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The Masjid of the Prophet (or Prophet's Masjid) ( Arabic: ) [IPA /mæsʤıd ænːæbæwı], in Medina, is the second holiest masjid in Islam. It is the final resting place of Muhammad (SAW). Masjid al-Haram in Mecca is the holiest mosque; the Al-Aqsa Masjid in Jerusalem is the third holiest in Islam.

The original masjid was built by prophet Muhammad (saw). Subsequent Islamic rulers greatly expanded and decorated it. The most important feature of the site is the green dome over the center of the mosque, where the tomb of prophet Muhammad (saw) is located. It is not exactly known when the green dome was constructed but manuscripsts dating to the early 12th century describe the dome.It is known as the Dome of the Prophet. Early Islam Abu Bakr and Umar are buried in an adjacent area in the mosque.

The edifice was originally Muhammad (saw)'s house; he settled there after his Hijra (Islam) (emigration) to Medina, later building a masjid on the grounds. He himself shared in the heavy work of construction. The original mosque was an open-air building. The basic plan of the building has been adopted in the building of other masjids throughout the world.

The masjid also served as a community center, a court, and a religious school. There was a raised platform for the people who taught the Qur'an.


The original Masjid was built by prophet muhammed (saw),next to the house where he settled after his journey to Medina in 622 AD. The original masjid was an open-air building with a raised platform for the reading of the Qur'an. It was a rectangular enclosure of 30x35 meters, built with palm trunks and mud walls, and accessed through three doors: Bab Rahmah to the south, Bab Jibril to the west and Bab al-Nisa' to the east. The basic plan of the building has since been adopted in the building of other mosques throughout the world.

Inside, prophet Muhammed (saw) created a shaded area to the south called the suffrah and aligned the prayer space facing north towards Jerusalem. When the qibla (prayer direction) was changed to Mecca, the masjid was re-oriented to the south. The mosque also served as a community center, a court, and a religious school. Seven years later (629 AD/7 AH), the masjid was doubled in size to accommodate the increasing number of Muslims.

Subsequent Islamic rulers continued to enlarge and embellish the Prophet's Masjid over the centuries. In 707, Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik (705-715) replaced the old structure and built a larger one in its place, incorporating the tomb of prophet Muhammad (saw). This masjid was 84 by 100 meters in size, with stone foundations and a teak roof supported on stone columns. The masjid walls were decorated with mosaics by Coptic and Greek craftsmen, similar to those seen in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem (built by the same caliph). The courtyard was surrounded by a gallery on four sides, with four minarets on its corners. A Mihrab topped by a small dome was built on the qibla wall.

Abbasid Caliph Al-Mahdi (775-785) replaced the northern section of Al-Walid's mosque between 778 and 781 to enlarge it further. He also added 20 doors to the masjid: eight on each of the east and west walls, and four on the north wall.

During the reign of the Mamluk Sultan Qalawun, a dome was erected above tomb of the Prophet and an ablution fountain was built outside of Bab al-Salam. Sultan Al-Nasir Muhammad rebuilt the fourth minaret that had been destroyed earlier. After a lightning strike destroyed much of the masjid in 1481, Sultan Qaitbay rebuilt the east, west and qibla walls.

The Ottoman sultans who controlled Medina from 1517 until World War I also made their mark. Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566) rebuilt the western and eastern walls of the mosque and built the northeastern minaret known as al-Suleymaniyya. He added a new mihrab (al-Ahnaf) next to prophet Muhammad (saw)'s mihrab (al-Shafi'iyyah) and placed a new dome covered in lead sheets and painted green above the Prophet's house and tomb.

During the reign of Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid (1839-1861), the masjid was entirely remodeled with the exception of prophet Muhammad (saw)'s Tomb, the three mihrabs, the minbar and the Suleymaniyya minaret. The precinct was enlarged to include an ablution area to the north. The prayer hall to the south was doubled in width and covered with small domes equal in size except for domes covering the mihrab area, Bab al-Salam and prophet Muhammad (saw)'s Tomb. The domes were decorated with Qur'anic verses and lines from Qaṣīda al-Burda (Poem of the Mantle), the famous poem by 13th century Arabic poet Busiri. The qibla wall was covered with Glazed tiles featuring Qur'anic Islam. The floors of the prayer hall and the courtyard were paved with marble and red stones and a fifth minaret (al-Majidiyya) was additionally constructed.

After the foundation of the Saudi Kingdom of Arabia in 1932, the Masjid of prophet Muhammad (saw) underwent several major modifications. In 1951 King Ibn Saud (1932-1953) ordered 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 Suleymaniyya and Majidiyya minarets were replaced by two minarets in Mamluk revival style. Two additional minarets were erected to the northeast and northwest of the masjid. A library was built along the western wall to house historic Qur'ans and other religious texts.

In 1973 Saudi King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz ordered the construction of temporary shelters to the west of the masjid to accommodate the growing number of worshippers in 1981, the old masjid was surrounded by new prayer areas on these sides, enlarging five times its size.

The latest renovations took place under King Fahd and have greatly increased the size of the masjid,allowing it to hold a large number of worshippers and pilgrims and adding modern comforts like Air conditioning. He also installed twenty seven moving domes at the roof of Masjid Nabawi.


As it stands today, the Prophet's Masjid has a rectangular plan on two floors with the Ottoman prayer hall projecting to the south. The main prayer hall occupies the entire first floor. The masjid enclosure is 100 times bigger than the first masjid built by the Prophet (saw), and can accommodate more than half a million worshippers.

The Prophet's Masjid has a flat paved roof topped with 24 Domes on square bases. Holes pierced into the base of each dome illuminate the interior. The roof is also used for prayer during peak times, when the 24 domes slide out on metal tracks to shade areas of the roof, creating light wells for the prayer hall. At these times, the courtyard of the Ottoman masjid is also shaded with umbrellas affixed to freestanding Columns. The roof is accessed by stairs and Escalators. The paved area around the Masjid is also used for prayer, equipped with umbrella tents.

The north Facade has three evenly spaced porticos, while the east, west and south facades have two. The walls are composed of a series of windows topped by pointed Arches with black and white voussoirs. There are six peripheral minarets attached to the new extension, and four others frame the Ottoman structure. The masjid is lavishly decorated with polychrome Marble and stones. The columns are of white marble with Brass Capital (architecture) supporting slightly pointed arches, built of black and white stones. The column pedestals have ventilation grills that regulate the temperature inside the prayer hall.

This shiny new Prophet's Masjid contains the older masjid within it. The two sections can be easily distinguished: the older section has many colorful decorations and numerous small pillars; the new section is in gleaming white marble and is completely air-conditioned.

The open courtyard of the masjid can be shaded by folded, umbrella-like canopies, designed by Bodo Rash and Buro Happold[1]

The most notable feature of the Prophet's Masjid is the green "Dome of the Prophet", which rises higher amongst the sea of white domes. This is where the tomb of Muhammad (saw) is located; early Muslim leaders Abu Bakr and Umar ibn al-Khattab (ra) are buried in an adjacent area as well.

Ar-Rawdah an-Nabawiyah

The heart of the masjid's houses a very special but small area named ar-Rawdah an-Nabawiyah, which extends from prophet Muhammad (saw)'s tomb to his pulpit. Pilgrims attempt to visit and pray in ar-Rawdah, for there is a tradition that supplications and prayers uttered here are never rejected. Entrance into ar-Rawdah is not always possible (especially during the Hajj season), as the tiny area can accommodate only a few hundred people. Ar-Rawdah has two small gateways manned by Saudi police officers. The current marble pulpit was constructed by the Ottomans. The original pulpit was much smaller than the current one, and constructed of palm tree wood, not marble. Ar-Rawdah an-Nabawiyah is considered part of Jannah (Heaven or Paradise).

Saudi expansion of the Masjid

The original masjid was not very large, and today the original exists only as a small portion of the larger masjid. From 1925, after Medina surrendered to Ibn Sa'ud, the masjid was gradually expanded until 1955 when extensive renovations were carried out.[1] The latest renovations took place under King Fahd and have greatly increased the size of the masjid, allowing it to hold a large number of worshippers and pilgrims. It is also completely air conditioned and decorated with marble.

The newer and older sections of the masjid are quite distinct. The older section has many colorful decorations and numerous small pillars.

The masjid is located in what was traditionally the center of Medina, with many hotels and old markets nearby. It is a major pilgrimage site and many people who perform the Hajj go on to Medina before or after Hajj to visit the masjid.


Current Imams at the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi include:

  • Sheikh Dr. Ali bin Abdur-Rahmaan Al Hudhaifi - President Saudi Hilal Committee (Chief of Imams)
  • Sheikh Abdul Bari Al-Thubaiti
  • Sheikh Husayn al Shaykh
  • Shaikh Dr. Salah Al Budair (has led tarawih prayers at Masjid al-Haram in 2005 and 2006)
  • Sheikh Abdul Muhsin al Qasim

Former Imams:

  • Sheikh Muhammad Ayub
  • Sheikh Abdullah `Awwaad Al-Juhany(now Masjid al-Haram, Makkah)
  • Sheikh Maahir Hamad Al-Mu'ayqili (now Masjid al-Haram, Makkah)


Muezzins at the Haram Sharif include:

  • Sheikh Abdul Rehman Kashikjee (Chief of muezzins)
  • Sheikh Abdullah Basnawi
  • Sheikh Abdul Rehman Bassamji
  • Sheikh Mohammed Majid Hakeem
  • Sheikh Esam Bukhari
  • Sheikh Houssain Afifi
  • Sheikh Faisal Abdul Malik Noman

See also

  • Timeline of Muslim history
  • Islam
  • List of masjids
  • Mecca
  • Kaaba

External links


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