The Grand Mosque in Zabid City [Archives:2008/1188/Last Page]

September 8 2008
Photo from archived article: photos/1188/lastpage1_1
Photo from archived article: photos/1188/lastpage1_1
Zabid is one of Yemen's famous historical cities with a unique architectural style and urban cultural heritage that led to its being classified as part of the international community heritage by UNESCO. According to historical sources, Zabid had answered the call of Islam conveyed by Abu Mousa Al Ash'ari and his companions, by the beginning of the eighth year of the Hijra.

The city was called Zabid after the valley which carried the name of the Zabid tribe who used to live in the plains of Tehama. It is situated 30km away from the Red Sea and 100 km south of the city of Hudeidah. Though hot in summer and temperate in winter, the weather is surprisingly cool at night because of the sea breeze from the west and land breeze from the east.

Zabid was built in 805 A.D by Mohamed bin Abdullah bin Ziad to be his capital city. The city is enclosed by a wall with a number of doors, and supported by several towers. Being an Islamic city, the mosque was the first building to be constructed, and was later followed by other buildings and structures. The original mosque was a simple edifice which was renovated by Al Hussein bin Salama in 994 A.D., and later reconstructed by Al Mubarak bin Monqez in 175 A.D.

The eastern, western and rear parts of the mosque were added by Sultan Taghtakeen bin Ayoub who also set up the minaret and placed a pulpit inside. The Rasul family then took it upon themselves to care for the mosque. Later, King Al Zafer Amer bin Abdul Wahhab restored the mosque, built the ceiling and embellished it with decorations and written inscriptions. Rulers and governors have continued to take care of the mosque till our present day.

The mosque has an open nave in the center flanked by four porticos, the deepest of which is that of the Kiblah which occupies a space of 4500square meters. There are two mihrabs (niches), between which stands a wooden pulpit. The place for prayers is covered with a wooden ceiling that is adorned with decorations and colored elements similar to watermelons. The mosque is covered by several domes, and has thirteen doors and forty windows to let light in. The eastern part of the mosque has two storerooms, porches for pupils, and minaret placed at the back of the mosque.

As Zabid was a center of Islamic teaching, it's not surprising that the Great Mosque has a special spiritual and sacred status and is the meeting place for the city's intellectual and religious community. During the eras when science began to flourish, the mosque became a chief source of Islamic thinking in the field of science, philosophy, history and other arts. These, along with jurisprudence, Arabic grammar, geometry and other sciences were taught in the classes of the mosque. In fact, many of the sciences that came into being in this blessed mosque are today recognized as beacons of progress in human thinking.

Source: Tourism ministry , Endowment ministry