Masjid Al-Haram
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Masjid Al-Haram

al-Masjid al-Haram
Arabic: ?
Masjidul-HaramAerialView (cropped).jpg
Aerial view of the Great Mosque of Mecca
LeadershipYasser Al-Dosari (Imam)
Abdur Rahman As-Sudais (Imam)
Saud Al-Shuraim (Imam)
Abdullah Awad Al Juhany (Imam)
Maher Al Mueaqly (Imam)
Salih bin Abdullah al Humaid (Imam)
Faisal Ghazawi (Imam)
Bandar Baleela (Imam)
Ali Ahmed Mullah (Chief Mu'azzin)
LocationMecca, Hejaz, present-day Saudi Arabia[1]
Masjid al-Haram is located in Saudi Arabia
Masjid al-Haram
Location in Saudi Arabia
Masjid al-Haram is located in Asia
Masjid al-Haram
Masjid al-Haram (Asia)
Masjid al-Haram is located in Earth
Masjid al-Haram
Masjid al-Haram (Earth)
AdministrationSaudi Arabian government
Geographic coordinates21°25?19?N 39°49?34?E / 21.422°N 39.826°E / 21.422; 39.826Coordinates: 21°25?19?N 39°49?34?E / 21.422°N 39.826°E / 21.422; 39.826
Date established7th century CE
Capacity4 million worshippers[2]
Minaret height89 m (292 ft)
Site area356,000 square metres[3]

Masjid al-Haram (Arabic: ?‎, romanizedal-Masjid al-?ar?m, lit.'The Sacred Mosque'),[4] also known as the Great Mosque of Mecca,[5] is a mosque that surrounds the Kaaba in Mecca, in the Makkah Province of Saudi Arabia. It is a site of pilgrimage in the Hajj, which every Muslim must do at least once in their lives if able, and is also the main phase for the ?Umrah, the lesser pilgrimage that can be undertaken any time of the year. The rites of both pilgrimages include circumambulating the Kaaba within the mosque. The Great Mosque includes other important significant sites, including the Black Stone, the Zamzam Well, Maqam Ibrahim, and the hills of Safa and Marwa.[6]

As of August 2020, the Great Mosque is the largest mosque and the eighth largest building in the world. The Great Mosque has undergone major renovations and expansions through the years.[7] It has passed through the control of various caliphs, sultans and kings, and is now under the control of the King of Saudi Arabia who is titled the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.[8]


The Great Mosque contends with the Mosque of the Companions in the Eritrean city of Massawa[9] and Quba Mosque in Medina as the oldest mosque.[10] According to some scholars, that reference Islamic tradition and the Quran, explain that the Islamic perspective claims that Islam as a religion preceded Muhammad,[11][12][13] representing previous prophets such as Abraham.[14] Abraham is credited by Muslims with having built the Kaaba in Mecca, and consequently its sanctuary, which according to the Muslim view is seen as the first mosque[15] that ever existed.[16][17][18] According to scholars, Islam started during the lifetime of Muhammad in the 7th century CE,[19] and so did architectural components such as the mosque. In that case, either the Mosque of the Companions[20] or Quba Mosque would be the first mosque that was built in the history of Islam.[15]

Era of Abraham and Ishmael

According to Islamic doctrine in the Quran, Abraham together with his son Ishmael raised the foundations of a house,[21] which has been identified by commentators[by whom?] as the Kaaba. God showed Abraham the exact site which was previously built by Adam, very near to what is now the Well of Zamzam, where Abraham and Ishmael began work on the construction of the Kaaba.[] After Abraham had built the Kaaba, an angel brought to him the Black Stone, a celestial stone that, according to tradition, had fallen from Heaven on the nearby hill Abu Qubays.[] The Black Stone is believed by Islamic scholars to be the only remnant of the original structure made by Abraham.[]

After placing the Black Stone in the Eastern corner of the Kaaba, Abraham received a revelation, in which God told the aged prophet that he should now go and proclaim the pilgrimage to mankind, so that men may come both from Arabia and from lands far away, on camel and on foot.[22]

Era of Muhammad

Upon Muhammad's victorious return to Mecca in 630 CE, he broke the idols in and around the Kaaba,[23] similar to what, according to the Quran, Abraham did in his homeland.[] Thus ended polytheistic use of the Kaaba, and began monotheistic rule over it and its sanctuary.[24][25][26][27]

Umayyad era

The first major renovation to the mosque took place in 692 on the orders of Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan.[28] Before this renovation, which included the mosque's outer walls being raised and decoration added to the ceiling, the mosque was a small open area with the Kaaba at the center. By the end of the 8th century, 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 on the orders of Al-Walid I.[29][30] The spread of Islam in the Middle East and the influx of pilgrims required an almost complete rebuilding of the site which included adding more marble and three more minarets.[]

Ottoman era

In 1570, Sultan Selim II commissioned the chief architect Mimar Sinan to renovate the mosque. This renovation resulted in the replacement of the flat roof with domes decorated with calligraphy internally, and the placement of new support columns which are acknowledged as the earliest architectural features of the present mosque. These features are the oldest surviving parts of the building.

During heavy rains and flash floods in 1621 and 1629, the walls of the Kaaba and the mosque suffered extensive damage.[31] In 1629, during the reign of Sultan Murad IV, the mosque was renovated. In the renovation of the mosque, a new stone arcade was added, three more minarets (bringing the total to seven) were built, and the marble flooring was retiled. This was the unaltered state of the mosque for nearly three centuries.

The Great Mosque in an illustration of the Futuh al-Haramayn of Muhi Al-Din Lari, 1582
The mosque in 1850, during the Ottoman period
The mosque in 1910, during the Ottoman period

Saudi era

First Saudi expansion

The first major renovation under the Saudi kings was done between 1955 and 1973. In this renovation, four more minarets were added, the ceiling was refurnished, and the floor was replaced with artificial stone and marble. The Mas'a gallery (As-Safa and Al-Marwah) is included in the Mosque, via roofing and enclosures. During this renovation many of the historical features built by the Ottomans, particularly the support columns, were demolished.

On 20 November 1979, the Great Mosque was seized by extremist insurgents who called for the overthrow of the Saudi dynasty. They took hostages and in the ensuing siege hundreds were killed. These events came as a shock to the Islamic world, as violence is strictly forbidden within the mosque.[]

Second Saudi expansion

The second Saudi renovations under King Fahd, added a new wing and an outdoor prayer area to the mosque. The new wing, which is also for prayers, is reached through the King Fahd Gate. This extension was performed between 1982 and 1988.[32]

1988 to 2005 saw the building of more minarets, the erecting of a King's residence overlooking the mosque and more prayer area in and around the mosque itself. These developments took place simultaneously with those in Arafat, Mina and Muzdalifah. This extension also added 18 more gates, three domes corresponding in position to each gate and the installation of nearly 500 marble columns. Other modern developments added heated floors, air conditioning, escalators and a drainage system.[]

Third Saudi expansion

In 2008, the Saudi government under King Abdullah Ibn Abdulaziz announced an expansion[33] of the mosque, involving the expropriation of land to the north and northwest of the mosque covering 300,000 square metres (3,200,000 sq ft). At that time, the mosque covered an area of 356,800 square metres (3,841,000 sq ft) including indoor and outdoor praying spaces. 40 billion riyals (US$10.6 billion) was allocated for the expansion project.[34]

In August 2011, the government under King Abdullah announced further details of the expansion. It would cover an area of 400,000 m2 (4,300,000 sq ft) and accommodate 1.2 million worshippers, including a multi-level extension on the north side of the complex, new stairways and tunnels, a gate named after King Abdullah, and two minarets, bringing the total number of minarets to eleven. The circumambulation areas (Mataf) around the Kaaba would be expanded and all closed spaces receive air conditioning. After completion, it would raise the mosque's capacity from 770,000 to over 2.5 million worshippers.[35][36] His successor, King Salman launched five megaprojects as part of the overall King Abdullah Expansion Project in July 2015, covering an area of 456,000 square metres (4,910,000 sq ft). The project was carried out by the Saudi Binladin Group.[37] In 2012, the Abraj Al Bait complex was completed along with the 601 meter tall Makkah Royal Clock Tower.

On 11 September 2015, at least 111 people died and 394 were injured when a crane collapsed onto the mosque.[38][39][40][41][42] Construction work was suspended after the incident, and remained on hold due to financial issues during the 2010s oil glut. Development was eventually restarted two years later in September 2017.[43]

On 5 March 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the mosque began to be closed at night and the Umrah pilgrimage was suspended to limit attendance.[44] The resumption of Umrah service began on 4 October 2020 with the first phase of a gradual resumption that was limited to Saudi citizens and expatriates from within the Kingdom at a rate of 30 per cent.[45]

Ongoing construction in the mataaf and the temporary structure for tawaf surrounding the Kaabah in August 2014
King Abdul Aziz Gate, one of the entrances of the Great Mosque, under construction as of January 2018
King Abdul Aziz Gate as it stood after second Saudi expansion as of February 2019

List of former and current Imams and Muezzins of the Holy Mosque

Former Imams


Current Imams

  • Abdur-Rahman As-Sudais, appointed as Imam and Khateeb in 1404(1984).
  • Saud Al-Shuraim, appointed as Imam and Khateeb in 1412(1992).
  • Salih bin Abdullah al Humaid, appointed as Imam and Khateeb in 1404(1984).
  • Usama Abdul Aziz Al-Khayyat, appointed as Imam and Khateeb in 1418(1998).
  • Abdullah Awad Al Juhany, appointed as Imam in 1428 (2007) and Khateeb in 1441(2019).
  • Mahir Al-Muayqali, appointed as Imam in 1428 (2007), and Khateeb in 1437(2016).
  • Yasser Al-Dosari, appointed as Imam in 1441.
  • Bandar Baleelah, appointed as Imam in 1434(2013), and Khateeb in 1441 (2019).[48]
  • Faisal Jameel Ghazzawi, appointed as Imam and Khateeb in 1429 (2008).[49]

Former Muezzins

  • Al-Buzzi, died in 864 CE[50]
  • Sheikh Abdul Malik Mulla
  • Sheikh Abdullah Asad Al-Rayes
  • Sheikh Idris Kanu
  • Sheikh Muhammad Khalil Ramal
  • Sheikh Saleh Fayda
  • Sheikh Ibrahim Abbas
  • Sheikh Abdullah Sabaak
  • Sheikh Abdullah Basnawi
  • Sheikh Hassan Rashad Zabeedi

Current muezzins

  • Sheikh Ali Ahmed Mulla (Chief Muezzin and longest-serving)
  • Sheikh Farooq Hadrawi
  • Sheikh Naif Saleh Faidah
  • Sheikh Muhammad Yusuf Mudhin
  • Sheikh Muhammad Shakir
  • Sheikh Ahmed Basnawi
  • Sheikh Tawfiq Khoj
  • Sheikh Majid Abbas
  • Sheikh Ahmed Yunus Khoja
  • Sheikh Ahmed Nuhaas
  • Sheikh Esam Khan
  • Sheikh Saaed Falatta
  • Sheikh Hameed Dhaghreree
  • Sheikh Muhammad Magrabi
  • Sheikh Emad Baqree
  • Sheikh Hashim Saqqaf
  • Sheikh Hussain Hassan Shahat
  • Sheikh Muhammad Basad
  • Sheikh Samee Raees
  • Sheikh Suhail AbdulHafiz
  • Sheikh Ibrahim Madani
  • Sheikh Abdullah Bafeef
  • Sheikh Muhammad Amry
  • Sheikh Turki Hassani


The Great Mosque is the main setting for the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages[51] that occur in the month of Dhu al-Hijjah in the Islamic calendar and at any time of the year, respectively. The Hajj pilgrimage is one of the Pillars of Islam, required of all able-bodied Muslims who can afford the trip. In recent times, over 5 million Muslims perform the Hajj every year.[52]


  • The Ka'bah is a cuboid-shaped building in the center of the Great Mosque and one of the most sacred sites in Islam.[53] It is the focal point for Islamic rituals like prayer and pilgrimage.[53][54][55]
  • The Black Stone is the eastern cornerstone of the Kaaba and plays a role in the pilgrimage.[56][57]
  • The Station of Abraham is a rock that reportedly has an imprint of Abraham's foot and is kept in a crystal dome next to the Kaaba.[58]
  • Safa and Marwah are two hills between which Abraham's wife Hagar ran, looking for water for her infant son Ishmael, an event which is commemorated in the sa?y ritual of the pilgrimage.[]
  • The Zamzam Well is the water source which, according to tradition, sprang miraculously after Hagar was unable to find water between Safa and Marwah.[]

Destruction of heritage sites

There has been some controversy that the expansion projects of the mosque and Mecca itself are causing harm to early Islamic heritage. Many ancient buildings, some more than a thousand years old, have been demolished to make room for the expansion. Some examples are:[59][60]

  • Bayt Al-Mawl?d, the house where Muhammad was born, was demolished and rebuilt as a library.[]
  • D?r Al-Arqam, the Islamic school where Muhammad first taught, was flattened to lay marble tiles.[]
  • The house of Abu Jahal has been demolished and replaced by public washrooms.[]
  • A dome that served as a canopy over the Well of Zamzam was demolished.[]
  • Some Uthmani Porticos at the Mosque were demolished.[61]

See also

Further read



  1. ^ "Location of Masjid al-Haram". Google Maps. Retrieved 2013.
  2. ^ "Revealed: The world's 20 most expensive buildings". The Telegraph. 27 July 2016. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2020.
  3. ^ Daye, Ali (21 March 2018). "Grand Mosque Expansion Highlights Growth of Saudi Arabian Tourism Industry (6 mins)". Cornell Real Estate Review. Retrieved 2019.
  4. ^ Denny, Frederick M. (9 August 1990). Kieckhefer, Richard; Bond, George D. (eds.). Sainthood: Its Manifestations in World Religions. University of California Press. p. 69. ISBN 9780520071896.
  5. ^ "Great Mosque of Mecca | History, Expansion, & Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020.
  6. ^ Quran 3:97 (Translated by Yusuf Ali)
  7. ^ "Mecca crane collapse: Saudi inquiry into Grand Mosque disaster". BBC News.
  8. ^ "Is Saudi Arabia Ready for Moderate Islam? - Latest Gulf News". Retrieved 2017.
  9. ^ Reid, Richard J. (12 January 2012). "The Islamic Frontier in Eastern Africa". A History of Modern Africa: 1800 to the Present. John Wiley and Sons. p. 106. ISBN 978-0470658987. Retrieved 2015.
  10. ^ Palmer, A. L. (26 May 2016). Historical Dictionary of Architecture (2 ed.). Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 185-236. ISBN 978-1442263093.
  11. ^ Esposito, John (1998). Islam: The Straight Path (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 9, 12. ISBN 978-0-19-511234-4.
  12. ^ Esposito (2002b), pp. 4-5.
  13. ^ Peters, F.E. (2003). Islam: A Guide for Jews and Christians. Princeton University Press. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-691-11553-5.
  14. ^ Alli, Irfan (26 February 2013). 25 Prophets of Islam. ISBN 978-1456613075.
  15. ^ a b Palmer, A. L. (26 May 2016). Historical Dictionary of Architecture (2nd ed.). Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 185-236. ISBN 978-1442263093.
  16. ^ Michigan Consortium for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (1986). Goss, V. P.; Bornstein, C. V. (eds.). The Meeting of Two Worlds: Cultural Exchange Between East and West During the Period of the Crusades. 21. Medieval Institute Publications, Western Michigan University. p. 208. ISBN 978-0918720580.
  17. ^ Mustafa Abu Sway. "The Holy Land, Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Qur'an, Sunnah and other Islamic Literary Source" (PDF). Central Conference of American Rabbis. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 July 2011.
  18. ^ Dyrness, W. A. (29 May 2013). Senses of Devotion: Interfaith Aesthetics in Buddhist and Muslim Communities. 7. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 25. ISBN 978-1620321362.
  19. ^ Watt, William Montgomery (2003). Islam and the Integration of Society. Psychology Press. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-415-17587-6.
  20. ^ Reid, Richard J. (12 January 2012). "The Islamic Frontier in Eastern Africa". A History of Modern Africa: 1800 to the Present. John Wiley and Sons. p. 106. ISBN 978-0470658987. Retrieved 2015.
  21. ^ Quran 2:127 (Translated by Yusuf Ali)
  22. ^ Quran 22:27
  23. ^ Quran 21:57-58
  24. ^ Mecca: From Before Genesis Until Now, M. Lings, pg. 39, Archetype
  25. ^ Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, C. Glasse, Kaaba, Suhail Academy
  26. ^ Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad (1955). Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah - The Life of Muhammad Translated by A. Guillaume. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 88-9. ISBN 9780196360331.
  27. ^ Karen Armstrong (2002). Islam: A Short History. p. 11. ISBN 0-8129-6618-X.
  28. ^ Guidetti, Mattia (2016). In the Shadow of the Church: The Building of Mosques in Early Medieval Syria: The Building of Mosques in Early Medieval Syria. BRILL. p. 113. ISBN 9789004328839. Retrieved 2017.
  29. ^ Petersen, Andrew (2002). Dictionary of Islamic Architecture. Routledge. ISBN 9781134613656. Retrieved 2017.
  30. ^ Ali, Wijdan (1999). The Arab Contribution to Islamic Art: From the Seventh to the Fifteenth Centuries. American Univ in Cairo Press. ISBN 9789774244766. Retrieved 2017.
  31. ^ James Wynbrandt (2010). A Brief History of Saudi Arabia. Infobase Publishing. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-8160-7876-9. Retrieved 2013.
  32. ^ "Gates of Masjid al-Haram". Madain Project. Retrieved 2018.
  33. ^ "King 'Abdullah Extension of Masjid al-Haram". Madain Project. Archived from the original on 20 September 2020. Retrieved 2020.
  34. ^ "Riyadh Expands Masjid al-Haram". 6 January 2008. Archived from the original on 28 December 2013.
  35. ^ "Historic Masjid Al-Haram Extension Launched". onislam. 20 August 2011. Archived from the original on 12 May 2012. Retrieved 2011.
  36. ^ "Saudi Arabia starts Mecca mosque expansion".
  37. ^ "King launches key Grand Mosque expansion projects". Saudi Gazette. 12 July 2015. Retrieved 2019.
  38. ^ "Makkah crane crash report submitted". Al Arabiya. 14 September 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  39. ^ "King Salman to make findings of Makkah crane collapse probe public". Retrieved 2015.
  40. ^ "Number of casualties of Turkish Haji candidates at the Kaaba accident reach 8...". Presidency of Religious Affairs. 13 September 2015. Archived from the original on 26 September 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  41. ^ "Six Nigerians among victims of Saudi crane accident: official". Yahoo! News. AFP. 16 September 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  42. ^ Halkon, Ruth; Webb, Sam (13 September 2015). "Two Brits dead and three injured in Mecca Grand Mosque crane tragedy that killed 107 people l". Mirror Online. Retrieved 2015.
  43. ^ "Saudi Arabia to restart work on $26.6 bln Grand Mosque expansion". Reuters. 17 August 2017. Retrieved 2019.
  44. ^ "Saudi Arabia announces extraordinary measures to protect Mecca and Medina from coronavirus". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 2020.
  45. ^ "COVID-19: 60,000 worshipers allowed to pray at Grand Mosque, Saudi Arabia, from Sunday". Retrieved 2020.
  46. ^ "Names of Former Imams 1345-1435 Ah". Retrieved 2018.
  47. ^ WORTH, ROBERT F. (10 April 2009). "A Black Imam Breaks Ground in Mecca". The New York Times. Riyadh.
  48. ^ "Who's Who: Sheikh Bandar Baleelah, imam at the Grand Mosque in Makkah". Arab News. 19 July 2021. Retrieved 2021.
  49. ^ "Sheikh Dr. Faisal Jameel Ghazzawi, Makkah Grand Mosque imam". Arab News. 17 May 2019. Retrieved 2021.
  50. ^ "Im?m ibn Kath?r al-Makk?". 16 June 2013. Retrieved 2016.
  51. ^ Mohammed, Mamdouh N. (1996). Hajj to Umrah: From A to Z. Mamdouh Mohammed. ISBN 0-915957-54-X.
  52. ^ General statistics of the Umrah season of 1436 A.H. until 24:00 hours, 28/09/1436 A.H. Total Number of the Mu`tamirs: 5,715,051 "General statistics of the Umrah season of 1436 A.H." The Ministry of Hajj, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Archived from the original on 13 August 2015.
  53. ^ a b Wensinck, A. J; Ka`ba. Encyclopaedia of Islam IV p. 317
  54. ^ "In pictures: Hajj pilgrimage". BBC News. 7 December 2008. Retrieved 2008.
  55. ^ "As Hajj begins, more changes and challenges in store". altmuslim. Archived from the original on 11 January 2012.
  56. ^ Shaykh Safi-Ar-Rahman Al-Mubarkpuri (2002). Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum (The Sealed Nectar): Biography of the Prophet. Dar-As-Salam Publications. ISBN 1-59144-071-8.
  57. ^ Mohamed, Mamdouh N. (1996). Hajj to Umrah: From A to Z. Amana Publications. ISBN 0-915957-54-X.
  58. ^ M.J. Kister, "Mam Ibr?h?m," p.105, The Encyclopaedia of Islam (new ed.), vol. VI (Mahk-Mid), eds. Bosworth et al., Brill: 1991, pp. 104-107.
  59. ^ Taylor, Jerome (24 September 2011). "Mecca for the Rich: Islam's holiest site turning into Vegas". The Independent.
  60. ^ Abou-Ragheb, Laith (12 July 2005). "Dr.Sami Angawi on Wahhabi Desecration of Makkah". Center for Islamic Pluralism. Retrieved 2010.
  61. ^ "Ottoman Portico Demonstrates Kur?un's Lack of Knowledge of Historical Sources". Al Arabiya English. 19 July 2020. Retrieved 2021.

External links

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