Heritage landmark needs support Queen Arwa Mosque is still a beauty [Archives:2002/50/Culture]

December 9 2002

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Jibla is one of Yemen’s historical cities that have been fascinating tourists and visitors from all over the world. Wherever you visit Jibla you cannot miss visiting Queen Arwa mosque, where you will discover its beauty and unique architecture.
Queen Arwa mosque is located in Jibla in which the Queen Arwa Bent Ahmed Assolaihi ruled the whole Yemen about 79 years from Jibla.
The big mosque at Jibla, built by Queen Arwa, is a marvel of ancient Yemeni architecture. The entire construction is suffused with an austere beauty, and the minaret towering over the mosque for many centuries is pristine in its appearance and function.
The dome still keeps the glory of the kingdom as it was in the days of the elegant queen. The thick compound walls and the cellar-like passages and corridors of the mosque take you straight back to the days of Arwa, and you feel as if you are in the corridors of history itself.
You feel like getting in touch with the very Yemeni soul. The spirited words of the people in charge of the mosque to express their brotherhood to visitors are exhilarating. The bathrooms with running water from the natural hot-spring and the different temperature in different rooms make us feel wonder about the unique construction of the ancient mosque.
When you reach the big mosque at Jibla, you are sure to be astonished by the attractive design of the mosque. You cannot but remember Queen Arwa Bent Ahmed Assolaihi, who built that mosque in 480 Hegira. The two minarets of the mosque from a wonderful view as they are standing in majesty and grandeur behind that mosque.
The mosque has the capacity for more than 1000 worshippers. It mosque consists of two floors. The first floor is empty and nothing is there expect the rats and snakes. The second floor from the mosque in which it contains a library. This library contains many manuscripts of different sciences, but unfortunately most of these manuscripts are lost due to the carelessness.
At the back of the mosque there are a number of classrooms. These classrooms are used to teach the Holy Qur’an. Many scholars and intellectuals have graduated from this mosque. Graduates of the mosque have good knowledge of the Holy Qur’an, its sciences, Hadiths (Prophet Mohammed’s traditions) and faith and its fundamentals, jurisprudence and Arabic language and its arts, etc.
Besides, you will be surprised as you look at the beautiful decorations on the walls and the ceiling of the mosque, especially those on the dome, in the middle ceiling.
Inside the mosque near to the left of the corner of the mosque there is a small room called Makam al-Saidh Arwa, a place where Queen Arwa used to pray. There is also a rosary which contains one thousands and one beads. People used it for praying and asking God for mercy and forgiveness that is when the land is dry there is no rain.
Some parts of the mosque have been destroyed by the authorities. For instance the pool and the bathrooms have a different shape they were in the past. In the past the pool and the bathrooms were distinguished with a unique architecture. Thus, the inhabitants of Jibla and the visitors get angry when they look to the new shape of some parts of the mosque. The mosque became distorted by the modern building. In fact they are burning our ancient heritage and civilization by experts in order to protect the old variegations.
Had these ancient mosques with their beautiful variegations been in any other country, they would have given them the attention they deserve and promote them into a major tourist attraction.
Queen Arwa Mosque and other historical landmarks are in need of urgent attention and renovation because they reflect the excellence of our civilization, traditions of ancient Yemeni people who could engrave beautiful artistry on the walls of mosques. They proved their mettle in the field of ancient architecture and decoration. However, authorities concerned say that their resources being limited, they don’t have adequate means to preserve their ancient historical landmarks. What a pity.
Finally, I can say that the one who does not have a past does not have present nor future. To make a prosperous future, we have to preserve our past, our history and our identity.