Mosque Name: Humeima Small Mosque
Year of construction (AH): 93 AD
Year of construction (AD): 712
GPS: 29.949629 35.34612
Original Qibla: Between
Rebuilt facing Mecca: Never
When archeologists were excavating the Humeima site they were aware that the Qasr was the home of the famous Abbas family. However, when they excavated the manor house they did not find a mihrab niche anywhere in the house. Unaware of the Petra option, they began looking farther and farther afield for a mosque that they could identify. In essence they were looking for a mihrab niche in a building that was constructed before the mihrab nice was invented.
Their report tells us that had not carefully examined a series of small building to the east of the Qasr, because they considered the buildings to be of a later date. They felt that these buildings were the homes of the agricultural workers who worked the Abbas fields and orchards that were watered by the nearby wadi. After the Abbas family moved to Iraq to take part in politics, the agricultural workers continued on looking after the gardens and orchards. However, on the last day of one of their dig seasons, the archeologists examined the foundations of these small buildings and discovered that there were apparently two that could have been used as a mosque at some time. Today one of these has been somewhat restored, and we can see that that this small mosque had a different Qibla than the Qasr building. But there are problems. The mihrab could only be understood by a few stones placed on the ground. The rest of the building was in ruins. If you look at a satellite photo you can see multiple walls indicating various stages of developments over the years of this residential site. The small mosque has been restored by the archeologists, but there is some tension over the shape of the mihrab niche.Another mosque seems to lie in the ruins as well.
I visited this Qasr several times over the years when the archeologists were excavating, and I noticed that the mihrab stones in the small mosque had been placed differently at different times. I was mostly interested in the Nabataean ruins, but I observed their work. It seemed that the archeologists could not decide just how to place the mihrab stones to make them line up with Mecca. Of course, once some well-meaning Arab arranged the stones a little ‘better’ the original setting of those stones was lost. I have searched my photos for pictures of the various mihrab arrangements I saw, but unfortunately none have survived from those visits.
The small mosques are an issue, because they they are now, they face too far west to face Mecca. They even face too far west to be a true Between Qibla. If these agricultural workers wanted to face the Between position, then the construction of this mosque would have taken place after 86 AH when Hajjaj first introduced the Between Qibla. But the very fact that this building has a Mihrab Niche, places the mosque construction even later, as the Mihrab Niche was only introduced in 89 AH and it wasn’t incorporated widely until a few years later.
So from Early Islamic records we know that the construction of the Abbas Qasr took place around 67 AH immediately after the Abbas family purchased the site. The small mosque was built some years later, with a different Qibla that faces closed to the Between Qibla.