Description of Ummayad Mosque
Ahhh have I saved the best for last?
I could write pages and pages and have in my journal, but I’ll just give you a little history.
The Ummayad Mosque called Jamia Ummawiy is THE most famous Mosque in Damascus. In fact, it IS Damascus. It is the most important Masjid historically after Makkah, Madinah and Jerusalem. There is so much history to this Mosque and yet it retains its absolute ethereal beauty. People come to Damascus solely to see this Masjid. And here I am giving you the grand tour, aren’t you lucky
Ibn Jubayr’s wrote an account of visiting Jamia Ummiwiye from the 11th century. He described it as having beautiful golden lanterns everywhere, a spectacular clock system and with walls and pillars that were covered with golden mosaics. His description is stunning and sometimes when you are here you can see it as he saw it.
In the first pictures you can see the entrace to the Mosque is at the end of Souk Hamadiyya. You’ll see some large arch shaped pillars. These actually date back to the time this site was a roman temple for jupiter. It was then a church at one time and when the Muslims took over they made half of it a church and half of it a mosque and everyone used to worship side by side. Then the Khalifah bought out the Christian side and built them four churches in the Old City in exchange.
Once you come to the doorway you have to take off your shoes and leave them there to enter. The whole courtyard is marble with some designs. Not the originals unfortunately, as the whole of Jamia Ummiwiye has survived several fires and destruction.
The square tower you see in the center of many of the pictures is said to be the place where Ghazali wrote his Ihya-uloom-al-deen. There is also another minaret where it is said Isa (as) will descend from at the end of time.
The golden looking structure with pillars underneath at one end of the courtyard is where they used to keep the Muslim treasury. At the other end, the little dome is where there used to be clocks to tell the times of Salah. Also at that end through a door is where they say the head of Hussain was once kept and perhaps buried. Many, many Shia pilgrims come to make pilgrimage to this Mosque for that reason. Most from Iran, but one time while we were here there was a huge group of Shia Pakistani pilgrims from England!
Along the outside walls you’ll see golden designs of plants, gardens and mansions on a river. Some say these are images of Jannah, others say that they are images from Damascus’s past. Still others say that these are images from the Ummayad domain. No one really knows. Take a look at some of the images and let me know what you think BTW, these aren’t paintings or drawings. They are tiny little pieces of stone mosaics that make a whole image. Tiny little golden pieces and colored stones. Look closely and you can see thousands that make up one image. How they actually made those and got them up there must have been incredible workmanship. These golden mosaics used to cover all the walls and you can imagine how incredibly, incredibly stunning and beautiful that must have been.
Inside the Mosque there used to be four different Mihrabs where each school of thought would lead the prayers when it was ‘their time’. Today they just stick with one. The green little building inside is the tomb of Yayha (as). There’s also a little sign that says “Here stood Khidr” and that has its own little story and legend that has to do with a king and a night prayer. There are also different colored glass windows all along the back wall.
The layout is said to be like an eagle. There is a dome in the middle like a head and both sides reach out like wings. That dome is hence called the ‘Dome of the Eagle’.
The Ummayad Mosque is a living breathing entity. People come here to pray on any given day. People come here for Jumah. Special events are held here like big speeches of famous people. VIPs come here. Every tourist comes here. The special rain prayer is always held here. Taraweeh here is always packed. I once saw Sh. Yacoubi randomly walking in. I have so many good memories of sitting in the courtyard watching the sunset or in the moonlight, or in the heat of the day going in to pray on the beautiful carpets.
The one memory of Damascus that I always keep with me is standing in the courtyard of this Mosque on a warm summer evening, watching the kids play and the birds fly up as the walls turned from pale pink to gold in the sunset, and thinking ‘there can be no better peace than this’.
So ends my online descriptions.
India, Hajj, Syria, Damascus. So much beauty. It’s a beauty that is deep. It comes from within. If you just look at it, you can’t see it. You see mountains, old buildings, people. But if you learn and study, you understand the history of what’s there, of what was there, of who was there, then you realize the greatness, the absolute specialness, the uniqueness of what is and what was. You realize that all these things go back to one thing: to Allah and that Allah connects only to one place: your heart.
I thank Allah for allowing me, of all people in the world, to experience what I have these last months. And I thank Allah for allowing me to share this Road to Damascus with you.
Jazakamullahu khairan for reading and looking at the pictures.
All of the credit is due to Allah and only the mistakes have been mine.
Wa alaikum assalaam warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu,
Written in the last days of Ramadan 1427 A.H.
Completed here in the first days of Muharram 1428 A.H.