Sunday, August 23, 2009

Day 77, Medina, Saudi Arabia

As we continue with our flight above Saudi Arabia.......oh, there is another beautiful mosque.
Please tell us about that one guys.

That is the Al-Masjid an-Nabawi or the Prophet's Mosque in Medina.

It stands on the site of a mosque built by the Prophet Muhammad himself next to his house and contains his tomb.
The Prophet's Mosque is the second holiest mosque in the world after al-Haram in Mecca.
Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem comes in third.

That's wonderful, we have seen all three of these beautiful places of worship.

As it stands today, the Prophet's Mosque 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 mosque enclosure is 100 times bigger than the first mosque built by the Prophet and can accommodate more than half a million worshippers!

The Prophet's Mosque 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 mosque is also shaded with umbrellas affixed to freestanding columns. The roof is accessed by stairs and escalators. The paved area around the mosque is also used for prayer, equipped with umbrella tents.

The north façade has three evenly spaced porticos, while the east, west and south façades 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 mosque is lavishly decorated with polychrome marble and stones. The columns are of white marble with brass capitals 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 Mosque contains the older mosque 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 most notable feature of the Prophet's Mosque is the green Dome of the Prophet, which rises higher amongst the sea of white domes.

This is where the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad is located; early Muslim leaders Abu Bakr and Umar ibn al-Khattab are buried in an adjacent area as well.
At the heart of the mosque is a small area called ar-Rawdah an-Nabawiyah, which extends from the tomb of the Prophet to his pulpit.

All 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), as the tiny area can accommodate only a few hundred people.
Ar-Rawdah has two small gateways manned by Saudi soldiers charged with preventing overcrowding in the tiny area!!

The green fence at the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad is guarded by Wahhabi volunteers, who prevent pilgrims from touching the fence, which the Wahhabis regard as idolatry.

The structure called a pulpit is similarly guarded. The current marble pulpit was constructed by the Ottomans; the original was much smaller and made of palm tree wood.

This is a major pilgrimage site and many people who perform the Hajj in Mecca later come to Medina to visit the mosque.

Thanks guys for that very detailed report.... We are definitely more knowledgeable now.

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