The miqat mosque marks the station for hajj and ‘umrah pilgrims from the city of Madinah and the pilgrims passing through it.
At that point, male pilgrims must wear the two pieces of white cloth called ihram – female pilgrims can wear any appropriate dress.
There, also, both male and female pilgrims must make niyyah, or intention for pilgrimage, and enter the state of ihram, which is a spiritual and consecrated state, following which certain activities become forbidden until pilgrimage is completed.
Linguistically, miqat means “a confirmed or stated place”. The mosque has several other names, such as the mosque of abyar ‘Ali, the mosque of al-shajarah and dhul-hulayfah mosque.
The mosque is stationed within the hallowed valley of al-‘Aqiq. It is approximately fourteen kilometers from the Prophet’s Mosque.
The first version of the mosque was built by ‘Umar II when he was Umayyad governor of Madinah. It was subsequently renovated, rebuilt and expanded on several occasions during the eras of the Abbasids and Ottomans.
Historically, the mosque was small and modestly built. However, as part of his development drives for the city of Madinah, in particular with regard to its numerous religious institutions and buildings, King Fahd embarked on a historic enterprise of rebuilding and expanding the mosque.
The initiative was necessitated by the continuous rapid rise of pilgrims all year round, and by the many pressing issues entailed therein.
King Fahd decided to make the mosque generously large, delightful, comfortable and accommodative to all the physical, mental and spiritual needs of pilgrims.
The place signifies the beginning of the journey of their lifetime, thus, it had to furnish pilgrims with everything they may need at that particular juncture. Doing so was an honor, responsibility and an act of gratification and fulfillment.
When the mosque was completed, its size increased to 6,000 square meters. It could accommodate more than 5,000 worshipers.
It is a hypo-style mosque constructed around a courtyard, with one covered hall on each of the four sides, the largest being on the side of the qiblah facing Makkah. It is about 25 meters high. Its top edges, comprising those around the courtyard, are crenelated.
The plan and design of the mosque are clear, albeit down-scaled, imitations of some of the earliest and most distinguished hypo-style mosques in Islamic civilization, such as the mosque of Ahmad ibn Tulun in Cairo, the great mosque of Qayrawan in Tunisia, the great mosque of Samarra in Iraq, and al-Hakim bi-Amrillah mosque in Cairo.
However, the mosque of Ahmad ibn Tulun and its breakthrough architectural vocabulary are drawn upon most. The architect was Abdul-Wahid al-Wakil from Egypt.
The mosque’s prayer areas consist of a series of arches which support barrel or tunnel-vaults, like in the mosque of the two qiblahs (masjid al-qiblatayn). On the southern and northern sides from the courtyard, those vaults run parallel to the qiblah wall, while those on the eastern and western sides are perpendicular to the qiblah. In the main prayer area near the qiblah, there are five rows of vaults, while the remaining three sides have two rows each.
In the main prayer area, there are five rows of massive piers on which arches supporting the barrel-vaults rest. Each row has ten piers, except the first row adjoining the qiblah, which has eight.
That is so because the spaces at both ends of the qiblah arcade have been taken by two inaccessible chambers. That means that there are five arcades in the main southern prayer hall. Each arcade can accommodate four lines (sufuf) of worshipers, with about 150 persons in one line (saff).
The entire area has capacity for 20 lines, which translates itself into approximately 3,000 worshipers in the southern qiblah hall alone.
Read the full article here.
(The article is an excerpt from the author’s forthcoming book titled “Appreciating the Architecture of Madinah”)