Some Interesting Facts
When the Ottomans introduced electricity to the Arabian Peninsula, the first place to be lit up was the Prophet’s Mosque. According to some sources, it would be a few more years before the Sultan himself had full electricity in his own palace in Istanbul.
Larger than Original
The current Mosque is more than 100 times the size of the original building. It covers the old city itself.
According to a legend, there is an ‘empty grave’ next that of the Prophet.
A major portion of the old Mosque, including the original Minbar (Pulpit) of the Prophet, was destroyed in a fire that swept through the structure centuries after the Prophet died. The fire was so extensive that the roof and even some of the walls of the room of the Mosque collapsed, revealing his resting place for the first time in 600 years.
For more than 650 years after the Prophet passed away, there was no dome over his grave. The first dome (in wood) was built in 1279 by Mamluk Sultan. The green dome that we see today is actually the outer dome over the room of the Prophet. There is a smaller, inner dome with the names of the Prophet, Abu Bakr and Umar inscribed on the inside.
It turns out that the dome has been through various colours and renovations before it received the current form and colour about 150 years ago. The dome was white for a while but for long, it was purple-blue, the colours adored by the Arabs of Hijaz.
Most Mosques only have one Mihrab, but the Prophet’s Mosque has three. The current Mihrab is the one used nowadays for the imam to lead prayers. The next Mihrab is set back and is called the ‘Suleymaniye’ or ‘Ahnaf Mihrab. It was made on the orders of the Sultan Suleyman ‘The Magnificent’ for the Hanafi imam to lead prayers whilst the Maliki imam led prayers from the Prophetic Mihrab.
The Prophetic Mihrab completely covers the area that the Prophet used to lead prayers from except where he placed his feet.
Items belonging to the Prophet were housed in his room or the room of Fatima, which was incorporated into his room after a major expansion. When Madina was under siege during World War I, the Ottoman commander had many priceless artifacts evacuated to Istanbul, hidden in the clothes of women and children. They are now on display at the Topkapi Palace.
The Prophet’s Mosque has many subtle signs and secrets making ‘Da Vinci Code’ look like a cheap puzzle for preschoolers.
Each pillar dome and window carries a story indicating the location of events that carry historical and spiritual significance. The people who constructed the Prophet’s Mosque realised that it would be impossible to put up signs everywhere as it would distract from the main purpose of prayers. Therefore, they came up with an ingenious way of indicating a location of importance through minor changes in the design of surrounding objects.
The Prophet’s Mosque was more than a Mosque. It was the center of the First Islamic Community and Nation. It was the scene of our greatest triumphs and tragedies. It was a community center, homeless refuge, university and Mosque all rolled into one.
Like the Muslim community, it has grown over the years and become more modern with each passing generation.
Despite the exponential growth and changes from the simple Hijazi date palm trunk interior to the marble and gold clad structure that we have today, the inner core remains the same.
Perhaps there is a lesson in there for us all.
Source: Muslim Matters.org