Holy Shrines: Prime Tourist Destinations [Archives:1998/49/Culture]

December 7 1998

Tourism is one of the main business economic fields, which provides a constant source of income in hard currency to the Republic of Yemen. Yemen Times is very pleased to introduce to our readers one of the most leading reasons of commercial success in the field tourism and tourist industry. Holy and religious sites in Yemen attracted tourists, from all over the world, because of its ancient archaic places and to buy old transcripts of the Middle Ages. Hence, we will discuss the holy and religious areas and all subjects related to this issue, which connected business economy and tourism and developed new professional jobs resting on trade secrets.
Holy and Religious Areas:
Holy and religious areas plays an important role in the tourist sector and forms the fundamental base for religious tourism, which forms mosques, churches and religious sites. There are many famous ancient mosques and religious sites in the Republic of Yemen as listed below:
1. The Grand Mosque, Sana’a:
The mosque was built by one of the scholars of Prophet Mohamed, the Messenger of Allah, in 627 A.D. / 6 A.H. This known mosque is located in the private garden of the Persian Sassanid Ruler in Yemen, Badhan, (Bazenos), at Western Hamdan. It is considered one of the first Islamic mosques built in Yemen and contains four porticoes. Some changes and annexation occurred in different eras, where the eastern portico was built during the reign of Mohamed b. Ya’afor in 878 A.D. / 265 A.H. The portico ceiling is wooden, and the walls of the ” Qiblah” was re-set up with 3 doors in 1159 A.D. / 553 A.H. The two minarets was established during the reign of the Persian Sassanid ruler in Yemen, Wardishar b. Sami (Vardisheros Samius), in 1206 A.D. / 603 A.H. A noticed dome on cubic building in the courtyard was a donation by the Great Islamic Ottoman ruler of Yemen Sinan Pasha (Shino Pas) to become a library-store for all manuscripts of the Holy Qoran (1607-1609 A.D./ 1016-1018 A.H.). Procedures of reparation and supplementation of wall-scripts, holds the names of Imamates, under the ceiling during the reign of Queen of the Suleihids Arwa bint Ahmed, and later on Imam Yehya ibn Mohamed Hamid Al-Din Al-Hassani, the ex-King of the Mutawakelite Yemen in 1936 A.D. /1355 A.H. The trunkyyy ceilings of excavated brocades are considered an omnipotent art in the Islamic world.
2 Al-Bakiriyyah Mosque, Sanaa
The mosque, which renewals and reparation occurred on its design later, was built in 1298 A.H. The mosques are distinguished with lot of wonderful designed ornaments, Qoranic versions, discoids, coloured attractive stones on the dome of the prayer house and other domes.
3. The Great Mosque, Dhamar:
This mosque was built with Black-Abyssinia-stones, as it was conventional with a lot of innovated buildings, late Arab and monotheistic testimonial inscriptions. These Innovations had changed the feature of the mosque-structure. The Side-pillars of different ornamented crowns appear in the mosque along with domes of concave windows, adorned with architectural ornaments and Kufi inscriptions. It is noticed in the rest parts of the mosque, concave multiple-niche-domes decorated with Qoranic versions and inscripted in Naskh. The mosque-minaret, located in the Southwest, includes many designed ornaments made of bricks.
4. The Grand Mosque, Zabid:
One of the ancient mosques in Yemen following epochs of the Great
Mosque in Sana’a and Al-Janad Mosque in Taiz. The founder of the mosque is Al-Hussein b. Salama in 981 A.D./ 371 A.H. and was renewed many times. Once it was renewed during the Ziyadi State, another in the epoch of Al-Hussein Salama (391 A.H.) and in the tenth century by Amer b. Abdul-Wahab. Finally, the Mutawakilite Imam, Al-Mahdi Lidinillahi Al-Abbas had renewed its archs in 1185 A.H. The mosque was built with bricks and gypsum but late renewals deformed its road signs and effaced many designed ornaments. Furthermore, the mosque contains of four hemisphere domes built with bricks.
5. Al-Asha’era Mosque, Zabid:
The mosque was established in the early second century of the raise of Islam (105 A.H.). It was built with bricks and gypsum and has six entrances. The renovation businesses deformed the mosque similar to that of the Great Mosque. The used material of lime effaced a lot of its road signs and wooden ceilings, which assembled in unoriginal places.
6. Al-Hadi Mosque, Sa’adah:
There are many old archeological mosques in Sa’dah, but the famous one is the Hadi Mosque, which go back to the 3rd century A.H. / 9th century A.D.
7. Al-Janad Mosqu, Taiz:
One of the oldest mosques of Yemen, which was established by Mu’adh b. Jabal in 627A.D./6 A.H. It was rebuilt and repaired several times under various rulers and during different reigns. Firstly, the mosque was by Al-Hussein b. Mifdhal (317-402A.H./981-1011A.D). Secondly, the Suleihid ruler, Bin Abil-Barakat, sustained the reconstruction operation of the mosque. The mosque later was a target of destruction by Mahdi b. Ali b. Mahdi in 1163A.D. /558 A.H. Thirdly, the Ayubbid ruler Saif Al-Din Atabek Sanqar, renewed its structure, adding new structures to the previous one, some porticoes and two naves. Last modern reparations were in 1970A.D. / 1390A.H. and caused complete changes effaced a lot of its road signs and ornaments.
8. Al-Mudhaffar Mosque, Taiz:
It was built by Al-Mudhaffar Yussuf b. Omar bin Ali bin Mohamed Haroun in the seventh century A.H. His son Al-Mujahed Ali b. Yussuf b. Omar added some more structures in the mosque. Both the father and the son were Kings or sultans crowned over the Rassulid State of Yemen in the middle ages. The mosque, similar to others, became exposed to new renovation businesses which deformed many parts and effaced many road signs of arts and creativity aspects. The mosque contains two big domes and a set of small domes, adorned by sharpened archs hold by various pillars. The bottom of the domes is decorated with various ornaments and different coloured Qoranic versions, with a noticeable deformed remnant because of reparation.
9. Al-Ashrafiyah Mosque, Taiz:
The mosque was built by Al-Ashraf II Ismail b. Al-Abbas b. Da’ud in 778A.D./802A.H. It was built of gypsum and bricks, while its external walls have windows and archs of different volumes. The terraces include discoid ornaments similar to that of the Great Mosque in Zabid. The Ashrafiyyah Mosque has four entrances, with an unclear inscripted room above the main entrance and a sharpened arch. The domical main entrance leads to a passageway which surrounds the mosque from southern, eastern and western directions. There are six big windows in the Qiblah Wall and similar in the southern side, which leads to an entrance near annexed premises. The site includes tombs of the King Al-Ashraf II and a number of his royal clan; inscripted coloured domical buildings, and extremely artful creative wooden graves. The mosque has two minarets; one in the southeast warehouse corner, and the other in the southwest corner. The latter one consists an ornamental and arch fields, its top physiognomy looks like a hemisphere and its bottom a clear ornamental band.
10. Queen Arwa Mosque, Jibla:
The mosque is traceable to the rule-phase of the Mistress, Arwa bint Ahmed, Queen of Yemen, and the wife of Al-Mukarram (492-532A.H.). Queen Arwa was famous because of her equanimity, appositeness of opinion and wisdom. The mosque was renewed, repaired, and can be stepped up to it by a ladder on a stone. A paved courtyard interposes the site, half of it composed of gypsum and the other of cement. Three porticoes which include cylindrical columns surround the courtyard. There is a concave (prayer) niche full of ornaments and Kufic inscriptions inside the mosque. The gilded-wooden tribune contains many ornamental designs. In the northwest corner of this tribune there is an entombment of the mistress Arwa bint Ahmad, Queen of Yemen, surrounded by architectural ornaments. These architectural ornaments have the shape of small niches, with sharp archs. Finally, the mosque has two minarets, one in the southwest corner and the other in the southeast.
11. Al-‘Ami Mosque, Rada’a:
The mosque was built by ‘Amer b. Abdul-Wahab, the last sultan of the Tahiri State. It is one of the mosques, which is rich in Islamic arts of ornamental and creative crafts. The external facades of the mosque contain of disparate doors, archs and windows. The wooden ceilings of some of the porticoes are inscripted by ornamental designs of gypsum and Qoranic versions and revelations. The mosque has nine entrances distributed among various sides of the compass, north, south, east and west. The mosque ceiling is considered of seven sharpened archs, carrying six hemispherical domes covering the prayer house. Moreover, the bottom of the domes is full of inscriptions and ornaments of various colours.
12. Dhafar Dhi-Bayn Mosque:
The mosque is located seventy-five kilometer away the district of North Sana’a. Imam Al-Mansour Billah Abdullah b. Hamza of the seventh century A.H. (Thirteenth century A.D.) Built the mosque. It includes a big library which was visited by all clergymen of the world at that time. The mosque is distinguished with its unique style inscriptions and architectural designed form. People suffer from road-ruggedness to reach the mosque, because it located on the top of the mountain, which they need to spend walking three hours on foot to reach it.
13. Al-Abbas Mosque, Khawlan
The mosque was ordered to be build by Sultan Musa b. Mohamed in 1125A.D. /519A.H. A lot of information about the mosque is still unknown. Wheresover, Al-Abbas, which the mosque is ascribed to his name, is still an anonymous person. The importance of the mosque’s ancient monument imitated in its raised ceiling according to a form of wooden excavations.
14. Thula’ Mosque:
This mosque is located in Thula’, thirty-four kilometer west, away from Sana’a. The date, this mosque is constructed, traced back to the sixth century A.H.
Cathedrals and annexed Monasteries:
There are no cathedrals or annexed monasteries where the recognized worships are performed in ancient Yemen, but there was a church built by the Abyssinian conqueror Abraha (Avraha Soremos), which was called Al-Qalis in Sana’a. Al-Qalis is an arabized name derived from the Latin word “Ecclesiastes”, a book of the bible written as though by Solomon. In fact, the word Al-Qalis in ancient Yemen had meant something related directly to Christianity and the Church. The Abyssinian invader had exaggerated in adorning, mastery and gilding the church with gold silver, glass and dyestuffs’ inscriptions. His church was built due to the welfare of the Roman Byzantine Empire arts and crafts. His purpose was to dissuade the people from Mecca y(Becca), a religious city located in the Middle West of Saudi Arabia. Nowadays, this ancient church is already gone with the wind or March of the time, but few stones are still a remnant called, once in the history, by Al-Qalis. There is also a Jewish synagogue in the southwest of famous Al-Qahirah castle in Taiz City. The synagogue is considered a squared form construction built by bricks and stones, which imitates a hemispherical dome based on four pillars. It is obviously noticed from the internal sector view of the Hebrew assembly three binary hexagrams (Stars of David). The Jewish temple emerges above a water-storage-basin, where both sites supervise Al-Mahabbah valley, which connects Al-Qahirah castle and Mountain Saber.
Religious Shrines:Sanctuaries:
People are accustomed to visit the cemetries of their mortals as a sort of devotion to their reminiscences. These religious tours (ziyarrah) might be, of course, within specific periods of time. According to the conviction of many nave people, some of the mortals are clergymen, and their visits are compulsory. Their mentalities are deep-rooted with some creeds that clergymen grant felicities and rights of preemption to those who visit their couches. Some of them might even exaggerate the extent of hallowing the clergymen and knit around them a lot of legends. This kind of turnout in visiting the cemetries and sepulchers of clergymen, is an important factor which encouraged the religious (internal and external) tourism.
Compiled: Ghassan Al-Ahdal,
Yemen Times