Ahmad Wahaj Al Siddiqui
The Prophet’s Mosque (Al Majid Al Nawabi) is known the world over as the second largest mosque (the largest, Masjid Al Haram is in Mecca) with its most beautiful state of the art structure.
This foundation of this Mosque was laid by the Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) in 622 CE. It was an open-air structure covered with palm fronds, with a raised platform for recitation of the Holy Quran. It was a rectangular enclosure of 30mx35m with a roof more than two meters in height.
It had three doors, namely Bab Al Rahmah, Bab Gariel and Bab Al Nisa.
A shaded platform called, ‘Suffah’ was created inside.
This is known in Arabic as ‘Dakka Ashab Al Suffah’ or a place for the companions of Suffah. It exists even today behind the enclosure of the Prophet’s tomb.
There were many companions, who had exclusively reserved themselves for learning traditions of the Prophet and tenets of Islam and spread the religion. Among them was Abu Hurayrah who knew by heart 8000 traditions of the Prophet.
Seven years later, the covered area of the Mosque was doubled and roof’s height was increased to 3.5 meters with 35 columns. During the caliphate of Umar bin Al Khattab, the area was enlarged to 3500 sq meters and was built with more wooden columns.
Riad Al Jannah
The center of the Prophet’s Mosque houses a very special but small area named Riad Al Jannah (Garden of the Heaven). It extends from the Prophet’s tomb (Rawdah) to his pulpit. People try to visit the confines of the area.
Riad Al Jannah is considered a part of Jannah.
According to Abu Hurayrah, the Prophet said, “The area between my house and my pulpit is one of the Gardens of the Heaven. To pray and recite the Holy Quran there is considered to be of great virtue as if one prayed in Jannah.”
Al Walid Ibn Abd Al Malik of Bani Umayya (707-715) replaced the old structure and built a larger one in its place incorporating the Prophet’s tomb. This Mosque was 84×100 sq meters with stone foundation and roof supported by stone columns.
He also built four minarets.
Caliph Mahdi of Banu Abbas (Abbasids 775-785) enlarged the Mosque and added 20 doors, eight on each of the east and west walls and four on the north wall.
During the reign of Sultan Abdul Majid of Ottoman Empire, the Mosque was re-modeled.
The Prayer Hall to the south was doubled in width with a new Mihrab for Imam.
The Qibla Wall was covered with glazed tiles featuring Quranic calligraphy. The floor of the Prayer Hall and courtyard were paved with marble and red stones and fifth minaret Al Majidiyya was built to the west of the enclosure.
King Abdul Aziz (1932-1953) ordered the 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 expansion included two open courtyards, provided with mechanically operated Taflon Umbrellas.
These courtyards have verandahs on their west and east wings with marble columns braced with golden brass on top embedded with electric lamps emitting beams of light.
This expansion exists up to the gate Al Majidi.
A library was built along the western wall to house historic Qurans and other religious texts. Two additional minarets were erected to the northeast and northwest of the Mosque, which form part of King Abdul Aziz’s expansion plan.
The late King Fahd’s giant expansion plan was launched in 1985.
This grand expansion started north of the old Ottoman Mosque, enlarging the Mosque on the western and eastern flanks, giving another grand floor added with stairs and escalators on gates of eastern and western flanks.
This great expansion covers an area of 400,327 sq meters.
Sheikh Abdul Aziz Abdullah Al Faleh Deputy President of the Presidency of the Prophet’s Mosque told Arab News that King Fahd’s expansion with its plazas in the north, west and east now accommodates about one million worshippers.
The Mosque is a symbol of masterpiece plan of architecture. The base of its columns is square in shape with brass grills. These thousands of columns are connected from their bases under a well-planned network to the air-conditioning plant situated seven kilometers away from the mosque.
All these columns emit cold air, comforting visitors.
The Mosque is decorated with polychrome marble and stones. The columns are of white marble braced with golden brass on top embedded with electric lamps emitting beams of light. The white marble pillars reflect the beams of light that produce a beautiful scene for the onlookers. The arches are built with black and white stones matching to Al Qurtuba Mosque in Spain.
The entire Mosque has been provided with thousands of beautiful big chandeliers.
A unique feature of the Prophet’s Mosque is that it consists of 27 main plazas, each of which is capped by a state-of-the-art sliding dome with rapid opening and closing facility.
These domes slide out on metal tracks to shade areas of the roof, creating light wells for the Prayer Hall.
Elaborately carved stone friezes decorate the dooms, and these plazas have been paved in geometrically patterned marble tiles. These amazing sliding domes are exceptional pieces of architecture not found anywhere in the world.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz ordered the building of mechanically operated Taflon Umbrellas in the east, west, north and by the right and left wings of the Qibla wall.
Source: Arab News, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia