Mosque Name: Kufa Grand Mosque

Country: Iraq

City: Kufa

Year of construction (AH): 16 AH

Year of construction (AD): 638 AD

GPS: 32°01’43"N 44°24’03"E


Original Qibla: unknown

Rebuilt facing Mecca: 131 AH


It is assumed that the original mosque at Kufa was built by Chaliph Omar when he established the city around 16 AH. However, in 686 AD or 67 AH during the second Islamic Civil war, the city of Kufa sided with Ibn Zubayr against Damascus, choosing Ibn Zubayr’s qibla of Mecca in Saudi Arabia as their Qibla: When the armies of Kufa met ibn Zubayr, Bujayr ibn ‘Abdallah al Musli spoke: Praise be to God who has tested us with shackles and has tested you by your forgiving us. Ibn Zubayr, we are people who turn to the same Qibla as you. (Tabari 21:112)

Some believe that the mosque plan was made by Ziyad ibn Abihi around 50 AH but some place its reconstruction later, after the end of the Second Civil War (131 AH); based on the lack of manpower and political will due to the intense fighting and reccocuring famine. The new mosque faced Mecca in Saudi Arabia and was surrounded by a trench and an arcade of marble columns that extended 20 meters in length. It measured approximately 100 square meters with the side of the qibla organized into five aisles and the others arranged into two. According to early literary sources, the aisles were demarcated by masonry block columns that rose to the height of the mosque’s flat roof, which is described as being rather high. Creswell posits that the design was reminiscent of an apadana, an architectural structure referring to a “Hall of Columns” for Persian kings.

This mosque is revered for many reasons: It is claimed to be the place where ‘Ali was fatally wounded by a poison-coated sword while prostrating in the Fajr prayer. It also contains the tombs of Muslim ibn ‘Aqil, Hani ibn ‘Urwa, and Mukhtar al-Thaqafi. There are markers within the mosque indicating the locations for where the court of ‘Ali used to preside, where he was claimed to perform miracles, and where ‘Ali ibn Husayn and Ja‘far as-Sadiq used to perform salat. Islamic traditions relate that it was the dwelling place of Noah and that this was the place where he built the Ark. According to Shia belief, it was from this mosque that the diluvium of Noah started submerging earth, as well as being the place from where the water was re-absorbed - also marked within the Mosque. Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq said that up to twelve miles of land in all directions from the mosque are blessed by its holiness. Ja’far al-Sadiq was also recorded as remarking that the “mosque in Kufa is superior to that of Jerusalem” and that “performing two prostrations of prayer here would be better for me than ten others at any mosque.” There are also Shia traditions which state that performing one prayer in this mosque is the same as having performed one thousand prayers elsewhere, and performing one obligatory prayer here is equal to having performed an accepted Hajj. The secretariat of Al-Kufa Mosque and its shrines describes the mosque as being one of the sole four dignified mosques to which Muslims must travel, and that it comes in third place after the Kaaba and the mosque of Prophet.”

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