Mosque Name: Qasr Qastal

Country: Jordan

City: Qastal

Year of construction (AH): 101 AH

Year of construction (AD): 720 AD

GPS: 31°44’45.68"N 35°56’23.24"E

Original Qibla: Petra

Rebuilt facing Mecca: never

Description:

The Umayyad complex at Qastal has been partially replaced by a modern residential building. The Qasr was most likely built by Yazid II, or earlier. The castle complex and external mosque are oriented within 5.21° degrees of Petra. The site also contains one of the oldest minarets in the world. The external graveyard contains some examples of early Umayyad graves, where the deceased were laid on their side facing Petra. Earlier Western writers, calculating from the direction of the feet (281.82°) assumed that the bodies were facing Jerusalem which is 273.14° (a difference of 8.68°.) A number of inscribed tombstones date back to the Umayyad and Abbasid periods, and are currently on display at the Madaba Archaeological Museum. Dan Gibson has proposed that this is the cite of the Battle of Badr, where Muslim troops intercepted arms being transported to the Quraysh tribe living in the Petra region. There are two graveyards here, dating to very early Islamic times. The smaller graveyard to the left of the building in the photo below contains the same number of graves as is attributed to the Muslim dead at the Battle of Badr, while the other graveyard is much larger and may be the graves of the polytheists from Petra.

While the later Qastal fortress is often attributed to Yazid II, the site of Qastal was occupied long before the Umayyad era. It is interesting to note that this Qasr is in line-of-site communication with Qasr Muwaqqar and later, Qasr Mushatta.

The mosque mihrab was originally rectangular and later converted to the typical semicircular shape. The palace is dated to the reign of Yazid II ibn Abdulmalik (720-740AD) based on a reference to a palace in a contemporary poem to Yazid written by Khthayyir ibn Abdurrahman Azza (644-723AD). However, reference in a later historical account supports the suggestion that it was completed before 744 but the actual time of construction is difficult to determine. Since it faced Petra, one might assume that it was constructed early in the Umayyad period.

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