AL-AIN – The oldest mosque in the United Arab Emirates has been uncovered by archaeologists, the mosque believed to date back to 1000 years.
“The new findings at the Al Ain archaeological sites prove the richness of the region’s history, which allows us to expand our knowledge of ages long past,” Mohammad Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi, told The National on Saturday.
“The discovery of a mosque from the Abbasid period in Al Ain demonstrates the deeply-rooted influences of Islam in the region, despite the immense distance from where Islam first emerged and at a time when modes of transportation were quite rudimentary,” he added.
The site is located close to the construction site of the Shaikh Khalifa mosque in Al Ain.
The mosque, which dates back to Islam’s Early Golden Age of the Abbasid Caliphate, is the earliest to be discovered in the UAE.
It was found close to several falajes, or irrigation waterways, and comprise at least three buildings made of mudbrick.
Archaeologists from the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) discovered a mihrab – a niche in the wall of the mosque, nearest to Makkah – both inside and outside the building.
This means the faithful would have prayed inside and outside the mosque, just as they do today.
Experts have revealed that the buildings at the site, made from mudbrick, are the remains of a small fortress and several other structures. People living in these buildings would have obtained fresh water from several falajes that they constructed around the settlement.
The technology used to create falaj waterways in Al Ain dates back 3,000 years.
Fragments of pots, which were likely used for ablution, or ceremonial washing, and other ritual purposes, were found inside the remains and date from the ninth to the 10th Centuries CE.
The findings display “clear and profound cultural influences” that reveal how the connections established by our ancestors with neighboring cultures and nations transcended borders and surmounted difficulties associated with transport, said Al Mubarak.
Archaeologists have also investigated a Christian church which dates to this period on the island of Sir Bani Yas.
Discovered during excavations in 1992, the Christian monastery and church are evidence of the tolerance and acceptance at the early Islamic period, say archaeologists.