Mosque Name: Qasr Tubah
City: Desert Castle
Year of construction (AH): 126 AH
Year of construction (AD): 743 AD
GPS: 31°19’32"N 36°34’15"E
Original Qibla: Jerusalem
Rebuilt facing Mecca: never
The unfinished Qasr al-Tubah believed to have been started under the patronage of Caliph Walid II ibn Yazid around 743-44 AD, and was almost certainly destined to be a caravanserai along the established caravan route. However, only the northern end was finished, perhaps because of the abrupt end of the Umayyad dynasty in 750 AD. Tabari Vol. 26
North of Qasr Tuba, alongside the dry riverbed, is the palace’s ancient water supply -three massive wells built of stone, with adjacent plastered pools and round structures designed for use by the animals that powered the water-lifting devices.
The entire complex has a qibla direction towards Jerusalem. This strange anomaly may be due to Walid II’s strange character. His full name was Walid ibn Yazid. He was an Umayyad caliph who reigned for a short period between 743 and 744/125-126 AH. He was the son of Yazid II and grandson of ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan. Walid II’s birth date is unknown and sources vary on his age at time of death. Walid II’s brief political career was marked by significant opposition from factions within the ruling class, which ultimately lead to his murder in 744/126. The reputation he left behind was of a ruler who was distracted with wine, women, songs, and poetry. Many facades attributed to his construction contain semi-nude women and lavish decorations. Some religious rulers claimed he was not a Muslim, and the choice of this strange Qibla for this desert castle may be evidence of this. His behavior was considered so profligate that he was passed over and instead, his uncle Hisham became caliph. His desert castle project was then abandoned.