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Baghdad Mosques

The walled city of the "Thousand and One Nights", Baghdad, built originally on a circular design, was one of the loveliest cities in the world, with tombs, mosques, minarets, a university and the revered Kadhumain mosque and shrine.

There are many old mosques in Iraq known mostly for their domes and minarets, such as al-Hadba' Minaret in Mosul, Sheik Marouf Mosque and Khafafin Mosque. There are also many recent mosques distinguished for their magnificent arabesques, glazed tile walls and superb calligraphy, a characteristic of Islamic architecture, such as 14th Ramadhan Mosques, the Martyrs Mosque, Bunnieh Mosque and Um al-Ma'arik Mosque.

In Baghdad, the city of history, literature and culture, there are a number of prestigious Islamic sites. One of these sites is al-Qadiriya shrine which is situated in al-Rusafa side, at a quarter known as Bab al-Sheik, after Sheik Abdul Qadir al-Ghailani, the Sheik of Islam and the head of the Islamic scholars. History shows that al-Qadiriya shrine was originally a religious school and it was built by al-Hanbali. The school was later renovated and extended by his disciple Sheikh Abdul Qadir Bin Mousa al-Ghailani who was a great Imam. He was born in Ghailan district to the south of the Caspean Sea in 1077 AD (470 AH). He came to Baghdad while he was a young man, where he was received and assisted warmly by the city's poor and wealthy alike. Later he became the chief teacher of this school where he taught and gave sermons. He soon surpassed his masters, and recommended people to love strangers and practice self-denial. His reputation spread and he became a Sheik of high esteem who was greatly respected all over the Islamic world. Many miracles and wonders were attributed to him. Disciples and students gathered around him and he established al-Qadiriya, which is one of the Sufi methods widely spread all over the world. Sheik Abdul Qadir is a descendent of Imam Ali Bin Abi Talib (cousin and son in law of Prophet Muhammad) from his father and mother's side. The Sheik died 1166AD/561AH and was buried during the night at the school's cloister. The school's doors were not opened until daylight came and people rushed to pray on him. Thus the school became one of the greatest mosques of Baghdad. The tomb and the Mosque of Sheik Abdul Qadir al-Ghailani witnessed various construction phases. The most important of which took place in 1534AD/941AH when a huge and wonderful dome was constructed over the indoor praying section of the mosque. It is the biggest ever dome in Iraq to be built of bricks and gypsum, and up to this date it exists. The clock of the Qadiriya Shrine was built in 1898AD/1316AH and its tower is similar to that of al-Qushla Clock in Baghdad.

Any visitor to Baghdad would certainly head towards the Mosque and tomb of Imam al-A'dham, a famous and holy Islamic site of worship which has been dear to the hearts of the Moslems. The district in which this holy site is situated was a famous part of Baghdad during the Abbasid era. It continued a cemetery known as al-Khaizaran Cemetery. When Imam al-A'dham Abu Hanifa al-Nu'man bin Thabit al-Kufidied died in 767AD/150AH, he was buried in this cemetery and the district became to be known as the district of Abu Hanifa and al-A'dhamiya. This holy Imam was born in Kufa in 699AD/80AH. He met and contacted some of the aged Companions of Prophet Mohammed. He taught and undertook the task of Fatwa in Kufa, and became a great personality in Islam and the introducer of Imam of al-Hanafi doctrine in Islam, and one of the great four Imams of Islamic Shari'a. He was the first to divide Islamic jurisprudence into parts and sections. The tomb of al-Imam al-A'dham witnessed various structural and architectural stages. During the reign of the Seljuk Sultan Alb Arsalan, the building underwent great renovations by Sharaf al-Mulk abu Sa'eed al- Khawarizmi in 1067AD/459AH and a great dome was built on it. The present dome of the mosque was built in 1638AD/1048AH. The Mosque was built in 1871AD/1288AH then it was renovated in 1903/1321AH. Its exterior cloister was built in 1948AD/1367AH. One of the landmarks of Imam al-A'dham Mosque is the big clock which was built by the late Abdul Razzaq Mahsoub and the tomb of Imam al-A'dham and was erected at its present position in 1958. Today after great expansions which the Mosque and the tomb have seen, they have become one of the prestigious places of worship in Iraq and it visited annually by thousands of visitors from all over the Islamic world.

Elaborate tilework covers the Al Kadhimain [Al Kadhumain] Mosque in Baghdad's Al Kadhimain district. The Imam al-Kadhum and al-Jawaad mosque was built in the 16th century.

The "Umm al-Mahare Mosque [meaning "Mother of All Battles Mosque"] on the outskirts of Baghdad has four outer minarets, shaped like Kalashkinov assault rifles, and four inner minarets shaped like Scud missiles. The surrounding reflecting pool is shaped like the Arab world. The mosque also featured a Koran written in Saddam's blood (28 liters, said to have been donated over two years). The "Al-Rahman Mosque" [meaning "the most merciful"] featured no fewer than 14 domes, and was schedule to be completed in 2004. The "Saddam the Great Mosque" was a construction site with skeletal columns, and was schedule to be completed in 2015.

In October 2000 Iraqi President Saddam Hussein toured several construction sites in Baghdad, in a series of public appearances intended to refute press claims that his health had deteriorated and that was unable to rule effectively. Saddam Hussein visited the "al-Rahman Mosque" site which he ordered to be built in the "horse-race area" in al-Mansour district and the "Saddam Mosque" site had been under construction at the old Baghdad airport since 1998.

Following the major combat phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Saddam Mosque was renamed the Al Rahman mosque. The Shiite Hawza assumed control of the mosque within days after the regime fell. In April 2003 Shiite Muslims held prayers at the al-Rahman mosque, still under construction in Baghdad's al-Mansour neighborhood, and chanted in one voice, "Muslims. Not Sunnis or Shiites." In 1999 Saddam Hussein began construction of what was intended to be the largest mosque ever -- on a 100 acre site, as big as two football fields, 20 stories high, with 64 domes.

As of late 2002, three mosques were being built by Saddam in Baghdad. The first one, the Umm al-Ma'arik mosque -- translated as the Mother of All Battles mosque -- was completed in April 2001 in time for Saddam Hussein's birthday. The blue and white Umm al-Ma'arik mosque's four minarets are each 43 meters tall and meant to represent the 43 days of conflict with US that occured during Desert Storm. Each reportedly eerily looks similar to a Scud missile in shape. Another minaret at the site is also reported to be 37 meters tall to symbolize the 1937 or Saddam's birth-year. The Umm al-Ma'arik mosque also comes comlete with a Arab world-shaped pool ladden with a a 24 feet-wide mosaic of Saddam's thumbprint and a glass display of 605 pages of Koran written in a mixture of Saddam's blood, ink and preservatives.

The other mosques under construction in Baghdad are the Arahman and Saddam mosques. The Arahman mosque is due to be finished in two years and the Saddam mosque in 2015. The al-Rahman mosque is being buit in the horse-race area of the al-Mansour district in Baghdad.

The skeleton of the Saddam mosque was already up by 2003. When completed, the structure was to be a replica of the Umm al-Ma'arik mosque, but five times larger and will thus be the third biggest in the world after those of Mecca and Medina. The Saddam mosque was being built on the land previously occupied by the old airport of Baghdad. Construction on that site reportedly began in 1998.


Imagery of Baghdad Mosque
Click on the small image to view a larger version

DigitalGlobe imagery [as of 05 September 2002] of the Saddam mosque under construction. The building is 830 feet (meters across and occupies 11 acres. If completed, it will be the largest in the world.

DigitalGlobe imagery [as of 05 September 2002] of the al-Rahman mosque under construction. The building is 750 feet across ( 250~meters) and occupies 11 acres. If completed, it will be the second largest mosque in Iraq.


Iraq has many well-known mosques - both old and new. Recently built mosques include the Martyrs Mosque, the 14th of Ramadan Mosque and Um Al-Ma`arik Mosque. The 14th of Ramadan Mosque, famous for its multi-coloured blue domes, is the famous backdrop to hundreds of video shots of Iraq. The Ramadan mosque has some aspects of the great Turkish mosques, but the dome is smaller, forming simply a central cover over a rectangular central area where one prays.

The Palestine hotel is in Baghdads as-Saadun district on the eastern bank of the Tigris River. The hotel, which housed hundreds of Western and Arab journalists and sustained serious damage during the coalition offensive, faces the 14th of Ramadan Mosque. Firdos (aka Fardus, Paradise) Square was capped by the now-famous, (now-toppled) statue of Saddam Hussein on the southern edge of the oval. This DigitalGlobe imagery of 09 April 2003 was acquired the same day the statue was toppled.




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