Quba Mosque

By the Editors of the Madain Project

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The Quba Mosque, Masjid Quba (مَسْجِد قُبَاء‎), is a historic mosque located on the outskirts of Medina, Saudi Arabia. Also spelled as Masjid e Quba or Masjid al-Quba is believed to have been built in the lifetime of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the seventh century CE. The current Masjid Quba either stands on the site of Masjid al-Dirar (see notes) or close to it.


Initially, when the mosque was first built, it was situated some six kilometres (3.7 miles) south of Medina in the village of Quba, before Medina (known as Yathrib at the time) expanded to include this village. According to one tradition it is believed, this is the mosque, where first Friday Prayer (Salat al-Jummah) was offered. Depending on whether the Mosque of the Companions in the Eritrean city of Massawa is older or not, it may be the first mosque in the world that dates to the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad in the early seventh century CE.

The current structure was designed by the Driehaus Prize winner and New Classical architect Abdel-Wahed El-Wakil. Initially it was planned that the older structure will be incorporated in the new one, but this idea was abandoned and the older building was torn down entirely. When the Masjid al-Quba was rebuilt in 1986 CE, the Medinan architecture was retained, characterised by the ribbed white domes, and basalt facing and modest exterior, qualities that recalls the simple Arabian architecture of Madinah.

One of the gates of Masjid an-Nabawi, the Bab Quba (built during the second Saudi expansion of the Prophet's Mosque), is named after the village where this mosque is located.

Masjid al-Quba

Brief History

circa 622 CE

When prophet Muhammad arrived here, the area was inhabited by the tribe of Bani Amr bin Auf. According to a tradition, at the time, there was a water well at the site as well, probably owned by Abu Ayub Ansari.

According to tradition, its first stones (foundation-stones) were positioned by prophet Muhammad as soon as he arrived on his emigration from the city of Mecca to Medina, and the mosque was completed by his companions. Prophet Muhammad is said to have spent some fourteen days in this mosque praying qaṣr (a short prayer) while waiting for Ali to arrive in Medina.

After it was first constructed during the lifetime of prophet Muhammad, it has been renovated quite often, subsequently. The third Caliph Uthman ibn Affan made the first renovations. Then again Caliph Omar bin Abdul Aziz built the mosque’s first minaret. It was renovated again in 1043 CE (435 Hijri) by Abu Yali al-Husaini who constructed a prayer niche known as the "Mihrab". In the year 1160 CE (555 Hijri), several additions were made to the mosque by Kamal al-Din al-Isfahani. Successive renovations of the mosque took place in the years 1272, 1332, 1436, 1476 CE (671, 733, 840, 881 Hijri respectively), and the latest changes were made in the era of Sultan Abdulmajid in the year 1830 CE (1245 Hijri) during the era of the Ottoman Empire.


circa 622 CE

Domes and Minarets
It total the mosque has 54 domes of three sizes, out of which 48 are small domes, five mid-sized domes and one is the large one built over the mihrab area. Mosque building has four minarets, one on each corner. Originally, there was one minaret, the new renovations included the addition of the other three minarets, they rest on square bases, have octagonal shafts which take on a circular shape as they reach the top.

circa 622 CE

Central Courtyard
The courtyard of this mosque is constructed out of black, red, and white marble. The courtyard, is flagged with black, red and white marble. The courtyard of the Masjid Quba is covered by fabric screens during the day to protect the pilgrims and visitors from the scorching heat with shades. Arabesque latticework (a type of projecting window enclosed with carved wood latticework) filters the light of the palm groves outside. Elements of the new building include work by the Egyptian architect Abdel-Wahed el-Wakil, Pakistani architect Hassan Khan Sayyid and the Stuttgart tensile architect Mahmoud Bodo Rasch, a student of Frei Otto.

circa 622 CE

Minbar and Mihrab
Along with majority of the internal architecture, the minbar and mihrab are all composed of white marble as well.

circa 622 CE

Prayer Hall
The mosque has two main prayer areas one in the south and the other in the north connected by two roofed colonnades on the eastern and the western sides, arranged around a central courtyard. The main prayer hall (pictured here) is situated on the southern end of the mosque's central building. The southern prayer hall is topped by six larger domes, norther prayer area is topped with 32 smaller domes, and the colonnades are topped by even smaller domes.

The one-bayed portico which borders it on the north, separates the main body of the mosque from the women's prayer area. The women's prayer area, which is surrounded by a screen, is divided into two parts as a passageway connects the northern entrance with the courtyard.

Notable Landmarks in the Vicinity

circa 622 CE

House of Kulthum bin al-Hedm
The house of noble companion Kulthum bin al-Hedm (موضع دار كلثوم بن الهدم), from the Banu 'Amr bin 'Awf of the Aws tribe, was situated on the southern side of the current structure of the Masjid Quba. He died shortly after the prophet Muhammad's migration to Madinah from Mecca. Today nothing remains of the historic residential structure, but it was situated south-east of the Saad bin Khaithamah's house. This is where prophet Muhammad is believed to have resided during his stay in Quba before arriving in the ancient city of Yathrib. During the migration to Madinah a number of other Sahaba (companions) are also known to have stayed in the same house, including abu Bakr al-Siddiq, Ali ibn abi Talib, al-Miqdad bin Amr, Khabbab bin al-Aratt, abu Ubaidah bin al-Jarrah, Saad bin Khawla among others.

circa 622 CE

House of Saad bin Khaythamah
The site associated or maked as the house of Saad bin Khaythamah, who belonged to the Bani al-Salam from the Aws tribe, was situated adjacent to the south-western corner of the modern Masjid Quba. Saad bin Khaythamah was martyred in the Battle of Badr. Prophet Muhammad is said to have hosted his visitors and coducted meetings with delegates in Saad's house since it was situated close to the house of Kulthum.

Saad also hosted several of the companions during their migration from Mecca, including Hamza ibn Abdul Muttalib, Zaid bin Haritha, abu Marthad al-Ghanawi, Abdullah bin Mas'ud, Dhu al-Shamalayn bin abd Amr, Suhaib al-Rum, Bilal ibn Rabaha (commonly known as the Bilal Habashi, literally meaning Bilal the Abyssinian) among others.

circa 622 CE

Bir Khatim
Also known as the Bir al-Arees (also spelled as Bir al-Aris literally meaning the "Well of the Ring") the Bir al-Khatam is one of the historical wells dating back to the pre-Islamic period, located south-west of the modern Masjid al-Quba. The name of the historic well comes from the incident of prophet Muhammad's ring falling in to this well during the caliphate of Uthman ibn Affan.

The well holds significance due to its affiliation with the prophet Muhammad, as mentioned in his biographies. It is said that the prophet once sat in the water basin with two horns of the well (qif) with the first caliph Abu Bakr to his right and secon caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab to his right and Uthman ibn Affan (the third caliph) in front. It was here that the Bisharah (glad tidings) of the Jannah (paradise) to the three. Today a roundel inside a square marks the spot

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