Islam’s holiest and oldest mosques
There are many old mosques around the world and it is difficult to pinpoint them out. However, when it comes to ascertaining the oldest mosque it can be discerned on the basis of either the oldest congregation or the oldest structure that has survived till date. Some of the oldest structures have been in continuous use for congregation while some have been converted towards other use for the community. Here are five oldest mosques in the world which continue to be in use and still have its old structures standing albeit with much renovations. They all date back to the time of Prophet Muhammad and have unique architectural structures.
Masjid E Quba
This mosque boasts of its first foundation being laid by the prophet Muhammad while migrating to Medina from Mecca. The structure was built in 622 by the companions of the prophet. The old architecture has simple ribbed white domes while the courtyard is made up of white, red and black marble stones with arabesque latticework as shades. The mosque was rebuilt in 1986 with new additions while retaining the old structural design. There is now a new rectangular prayer hall and has a women’s area which is screened off along the passageway. There are cluster of new buildings comprising of offices, ablution area, residential area, library and shops around the prayer hall. The mosque has six entrances with four circular minarets marking the corners of the prayer hall.
This mosque was built in 622 in Medina by the prophet Muhammad and is the second oldest and holiest place for Islam. This mosque is the final resting abode of the prophet along with Abu Bakr and Umar, the early Muslim leaders. The prophet was thoroughly involved in the construction of this mosque and is adjacent to his house. The mosque has special features like the Green Dome or the Dome of the prophet and served as a religious school, court and community center from the time of the prophet. The mosque was gradually expanded and decorated by subsequent Islamic rulers through the centuries.
Masjid al Qiblatain
It was here that the prophet Muhammad changed the direction of prayers from Jerusalem to Mecca which is still observed. The mosque was built in 623 and is located in Medina. The mosque had originally two prayer niches which faced Jerusalem and Medina although a recent renovation has removed the old prayer niche which faced Jerusalem. This mosque has an orthogonal symmetry and geometry accentuated by twin domes and minarets, with a raised prayer hall. Much of its grandeur was accentuated during the Ottoman rule when the Sultan Suleiman took special interest in its renovation and reconstruction.
This mosque is situated in Al-Kilabiyah in Saudi Arabia and was built in 629. It is still in use for prayers although much of its old architecture is in ruins. It is in danger of collapse with only five small mud brick arches standing from its original structure. However, this site is considered as the third holiest site of Islam till date.
Masjid Al Haram
Located in Mecca, this mosque was built in 638 and houses the holy Kaabah where pilgrims from around the world come to pay respect. This structure accommodates up to four million pilgrims during the Haj pilgrimage every year. This mosque is famously holy for the Black stone or Kaaba, Maqam Ibrahim or Ibrahim’s place of standing and the Zamzam well