Founding of al-Kufa Mosque and its Specifications

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Founding of al-Kufa Mosque and its Specifications

The sources of the Arab and Islamic history mention that the construction of basic mosque is one of the cities' fundamentals in the Islamic world.

We have talked on the first model of mosques in Islam (Quba' Mosque) in Medina. We have also mentioned that the first thing done by Allah's preferable messenger (Allah bless him and his family);after arriving to Medina, was to build or found a mosque for the prayer and to launch the Islamic call to the whole world; as it is the call for all people.

On this good norm enacted by Allah's preferable messenger (Allah bless him and his family), and on the model of mosque of Quba' in Medina constructed other mosques. Many mosques built in time of Allah's preferable messenger (Allah bless him and his family). Moreover, the basic inclusive mosques founded after the Islamic conquest in the cities of neighbor countries. In 14 AH, Basra inclusive mosques built, while the inclusive mosque in Kufa built between 15 AH and 17 AH after seizing Basra. In 21 AH built the mosque of Omer al-Bin al-A'aas in Fustat. The mosques were spreading on this manner in the Islamic world.

If we want to mention these mosques, the mosque of Kufa is its mater after the mosque of Mecca and Medina. Sa'ad Bin Abu Waqqas began the construction of the inclusive mosque in al-Kufa, after its foundation directly.

At its beginning, the mosque was simple. Through the narration of Al- Baladhuri, we know that Sa'ad built its mosque and emirate house (i.e. Sa'ad's house) on a high site))([1]). Al-Hamawi mentions the largeness of the mosque ((it has planned to contain forty thousand human))([2]).

Let the historian al-Tabari died on 311 informs us about the beginning of this inclusive mosque in al-Kufa.

Al-Tabari states the events of the year 17 AH and the foundation of al-Kufa ((when they decided to do the construction in al-Kufa, first thing, they has planned and built, was the mosque. it placed in area known  as Ashab al- Sabun (owners of soap) and al-Tamarien (sellers of dates) in the market. They planned it, and then a very strong thrower stood in its center, who threw an arrow at his right side. They told everyone wanted to build beyond this arrow, he could do. The thrower launched another arrow at his front and back, they asked everybody who wanted to build behind these two arrows, he could do. Thus, the mosque took a shape of a square from all its sides. They built a canopy in the front of the mosque that had neither flanks nor rears. The square was a collecting place for people. The mosques are similar but they differ from Mecca because of its greatness and sanctity))([3]).

Al-Tabari also talked about the fundamentals and the shade, the marble columns and the trench, the roads to the mosque, and Sa'ad's house that located close to it and other things concerning its components.

Al-Tabari says ((the shade stretched one hundred meter over marble columns that belonged to Akasira (Persians), its names like the names of Roman churches. They made a trench round the yard so that nobody could intrude the walls of the mosque. They built a house for Sa'ad near the mosque and between the house and the mosque an excavated road where the money houses (treasury) placed, which is the palace of al-Kufa today. they built for the mosque balcony from Persian marble in Hira,  as well as a road in the cowrie, five roads in the yard, and four road at mosques Qibla four approaches and at its eastern side three roads and western side three too))([4]).

Al-Tabari continues talking about the details of the mosque, so he mentions the palace that adjoins the mosque, and the house of money, which has stolen, therefore they changed the place of the mosque because of such theft.

He says ((Sa'ad built a palace near the chapel of today Kufa mosque, in which he put the house of money (treasury), and beside it, he built his house. Again they stole the house of money after they has made a hole in the wall. Sa'ad wrote to Omer describing the location of the house of money, and how far away from the yard was.

Omer wrote to him," transfer the mosque beside the house so that it will be opposite to the house because for the mosque people who are entering it at night and in the day, and by this way the house will be protected". The mosque transferred and its construction began. Dhaqan who was from people of Hamdham, known as Ruzuba Bin Bezrjamhr said to Sa'ad," I build the mosque and the palace at the same time."

He used the old style of planning al-Kufa palace, which built by the rubble of marbles belonged to Persians outside Hira. He placed the mosque beside the house of money and close to the palace. Its right side to the Qibla extending to the end of the yard of Ali Bin Abu Talib (peace be upon him). The yard was its Qibla, and then he extended the mosque where its Qibla became to the yard and on its right side the palace. It constructed from marble columns belonged to Kisra churches))([5]).

The mosque was still on its form and construction until the time of Mua'wiya Bin Abu Sufyan when the reconstruction, the change and the process of widening and developing began.

Al- Tabari says ((the mosque is remained as it is until the period of Muawiya Bin Abu Sufyan when it rebuilt by Zeyad. As Zeyad wanted to rebuild the mosque, he called builders of pre-Islamic period to who he described the mosque's site and disclosed his wishes. He said to builders, "I want imaginative and a unique construction and style, but I can't imagine".

Therefore, one of the builder said to him," such kind of construction was of Kisra only". From mountain of Ahwaz, we bring the columns pierced and filled with lead and white lead of iron, which will rise the mosque thirty meters to the sky, and will have a roof, flanks and rears. This will strengthen and fix the construction of the mosque"))([6]).

Al-Hamawi says about the extension and the expansion of the mosque during the rule of Zeyad and Mua'wiya ((when Zeyad sat on the throne, he increased the mosque in the length of twenty thousand human (i.e. more than twenty thousand meter), and he brought marbles and columns from Ahwaz))([7]). This means that ninety thousand prayers can pray in the mosque. Its capacity becomes bigger, wider and more inclusive.

If the first design for the first Islamic mosques was like Quba' design that is modest and simple, and has specified primitive specifications, as we mentioned, the other mosques built after this mosque, they do not differ from it very much in its aims and its specifications. They were simple and modest having specified specifications and elements as in that first mosque.

If we remember that, the aim of the greatest Prophet's mosque (Alla bless him and his family) was to establish the most important basis and rules of Islam: the prayer and the worship of Lord of Worlds, and doing the Judgment of the Sky through that modest mosque. We can say, the aim of the inclusive mosques in Kufa city was that the same for the greatest Messenger's one in Quba' in Medina. Its aim is to perform the prayer and the worship of only one Allah, to perform the Judgment of Allah Almighty and His Shari'a throughout the activities practiced in the mosque if it is possible.

The specifications and objective of the inclusive mosque in al-Kufa were the same of the preferable Messenger's mosque (Allah bless him and his family) in general, not in its partial details.

If we remember, the mosque founded by the greatest Messenger (Quba mosque, we will know the unnecessary additions and increases such as minarets, domes, compartments and even the place of ablution) were not found in the first Islamic mosque. If we know such fact, and at the same time, we know the simple specifications and components of al-Kufa mosque during its foundations, we will directly realize that al-Kufa mosque was pure primitive followed same route of Messenger's mosque. It takes the same work and aim that is the satisfaction of Allah Almighty, and of the greatest Messenger (Allah bless him and his family) and applying the Judgment of Allah Almighty.

That does not mean that there is an existence of a lit-eral matching between the two mosque, the Prophet's mosque and the Kufa mosque, but it is a similarity in the foundations and the key elements. No doubt is that the spatial and temporal circumstance have its merit and its role in the presence of the difference and of the similarity.

The truth that has to be said, that the general specifications of the mosque of al-Kufa at its initial beginnings were on the same steps of the general specifications for the mosques of Greatest Messenger (Best prayer and peace be upon him).

Here, we can mention the image of the inclusive mosque in al-Kufa including its beginning and its general specifications…as a model for first Islamic mosques… in our Islamic world, in order to have a clear original image in our minds.

The inclusive mosque in al-Kufa is a simple inclusive mosque basically, far from developments of civil architecture and decorations of civilization that occurred later.

Its key aim, as mentioned above, was fiducially and religiously, educationally and daily goal, as it is the goal for the mosque of Greatest Messenger, Quba' mosque in Medina, performing all kinds of Prayers and establishing the rule of Islam and managing the affairs of Muslims related to their different matters, which is the main objective that Islamic religion will.

The physical and natural basis of the mosque is a large area of Allah land in a suitable place of the city or any city. It is usually in the center of the city surrounded by houses and homes, markets, roads and other various facilities.

And thus it was the mosque in al-Kufa, the mosque was the nucleus or axis of the city of al-Kufa surrounded from different side by buildings and various facilities, the main roads passing it by and the shops, housing plans and other various facilities distrusted according to it.

- The inclusive mosque in al-Kufa located in the position of the owners of soap and sellers of dates in the market.

- From this position of the mosque and from one throw of an arrow at every side of the mosque fourth sides, the people built their houses. Al-Tabari says ((the mosque became a square which distances are equal from all its side))([8]).

 - The mosque took the shape of a square in which built a shed or a covered part for lodging the prayers. The mosque built on marble columns which length 100 meter but it had not rears and wings at the beginning.

- Then the greatest mosques in al-Kufa surrounded by ditch so as anyone cannot break into its buildings. The mosque surrounded by hole for its protection and preservation, for the first designer did not draw walls for the mosque in the map.

The expansion of the mosque was as al-Hamawi says, "the mosque accommodates forty thousand man, then Zeyad Bin Abih increased twenty thousand human, so its capacity of accommodation became about sixty thousand human([9]).Al-Hamawi said also ((al-Sha'abi said," Kufa mosque is six farms and six bushels or follicles (measure for weighing grain)and Nafrukh increased nine bushels or follicles))([10]).

The mosque floor paved with earth and then with gravels. Al-Baladhuri says ((al-Mughirah increased the Kufa mosque and built it, and also Zeyad increased the mosque. The reason of throwing gravels in the mosque and in Basra ones as well, was when people were praying, they raised their hands filled with dust, so they shake them. Therefore, Zeyad said that the thing made me afraid that people might think in the later days shaking hands is a custom in the prayer, so he increased and expanded the mosque and ordered to bring gravels and threw into the courtyard of the mosque))([11]).

However, the walls and doors, the chapel and the pulpit, the wings and the rears, and the simple normal addition have built after a short period.

Here, we can summarize the specifications of the in-clusive mosque in al-Kufa at its beginnings and its initial stages in the following points that are the general fundamentals for the mosques in Islam imitating the first mosque, the mosque of the Greatest Messenger.

- The courtyard or the public arena

- The shed or the canopy for accommodating the prayers

- The square shape

- Qibla, chapel and platform

- Paving of earth and gravels

- The ditch or walls and doors


In addition, other simple things that the nature of mosque needs to establish the Wisdom of The Great Almighty, to worship Allah and to perform prayer.

After those first beginning, new components, elements and landmarks or features have used, and we will talk on them later. We prefer in few detail talking on some of what we mentioned above, the components and elements used in this dignified mosque.

The historians, geographer and scholars have praised this great mosque in terms of its construction and its breadth in addition to its key function in performing the prayer, Friday prayer and its big role in administrative, scientific and social fields, but with the passage of time exposed to the destruction and negligence. It was a change that included the whole Kufa city, and not only had the mosque, because of many problems and disturbances touched its status, which had in days of its scientific brightness and greatness.

The ruins and weakness can be clear through what the traveler Bin Jubayr, died 641 AH, where he found the destruction everywhere and the mosque called (archaic mosque)([12]), as he called it during his visit. He described the mosque that was located at the end of the city on the eastern side. The distance between it and the city was full of ruins and empty from any building. Apparently, the mosque kept on its original fundamentals as a big mosque despite these circumstances.

He mentioned also the length of mosque columns, and its high roof, in addition to Ibrahim's niche and Imam Amir al-Mu'minin's chapel, as well as the position of foundations of the earth gushed for the prophet Noah(peace be upon him), and the other remains. One can refer to them in the journey of Bin Jubayr([13]). Bin Batuta gave the same description, died 779 AH, and we will mention them later.

 



[1]. Fituh al-Boldan/ al-Baladhuri; p388.

[2]. Mu'ajam al-Buldan/ Yaqut al-Hamawi: 4/491.

[3]. Mu'jam al-Buldan / al-Hamawi: 4/491.

[4]. Tarikh al-Tabari/Bin Jarir al-Tabari: 4/44-45.

[5]. Tarikh al-Tabari/Bin Jarir al-Tabari: 4/46.

[6]. Tarikh al-Tabari/ al-Tabari: 4/46.

[7]. Mu'jam al-Buldan/al-Hamawi.

[8]. Tarikh al-Tabari/ al-Tabari: 4/45.

[9]. Mu'ajam al-Buldan/ al-Hamawi: 4/491.

[10]. Pervious reference: 4/492.

[11]. Fituh al-Buldan/ al-Baladhuri: p389.

[12]. Bin Jubayr's journey/Bin Jubayr: p176.

[13]. Bin Batuta's Journey/ Bin Batuta: p231.

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