Al-Masjid al-Nabawi, Mosque of the Prophet, Medina Saudi Arabia
Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (Arabic: المسجد النبوي [mæsʤıd ænːæbæwiː] “Mosque of the Prophet”), often called the Prophet’s Mosque, is a mosque situated in the city of Medina. As the final resting place of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, it is considered the second holiest site in Islam by both Shia and Sunni Muslims (the first being the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca) and is the second largest mosque in the world.
One of the most notable features of the site is the Green Dome over the center of the mosque, where the tomb of Muhammad is located. It is not exactly known when the green dome was constructed but manuscripts dating to the early 12th century describe the dome. It is known as the Dome of the Prophet or the Green Dome. Subsequent Islamic rulers greatly expanded and decorated it. Early Muslim leaders Abu Bakr and Umar are buried in an adjacent area in the mosque.
The site was originally Muhammad’s house; he settled there after his Hijra (emigration) to Medina, later building a mosque on the grounds. He himself shared in the heavy work of construction. The original mosque was an open-air building. The basic plan of the building has been adopted in the building of other mosques throughout the world.
The mosque also served as a community center, a court, and a religious school. There was a raised platform for the people who taught the Qur’an.
The original mosque was built by Muhammad, next to the house where he settled after his journey to Medina in 622 AD. The original mosque was an open-air building with a raised platform for the reading of the Qur’an. It was a rectangular enclosure of 30 m × 35 m (98 ft × 110 ft), built with palm trunks and mud walls, and accessed through three doors: Bab Rahmah to the south, Bab Jibril to the west and Bab al-Nisa’ to the east. The basic plan of the building has since been adopted in the building of other mosques throughout the world.
Inside, Muhammad created a shaded area to the south called the suffah and aligned the prayer space facing north towards Jerusalem. When the qibla (prayer direction) was changed to face the Kaaba in Mecca, the mosque was re-oriented to the south. The mosque also served as a community center, a court, and a religious school. Seven years later (629 AD/7 AH), the mosque was doubled in size to accommodate the increasing number of Muslims.
Subsequent Islamic rulers continued to enlarge and embellish the mosque over the centuries. In 707, Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik (705-715) replaced the old structure and built a larger one in its place, incorporating the tomb of Muhammad. This mosque was 84 by 100 m (280 by 330 ft) in size, with stone foundations and a teak roof supported on stone columns. The mosque walls were decorated with mosaics by Coptic and Greek craftsmen, similar to those seen in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem (built by the same caliph). The courtyard was surrounded by a gallery on four sides, with four minarets on its corners. A mihrab topped by a small dome was built on the qibla wall.
Abbasid Caliph al-Mahdi (775-785) replaced the northern section of Al-Walid’s mosque between 778 and 781 to enlarge it further. He also added 20 doors to the mosque: eight on each of the east and west walls, and four on the north wall.
During the reign of the Mamluk Sultan Qalawun, a dome was erected above the tomb of Muhammad and an ablution fountain was built outside of Bab al-Salam. Sultan Al-Nasir Muhammad rebuilt the fourth minaret that had been destroyed earlier. After a lightning strike destroyed much of the mosque in 1481, Sultan Qaitbay rebuilt the east, west and qibla walls.
The Ottoman sultans who controlled Medina from 1517 until World War I also made their mark. Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566) rebuilt the western and eastern walls of the mosque and built the northeastern minaret known as al-Suleymaniyya. He added a new mihrab (al-Ahnaf) next to Muhammad’s mihrab (al-Shafi’iyyah) and placed a new dome covered in lead sheets and painted green above Muhammad’s house and tomb.
During the reign of Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid (1839-1861), the mosque was entirely remodeled with the exception of Muhammad’s Tomb, the three mihrabs, the minbar and the Suleymaniyya minaret. The precinct was enlarged to include an ablution area to the north. The prayer hall to the south was doubled in width and covered with small domes equal in size except for domes covering the mihrab area, Bab al-Salam and Muhammad’s Tomb. The domes were decorated with Qur’anic verses and lines from Qaṣīda al-Burda (Poem of the Mantle), the famous poem by 13th century Arabic poet Busiri. The qibla wall was covered with glazed tiles featuring Qur’anic calligraphy. The floors of the prayer hall and the courtyard were paved with marble and red stones and a fifth minaret (al-Majidiyya), was built to the west of the enclosure.
After the foundation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932, the mosque underwent several major modifications. In 1951 King Ibn Saud (1932-1953) ordered demolitions around the mosque to make way for new wings to the east and west of the prayer hall, which consisted of concrete columns with pointed arches. Older columns were reinforced with concrete and braced with copper rings at the top. The Suleymaniyya and Majidiyya minarets were replaced by two minarets in Mamluk revival style. Two additional minarets were erected to the northeast and northwest of the mosque. A library was built along the western wall to house historic Qur’ans and other religious texts.
In 1973 Saudi King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz ordered the construction of temporary shelters to the west of the mosque to accommodate the growing number of worshippers in 1981, the old mosque was surrounded by new prayer areas on these sides, enlarging five times its size.
The latest renovations took place under King Fahd and have greatly increased the size of the mosque, allowing it to hold a large number of worshippers and pilgrims and adding modern comforts like air conditioning. He also installed twenty seven moving domes at the roof of Masjid Nabawi.