Top 10 Oldest Mosques in the World: Mosques hold a special place in the hearts of Muslims around the world, serving as places of worship, community centers, and beacons of religious and cultural significance. Throughout history, numerous remarkable mosques have been constructed, each with its own unique architecture and captivating stories. In this article, we will take you on a journey to discover the Top 10 Oldest Mosques in the World, showcasing their rich history and intricate details.
Top 10 Oldest Mosques in the World
1) Al-Masjid al-Haram, Saudi Arabia:
The oldest and holiest mosque in Islam, Al-Masjid al-Haram, or the Great Mosque of Mecca, dates back to the 7th century. It surrounds the Kaaba, the focal point of Muslim prayer. The holiest of the Islamic holy sites is where the prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail (peace be upon them both) used to pray. Five times a day, Muslims around the world face the direction of the Kaaba, known as the Qiblah. It is the first house of God, constructed for the worship of Allah, the One True God. This magnificent mosque has witnessed multiple expansions over the years to accommodate the growing number of pilgrims during Hajj and Umrah.
2) Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, Saudi Arabia:
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Located in Medina, Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, or the Prophet’s Mosque, was built by Prophet Muhammad himself in the 7th century. It underwent several renovations and expansions, preserving its original foundations and integrating Islamic architectural elements. The Green Dome marks the tomb of Prophet Muhammad, making it a significant site for Muslims worldwide.
3) Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem:
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Situated in the Old City of Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam. Prayer there is equivalent to a thousand prayers, according to a Hadith by Al Bukahri. On the night of the Mirage, our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) prayed in this Masjid. Additionally, it was the previous Qibla direction for 17 months following emigration to Medina after a revelation that caused the Qibla to be turned towards the Kaaba.
It was constructed in the 8th century and has a rich history intertwined with religious and political significance. The mosque boasts stunning Islamic architecture, with its vast courtyard and elegant arches.
4) Umayyad Mosque, Syria:
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The Umayyad Mosque, located in Damascus, Syria, was built in the 8th century by the Umayyad Caliphate. Known for its impressive dome, it stands on the site of an ancient temple dedicated to Hadad, a Semitic god. The mosque showcases remarkable Islamic artistry and is an important symbol of religious and cultural heritage.
A temple was constructed in Damascus to honor Jupiter during the Roman occupation. At the end of the fourth century, during the Byzantine era, it was converted into a Christian church and named after John the Baptist.
After the Battle of Yarmouk in 636 CE, the Muslims, led by Khalid-bin-Waleed (رضي الله عنه), took control of Damascus. The Christians and Muslims both worshipped at the church. Muslims prayed in the building’s eastern section, while Christians prayed on the western side.
Shi’ah Muslims place a special emphasis on the Umayyad Mosque since it served as the destination for the Prophet’s (ﷺ) descendants who were forced to walk here from Iraq after the Battle of Karbala.
5) Quba Mosque, Saudi Arabia:
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Quba Mosque in Medina is the first mosque to be built by Prophet Muhammad after his arrival from Mecca. It dates back to the 7th century and has been renovated and expanded several times. The mosque is revered for its simplicity and peaceful ambiance, attracting countless visitors. The prophet (pbuh) used to ride or walk to the Mosque (masjid) on Saturdays to do two rakahs of prayer, according to Sahih Hadiths by Bukhari.
6) Sana’a Mosque, Yemen:
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Constructed in the 7th century, the Sana’a Mosque, also known as the Great Mosque of Sana’a, stands as a testament to Yemen’s Islamic heritage. It displays unique architectural features with intricate patterns and delicate stucco work, reflecting the ingenuity of ancient Yemeni craftsmanship.
It is situated close to the site of Ghumdan Palace. The mosque boasts beautiful architecture that was constructed throughout time in many eras. In the year 1130, Queen Arwa Ibn Ahmed carried out a substantial renovation. The Mosque is also included as a World Heritage Site by Unesco.
7) Great Mosque of Kairouan (Mosque of Uqba), Tunisia:
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The Great Mosque of Kairouan, located in Kairouan, Tunisia, is one of the oldest mosques in North Africa, dating back to the 7th century. It is renowned for its distinctive square minaret and stunning geometric patterns adorning its interiors. This mosque served as a model for many later Islamic architectural designs.
The city is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When the city was founded in 670, an Arab general named Uqba Ibn Nafi constructed it. It is a significant mosque in Tunisia, and the Maghreb region adopted the mosque’s architectural design. Prior to the establishment of the educational universities focused around Tunis in the 11th century, the Mosque served as a place for learning in both Islamic and secular studies.
8) Mosque of Amr ibn al-As, Egypt:
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Situated in Cairo, Egypt, the Mosque of Amr ibn al-As is the first mosque on the African continent. Built-in the 7th century, it holds historical significance as it was constructed during the Islamic conquest of Egypt. The mosque exhibits a blend of architectural styles, including elements from ancient Egyptian and Roman designs.
9) Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque, Morocco:
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Established in the 9th century, Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque, located in Fes, Morocco, is considered one of the oldest universities and mosques in the world. It is renowned for its stunning Andalusian-style architecture, intricate calligraphy, and extensive library that has preserved numerous ancient manuscripts.
Fatima al-Fihri established it as a mosque in the years 857-859, and it later rose to prominence as one of the principal spiritual and academic hubs of the Islamic Golden Age. In 1963, it became a part of Morocco’s current state university system, and two years later, it received the name “University of Al Quaraouiyine” in writing. An important complex of ancient Moroccan and Islamic architecture, the mosque’s physical structure incorporates aspects from numerous eras of Moroccan history.
10) Grand Mosque of Sousse, Tunisia:
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The Grand Mosque of Sousse, built in the 9th century, is an architectural gem situated in Sousse, Tunisia. It showcases a harmonious blend of Islamic, Byzantine, and Romanesque influences. The mosque’s remarkable minaret and ornate details make it a popular destination for visitors.
The building was built in 851, when the Aghlabid dynasty—vassals of the Abbasid Caliphate—ruled. The king Abu al-‘Abbas Muhammad al-Aghlabi ordered it. It is a significant example of early Islamic Aghlabid architecture. Over the ensuing centuries, the mosque underwent many renovations and additions to its prayer hall.
The top 10 oldest mosques in the world represent not only the architectural brilliance of their respective eras but also bear witness to the spread and establishment of Islam across continents. These sacred places have withstood the test of time, preserving the essence of Islamic culture and spirituality. Exploring their history and intricate details offers us a deeper appreciation of the rich heritage that mosques hold within the Islamic world.
FAQs on Oldest Mosques in the World
Which Mosque is the Oldest Mosque in the World?
The Great Mosque of Mecca, also known as Al-Masjid al-Haram, is widely considered the oldest mosque in the world. It is located in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and is the holiest site in Islam. The mosque surrounds the Kaaba, which is the most sacred shrine in Islam. Its construction is believed to have started in the 7th century, shortly after the time of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Over the centuries, the mosque has been expanded and renovated multiple times, but its core structure remains one of the oldest surviving examples of Islamic architecture.
Where is the Oldest Mosque in the World?
The Oldest Mosque in the World, Al-Masjid al-Haram, is located in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
Which Mosque is the Second Oldest Mosque in the World?
The Mosque of the Prophet, also known as Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, is considered the second oldest mosque in the world. It is located in the city of Medina, Saudi Arabia. The original mosque was built by the Islamic prophet Muhammad and his companions in the 7th century. Like the Great Mosque of Mecca, it has undergone expansions and renovations throughout history. The mosque holds great religious and historical significance for Muslims, as it is the burial place of Prophet Muhammad and is considered one of the most important sites in Islam.
Which Mosque is the Oldest Mosque in Europe?
Mosque of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba or the Mezquita. It is considered the oldest mosque in Europe. Located in the city of Córdoba, Spain, the mosque was originally built as a Visigothic Christian church in the 6th century. Following the Islamic conquest of the Iberian Peninsula, it was later converted into a mosque in the 8th century. The mosque underwent numerous expansions and renovations over the centuries. Today, it stands as a significant architectural and cultural landmark, displaying a unique blend of Islamic and Christian influences.
Which Mosque is the first mosque of Islam on earth?
The first mosque of Islam on Earth is known as the Quba Mosque (Masjid Quba). It is located in the city of Medina, in present-day Saudi Arabia. The mosque holds great historical and religious significance as it was the first mosque ever built by the Prophet Muhammad and his companions after their migration (Hijrah) from Mecca to Medina in the year 622 CE. The construction of the Quba Mosque is believed to have taken place in the early days of the Islamic calendar. It remains an important place of worship and pilgrimage for Muslims around the world
Which Mosque is the Oldest Mosque in Africa?