Mosque Name: Mosque of the Prophet

Country: Saudi Arabia

City: Medina

Year of construction (AH): 2 AH

Year of construction (AD): 623 AD

GPS: 24.468333°N 39.610833°E


Original Qibla: unknown

Rebuilt facing Mecca: 707 & 1951

Description: The modern mosque on this site was built in 1951. There are no records of the qibla direction of the earlier 707 AD mosque.

The Mosque of the Prophet was first built in 622 by the Muslim community after they reached the city of Yathrib, which would later be called al-Madina al-Muanwara. There is no record of the qibla direction of this mosque. The mosque was situated next to the Prophet’s house, and it consisted of a square enclosure of thirty by thirty-five meters, built with palm trunks and mud walls. It was accessed through three doors, Bab Rahmah to the south, Bab Jibril to the west and Bab al-Nisa’ to the east. Within this enclosure, the Prophet created a shaded area to the south called the suffrah and aligned the prayer space facing north towards Petra. (Jerusalem is also in the same direction).

After the death of the Prophet, the mosque was again enlarged to twice its size. In 707, Umayyad Caliph al-Walid tore down the old structure, in order to build a larger mosque measuring eighty-four by one hundred meters, with stone foundations and a teak roof supported on stone columns. The new mosque included the house of the Prophet under which he was buried. This building comes after the “sign event” when signs were hung in the mosques of Medina to indicate the new direction of prayer, so it is safe to assume that the new mosque built by Walid was oriented towards Mecca. The mosque walls were decorated with mosaics by Coptic and Greek craftsmen similar to the decoration of the Umayyad mosque in Damascus and the one of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem built by the same caliph. The courtyard was surrounded by a gallery on four sides and four minarets added to its corners. A mihrab topped by a small dome was built on the qibla wall. Abbasid Caliph al-Mahdi (775-785) period, destroyed the northern section of al-Walid’s mosque between 778 and 781 to enlarge it further. He added twenty doors to the mosque, eight on each of the east and west walls, and four on the north wall. The current mosque was built in 1951.

It is said that during the reign of the ’Uthman ibn Affan (644-656), the caliph ordered a sign to be posted on the wall of the mosques at Medina so that pilgrims could now easily identify the direction in which to address their prayers. This seems to be a strange development, since up until this time there was no question as to which direction the faithful should pray. The entire building faced the qibla. Now, however, a sign was provided in the older mosques, seeming to indicate that a new qibla had been introduced. During the reign of Al-Walid ibn ’Abd al-Malik (Al-Walid I, 705-715), the Mosque of the Prophet (the Masjid al Nabawi) was renovated and the governor (wali) of Medina, ’Umar Ibn ’Abdul Aziz, ordered that a niche be made to designate the qibla.

NOTE: The Qibla wall was reoriented in Mosque of the Prophet in 707 AD or 88 AH to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

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