The Quba’ mosque is the first mosque built by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did so when he migrated from Makkah to Madinah.
On the way to Madinah, he stopped and rested in a Quba’ settlement for about two weeks. Even though short, the time was sufficient for the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to found and build a simple mosque called the Quba’ mosque. The Quba’ settlement was about five kilometers south of Madinah proper. Today, it is one of its suburbs.
The Quba’ mosque was the first mosque associated with Prophet Muhammad and his prophethood mission. He personally participated in its construction. He was the first to place a stone on the qiblah side, followed by Abu Bakr al-Siddiq and ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, after which the people started building.
It was angel Jibril (Gabriel) who showed the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) the exact qiblah direction, which was then towards al-Masjid al-Aqsa in Jerusalem.
Since its inception, the Quba’ mosque was always special in the Islamic tradition. Its virtues are numerous and extraordinary. They are recorded even in the Quran (al-Tawbah, 107-110). The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) himself used to go to Quba’ to pray in its mosque, walking or riding.
According to some accounts, when he could, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did it every Saturday (Sahih al-Bukhari). He is reported to have said that a prayer in the Quba’ mosque is equivalent to ‘umrah (lesser or minor pilgrimage to Makkah) (Jami’ al-Tirmidhi). Once he said:
Whoever purifies himself at his home and goes out to this mosque, i.e., the mosque of Quba’, and prays therein two rak’ats, will have (a reward) like that of ‘umrah. (Sunan al-Nasa’i)
Consequently, Muslims paid special attention to the Quba’ mosque throughout history. The caliphs and rulers regularly renovated and expanded it, keeping pace with the rapid urban growth of Madinah.
Among the first ones who did so were ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan, the third rightly guided caliph (al-khulafa’ al-rashidun) and ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (‘Umar II).
The last time the mosque was rebuilt and expanded was in 1986 during the rule of King Fahd. Today’s version of the mosque, thus, is relatively new. It is a clever hybrid of Mamluk, Ottoman (in Madinah), Fatimid and Seljuq architectural elements. The architect was Abdul-Wahid al-Wakil from Egypt.
The mosque is of a hypo-style type with a rectangular main prayer hall. It has four soaring minarets that mark its four corners.
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(The article is an excerpt from the author’s forthcoming book titled “Appreciating the Architecture of Madinah”)
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