniye minaret. It was expanded by making an ablution to the north side. The prayer place on the south side was doubled to the width, and covered with small domes. The interiors of the domes are decorated with verses from the Qur'an and couplets from the poem Kaside-i Bürde. The Kible wall was covered with polished floors written in lines from the Qur'an. The places of prayer and courtyard were paved with marble and red stone. The fifth minaret, Mecidiyye, was built to the west of the surrounded area.

Saudi era

View of Masjid-e-Nabawi Gate 21, 22 as seen from the north, the gate with two minarets is Bāb Al-Malik Fahd (Arabic: بَاب الْمَلِك فَهْد‎, lit. 'Gate of the King Fahd')
View of Masjid-e-Nabawi Gate 21, 22 as seen from the north, the gate with two minarets is Bāb Al-Malik Fahd (Arabic: بَاب الْمَلِك فَهْد‎, lit. 'Gate of the King Fahd')

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,[23] and the Green Dome is said to have narrowly escaped the same fate.[24] They considered the veneration of tombs and places thought to possess supernatural powers as an offence against tawhid.[25] The Prophet 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.[23] Similar events took place in 1925 when the Saudi ikhwans retook—and this time managed to keep—the city.[26][27][28][29]

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.[22][30]

In 1974, King Faisal added 40,440 square metres to the mosque.[31] 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.[32] 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.[33]

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[34] to 2 million worshippers.[31] 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.[35]


The two tiered mosque has a rectangular plan. The Ottoman prayer hall lies towards the south.[36] It has a flat paved roof topped with 27 sliding domes on square bases.[37] 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.[38] The roof is accessed by stairs and escalators. The paved area around the mosque is also used for prayer, equipped with umbrella tents.[39] Sliding domes and retractable umbrella-like canopies were designed by the German architect Mahmoud Bodo Rasch, his firm SL Rasch GmbH, and Buro Happold.[40]


The Rawḍah (Arabic: رَوْضَة‎, lit. 'Garden') is an area between the minbar and burial chamber of Muhammad. It is regarded as one of the riyāḍ al-Jannah (Arabic: رِيَاض ٱلْجَنَّة‎, gardens of Paradise).[41][5][42] A green carpet distinguishes the area from the rest of the mosque, which is covered in a red carpet. With regards visiting Madinah and performing the Ziyarah (visiting the grave of Muhammad), Muhammad said: “Whoever visits me after my death is like he who had visited me during my life.” [Tabraani] “Whoever performs his Hajj in Makkah, then comes to Madinah with the sole aim of visiting me in my Masjid, for him shall be written (the rewards of) two accepted Hajj.” [Daylami] “When a person stands at my grave reciting blessings on me, I hear it; and whoever calls for blessings on me in any other place, his every need in this world and in the hereafter is fulfilled and on the day of Qiyamah I shall be his witness and intercessor.” [Bayhaqi]

Imams and Khateebs of Masjid an Nabawi

1) Sheikh Dr. Ali bin Abdul Rahman al Hudhaify

2) Sheikh Dr. Abdul Bary bin Awwad ath Thubaity

3) Sheikh Dr. Hussain bin Abdul Aziz aal Sheikh

4) Sheikh Dr. Abdul Muhsin bin Muhammad al Qaasim

5) Sheikh Salah bin Muhammad al Budayr

6) Sheikh Ahmed Taalib Hameed

7) Sheikh Dr. Abdullah bin Abdul Rahman al Bu'ayjaan

8) Sheikh Dr. Ahmad bin Ali al Hudhaify

9) Sheikh Dr. Khaalid bin Sulaiman al Muhanna

Mu'adhins of Masjid an Nabawi

1) Sheikh Abdul Rahman Khashughji

2) Sheikh Essam Bukhari

3) Sheikh Umar Yusuf Kamal

4) Sheikh Sami Dewali

5) Sheikh Muhammad Maajid Hakeem

6) Sheikh Ashraf Afeefi

7) Sheikh Ahmad Afeefi

8) Sheikh Umar Sunbul

9) Sheikh Abdul Majeed as Surayhi

10) Sheikh Usamah Al Akhdar

11) Sheikh Mahdi Baree

12) Sheikh Anas Shareef

13) Sheikh Muhammad Qassas

14) Sheikh Hassan Khashughji

15) Sheikh Ahmad al Ansary

16) Sheikh Faisal Numaan

17) Sheikh Iyaadh Shukry

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 the space can only accommodate a few hundred people.[42]

Green Dome

The chamber adjacent to the Rawdah holds the tombs of Prophet Muhammad and two of his companions, father-in-laws 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.[5]


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.[43] 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).[44]


The Minbar of Qaitbay still in use at the Masjid
The Minbar of Qaitbay still in use at the Masjid

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.[44]


The first minarets (four in number) of 26 feet (7.9 m) high were 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.[44]


See also


  1. ^ Google maps. "Location of Masjid an Nabawi". Google maps. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
  2. ^ WMN
  3. ^ Trofimov, Yaroslav (2008), The Siege of Mecca: The 1979 Uprising at Islam's Holiest Shrine, New York, p. 79, ISBN 0-307-47290-6
  4. ^ The History of Electrical lights in the Arabian Peninsula
  5. ^ a b c d e f Ariffin, Syed Ahmad Iskandar Syed (2005). Architectural Conservation in Islam : Case Study of the Prophet's Mosque. Penerbit UTM. pp. 88–89, 109. ISBN 978-983-52-0373-2.
  6. ^ a b c Petersen, Andrew (2002-03-11). Dictionary of Islamic Architecture. Routledge. p. 183. ISBN 978-0-203-20387-3.
  7. ^ "The Prophet's Mosque [Al-Masjid An-Nabawi]". Islam Web. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  8. ^ a b c Ariffin, p. 49.
  9. ^ "Gates of Masjid al-Nabawi". Madain Project. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  10. ^ Ariffin, p. 50.
  11. ^ a b Ariffin, p. 51.
  12. ^ Atiqur Rahman. Umar Bin Khattab: The Man of Distinction. Adam Publishers. p. 53. ISBN 978-81-7435-329-0.
  13. ^ Ariffin, p. 54.
  14. ^ Ariffin, p. 55.
  15. ^ Ariffin, p. 56.
  16. ^ NE McMillan. Fathers and Sons: The Rise and Fall of Political Dynasty in the Middle East. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 33. ISBN 978-1-137-29789-1.
  17. ^ Ariffin, p. 62.
  18. ^ Munt, p. 116.
  19. ^ Munt, p. 118.
  20. ^ Wahbi Hariri-Rifai, Mokhless Hariri-Rifai. The Heritage of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. GDG Exhibits Trust. p. 161. ISBN 978-0-9624483-0-0.
  21. ^ Ariffin, p. 64.
  22. ^ a b Ariffin, p. 65.
  23. ^ a b Mark Weston (2008). Prophets and princes: Saudi Arabia from Muhammad to the present. John Wiley and Sons. pp. 102–103. ISBN 978-0-470-18257-4.
  24. ^ Doris Behrens-Abouseif; Stephen Vernoit (2006). Islamic art in the 19th century: tradition, innovation, and eclecticism. BRILL. p. 22. ISBN 978-90-04-14442-2.
  25. ^ Peskes, Esther (2000). "Wahhābiyya". Encyclopaedia of Islam. 11 (2nd ed.). Brill Academic Publishers. pp. 40, 42. ISBN 90-04-12756-9.
  26. ^ "History of the Cemetery Of Jannat Al-Baqi".
  27. ^ Mark Weston (2008). Prophets and princes: Saudi Arabia from Muhammad to the present. John Wiley and Sons. p. 136. ISBN 978-0-470-18257-4.
  28. ^ Vincent J. Cornell (2007). Voices of Islam: Voices of the spirit. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-275-98734-3.
  29. ^ Carl W. Ernst (2004). Following Muhammad: Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World. Univ of North Carolina Press. pp. 173–174. ISBN 978-0-8078-5577-5.
  30. ^ "New expansion of Prophet's Mosque ordered by king". Arab News. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  31. ^ a b "Prophet's Mosque to accommodate two million worshippers after expansion". Arab News. 26 September 2012. Archived from the original on 7 March 2017. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  32. ^ "Expansion of the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah (3 of 8)". King Fahd Abdulaziz. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  33. ^ "Expansion of the two Holy Mosques". Saudi Embassy. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  34. ^ "Saudi Arabia plans $6bln makeover for second holiest site in Islam". RT. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  35. ^ "Prophet's Mosque to house 1.6m after expansion". Saudi Gazette. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  36. ^ "Holy places: The Prophet's Mosque, Medina". Daily Monitor. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  37. ^ Frei Otto, Bodo Rasch: Finding Form: Towards an Architecture of the Minimal, 1996, ISBN 3-930698-66-8
  38. ^ "Archnet".
  39. ^ MakMax (Taiyo Kogyo Group). "Large scale umbrellas (250 units) completed, covering the pilgrims worldwide with membrane architecture : MakMax". Archived from the original on 2015-10-26. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
  40. ^ Walker, Derek (1998). The Confidence to Build. p 69: Taylor & Francis. p. 176. ISBN 0-419-24060-8.CS1 maint: location (link)
  41. ^ Malik ibn Anas. "14.5.11". Muwatta Imam Malik.
  42. ^ a b ""Islamic Guidelines for Visitors to the Prophet's Mosque"". Islam-QA. Archived from the original on 2013-07-09. Retrieved 2011-11-01. It is prescribed for the one who visits the Prophet's Mosque to pray two rakats in the Rawdah or whatever he wants of supplementary prayers, because it is proven that there is virtue in doing so. It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet said, "The area between my house and my mimbar is one of the gardens of Paradise, and my mimbar is on my cistern (hawd)." Narrated by al-Bukhari, 1196; Muslim, 1391.
  43. ^ Ariffin, p. 57.
  44. ^ a b c "The Prophet's Mosque". Last Prophet. Retrieved 19 June 2015.


  • Ariffin, Syed Ahmad Iskandar Syed. Architectural Conservation in Islam : Case Study of the Prophet's Mosque. Penerbit UTM. ISBN 978-983-52-0373-2.
  • Munt, Harry. The Holy City of Medina: Sacred Space in Early Islamic Arabia. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-107-04213-1.

Bibliography and further reading

External links

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