Madinah Harram Channel
History of Masjid-un-Nabwi: Construction and Extension
It is mentioned in Bukhari as narrated by Anas bin Malik (RU) that when the Prophet (SAS) migrated to Madina area he stayed in Quba for fourteen days in the tribe of Banu Amr. He then proceeded to Madina. He arrived in Madina in the area of Banu Najjar near the house of Abu Ayyub Ansari (RU). The Prophet (SAS) intended to build a mosque there. This land was owned by two orphans Sahl and Suhail. The Prophet (SAS) asked Abu Bakr (RU) to pay ten dinars to them for the land.
The Prophet (SAS) laid down the foundation of this mosque during Rabi-ul-Awwal 1H. It’s dimensions were about 35×30 meters. The foundation was laid with stones and the walls were built of unbaked bricks. Columns were made of trunks of palm trees and the roof was covered by branches of palm trees. It had three doors. One door was in the southern wall which was closed after the change of Qiblah. As a result of this a new door was opened in the northern wall. Other two doors were Bab Rahmah in the western wall and Bab Jibreel in the eastern wall.
The Prophet (SAS) personally took part in the construction activities of this mosque. He was reciting the following while carrying the stones with his own hands:
O Allah, the good done for the Day of Judgement is the real good. Please help the Mohajreen and Ansar.
Before the arrival of the Prophet (SAS) in Madina, Musab bin Omair (RU) used to lead the salat at this spot. In his absence Asad bin Zarara (RU) used to lead the salat at this place.
As mentioned in Bukhari and narrated by Abada bin Samat (RU), the Ansar came to the Prophet (SAS) and offered a large amount of their wealth for decoration of the mosque. The Prophet (SAS) said, “I do not want to be different from my brother Musa (AS). A cottage like the cottage of Musa (AS) is sufficient for us.” Hence the Prophet (SAS) preferred a simple mosque and encouraged more and more people to pray there. On the contrary, we have very decorative mosques these days with very little attendance there on the regular basis.
EXTENSION BY THE PROPHET (Peace be upon him)
After the Prophet’s (SAS) return from the battle of Khyber, he ordered to expand the mosque during Muharram 7H. Width was increased by 20 meters and the length by 15 meters. The new dimensions became 50×50 meters. The northern boundary of the Mosque was where the Turkish construction ends in this direction. On the west side its boundary was five columns west of the pulpit. You will see written on each column there ‘The boundary of Prophet’s Mosque.’ The foundation was laid with stones and the walls were built of unbaked mud bricks like before. The columns were made of palm tree and the roof was covered by branches of palm trees. The height of the roof was increased from 2½ meters to 3½ meters. Caliph Osman (RU) paid for the land for this addition of the mosque.
Qushairi (RU), narrated that when the enemies surrounded Caliph Osman’s (RU) house, he said to them, “Do you recall when the Prophet (SAS) said, ‘Who will purchase the land for the extension of the mosque and be rewarded with paradise?’ I purchased the land for the addition of mosque from my personal funds. Today you don’t permit me even to offer my salat there.”(Tirmidhi)
RENOVATION BY CALIPH ABU BAKR (May Allah be pleased with him)
As mentioned in Baihaqi and narrated by Abdulla bin Omar (RU), some of the columns of trunks of trees got worn out. Abu Bakr (RU) replaced them with similar columns and covered the roof with branches of palm tree.
EXTENSION BY CALIPH OMAR FAROOQ (RU)
People requested the Caliph to extend the mosque since the population of muslims increased considerably. In 17H, Omar (RU) extended the mosque by five meters to the south, 15 meters to the north and 10 meters to the west. New dimensions of mosque thus became 70×60 meters. The western boundary of the mosque was upto seventh column from the pulpit. The roof was raised to 5½ meters. In the western wall a new door was added, called Bab Salam. Similarly a door was added in the eastern wall, called Bab Nisa.
Omar (RU) also made a platform on the eastern side of the mosque by the side of the house of Khaled bin Waleed. Since it is not permitted to gossip or raise voice in a mosque, Omar (RU) said, “Those who want to engage themselves in gossip or recite poetry may use this platform.”
EXTENSION BY CALIPH OSMAN (RU)
In 29H, Caliph Osman (RU) further extended the mosque by about 5 meters to south, by about 5 meters to north and by about 5 meters westwards. Hence the mosque was extended upto eight columns westward from the pulpit. It is interesting to note that the southern wall of the mosque is still at the same place today and no extension was ever made in this direction since the time of Caliph Osman (RU).
The building was constructed with decorative stones and lime mortar was used as construction material. The roof was made of teak wood. The columns were also made of decorative stones and were hollow inside. Iron bars and molten lead was put inside the columns to reinforce them. Osman (RU) supervised the construction activities personally.
He made a protective enclosure around the area where he led the salat to avoid attack on him during the salat. This enclosure had windows and people could see the Imam through these windows. At present the Imam leads the salat from the same spot where Osman (RU) did. There is no protective enclosure nowadays. However, the security personnel are posted there before, during and after the salat to avoid any mishap.
EXTENSION MADE BY AL-WALEED THE OMAYYAD RULER
In 88H, Waleed bin Abdul Malik ordered the Governor of Madina, Omar bin Abdul Aziz to extend the mosque further. Omar bin Abdul Aziz extended it about ten meters to the west and about fifteen meters to the east. It is necessary to mention here that by this time all the wives of the Prophet (SAS) had passed away. Omar bin Abdul Aziz (RU) purchased their Hujrats (huts) from their relatives and included this area in the mosque. Aisha’s hujra was left as it was because of the graves in it.
The building and the columns were reinforced with iron bars and molten lead. The roof was made of teakwood and was raised to a height of 12.5 meters. This lower roof was covered by another roof to protect against severe weather. Marble slabs were fixed on the inner side of walls. These walls also had multicolored stones and gold polish put on them at different spots. Gold polish was also put on the frames of the doors. Omar bin Abdul Aziz (RU) personally supervised the construction. He was the one who built four minarets on the four corners of the mosque and the new mosque had twenty doors. These construction activities took three years from 88H through 91H.
EXTENSION MADE BY AL-MAHDI, THE ABBASID RULER
This extension took place from 161H through 165H. and the mosque was extended in the northerly direction. The construction was supervised by Abdullah bin Asim bin Omar bin Abdul Aziz. No further extension was needed till 654H.
FIRST FIRE AND RE-CONSTRUCTION
Samhoudi described it as follows. This fire took place during the night of the first of Ramadhan of 654H. The attendant of the Prophet’s Mosque, Abu Bakr bin Ohad entered the storeroom of the mosque to collect the torches to light the minarets. He made the following mistake. He left a lighted candle near the container where the torches were kept. The container caught fire and spread very fast. The Governor of Madina and other people tried to put off the fire. They failed and in no time the roof, the pulpit, the doors and custodial rooms were reduced to ashes.
In 655H, Al-Mutassim billa, the Abbasid rule started the reconstruction. It was however interrupted since the Tartars invaded and occupied Baghdad. Later on the rulers of Egypt and Yemen tried to complete the construction. Among them the contribution of Baibars is noteworthy since he built the double roof as before.
SECOND FIRE AND RE-CONSTRUCTION
The second fire took place in 886H. The Muezzin, Shamsuddin was in a minaret during the later part of the night of the thirteenth of Ramadhan. The lightening struck this minaret and it caught fire. Shamsuddin died there and then. The fire spread through the roof. The Governor of Madina and other people tried their best to put off the fire. They again failed. The fire burnt the roof, the bookrooms and damaged many other areas. Sultan Qaitabai reconstructed the mosque in 888H. He made only one roof.
EXTENSION BY SULTAN ABDUL MAJEED
Sultan Qaitabai’s construction had been there for three hundred and seventy seven years. The various parts of the mosque had worn out. Imam of this mosque, Dawud Pasha requested Sultan Abdul Majeed of the Ottoman Empire at Istanbul to reconstruct the mosque. Sultan sent two engineers namely, Ramzi Afandi and Osman Afandi. They designed the mosque. A model of proposed masjid was sent to Sultan for approval. The construction work was done between 1265H and 1277H under the supervision of Asad Afandi. They found red stone in Aqiq valley near Madina which was used for this construction.
A very extensive decorative work was done in all areas. For example, it took three years to write the verses of the Quran and the names of the Prophet (SAS). It was done by prominent calligrapher Abdullah Zahidi Afandi Many new doors and two minarets were added. A separate building was constructed in the vicinity of the mosque to conduct the educational activities for the children. This building still exists on the two sides of old Bab Majeedi and is used as library.
On the completion of the construction activities, it was decided to write the following hadith on a stone and fix this stone in the building:
The reward of one salat in my mosque is better than one thousand salat offered in any other mosque except Masjid-ul-Haram (in Makkah).
This writing can still be seen in the middle of northern wall of the Turkish extension. On the northern side, however, the covered part of the mosque was upto the wall where the above stone is fixed. There was also a large open area for salat just north of this covered mosque. All construction activities were conducted in such away that daily congregational salat was not disrupted. The total cost was seven hundred thousand Ginee. This did not include the transportation expenses of construction materials by land and sea.
FIRST SAUDI EXTENSION (1368H – 1375H)
It was started by King Abdul Aziz and was completed by King Saud bin Abdul Aziz. The foundation stone for this can be seen by side of old Bab King Saud. The foundation stone was placed by Saud bin Abdul Aziz and it has following wording.
King Saud put these four stones in following the footprints of Prophet Mohammed (SAS). It was done in the month of Rabia Awwal of 1373 H.
Special care was taken to blend the Turkish and Saudi extension and they complement each other beautifully. At that time there were five minarets of the Prophet’s Mosque. Three of these minarets were removed. One of these minarets was on Bab Rahmah. The other two were on the north side of the mosque and were known as minaret Osmania and minaret Majeedia. Saudi Government constructed two new minarets on the two corners of the northern wall of the mosque. Hence the total number of minarets after this extension became four. The dimensions of this extension were 198m × 91m and it was just north of the open space designed by the Turks.
Even after this extension there was not enough space for the pilgrims. In 1393 H, King Faisal purchased the adjacent properties to the mosque for fifty million riyals. He set up permanent sheds in an area of thirty five thousand square meters with arrangement of lights and fans in them. This covered area was extended up to King Abdul Aziz library. These sheds were removed during the second Saudi Extension Plan.
SECOND SAUDI EXTENSION 1405H – 1414H
King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz was always very keen to make major extensions in the Prophet’s Mosque just like he did in Masjid-al-Haram in Makkah. He personally laid foundation stone by the side of Bab Salam with the following writing on it.
In the Name of Allah (SWT), the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
In houses (mosques) which Allah has ordered to be raised (to be cleaned, and to be honoured), in them His Name is remembered. Therein glorify Him (Allah) in the mornings and in the afternoons or the evenings. (An-Nur # 36)
The servant of both Harams, King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz put this foundation stone for the extension and construction of the Prophet’s mosque (Second Saudi Extension). It took place on Friday, ninth of Safar, 1405H ( Nov. 2, 1984 )
Similarly at the end of the construction activities King Fahd laid another stone near Bab Bilal with the following wording to mark the completion of this extension:
In the Name of Allah (SWT) and with blessings of Allah (SWT) the servant of both Harams, King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz put this last stone to mark the end of extension of Prophet’s Mosque on Friday, the 4th of Dhul-Qada 1414H (April 15th, 1994). It is to serve the cause of Islam and to serve the Muslims. All praises are for Allah (SWT) , the Creator of all the universes.
The following statistics gives a bird’s eye view of the various extensions:
Covered area of mosque up to Turkish extension 4,056 sq.m.
Addition by the first Saudi extension 12,270 sq.m.
Total area (Turkish plus Saudi extensions) 16,326 sq.m.
So far it could accommodate 28,000 people for salat
After the second Saudi extension.
1- The area of the floor. 98,326 sq.m.
2- Area of roof 67,000 sq.m.
3- Area covered by the domes 8,750 sq.m.
4- The available area for salat on the roof (2 minus 3) 58,250 sq.m.
Hence roof alone can accommodate 90,000 worshippers for salat.
5- Total area available for salat, (1 plus 4) 156,576 sq.m.
In this area 268,000 people can pray.
Hence, at the end of second Saudi extension nine times more people could offer salat in the mosque as compared with the number at the end of first Saudi extension.
Furthermore, there are open areas around the covered mosque which are specially designed for salat. The total area of such open space is 235,000 sq.m. Out of this 135,000 sq.m can be used for offering salat and it can accommodate 430,000 people for salat. Hence after the second Saudi extension, the mosque and the open space can accommodate 698,000 people for salat.
LADIES PRAYING AREA
In Islam the intermixing of men and women is totally prohibited. Hence two special areas are designated for women to offer salat. One is in the north-eastern corner of the mosque stretching over sixteen thousand square meters. The other one is in the north western corner of the mosque consisting of eight thousand square meters. There are partitions placed between men and women areas. The doors for entry and exit for these areas are also earmarked for women only. Numbers of these doors are 13, 14, 16, 17, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30.
It would be interesting to note that in the middle of all doors of the mosque is written: ” Mohammad (SAS)“
Furthermore on the top of each door it is inscribed in stone Enter it with peace and security. Similarly it is written above all the windows of the mosque:
La Ilaha il-lal-lah Muhammad-ur-Rasoolullah
Now I shall describe briefly some other features of the second Saudi Extension.
In order to provide fresh and natural air inside the mosque twenty seven movable domes have been built. They are opened and closed electrically by a computer. No sound is produced during their opening and closing. They are exquisitely beautiful and 2.5 kilogram gold has been used for gold work on each dome.
ESCALATORS AND STAIRS
There are six escalators to transport people from the ground floor to roof. These are at the doors numbering 6, 10, 15, 27, 31 and 36. There are also eighteen regular stairs to go from the ground floor to the roof.
Six new minarets were constructed. Four of them are at the four corners of this extension. Two of them are built on Bab King Fahd. They resemble the minarets of the First Saudi Extension. Each of the new minaret is 104 meters high and is 32 meters higher than each minaret of the first Saudi Extension.
Area of the basement is 82,000 square meters. Its roof is four meters high. There are 2,554 columns in it. It has eight doors for entry. Controls for all systems are in the basement. Some of these systems are air-conditioning, water storage, fire control, cold water storage, telephone, radio, television, broadcasting and control for cameras.
It is the largest, the most modern and unique system in the world. One unique feature of the air-conditioning central plant is that it is located at a distance of seven kilometers from the mosque. In this way the noise of the plant cannot interfere with the activities of the mosque. The plant is 350×200 meters with an area of seventy thousand square meters. There are eight electric generators in it. Seven of them are for the mosque and one for the underground parking. The power of each machine is 2.5 mega watts. Four of these generators run all the time. The other three are for stand-by.
There are six plants to cool the water for air-conditioning. Each plant can cool 3,400 tons of water. Every plant cools 3,400 gallons of water per minute. Five plants run continuously and the sixth one is for stand-by. There are seven motors which deliver this cold water to the Prophet’s Mosque through pipes in an underground tunnel. This tunnel is 4.1 meters deep, 6.2 meters wide and seven kilometers long. This passes under the tunnel for cars located on the west side of the Prophet’s Mosque. It is located very deep in the ground to avoid any interference by future construction activities. There are two feeding pipes in it now. There is, however, room for more similar pipes to meet future needs.
Underground parking is provided at two levels. This parking is under the open space around the mosque on the north, south and west sides of the mosque. Its total area is 290,000 square meters. It can accommodate 4,444 cars. Upper level can accommodate 2,222 cars including 44 special parking spaces. The lower level can also accommodate 2,222 cars including 22 special parking spaces. The height of the upper level is 4.9 meters and the height of lower level is 4 meters.
The underground parking is connected to six major routes for entry and exit. Three routes are for the upper level and the other three are for the lower level. Four of these routes connect the upper and the lower levels. These four routes are at the four corners of the mosque.
Television cameras are installed for surveillance and to monitor moving and stationary cars. Instructions can be given by the remote camera to those in the passages to park cars in marked spaces carefully. The number of cars entering and leaving can also be determined. These arrangements are to avoid unnecessary crowding and confusion in the underground parking.
There are fifteen big halls for ablution facilities. Each hall has four levels and there are two entrances for each of these halls. Each level is accessible by elevators and regular stairs as well. These elevators and stairs also lead to the underground parking. Each of these halls has 336 toilets. There are also western style toilets at the one end of each row of toilets.
Each hall has electric, water storage, clean air system, fire extinguishers and other supporting systems in place.
Courtyards of the mosque needs special mentionis very crucial. These courtyards lie between the Turkish Extension and Saudi Extensions. Sixteen huge umbrellas are installed there to shield against extreme heat and cold. Each umbrella opens and closes electrically and presents a very fascinating scene. Air-conditioning and sunshine are provided in this open space in accordance with the need of the worshippers.
Another big hall needs special mention. This stretches from Bab Baqee to Bab Salam on the south side of the mosque. Its dimensions are 87.5×5 meters and it has four doors. The dead bodies are brought for Salat-ul-Janaza from its southern door. Another door opens inside the mosque. Imam stands at this door to lead the Salat-ul-Janaza. The dead body is taken from here for burial.
These two doors are also used by the Imam for entry and exit from the mosque. Rest of the hall is used by the security personnel.
Finally, it should be noted that there is a library of the mosque on the two sides of the old Bab Majeedi. One side, called old Bab Osman, contains rare documents, books and old copies of Quran. The other side, called old Bab Omar, has antiques and other precious items sent by various rulers from time to time. These areas are generally open for public during the regular office hours.
Hence the second Saudi Extension by King Fahd has provided an ultimate comfort and pride to the visitors of the Prophet’s Mosque. It appears that the extension process started by King Abdul Aziz and continued by King Saud, King Faisal and King Fahd will go on in stages as per needs in the future.
May Allah accept the efforts of all those who participated in the development and modernization of this facility since the time of Prophet Mohammad (SAS).