Al-Rawda Grand Mosque [Archives:2008/1206/Culture]

November 10 2008

Mahmoud Assamiee
Al-Rawda Grand Mosque is located in the historical city of Al-Rawda, north of the capital Sana'a. The mosque was built over 400 years ago in 1046 A.H. by Ahmad bin Al-Imam bin Al-Qasem known at that time as Abu Taleb, from whom the current Abu Taleb family members, still powerful in the area, are descendants.

In his will, Al-Imam ordered his son not to change anything in the mosque; and for the most part it has been preserved. The mosque was built in a rectangular shape with three doors in the western wall, three in the southern and one in the eastern wall. It is composed of four galleries which all lead to an open hall in its center.

The northern part of the mosque has eight columns linked to decorated arches in line with the qiblah [direction in which Muslims turn to pray] to the North. In the middle of the qiblah wall stands the mihrab, a hollow arch for the imam to lead worshipers in prayer, surmounted by an arch beautifully carved with verses of the Holy Quran.

On the left side of mihrab, an old inscription bears the date of the mosque's construction and name of its founder.

The mosque's eastern gallery is composed of seven columns carrying arches with two doors, one leading to the mosque's grounds and the other to the library. The western gallery has the same number of columns as its eastern counterpart, but with three doors. In the western quarter, there are two yards.

The southern gallery is made up of two quarters, with eight columns carrying arches facing the qiblah wall, three doors leading to the eastern gallery and two doors leading to the western gallery. In the middle of the wall, there is decorated mihrab on which the name of the founder of the mosque and the date of building are carved. The gallery has three doors leading to southern yard.

The minaret is located in the south-eastern corner of the mosque. It was built next to the mosque's main gate on a large square base to enable it to carry the 20 meter high minaret.

In the southern part of the mosque, a well was drilled during the time of the mosque's foundation and ensures the irrigation of surrounding farmland. The produce of these fields are sold to provide salaries for the mosque's caretakers to ensure its good maintenance.

“The founder of the mosque also ordered his sons nearly 400 years ago to pay a salary from his own wealth to those who looked after the mosque as well as the muezzin [prayer caller],” says Hasan Abdul-Khaleq who has served in the mosque for 60 years. He adds that the mosque's well has not dried up since its beginnings