Great Mosque of Mecca
|Arabic: ٱلْـمَـسْـجِـد الْـحَـرَام, translit. Al-Masjid al-Ḥarām|
The Grand Mosque during the Hajj of 2009
Location in Saudi Arabia
|Location||Makkah, Hejaz, Saudi Arabia|
|Geographic coordinates||21°25′19″N 39°49′34″E / 21.422°N 39.826°ECoordinates: 21°25′19″N 39°49′34″E / 21.422°N 39.826°E|
|Administration||Saudi Arabian government|
Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais
Abdullah Awad Al Juhany
Saleh Al Talib
Saleh Al Humaid
Yaseer Al Dosari
Khalid Al Ghmadi
Maher Al Muaiqly
|Date established||Era of Abraham in Islamic thought|
|Capacity||900,000 worshippers (Increased to 4,000,000 worshippers during the Hajj period)|
|Minaret height||89 m (292 ft)|
|Part of a series on|
The Great Mosque of Makkah, also called Al-Haram Mosque (Arabic: ٱلْـمَـسْـجِـد الْـحَـرَام, translit. al-Masjid al-Ḥarām, "the Sacred Mosque" or "the Sacred Mosque":471) or Grand Mosque of Makkah, is the largest mosque in the world, and surrounds the Islamic Qiblah (Arabic: قِـبْـلَـة, Direction of Prayer), that is the Kaaba in the Hejazi city of Makkah (Arabic: مَـكَّـة, Makkah), Saudi Arabia. Muslims face the Kaaba while performing the Ṣalāh (Arabic: صَـلَاة, Islamic act of worship). One of the Five Pillars of Islam requires every Muslim to perform the Ḥajj (Arabic: حَـجّ, 'Pilgrimage'), one of the largest annual gatherings of people in the world, at least once in their lifetime if able to do so, including Ṭawāf (Arabic: طَـوَاف, Circumambulation) of the Kaaba. It is also the main phase for the ‘Umrah (Arabic: عُـمْـرَة), which is the lesser pilgrimage that can be undertaken any time of the year. The Grand Mosque includes other important significant sites, including the Black Stone, Well of Zamzam, Station of Abraham, and Safa and Marwa. It is always open, regardless of date or time. It has gone under major renovations by various caliphs, sultans and kings, and it is now under the control of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. It is in front of the tallest clock tower and fourth tallest structure in the world, the Abraj Al Bait, the construction of which has been surrounded by controversy concerning the destruction of early Islamic heritage sites by the Saudi government.
Era of Abraham and Ishmael
The Quran [2:127] states that Ibrahīm (Arabic: إِبْـرَاهِـيْـم, Abraham), together with his son Ismāʿīl (Arabic: إِسْـمَـاعِـيْـل, Ishmael), raised the foundations of a house that is identified by most commentators as the Kaaba. God had shown Abraham the exact site, very near to the Well of Zamzam, where Abraham and Ishmael began work on the Kaaba's construction in circa 2130 BCE. After Abraham had built the Kaaba, an angel brought to him the Black Stone, a celestial stone that, according to tradition, had fallen from Heaven on the nearby hill Abu Qubays. According to a saying attributed to Muhammad, the Black Stone had "descended from Paradise whiter than milk but the sins of the sons of Adam had made it dark". The Black Stone is believed to be the only remnant of the original structure made by Abraham.
After placing the Black Stone in the Eastern corner of the Kaaba, Abraham received a revelation, in which God told the aged prophet that he should now go and proclaim the pilgrimage to mankind, so that men may come both from Arabia and from lands far away, on camel and on foot.
Era of Muhammad
Upon Muhammad's victorious return to Mecca in 630 CE, he and his son-in-law, Ali Ibn Abi Talib, broke the idols in and around the Kaaba, similar to what, according to the Quran, Abraham did in his homeland. Thus ended polytheistic use of the Kaaba, and re-began monotheistic rule over it and its sanctuary.
The first major renovation to the mosque took place in 692 on the orders of Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan. Before this renovation, which included the mosque's outer walls being raised and decoration added to the ceiling, the mosque was a small open area with the Kaaba at the center. By the end of the 8th century, the mosque's old wooden columns had been replaced with marble columns and the wings of the prayer hall had been extended on both sides along with the addition of a minaret on the orders of Al-Walid I. The spread of Islam in the Middle East and the influx of pilgrims required an almost complete rebuilding of the site which included adding more marble and three more minarets.
In 1570, Sultan Selim II commissioned the chief architect Mimar Sinan to renovate the mosque. This renovation resulted in the replacement of the flat roof with domes decorated with calligraphy internally, and the placement of new support columns which are acknowledged as the earliest architectural features of the present mosque. These features are the oldest surviving parts of the building.
During heavy rains and flash floods in 1621 and 1629, the walls of the Kaaba and the mosque suffered extensive damage. In 1629, during the reign of Sultan Murad IV, the Kaaba was rebuilt with stones from Mecca and the mosque was renovated. In the renovation of the mosque, a new stone arcade was added, three more minarets (bringing the total to seven) were built, and the marble flooring was retiled. This was the unaltered state of the mosque for nearly three centuries.
The first major renovation under the Saudi kings was done between 1955 and 1973. In this renovation, four more minarets were added, the ceiling was refurnished, and the floor was replaced with artificial stone and marble. The Mas'a gallery (As-Safa and Al-Marwah) is included in the Mosque, via roofing and enclosures. During this renovation many of the historical features built by the Ottomans, particularly the support columns, were demolished.
On 20 November 1979, the Great Mosque was seized by extremist insurgents who called for the overthrow of the Saudi dynasty. They took hostages and in the ensuing siege hundreds were killed. These events came as a shock to the Islamic world, as violence is strictly forbidden within the mosque.
The second Saudi renovations under King Fahd, added a new wing and an outdoor prayer area to the mosque. The new wing, which is also for prayers, is reached through the King Fahd Gate. This extension was performed between 1982 and 1988.
The third Saudi extension (1988–2005) saw the building of more minarets, the erecting of a King's residence overlooking the mosque and more prayer area in and around the mosque itself. These developments have taken place simultaneously with those in Arafat, Mina and Muzdalifah. This third extension has also resulted in 18 more gates, three domes corresponding in position to each gate and the installation of nearly 500 marble columns. Other modern developments include the addition of heated floors, air conditioning, escalators and a drainage system.
Current expansion project
In 2007, the mosque commenced a fourth extension project which is estimated to last until 2020. King Abdullah Ibn Abdulaziz planned to increase the mosque's capacity to 2 million; although the King died in 2015, his successor, King Salman, is likely to continue renovations. In 2016 it was estimated that Great Mosque had cost 100 billion dollars.
Northern expansion of the mosque began in August 2011 and was expected to be completed in one and a half years. The area of the mosque will be expanded from the current 356,000 m2 (3,830,000 sq ft) to 400,000 m2 (4,300,000 sq ft). A new gate named after King Abdullah will be built together with two new minarets, bringing their total to eleven. The cost of the project is $10.6 billion and after completion the mosque will house over 2.5 million worshipers. The Mataaf (the circumambulation areas around the Kaaba) will also see expansion and all closed spaces will be air conditioned. The King Abdullah Expansion Project will cover an area of 456,000 sq. meters will accommodate an additional 1.2 million faithful. Courtyards of the mosque’s new expansion can hold more than 250,000 worshipers. The project is being implemented by the Saudi Binladin Group.
List of former Imams and Mu'adhins
- Abdullah Al-Khulaifi (Arabic: عَـبْـد ٱلله الْـخُـلَـيْـفِي)
- Ahmad Khatib (Arabic: أَحْـمَـد خَـطِـيْـب), Islamic Scholar from Indonesia
- Ali bin Abdullah Jaber (Arabic: عَـلِى بِـن عَـبْـدُ ٱلله جَـابِـر), Maliki Jurist of Mecca
- Umar Al-Subayyil (Arabic: عُـمَـر الـسُّـبَـيِّـل), active member of Khatame-Nabbuwwat Organisation
- Muhammad Al-Subayyil (Arabic: مُـحَـمَّـد الـسُّـبَـيِّـل), died in 2013
- Abdullah Al-Harazi (Arabic: عَـبْـد ٱلله الْـحَـرَازِي), former Chairman of Saudi Majlis al-Shura
- Ali bin Abdur-Rahman Al-Huthaify (Arabic: عَـلِي بِـن عَـبْـدُ ٱلـرَّحۡـمٰـن الْـحُـذَيْـفِي), now Chief Imam of al-Masjid an-Nabawi, and member of Saudi Arabia's Al-Hilaal Committee
- Salah ibn Muhammad Al-Budair (Arabic: صَـلَاح ابْـن مُـحَـمَّـد الْـبُـدَيْـر), now Deputy Chief Imam of al-Masjid an-Nabawi
- Adil al-Kalbani (Arabic: عَـادِل الْـكَـلْـبَـانِي)
The Great Mosque is the main setting for the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages that occur in the month of Dhu al-Hijjah in the Islamic calendar and at any time of the year, respectively. The Hajj pilgrimage is one of the Pillars of Islam, required of all able-bodied Muslims who can afford the trip. In recent times, over 5 million Muslims perform the Hajj every year.
Some of the rituals performed by pilgrims are symbolic of historical incidents. For example, the episode of Hagar's search for water is emulated by Muslims as they run between the two hills of Safa and Marwah. The Hajj is associated with the life of the Islamic prophet Muhammad from the 7th century, but the ritual of pilgrimage to Mecca is considered by Muslims to stretch back thousands of years to the time of Ibrahim (Abraham).
Al-Ka‘bah (Arabic: اَلْـكَـعْـبَـة, "The Cube") is a cuboid-shaped building in the center of the Great Mosque and is one of the most sacred sites in Islam. All Muslims around the world face the Kaaba during prayers, no matter where they are. The direction from the location of the person who prays to the Kaaba is called the Qibla.
The Hajj requires pilgrims to circumambulate seven times around the Kaaba in a counter-clockwise direction. This circumambulation, the Tawaaf, is also performed by pilgrims during the Umrah (lesser pilgrimage).
The Black Stone (Arabic: اَلْـحَـجَـر الْأَسْـوَد al-Ḥajar al-Aswad) is the eastern cornerstone of the Kaaba. It was set intact into the Kaaba's wall by Muhammad in the year 605, five years before his first revelation. Since then it has been broken into a number of fragments and is now cemented into a silver frame in the side of the Kaaba. Its physical appearance is that of a fragmented dark rock, polished smooth by the hands of millions of pilgrims.
Many of the pilgrims, if possible, stop and kiss the Black Stone, emulating the kiss that Islamic tradition records it having received from Muhammad. If they cannot reach it, they point to it on each of their seven circumambulations around the Kaaba.
The Maqâm Ibrâhîm (Arabic: مَـقَـام إِبْـرَاهِـيْـم, Abraham's place of standing) is a rock that reportedly has an imprint of Abraham's foot, which is kept in a crystal dome next to the Kaaba. This rock was identified by most Islamic scholars as the one behind which Muhammad prayed when he circumambulated the Kaaba. Several traditions existed to explain how Abraham's footprint miraculously appeared in the stone, including one suggesting it appeared when Abraham stood on the stone while building the Kaaba; when the walls became too high, Abraham stood on the maqām, which miraculously rose up to let him continue building and also miraculously went down in order to allow Ishmael to hand him stones. Other traditions held that the footprint appeared when the wife of Ishmael washed Abraham's head, or alternatively when Abraham stood atop it in order to summon the people to perform the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Safa and Marwah
Safa (Arabic: ٱلـصَّـفَـا, Aṣ-Ṣafā) and Marwah (ٱلْـمَـرْوَة, Al-Marwah) are two hills, now located in the mosque. In Islamic tradition, Abraham's wife Hagar ran between these hills, looking for water for her infant son Ishmael until God eventually revealed her the Zamzam. Muslims also travel back and forth seven times during the ritual pilgrimages of Hajj and Umrah as a remembrance to her sacrifice. Safa – from which the ritual walking (Arabic: سَـعِى, saʿy) begins – is located approximately 0.5 miles (0.80 kilometres) from the Kaaba. Al-Marwah is located about 100 m (330 ft) from the Kaaba. The distance between Safa and Marwah is approximately 450 m (1,480 ft).
The Well of Zamzam (Arabic: زَمْـزَم) is located 20 m (66 ft) east of the Kaaba. According to Islamic belief, it began when Abraham's infant son Ismael was thirsty and kept crying for water. The well still supplies enough water for all pilgrims throughout the year. Pilgrims also take the water to their homes.
There has been some controversy that the expansion projects of the mosque and Mecca itself are causing harm to early Islamic heritage. Many ancient buildings, some more than a thousand years old, have been demolished to make room for the expansion. Some examples are:
- Bayṫ Al-Mawlīd (Arabic: بَـيْـت الْـمَـوْلِـيْـد), the house where Muhammad was born, was demolished and rebuilt as a library.
- Dār Al-Arqam (Arabic: دَار الْأَرْقَـم), the Islamic school where Muhammad first taught, was flattened to lay marble tiles.
- The house of Abu Jahal has been demolished and replaced by public washrooms.
- A dome that served as a canopy over the Well of Zamzam was demolished.
- Some Ottoman porticos at the Mosque were demolished, and those remaining are under threat.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Masjid al-Haram.|
- Complete compendium of Masjid al-Haram at Madain Project Archive
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- Gallery of images of Mecca at 3dmekanlar.com
- Mecca, Kaaba, Al-Masjid 360 Degree Virtual Tour at 360tr.net
- Kaaba, Al-Masjid 360 Degree Virtual Tour at 360tr.com
- Recordings from Al-Masjid al-Haram at Haramain.info
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