al-Omari Mosque (Bosra)

By the Editors of the Madain Project

The al-Omari Mosque (Arabic: المسجد العمري‎‎), also known as the Jami' al-'Umari (الجامع العمري), is an early Islamic-era mosque in the Roman city of Bosra, Syria. It was founded by Caliph Umar, who led the Muslim conquest of Syria in 636 CE, and it was completed in the early 8th century by Caliph Yazid II. The mosque was renovated in the 12th and 13th century CE by the Ayyubid dynasties.

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Founded by Caliph Omar, the Masjid al-Omari is one of the oldest surviving mosques in Islamic history. The mosque of Umar is located in the ancient Roman city of Bosra, about 140 km south of Damascus. Although Bosra is known for its famous, still-intact Roman theatre, the city also displays strong Islamic (especially Ayyubid) architectural influences. It is located some 450 meters away from the Roman Theatre.

circa 900 CE

The Masjid al-Omari in ancient city of Bosra is one of the few remaining Islamic monuments including Hammam Majak, Mosque of al-Khider, Madrasa Jami' Mabrak an-Naqua (12th century), and the Fatima Mosque. The north-western exposure of the mosque, with the minaret in the background. The ancient town of Busra did not have a major mosque until the year 720 CE; its construction was ordered by Caliph Omar II, a successor of Caliph al-Walid I who built the Great Mosque of Damascus.

circa 900 CE

The mosque's plan is arranged around an enclosed courtyard wrapped with a single arcade on the eastern and western sides and a double arcade on the southern side that leads to the prayer hall. The central courtyard of the mosque, with its highly disciplined plan and expressive and almost chaotic use of roman spolia. Recent reconstruction work on the Omari mosque in Bosra included the reconstruction of the interior and facade of the prayer hall and the removal of elements added after the mosque's construction.

circa 900 CE

The courtyard was originally used as a market and sleeping area for traveling caravans on the trade routes across Syria, especially on the annual pilgrimage roads to Mecca. The travelers used the central courtyard of the mosque as a marketplace as well as a place to sleep.

circa 900 CE

It was completed in 720 by the Caliph Yazid II and renovated and expanded in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries by the Ayyubid dynasties who also fortified the Roman theatre and baths. The mosque has one of the earliest examples of an Umayyad square minaret, which was repeated in the other great Umayyad mosques in Damascus and Aleppo. The architecture of Madnat ul-Urus (minaret of the Bride) and Minaret of Isa displays great similarities with the minaret of Masjid al-Omari in Busra.

circa 900 CE

Modern day entrance is from the east, from the Roman era north-south market street. Most of the components of the structure date back to the Roman times and were re appropriated to build the Mosque of Omar durin the reign of Walid I. Notice the details of the column capitals.

circa 900 CE

Damage to Bosra began in 2012, as shells and tanks caused significant damage. In 2014, shell crater damage caused a hole in the roof of the mosque, and the upper level of the mosque was also destroyed. Rubble from the mosque is scattered around the destruction site, and there is shell damage in the surrounding area as well.


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