Most individuals eager about Islamic and Moroccan histories have heard of Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque in Fez, one of many oldest mosques within the Maghreb and residential to the oldest continually-operating college on the planet. Nevertheless, the glory of Al-Qarawiyyin might have solid a shadow over Al-Andalus Mosque, a constructing additionally of nice significance within the historical past of Fez, Morocco’s oldest imperial metropolis.
The story of Al-Andalus Mosque dates again to the ninth century when Fez was nonetheless a younger metropolis establishing its foundations. Constructed within the 12 months 860, just one 12 months after the completion of Al-Qarawiyyin’s basis, Al-Andalus Mosque is without doubt one of the oldest mosques in Morocco and North Africa.
Al-Andalus Mosque is positioned contained in the previous Medina of Fez. Photograph credit score: Morocco World Information
The histories of Al-Andalus and Al-Qarawiyyin mosques are so entwined that the 2 monuments share the identical blood. Whereas Al-Qarawiyyin was constructed by historic determine Fatima al-Fihriya, her sister Maryam al-Fihriya constructed Al-Andalus.
The 2 sisters, initially from Kairouan, in modern-day Tunisia, inherited a fortune after their father Muhammad al-Fihri, a profitable service provider in Fez, handed away. To advertise the instructing of Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and Hadith (teachings of Prophet Muhammad), which they’d extensively studied, the sisters determined to take a position their new fortune into constructing mosques that will additionally function areas to alternate information.
Many cats reside close to Al-Andalus Mosque. Photograph credit score: Morocco World Information
Al-Andalus Mosque takes its identify from the Andalusian refugees who fled Cordoba, in modern-day Spain, after their rebel in opposition to the Umayyads ruling the Andalusian metropolis. Within the 12 months 818, Fez welcomed roughly 800 Andalusian households who each helped to construct the mosque and used it as a spot of worship after its completion.
By its greater than 1,000 years of existence, Al-Andalus Mosque underwent a sequence of renovations and upgrades. The unique development was modest: It consisted of arcades with seven vaults, two libraries, and a small Sahn, or courtyard, within the center. A number of bushes had been planted within the mosque’s courtyard, which had entry to considerable water by means of a channel.
Al-Andalus Mosque’s courtyard underwent a number of renovations.
Renovations and additions
Just a few years after its preliminary completion, the Andalusian migrants constructed a minaret for the mosque. The square-shaped minaret has easy decorations on its body and was constructed to resemble the minaret of Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque. At the moment, the minaret is without doubt one of the few elements of the mosque that stay unaltered from their authentic development.
Roughly 100 years after it was constructed, Al-Andalus Mosque gained significance in Fez after the town’s governor on the time, Obaidullah, made it the town’s website for khutbah, the spiritual sermon given through the Friday prayer. On the time, the khutbah was not solely a spiritual speech, however had political and social dimensions. It served to unite the folks and convey their consideration to present points.
Earlier than Al-Andalus Mosque grew to become a vacation spot for Friday prayers, the khutbah was given in Al-Ashyakh Mosque, the primary mosque ever in-built Fez. The choice to maneuver the khutbah to Al-Andalus was primarily as a result of rising inhabitants of Fez and the comparatively small dimension of the previous mosque.
Through the Almohad Dynasty (1147-1248), Al-Andalus Mosque noticed the development of a giant gate that overlooks its northern facade. The gate, constructed between 1203 and 1207 beneath the orders of the fourth Almohad caliph, Muhammad al-Nasir, is topped by two domes. One dome is manufactured from carved plasters, whereas the second is constructed of cedarwood. The gate was additionally ornamented with a mixture of wood zellige, a type of mosaic tile work, and Persian Qashani decorations.
Below Al-Nasir’s rule, the mosque underwent an entire overhaul. The caliph ordered a sequence of renovations together with the substitute of previous stone-made pillars with new ones manufactured from bricks. Solely the minaret remained because it was.
Al-Andalus Mosque’s gate dates again to the 13th century.
Tutorial vacation spot
Through the Marinid Dynasty (1248-1465), a interval referred to as the Golden Age of Fez, Al-Andalus Mosque grew to become a department of Al-Qarawiyyin College and served as a faculty to show the Maliki college of Fiqh.
Between the 13th and the 14th centuries, new faculties appeared within the surrounding area, such because the Sahrij Madrasa, which was constructed to accommodate college students who got here from distant locations to check at Al-Andalus, or the Sab’in Madrasa, which was devoted to instructing the seven totally different types of Quran recitation.
Al-Andalus Mosque remained a vacation spot for knowledge-seekers for a number of centuries. The landmark gained extra significance as a spot of schooling through the Saadi Dynasty (1549-1659). Nevertheless, it didn’t bear any renovations due to the Saadis’ give attention to navy energy to stop international invasions.
The subsequent wave of renovations waited till the Alaouite dynasty, which began in 1666. The mosque’s rooftops, which had sustained a lot injury for the reason that 13th century, had been utterly refurbished.
Moulay Ismail, who dominated between 1672-1727, ordered the addition of recent decorations and architectural works to Al-Andalus Mosque, together with a fountain within the constructing’s northern facade and an residence manufactured from stones for the mosque’s imams (prayer leaders) on the second flooring. The mosque’s new decorations included mosaics within the courtyard, colourful glass home windows, and a bronze chandelier with engraved ornaments.
Al-Andalus Mosque’s minaret maintained its authentic form for greater than 10 centuries. Photograph credit score: Mapio
Along with its spiritual and educational roles, Al-Andalus Mosque was residence to a set of artifacts that signify the inventive creativity of the Islamic civilization. Dar Batha Museum of Fez presently hosts the vast majority of the artworks, however many have beforehand appeared in exhibitions the world over. Museums that exhibited the artifacts embrace the Arab World Institute in France, the Sao Paulo Museum in Brazil, and the Nationwide Museum of World Cultures within the Netherlands.
One of the vital spectacular artifacts in Al-Andalus Mosque is the mosque’s Minbar, the pulpit the place the imam stands to provide khutbah. The Minbar, sculpted in 925, is the second oldest Minbar within the Maghreb area, after that of the Nice Mosque of Kairouan, the oldest mosque in Africa.
The Minbar was used for over 1,000 years, from its creation till 1934. The sculpted cedar construction consisted of a number of steps on which the imam would stand. The Minbar’s facet partitions had been created in 979, whereas its again was made in 985. Woodwork is without doubt one of the most widespread crafts in Fez, primarily as a result of cedar forests surrounding the town, and Al-Andalus Mosque’s Minbar is a advantageous instance of Fassi carpentry’s high quality.
The wood artifact merges Oriental, African, and Andalusian types. The Minbar’s facet partitions had been primarily influenced by Egyptian woodwork, with Kufic calligraphy carved within the wooden. In the meantime, the ornamental carvings had Abbasid influences and drastically resemble plaster and wooden decorations from Samarra in modern-day Iraq, the capital of the Abbasid caliphate between 836 and 892.
The interior carvings illustrated vegetation, together with palms and coniferous bushes, paying homage to African artifacts that draw inspiration from nature. Lastly, the Minbar’s again contained decorations based mostly on symmetric geometric shapes, just like those discovered adorning Andalusian palaces and mosques.
The cedar wooden Minbar was adorned with carvings in varied types.
Regardless of being within the shadow of Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque in latest centuries, Al-Andalus Mosque has by no means misplaced its worth. Whereas it has forfeited its educational function within the final century to fashionable universities and faculties, the mosque continues to satisfy its spiritual and non secular function, a task that it has efficiently maintained for multiple millennium.