Mosque Name: Jami’a al-Umawi al-Kabir

Country: Syria

City: Damascus

Year of construction (AH): 91 AH

Year of construction (AD): 709 AD

GPS: 33°30’41.98” N 36°18’24.85"E

Original Qibla: Between

Rebuilt facing Mecca:

Description: 1069

This mosque holds a shrine which is said to contain the head of John the Baptist. The head was supposedly found during the excavations for the building of the mosque. There are also many important landmarks within the mosque for the Shi’a. Among them is the place where the head of Husain (the grandson of Muhammad) was kept on display by Yazid I. There is also the tomb of Saladin, (Salah al-Din) which stands in a small garden adjoining the north wall of the mosque.

Construction of the mosque was based on the house of Muhammad in Medina. This mosque had many functions: it was a place for personal and collective prayer, religious education, political meetings, administration of justice and relief for the ill and homeless. The new mosque was the most impressive in the Islamic world at the time. The interior walls were covered with fine mosaics considered to depict paradise or possibly the Ghouta, which tradition holds, so impressed Muhammad that he declined to enter it, preferring to taste paradise in the afterlife. The Damascus Mosque was considered one of the marvels of the world because it was one of the largest in its time. The exterior walls were based on the walls of the temple of Jupiter and measured 100 meters by 157.5 meters.

This mosque was one of the first mosques (the other being al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem) to be shaped in such a way so that visitors could easily see the mihrab and each other. The interior of the mosque is mainly plain white, although it contains some fragmentary mosaics and other geometric patterns.

It is thought that the mosque used to have the largest golden mosaic in the world at over 4,000 m². The mosque has been rebuilt several times due to fires in 1069, 1401, and 1893 AD. Many of the early mosaics were lost, although some have been restored since. The minaret in the southeast corner is called the Minaret of Jesus, as many Muslims believe that this is where Jesus will appear at the end of the world. The mosque does not face Mecca but rather a point between Petra and Mecca.

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