Negash Āmedīn Mesgīd

By the Editors of the Madain Project

Built in the 7th century in Negash, the mosque is the believed to be the first in Africa, by tradition burial site of several followers of prophet Mohammad who, during his lifetime, fled to the Aksumite Kingdom to escape persecution in Mecca.

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Though the Negash Āmedīn Mesgīd is believed to be the first mosque built by the Muslim migrants in early seventh century CE, there's another mosque, the Masjid Sahabah, which is also purported to be the first mosque. It is located some 900 kilometers away from addis ababa, the Ethiopian capital. It is believed to be as old as the faith of Islam it self in Ethiopia. Negash holds great significance and importance for two of the Abrahamic religions, Islam and Christianity.

Muslim Tradition

circa 614 CE

Hijrah Towards Habasha
The first group of Mulsim emigrants that arrived in Aksum, comprised of twelve men and four women, was granted asylum in the year 7 (Hj.) (613 CE) under Ashama ibn-Abjar, the ruler of the Kingdom of Aksum. This group included Uthman ibn Affan, who later became the third caliph. They first arrived in the Axumite empire, where the then ruler Nejashi, Ashama ibn Abjar, a Christian, received and settled them in Negash, in the country’s Tigray Region.

circa 650 CE

Futuh al-Habasha
Negash is considered to be the earliest Muslim settlement in Africa; a cemetery from the 7th century CE has been excavated inside the village boundaries. The book Futuh al-Habasha (literally translating as the conquest of Abyssina) records Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi visited the tomb of Ashama ibn Abjar in Negash during his invasion of the province of Tigray (around 1537 CE). It is said that these followers had been instructed by the Prophet to respect and protect Axum as well as live in peace with the native Christians. It is believed that this is the reason for the peaceful co-existence between Christians and Muslims in Ethiopia.

Renovations and Current Mosque Structure

circa 650 CE

This small mosque was recently, in 2015, renovated by the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA). The mosque is named after the Ashama ibn Abjar who is credited with providing the Muslim migrants with assylum. Along with renovating the old mosque, several new structures were installed including, food court, a multi purpose hall, water reservoirs, and other administrative buildings.

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