Pre-MuhammadAccording to Islamic tradition the very first construction of the Kaaba, the heart of the Masjid al-Haram, was undertaken by Abraham. The Qur'ân that this was the first house built for humanity to worship Allah. As time continued the Kaaba was demolished completely and forgotten.
With the order of the God [Quran 22:26], Ibrahim and his son Ishmail found the original foundation and rebuild the Kaaba [Quran 2:125] [Quran 2:127] in 2130 BCE. Hajar-ul-Aswad, the Black Stone situated on the lower side of the eastern corner of the Kaaba, is believed[by whom?] to be the only remnant of the original structure made by Ibrahim.
Muslim belief also places the story of Ishmael's mother searching for water in the general vicinity of the mosque. In the story, Hagar runs between the hills of Safa and Marwah looking for water for her infant son until God eventually reveals her the Zamzam. The "Zamzam well" and "Safa and Marwah" are structures in the Masjid al-Haram.
First Islamic EraUpon Muhammad's victorious return to Mecca in 630, Muhammad and his son-in-law, Ali ibn Abi Talib, broke all the idols in and around the Kaaba and ended its pagan use. This began the Islamic rule over the Kaaba and the building of the Masjid al-Haram around it.
The first major renovation to the Mosque took place in 692. 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 centre. 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. 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.
OttomansIn 1570, Sultan Selim II commissioned the chief architect Mimar Sinan to renovate the Masjid. 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.
After heavy rain and flood in 1621 and more in 1629, the walls of the Kaaba fell down and the Masjid suffered damage. In 1629, during the reign of Murad IV, the Kaaba was rebuilt with stones from Mecca and the Masjid was renovated. In the renovation of the Masjid a new stone arcade was added, three more minarets (which made the total number 7) were built and the marble flooring was retiled. This was the unaltered state of the Mosque for nearly three centuries.
SaudisThe first major renovation under the Saudi kings was done between 1955 and 1973. In this renovation, four more minarets were added and the ceiling was refurnished and the floor was replaced with artificial stone and marble. The Mas'a gallery (Al-Safa and Al-Marwah) is included in the Masjid via roofing and enclosements. During this renovations many of the historical features built by Ottomans, particularly the support columns, were demolished.
The second Saudi renovations under King Fahd, added a new wing and an outdoor prayer area to the Masjid. The new wing which is also for prayers is accessed through the King Fahd Gate. This extension is considered to have been from 1982-1988.
The third Saudi extension (1988–2005) saw the building of more minarets, the erecting of a King's residence overlooking the Masjid and more prayer area in and around the Masjid itself. These developments have taken place simultaneously with those in Arafat, Mina and Muzdalifah. This third extension has also resulted in 18 more gates, three domes corresponding in position to each gate and the installation of nearly 500 marble columns. Other modern developments include the addition of heated floors, air conditioning, escalators and a drainage system.
Current expansion projectIn 2007, the Masjid went under a fourth extension project which is estimated to last until 2020. King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz plans to increase the Masjid's capacity to 2 million.
Northern expansion of the mosque began in August 2011 and is expected to be completed in 1.5 years. The area of the mosque will be expanded from the current 356,000 m2 (3,830,000 sq ft) to 400,000 m2 (4,300,000 sq ft). A new gate named after King Abdullah will be built together with two new minarets, bringing their total to 11. The cost of the project is $10.6-billion and after completion the mosque will house over 2.5 million worshipers. The mataf (the circumambulation areas around the Kaaba) will also see expansion and all closed spaces will be airconditioned.
Controversies on expansion projectsThere has been some controversy that the expansion projects of the Masjid and Mecca itself is causing harm to early Islamic Heritage. Many more than millennium old buildings have been demolished for expansion and development projects of Masjid al Haram, new malls and hotels. Some examples are:
- Bayt al-Mawlid, the house where Muhammad was born demolished and rebuilt as a library.
- Dar al Arqam, the first Islamic school where Muhammad taught flattened to lay marble tiles.
- The house of Abu Jahal has been demolished and replaced by public washrooms.
- Dome which served as a canopy over the Well of Zamzam demolished.
- Some Ottoman porticos at the Masjid al-Haram demolished and the remaining under threat.
- House of Muhammed in Medina where he lived after the migration from Mecca.
- Religious significance
QiblaThe Qibla—the direction that Muslims turn to in their prayers (salah)—is toward the Kaaba and symbolizes unity in worshiping one Allah (God). At one point the direction of the Qibla was toward Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem) (and is therefore called the First of the Two Qiblas), however, this only lasted for seventeen months, after which the Qibla became oriented towards the Kaaba in Mecca. According to accounts from Muhammad's companions, the change happened very suddenly during the noon prayer at Medina in the Masjid al-Qiblatain.
PilgrimageThe Haram is the focal point of 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, about 3 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 whenever they visit Mecca.
The Hajj is associated with the life of the Islamic prophet Mohammad from the 7th century, but the ritual of pilgrimage to Makkah is considered by Muslims to stretch back thousands of years to the time of Ibrahim (Abraham).
Architecture and Structures
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KaabaThe Kaaba (Arabic: الكعبة) is a cuboid-shaped building in the center of the Masjid al-Haram and is the most sacred site in Islam. All Muslims around the world face the Kaaba during prayers, no matter where they are. This is called facing the Qiblah.
The Hajj require pilgrims to walk seven times around the Kaaba in a counter-clockwise direction (as viewed from above). This circumambulation, the Tawaf, is also performed by pilgrims during the Umrah (lesser pilgrimage).
Black StoneThe Black Stone (Arabic: الحجر الأسود al-Ḥajar al-Aswad) is the eastern cornerstone of the Kaaba. It was set intact into the Kaaba's wall by Muhammad in the year 605, five years before his first revelation. Since then it has been broken into a number of fragments and is now cemented into a silver frame in the side of the Kaaba. Its physical appearance is that of a fragmented dark rock, polished smooth by the hands of millions of pilgrims.
Many of the pilgrims, if possible, stop and kiss the Black Stone, emulating the kiss that Islamic tradition records it having received from Muhammad. If they cannot reach it, they point to it on each of their seven circuits around the Kaaba.
- see article Maqaam Ibrahim
Safa and MarwaAl-Safa and Al-Marwah (Arabic: الصفا Aṣ-Ṣafā, المروة al-Marwah) are two hills, now located in the Masjid al-Haram. In Islamic tradition, Ibrahim's wife Hagar runs between the hills of Safa and Marwah looking for water for her infant son Ishmael until God eventually reveals her the Zamzam. Muslims also travel back and forth seven times during the ritual pilgrimages of Hajj and Umrah as a remembrance her.
Safa — from which the ritual walking (Arabic: سعى saʿy) begins — is located approximately half a mile from the Kaaba. Marwah is located about 100 m (330 ft) from the Kaaba. The distance between Safa and Marwah is approximately 450 m (1,480 ft)
Zamzam WellThe Zamzam Well (Arabic: زمزم) is a well located 20 m (66 ft) east of the Kaaba. It began circa 2150 BCE when Abraham's (Ibrāhīm) infant son Ishmael (ʼIsmāʻīl) was thirsty and kept crying for water. The well has never gone dry despite the millions of liters of water consumed every year. It had been deepened several times in history during periods of severe droughts.
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MuadhinsNowadays, several families share adhan (call to prayer) duties in the Masjid al-Haram, including Mulla, Shaker, Rayes, Al al-Abbas, Hadrawi, Basnawi, Khouj, Marouf and Feedah. Some of these families held this position for hundreds of years; for example,the al-Abbas. There are 16 muadhins at the mosque, and during Ramadan an additional six are appointed. Apart from adhan, a muadhin also supports imams by repeating what they say in a loud voice.
The site was originally adjacent to Muhammad's house; he settled there after his Hijra (emigration) to Medina in 622. He shared in the heavy work of construction. The original mosque was an open-air building. The basic plan of the building has been adopted in the building of other mosques throughout the world.
The mosque also 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. The mosque is under the control of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.
One of the most notable features of the site is the Green Dome over the mosque, originally over the house of Aisha and Fatima, where the tomb of Muhammad is located. The first ever photos from inside of the tomb of Muhammad and his daughter's (Fatemeh) house were published on Oct 2012 demonstrating it was constructed in a very simple way, decorated in green . It is not exactly known when the green dome was constructed but manuscripts dating to the early 12th century describe the dome. It is known as the Dome of the Prophet or the Green Dome..
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 and many people who perform the Hajj go on to Medina before or after Hajj to visit the mosque.
First BuiltThe original mosque was built by Muhammad and his companions next to the house where he settled after his journey to Medina in 622 CE. The original mosque was an open-air building (covered by palm fronds) with a raised platform for the reading of the Quran. It was a rectangular enclosure of 30 m × 35 m (98 ft × 115 ft) at a height of 2 m (6 ft 7 in) wall which was built with palm trunks and mud walls. It was accessed through three doors: Bab Rahmah (Door of Mercy) to the south, Bab Jibril (Door of Gabriel) to the west and Bab al-Nisa' (Door of the Women) to the east.The basic plan of the building has since been adopted in the building of most mosques throughout the world.
Inside, Muhammad created a shaded area to the south called the suffah and aligned the prayer space facing north towards Jerusalem. When the qibla (prayer direction) was changed to face the Kaaba in Mecca, the mosque was re-oriented to the south. The mosque also served as a community center, a court, and a religious school.
Seven years later (629 AD/7 AH), the mosque was doubled in size to accommodate the increasing number of Muslims. The area of the mosque was enlarged by 20 m × 15 m (66 ft × 49 ft) and became almost a square 50 m × 49.5 m (160 ft × 162.4 ft). The height increased to became 3.5 m (11 ft) and the mosque encompassed 35 columns.
The mosque remained like that during the caliphate of Abu Bakr until the caliphate of 'Umar bin al-Khattab, who enlarged the area of the mosque to 3575 m2 and built more wooden columns.
During the Uthman ibn Affan an arcade of stone and plaster was added to he mosque and the columns were remolded and built of stone.
UmayyadsSubsequent Islamic rulers continued to enlarge and embellish the mosque over the centuries. In 707, Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik (705-715) replaced the old structure and built a larger one in its place, incorporating the tomb of Muhammad. This mosque was 84 by 100 m (276 by 330 ft) in size, with stone foundations and a teak roof supported on stone columns. The mosque walls were decorated with mosaics by Coptic and Greek craftsmen, similar to those seen in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem (built by the same caliph). The courtyard was surrounded by a gallery on four sides, with four minarets on its corners. A mihrab topped by a small dome was built on the qibla wall.
AbbasidsAbbasid Caliph al-Mahdi (775-785) replaced the northern section of Al-Walid's mosque between 778 and 781 to enlarge it further. He also added 20 doors to the mosque: eight on each of the east and west walls, and four on the north wall.
MamluksDuring the reign of the Mamluk Sultan Al Mansur Qalawun, a dome was erected above the tomb of Muhammad and an ablution fountain was built outside of Bab al-Salam (Door of Peace). Sultan Al-Nasir Muhammad rebuilt the fourth minaret that had been destroyed earlier. After a lightning strike destroyed much of the mosque in 1481, Sultan Qaitbay rebuilt the east, west and qibla walls.
OttomansThe Ottoman sultans who controlled Medina from 1517 until World War I also made their mark. Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (1520–1566) rebuilt the western and eastern walls of the mosque and built the northeastern minaret known as al-Suleymaniyya. He added a new mihrab (al-Ahnaf) next to Muhammad's mihrab (al-Shafi'iyyah) and placed a new dome covered in lead sheets and painted green above Muhammad's house and tomb.
Ar-Rawdah, the green dome over the center of the mosque, where the tomb of Muhammad is located was constructed in 1817C.E. during the reign of Mahmud II and painted green in 1839 C.E.. It is known as the (Green) Dome of the Prophet.
During the reign of Ottoman Sultan Abdul Majid I (1839–1861), the mosque was entirely remodeled with the exception of Muhammad's Tomb, the three mihrabs, the minbar and the Suleymaniyya minaret. The precinct was enlarged to include an ablution area to the north. The prayer hall to the south was doubled in width and covered with small domes equal in size except for domes covering the mihrab area, Bab al-Salam and Muhammad's Tomb. The domes were decorated with Quranic verses and lines from Qaṣīda al-Burda (Poem of the Mantle), the famous poem by 13th century Arabic poet Busiri. The qibla wall was covered with glazed tiles featuring Quranic calligraphy. The floors of the prayer hall and the courtyard were paved with marble and red stones and a fifth minaret (al-Majidiyya), was built to the west of the enclosure.
SaudisWhen bin Saud took Medina in 1805, his followers, adherents to Wahhabism, destroyed 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. Muhammad's tomb however was stripped off its gold and jewel ornaments.
Similar events took place in 1925 when the Saudi ikhwans retook—and this time managed to keep—the city. In the Wahhabi interpretation of Islam, burial is to take place in unmarked graves. From 1925, after Medina surrendered to Ibn Saud, the mosque was gradually expanded by demolishing several historical places around it.
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 1973 Saudi King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz ordered the construction of temporary shelters to the west of the mosque to accommodate the growing number of worshippers in 1981, the old mosque was surrounded by new prayer areas on these sides, enlarging five times its size.
The latest renovations took place under King Fahd and have greatly increased the size of the mosque, allowing it to hold a large number of worshippers and pilgrims and adding modern comforts like air conditioning. He also installed twenty seven moving domes at the roof of Masjid Nabawi.
In 2007, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Abdul-Azeez ibn Abdullaah Aal ash-Shaikh stated that "The Green Dome shall be demolished and the three graves flattened in the Prophet's Masjid".
The original mosque was not very large, and today the original exists only as a small portion of the larger mosque. The newer and older sections of the mosque are quite distinct. The older section has many colorful decorations and numerous small pillars.
Architecture and Special StructuresAs it stands today, the mosque has a rectangular plan on two floors with the Ottoman prayer hall projecting to the south. The main prayer hall occupies the entire first floor. The mosque enclosure is 100 times bigger than the first mosque built by Muhammad and can accommodate more than half a million worshippers.
The mosque has a flat paved roof topped with 27 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.
The north facade has three evenly spaced porticos, while the east, west and south facades have two. The walls are composed of a series of windows topped by pointed arches with black and white voussoirs. There are six peripheral minarets attached to the new extension, and four others frame the Ottoman structure. The mosque is lavishly decorated with polychrome marble and stones. The columns are of white marble with brass capitals supporting slightly pointed arches, built of black and white stones. The column pedestals have ventilation grills that regulate the temperature inside the prayer hall.
This new mosque contains the older mosque within it. The two sections can be easily distinguished: the older section has many colorful decorations and numerous small pillars, and fans have been installed in the ceiling; the new section is in gleaming white marble and is completely air-conditioned.
The open courtyard of the mosque can be shaded by folded, umbrella-like canopies, designed by Bodo Rasch and Buro Happold.
Al-Riyad-ul-JannahThe heart of the mosque houses a very special but small area named al-Riad-ul-Jannah, which extends from Muhammad's tomb (Rawdah) to his pulpit (minbar). Pilgrims attempt to visit and pray in Riad-ul-Jannah, for there is a tradition that supplications and prayers uttered here are never rejected. Entrance into Riad-ul-Jannah is not always possible (especially during the Hajj season), as the tiny area can accommodate only a few hundred people.
Al-Riad-ul-Jannah is considered part of Jannah (Paradise). It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that Muhammad said: "The area between my house and my minbar is one of the gardens (rawdah) of Paradise, and my minbar is on my cistern (hawd)" 
Ar-RawdahAr-Rawdah is one of the most important feature of the site. It is the green dome over the center of the mosque, where the tomb of Muhammad is located. Constructed in 1817C.E. diring the reign of Mahmud II and painted green in 1839C.E., it is known as the Dome of the Prophet. Early Muslim leaders Abu Bakr and Umar ibn al-Khattab are buried beside Muhammad. Ar-Rawdah has two small gateways. The original pulpit was much smaller than the current one, and constructed of palm tree wood, not marble. The current marble pulpit was constructed by the Ottomans.
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- Ali bin Abdur Rahman Al-Hudaify
- Hussain Abdul Aziz Aal Sheikh
- Salah Al-Budair
- Mohsin Al-Qasim
The Quba Mosque (Quba' Masjid or Masjid al-Quba, Arabic: مسجد قباء), in the outlying environs of Medina in Saudi Arabia, is the oldest mosque in the world. Its first stones were positioned by the Islamic prophet Muhammad on his emigration from the city of Mecca to Medina and the mosque was completed by his companions. Muhammad spent more than 20 nights in this mosque (after migrating) praying qasr (a short prayer) while waiting for Ali whose house was behind this mosque.
According to Islamic tradition, offering two rakaʿāt of nafl prayers in the Quba Mosque is equal to performing one Umrah. Quba Masjid is the first mosque built in the history of Islam and was built as soon as Muhammad arrived on the Hijra.
Muhammad used to go there, riding or on foot, every Saturday and offer a two rak'ah prayer. He advised others to do the same, saying, "Whoever makes ablutions at home and then goes and prays in the Mosque of Quba, he will have a reward like that of an 'Umrah." This hadith is reported by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Nasa'i, Ibn Majah and Hakim al-Nishaburi.
Narrated 'Abdullah bin Dinar:Ibn 'Umar said, "The Prophet used to go to the Mosque of Quba every Saturday (sometimes) walking and (sometimes) riding." 'Abdullah (Ibn 'Umar) used to do the same.
When Abdel-Wahed El-Wakil was commissioned, in the 20th century, to conceive a larger mosque to replace the old mosque, he intended to incorporate the old structure into his design. But the old mosque was torn down and replaced with a new one.
The new mosque consists of a rectangular prayer hall raised on a second storey platform. The prayer hall connects to a cluster containing:
- residential areas,
- ablution facilities,
- shops, and
- a library
Prayer hallThe prayer hall is arranged around a central courtyard, characterised by six large domes resting on clustered columns. A portico, which is two bays in depth, borders the courtyard on the east and west, while a one-bayed portico borders it on the north, and separates it from the women's prayer area.
The women's prayer area, which is surrounded by a screen, is divided into two parts as a passageway connects the northern entrance with the courtyard.
When Quba Mosque was rebuilt in 1986, the Medina architecture was retained - ribbed white domes, and basalt facing and modest exterior - qualities that recalls Madina's simplicity. The courtyard, is flagged with black, red and white marble. It is screened overhead by day from the scorching heat with shades. Arabesque latticework filters the light of the palm groves outside.
Imams and Khateebs
- Sheikh Salih Bin 'Awad Al Mughamisi
- Sheikh Muhammed Khalil
- Sheikh Muhammad Ayyub And Adil
- Sheikh Ahmed bin Ali bin Abdur Rahman Hudaify
Mentions in the hadith
Muhammad frequented the mosque and prayed there. This is referred to in a number of hadith:
Narrated 'Abdullah bin Dinar: Ibn 'Umar said, "The Prophet used to go to the Mosque of Quba every Saturday (sometimes) walking and (sometimes) riding." 'Abdullah (Ibn 'Umar) used to do the same
Narrated Ibn 'Umar: The Prophet used to go to the Mosque of Quba (sometimes) walking and sometimes riding. Added Nafi (in another narration), "He then would offer two Rakat (in the Mosque of Quba)."—Collected by Muhammad al-Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari Volume 2, Book 21, Number 285
Mention in the Qur'anIt is mentioned in the Qur'an as the mosque founded on piety and devoutness (Masjid al-Taqwa):
Never stand (to pray) there. A place of worship which was found upon duty (to Allah) from the first day is more worthy that thou shouldst stand (to pray) therein, wherein are men who love to purify themselves. Allah loveth the purifiers.