Description:Al-Masjid al-Ḥarām (المسجد الحرام IPA: [ʔælˈmæs.ʤi.dæl.ħɑˈrɑːm] "The Sacred Mosque"), is the largest mosque in the world. Located in the city of Mecca, it surrounds the Kaaba, the place which Muslims turn towards while offering daily prayer and is considered to be the holiest plac... moreAl-Masjid al-Ḥarām (المسجد الحرام IPA: [ʔælˈmæs.ʤi.dæl.ħɑˈrɑːm] "The Sacred Mosque"), is the largest mosque in the world. Located in the city of Mecca, it surrounds the Kaaba, the place which Muslims turn towards while offering daily prayer and is considered to be the holiest place on Earth by Muslims. The mosque is also commonly known as the Haram or Haram Sharif.
The current structure covers an area of 356,800 square meters including the outdoor and indoor praying spaces and can accommodate up to 2 million worshippers during the Hajj period.
Islamic tradition holds that the mosque was first built by the angels before the creation of mankind, when God ordained a place of worship on Earth to reflect the house in heaven called al-Baytu l-Maˤmur (Arabic: البيت المعمور, "The Worship Place of Angels"). Al-Baytu l-Maˤmur is believed to be located in heaven directly above the Kaaba. The first Kaaba was built by angels and Adam was the first human to re-build it. From time to time the mosque was destroyed and rebuilt anew. According to popular belief it was famously built by Ibrahim (Abraham), with the help of his son Ismael. They were ordered by Allah to build the mosque, and the Kaaba. The Black Stone is situated near the eastern corner of the Kaaba, and according to some people is believed to have 'fallen from heaven' and turned black due to man's misdeeds. Others believe it is only a mark to start the circumambulation around the Kaaba. The Kaaba is the direction for all the Muslims to pray across the globe thus signifying unity among all. The Islamic teaching specifically mentions that nothing is magical about Masjid-ul-haram except for the oasis ZamZam which has never dried ever since it was revealed.
“ And when We assigned to Abraham the place of the House (Kaaba), saying: Do not associate with Me aught, and purify My House for those who make the circuit and stand to pray and bow and prostrate themselves. „
—Qur'an, [Qur'an 22:26]
“ And when Abraham and Ishmael raised the foundations of the House (Kaaba): Our Lord! accept from us; surely Thou art the Hearing, the Knowing. „
—Qur'an, [Qur'an 2:127]
Muslim belief places the story of Ishmael and his mother's search for water in the general vicinity of the mosque. In the story, Hagar runs between the hills of Safa and Marwah looking for water for her son, until God eventually reveals to her the Zamzam Well, from where water continues to flow non-stop to this day.
After the Hijra, upon Muhammed's victorious return to Mecca, the people of Mecca themselves removed all the idols in and around the Kaaba and cleansed it. This began the Islamic rule over the Kaaba, and the building of a mosque around it.
The first major renovation to the Mosque took place in 692. Before this renovation – which included the mosque’s outer walls been risen and decoration to the ceiling – the Mosque was a small open area with the Ka’aba at the centre. By the end of the 700s the Mosque’s old wooden columns had been replaced with marble columns and the wings of the prayer hall had been extended on both sides along with the addition of a minaret. The spread of Islam in the Middle East and the influx of pilgrims required an almost complete rebuilding of the site which came to include more marble and three further minarets.
In 1399 the Mosque caught fire and what wasn’t destroyed in the fire (very little) was damaged by unseasonable heavy rain. Again the mosque was rebuilt over six years using marble and wood sourced from nearby mountains in the Hejaz region of current day Saudi Arabia. When the mosque was renovated again in 1570 by Sultan Selim II’s private architect it resulted in the replacement of the flat roof with domes decorated with calligraphy internally and the placement of new support columns. These features – still present at the Mosque – are the oldest surviving parts of the building and in fact older than the Ka’aba itself (discounting the black stone itself) which is currently in its fourth incarnation made in 1629. The Saudi government acknowledges 1570 as the earliest date for architectural features of the present Mosque.
Following further damaging rain in the 1620s the Mosque was renovated yet again: a new stone arcade was added, three more minarets were built and the marble flooring was retiled. This was the unaltered state of the Mosque for nearly three centuries.
The most significant architectural and structural changes came, and continue to come, from the Saudi status of ‘Guardian of the Holy Places’ and the honorific title of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques (the other been the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina) been afforded to King Abdul Aziz. Many of the previously mentioned features – particularly the support columns – were destroyed in spite of their historical value. In their place came artificial stone and marble, the ceiling was refurnished and the floor was replaced. The Al-Safa and Al-Marwah, an... less