Oldest Mosques in the World

8 Oldest Mosques in the World

Mosques have been in existence as long as Islam. Some of the earliest mosques were built during the time of the prophet Muhammad. However, according to Quran, some mosques predated Muhammad and were built during the time of the previous prophets like Abraham. 

Quran mentions four mosques. It is unclear when these mosques were first built, but they are considered the oldest mosques in the world. These mosques hold the highest place in the Islamic tradition and are regarded as holy pilgrimages.

Here we list 8 of the oldest mosques in the world that still exist. We considered the age of the oldest parts of the mosques. Many of these mosques have undergone several expansions and renovations over the centuries.

8. Al-Masjid an-Nabawi

First built: Around 622
Country: Saudi Arabia
Location: Medina

Al-Masjid an-Nabawiphoto source: wikipedia.org

Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, also known as the Prophet’s Mosque, is the second mosque built by the prophet Muhammad in Medina. It is the second-largest mosque in the world and is regarded as the second-holiest site in Islam.

The land where the mosque was erected belonged to two young orphans, Sahl and Suhayl. Before Muhammad reached Medina, the site was used as a burial ground. As Sahl and Suhayl learned that Muhammad was looking for land, they offered it as a gift.

However, Muhammad realized the orphan brothers needed money and insisted on paying the price. Later, Abu Ayyub al-Ansari paid on behalf of Muhammad. Originally the mosque was an open-air building used as a religious school, a court of law, and a meeting place for the followers of Islam.

Did you know?

The famous structure, located in the southeast corner of Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, the Green Dome, is built above the tombs of Muhammad and early Caliphs Abu Bakr and Umar. 

7. Quba Mosque

First built: Around 622
Country: Saudi Arabia
Location: Medina

Quba Mosquephoto source: wikipedia.org

Quba mosque was the first mosque built by Muhammad. It is believed that Muhammad laid the first stone of the mosque, and his followers completed the construction.

This small mosque was built in Quba, a village 3.5 miles off Medina. Later Medina was expanded and included this village. Quran says after emigrating to Medina, Muhammad stayed in Kulsoom bin Hatam’s home for 14 days. Later, he built the Quba mosque at that place.

Every Saturday. Muhammad would go to this mosque to offer a two rakaʿāt-prayer. He advised his followers to do the same, saying, “He who makes ablutions at his home and comes to Masjid Quba and offers two rakats therein will be rewarded the reward of an Umrah.” 

Quba is also the mosque where the first ever Friday prayer led by Muhammad took place.     

Did you know?

The original structure of Quba mosque was demolished in the 20th century to be replaced by a new building. 

6. Masjid al-Qiblatayn (Somaliland)

First built: 615
Country: Somaliland
Location: Zeila

photo source: wikipedia.org

Masjid al-Qiblatayn (not to be confused with Masjid al-Qiblatayn of Medina) is one of the three earliest mosques built in Africa built by the early followers of the prophet Muhammad. 

The mosque is located in Zeila in the western Awdal region of Somaliland. During the early 7th century, the companions of Muhammad fled from Mecca to save themselves from the persecution of the ruling Quraysh. They took refuge in several parts of erstwhile Abyssinia, present-day Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somaliland.

These followers then built mosques wherever they settled. Three of those mosques are still existing: Masjid al-Qiblatayn, Al Nejashi Mosque, and Masjid aṣ-Ṣaḥābah.

The mosque, which is now mostly in ruins, contains the tomb of Sheikh Babu Dena and two mihrabs. One mihrab is oriented to the north, facing Mecca, and the other northwest towards Jerusalem.

Did you know?

The mosque is believed to be constructed by the Dir clan family, who played a critical role in spreading Islam in Somalia.  

5. Al Nejashi Mosque

First built: 614
Country: Ethiopia
Location: Negash

photo source: wikipedia.org

As mentioned above, Al Nejashi Mosque shares a similar history as Masjid al-Qiblatayn. This mosque was built by the companions of the prophet Muhammad, who fled to the Tigray region in Ethiopia. 

The mosque is situated in Negash village. It is one of the places where the first Muslim settlements took place. The mosque is named Nejashi, meaning the king.

Initially, 15 companions of Muhammad arrived in this area and were warmly received by the king of Abyssinia. Then, another group of around 101 followers came during the second migration.

The mosque underwent a major renovation in 2018. However, three years later, the mosque survived massive damage during clashes between Tigray People’s Liberation Front and Ethiopian and Eritrean security forces. Immediately after, the Ethiopian government announced they would take full responsibility for repairing the mosque building.

Did you know?

Behind the main mosque building, 15 tombs are there. Scholars believe these are the tombs of the companions of Muhammad who reached the area during the first phase of migration.

4. Mosque of the Companions

First built: 613
Country: Eritrea
Location: Massawa

photo source: wikipedia.org

The Mosque of the Companions, also known as the Masjid aṣ-Ṣaḥābah, is a small mosque located in the city of Massawa, Eritrea. It is the oldest mosque in Africa.

The mosque is believed to be built in 613 by the companions of the prophet Muhammad who fled persecution in Mecca. However, historians believe that the current structure was built later as a memorial. In addition, they argue that the mosque features certain structures, such as the mihrab and minaret, that were not introduced in Islamic architecture during the early 7th century.    

Did you know?

Masjid aṣ-Ṣaḥābah is the oldest mosque that can be accurately dated.

3. Al-Mashʿar Al-Ḥarām

First built: Unknown
Country: Saudi Arabia
Location: Muzdalifah

Al-Mashʿar Al-Ḥarāmphoto source: wikipedia.org

Al-Mashʿar Al-Ḥarām, also called the Sacred Monument, is an open-roofed mosque in Muzdalifah, near Mecca. The site is mentioned in Quran and thus regarded as one of the oldest mosques in the world. However, the time when it was first built is still not confirmed.

This place hosts one part of the Hajj pilgrimage. After performing the rituals at Kaaba, pilgrims travel to Mina and proceed to Al-Mashʿar Al-Ḥarām. They perform Maghrib and Isha prayers together and spend the night at Muzdalifah. The next day they go to Mina and return to Muzdalifah to perform the Fajr prayer and leave for Mecca.

A large structure has been built around the Al-Mashʿar Al-Ḥarām to accommodate many Hajj and Umrah pilgrims. In addition, the government has put significant effort into developing this area and improving the pilgrims’ infrastructure.     

Did you know?

Al-Mashʿar Al-Ḥarām is one of the holiest shrines because it is believed to be where the prophet Muhammad offered prayer during the Farewell Pilgrimage.

2. Haram al-Sharif

First built: Unknown
Country: State of Palestine
Location: Jerusalem (old city)

Haram al-Sharifphoto source: wikipedia.org

Haram al-Sharif, or the Temple Mount, is considered the second oldest mosque in the world. It is the third most sacred site in Islam. The site is also regarded as sacred by Jews and Christians. The site is located in Jerusalem, Palestine.

The compound houses the Qubbat al-Sakhra or the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosque. According to Islamic tradition, the Dome of the Rock is where the prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven during the Night Journey. On the other hand, Jews believe it is where Abraham tried to sacrifice his son to God.  

The site of Haram al-Sharif has long been a source of political conflict between Israel and Palestine. Currently, Israel controls the site, but Muslim Waqf, an Islamic trust, administers the mosque.    

Did you know?

Ummayad rulers built the Dome of the Rock during 691-692 CE. Initially, it was made of wood with a brass, ceramic, or lead cover. However, the outside appearance was significantly altered during Ottoman rule.  

1. Masjid al-Haram

First built: During the time of Abraham
Country: Saudi Arabia
Location: Mecca

Masjid al-Haramphoto source: wikipedia.org

Masjid al-Haram, or the Al-Haram Mosque, is considered the oldest mosque in the world. It is located in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The mosque surrounds Kaaba, the most sacred site in Islam. According to Quran, the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and his son Isma’il built the structure of the Kaaba. 

Kaaba is the most sacred location in Islam, a pilgrimage site during the Hajj and Umrah. All adult Muslims are required to participate in Hajj at least once in their lifetime, given they are physically and financially capable.   

Besides Kaaba, Al-Haram Mosque includes other important holy sites such as The Black Stone, Maqam Ibrahim, the hills of Safa and Marwa, and Zamzam Well. Some Islamic scholars believe that the Black Stone is the only remnant of the original structure.   

Several renovations and expansions were made to this mosque over the centuries. Now the mosque covers an area of 356,000 square meters and has nine minarets.

Did you know?

Masjid al-Haram is the largest mosque in the world and can accommodate up to 2.5 million pilgrims at a time. 


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