(Cover photo credit: Usmanreddy at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
The Mosque of Omar is a mosque in Jerusalem commemorating the place where Caliph Omar prayed.
Here you will find everything you need to know before visiting this holy Muslim site!
- What is the Mosque of Omar?
- Why is the Mosque of Omar important?
- Where is the Mosque of Omar located?
- What should I know before visiting the Mosque of Omar?
What is the Mosque of Omar?
The Mosque of Omar is a mosque commemorating the place where Caliph Omar prayed. It is located next to the Church of Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Why is the Mosque of Omar important?
According to tradition, after the Siege of Jerusalem in 637 by the Rashidun army, under the command of Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah, Patriarch Sophronius refused to surrender except to the Caliph Omar (579-644) himself.
Caliph Omar travelled to Jerusalem and accepted the surrender. He then went on and visited the Church of the Resurrection (today better known as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre) where the Patriarch invited him to pray inside the church.
However Omar declined the offer, so he would not endanger the church’s status as a Christian site.
Instead, the Caliph prayed outside, on the steps east of the church – and the Mosque of Omar was built at that spot.
Where is the Mosque of Omar located?
The Mosque of Omar is located in the Old City of Jerusalem, right next to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
What should I know before visiting the Mosque of Omar?
There are actually two mosques named the Mosque of Omar.
The first is the mosque we talked about, located to the east of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, known as the first or eastern mosque.
The current mosque, known as the southern Mosque of Omar, was built in its current shape by the Sultan Al-Afdal ibn Salah ad-Din in 1193 to commemorate the prayer of the caliph Omar.
It is located at a different site than the one where Omar is believed to have prayed and where the earlier mosque was located, as it stands to the south of the Church and not to the east of it. This new position is linked to the fact that the entrance to the Church had moved from the east to the south of the church, as a result of repeated destructive events that affected the Holy Sepulchre during the 11th and 12th centuries.
The current mosque has a 15 metres (49 ft.) high minaret that was built sometime before 1465 during the Mamluk period, and likely after the 1458 earthquake.
There is a cool connection between the Al Aqsa Mosque and the current mosque.
Salah ad-Din, who built the current mosque, was one of seventeen(!) sons of Saladin, who captured Al Aqsa from the Crusaders and restored its function as a mosque.