Masjid Quba: The first mosque ever built
Which is the oldest existing mosque in the world? It would be unhistorical to stress with undisputed certainty, but the holy Masjid Quba is generally considered to be the oldest mosque, which continues to exist to this day. It is also one of the holiest shrines to the Muslims. Not surprisingly, because, according to the Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World, edited by Prof. Richard C. Martin, McMillan Reference, USA, the foundation of the Quba Mosque was laid by none other than Prophet Muhammad himself.
Where is this mosque located?
Well when the mosque was built the place used to be just off the precincts of the ancient city of Madinah, now located in Saudi Arabia. The Ministry of Hajj, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, informs us that the mosque’s foundation stone was laid ‘as soon as the Prophet (SAW) reached Madinah’. One may remember that the Prophet(SAW), unable to convince the people of Mecca his exalted mission, returned to Madinah in 622 CE. Therefore, it may be fairly surmised that the Masjid Quba was built in 622 CE itself.
The Encyclopedia further informs us that the Prophet actually spent some days in this small village, Quba. Before he entered into the main city. And “the mosque at Quba remained dear to the Prophet. Long after he had settled in Medina he would still make his way there on Saturdays to spend time in prayer and reflection.” While there is no historical record, Islamic tradition has it that the Prophet also held his first Friday prayer and congregation at Masjid Quba.
It is also said that he prayed the Qasr here for fourteen days waiting for Ali to return from Mecca. In this connection it may also be noted that the importance of Madinah in the history of Islam is enormous. According to the Encyclopedia, “Medina is venerated because it is the city of the Prophet of Islam. And the first Islamic polity. It is in Medina that Islam took root and was strengthened.” While in the early 7th century CE Quba was a distant away from Madinah. Over time the city has spread to include the village within its territories. The spiritual and historical importance of the first mosque built in such a city can hardly be overstated.
Present day Masjid Quba
The mosque naturally went through renovations over the past 1400 years. Finally the old was replaced with a new one. It was designed by the renowned neo-classical architect Abdel Wahid El-Wakil in 1984. At present the mosque has four minarets. As many as 56 mini-domes and seven entrances. The prayer hall of the mosque itself has six large domes. While the vast courtyard of the mosque has been built with red, white and black marble. Much of the mosques interior has been constructed using white marble stone.
The merits of this holy mosque has been repeatedly mentioned in several hadiths, which also make a special site of reverence. Muslims from all over the world consider it a great fortune to be able to visit this holy mosque.
(Written by Author and Translator Nilanjan Hajra)