Al-Masjid al-Nabawī "Mosque of the Prophet" often called the Prophet's Mosque, is a mosque built by the Islamic Prophet Muhammad situated in the city of Medina. It is the second holiest site in Islam (the first being the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca). It was the second mosque built in history and is now one of the largest mosques in the World. After an expansion during the reign of al-Walid I, it also now incoporates the site of the final resting place of Muhammad and early Muslim leaders Abu Bakr and Umar.
The site was originally adjacent to Muhammad's house; he settled there after his Hijra (emigration) to Medina in 622. He shared in the heavy work of construction. The original mosque was an open-air building. The basic plan of the building has been adopted in the building of other mosques throughout the world.
The mosque also served as a community center, a court, and a religious school. There was a raised platform for the people who taught the Quran. Subsequent Islamic rulers greatly expanded and decorated it. In 1909, it became the first place in the Arabian Peninsula to be provided with electrical lights. The mosque is under the control of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.
Architecture and Special Structures:
As it stands today, the mosque has a rectangular plan on two floors with the Ottoman prayer hall projecting to the south. The main prayer hall occupies the entire first floor. The mosque enclosure is 100 times bigger than the first mosque built by Muhammad and can accommodate more than half a million worshippers.
The heart of the mosque houses a very special but small area named al-Riad-ul-Jannah, which extends from Muhammad's tomb (Rawdah) to his pulpit (minbar). Pilgrims attempt to visit and pray in Riad-ul-Jannah, for there is a tradition that supplications and prayers uttered here are never rejected. Entrance into Riad-ul-Jannah is not always possible (especially during the Hajj season), as the tiny area can accommodate only a few hundred people.
Ar-Rawdah is one of the most important feature of the site. It is the Green Dome over the center of the mosque, where the tomb of Muhammad is located. Constructed in 1817C.E. diring the reign of Mahmud II and painted green in 1839C.E., it is known as the Dome of the Prophet. Early Muslim leaders Abu Bakr and Umar ibn al-Khattab are buried beside Muhammad. Ar-Rawdah has two small gateways. The original pulpit was much smaller than the current one, and constructed of palm tree wood, not marble. The current marble pulpit was constructed by the Ottomans.