Prophet’s Mosque to accommodate two million worshippers after expansion

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Updated 26 September 2012

Prophet’s Mosque to accommodate two million worshippers after expansion

JEDDAH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has ordered that works for the expansion project of the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah should start immediately in order for it to be completed in less than two years.
The king stressed the significance of the completion of the project at its earliest considering the greatness of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf said.
The mosque building will sprawl over an area of 614,800 square meters or 1060 X 580 meters while the combined space of the mosque and plazas will be 1,020, 500 square meters or 1300 X 785 meters, which can accommodate 1 million worshippers inside the mosque and 800,000 worshippers in the plaza, Al-Assaf said, shedding more light on the new expansion at the Madinah mosque for which the king laid the foundation stone on Monday.
When completed, the mosque will have two major minarets in addition to smaller minarets at four sides. The Central Zone surrounding the mosque will triple in size compared to present area with greater room for residences, shopping areas, utility and security and will be surrounded a new ring road.
While the first phase of the expansion will facilitate more than 800,000 worshippers, the second and third phases will give room for more than a million worshippers, media reports said.
Altogether the new expansion will create an additional space for 1.2 million worshippers by 2040.
The project will remove 23 hotels from the Central Zone (the area around the mosque), which is feared to create a shortage of 4,760 rooms to accommodate those who visit the mosque. On the other hand, 21 new hotel projects would be completed this year to make up for the shortfall, according to local media reports, according to a local newspaper report.
“The Central Zone will undergo near total reconstruction including the expansion of existing utilities to cope with the increasing number of pilgrims and visitors to the mosque in the coming years. Currently the present space in the mosque and surrounding squares is put at 550,000 to 780,000,” the report added.
The plazas in the eastern and the western sides of the mosque will be developed. The buildings surrounding the plazas will be built matching the urban development and in line with the rich Islamic cultural history of Madinah.
The project, which aims to accommodate 1.2 million worshippers by the year 2040, will also develop the surrounding buildings known as Al-Ruwaq, which will serve as a gateway between the city and the mosque. The common and community plazas will be developed to fulfill their role as the social and spiritual hub of the city.
The comprehensive plan for the development of the mosque also demands the acquisition of all needed private properties under the public sector
ownership.
The comprehensive plan for the project also recommended that existing hotels in areas of reconstruction should be allowed to operate until actual work begins in their locations. This is to avoid inconvenience to pilgrims. The expansion to the northern side requires 12.5 hectares of land while its compensation of SR2.16 billion at the rate of SR400,000 per square meter will have to be paid to property owners. The total property compensation for the project is estimated at SR 25 billion.
The development of the Central Zone will have to consider the desire of visitors to the mosque to stay close to the mosque so that they can walk to the mosque for every prayer.
The design of the project will also preserve the status of the mosque as a symbol of Islam and its culture.
The plots to be acquired for northern plaza are near the Jabal Salae.
The proposed new ring road, Shari Arid Al-Janobi, which requires land worth SR2.8 billion, will be constructed at an estimated cost of SR972 million.
There will also be a number of pedestrian bridges and underpasses to help pedestrians in huge numbers to cross the new road.
The development of the Central Zone will also allow for increased private investment in the housing, shopping and hospitality sectors.
The project’s comprehensive plan also aims to develop the unplanned neighborhoods close to the Central Zone including new utility infrastructures and start work on a priority basis determined by the plan. There should be a public sector mechanism to buy property and get rid of or refurbish buildings that do not match the development plan.
King Abdul Aziz ordered the expansion of the Prophet’s Mosque with the addition of 6,024 square meters in 1950 while the expansion of 40,440 square meter was ordered by King Faisal in 1974. King Khaled allocated the land south west of the mosque for the worshippers’ service in 1997 and during the reign of King Fahd, the mosque’s space reached 384,000 square meters.
The Prophet (pbuh) built his mosque in the first year of Hijrah (622 AD) and undertook its first expansion in 7th Hijri year (629 AD) after his return from a campaign in Khaybar. The second Caliph Umar bin Al-Khattab and third Caliph Uthman bin Affan also expanded the mosque, followed by Umayyad King Waleed bin Abdul Malik in 706 AD.


Tolerance key to promoting inclusive society: EU envoy

Updated 17 October 2019

Tolerance key to promoting inclusive society: EU envoy

  • Intellectuals, diplomats discuss challenge of blending cultures, faiths and values

RIYADH/JEDDAH: The European envoy to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday called for more tolerance and respect to help bring diverse societies closer together.

Ambassador Michele Cervone d’Urso, head of the EU delegation to the Kingdom, made his appeal as he welcomed attendees to a high-profile lecture to discuss Saudi and European perspectives on religious tolerance and diversity.

Organized by the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies (KFCRIS), the event gathered together top intellectuals, diplomats and scholars to debate the issues of tolerance, forgiveness and acceptance of others.

Opening the lecture at the King Faisal Foundation building in Riyadh, d’Urso spoke about tolerance and how it was core to the transformation of societies, especially in Europe which had become more diverse.

“Today’s European society is a mixture of cultures, faiths, values, ideas, and habits. The challenge is to make sure our society is more inclusive, enhance mutual understanding and promote tolerance and respect,” the envoy said.

He pointed to the UN’s blossoming partnership with the KFCRIS and the importance of the lecture as key building blocks in the process of bridging cultural and religious gaps between societies.

“I think there are few more teams that are exchanging on the Saudi and European perspectives of religious tolerance and diversity. All of us know that the KFCRIS builds from the legacy of the late King Faisal and has been a pillar in promoting Islam,” d’Urso added.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Ambassador Michele Cervone d’Urso, head of the EU delegation to the Kingdom, made his appeal as he welcomed attendees to a high-profile lecture to discuss Saudi and European perspectives on religious tolerance and diversity.
  • Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL), told delegates that when he talked about tolerance in Islam, he also meant tolerance in Saudi Arabia as a state that applied and was governed by Shariah law.
  • The director of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), Dr. Michael Privot, who converted to Islam 26 years ago, spoke about how the EU was characterized by increasing diversity, including religious and philosophical beliefs, even from the Muslim perspective.

He noted that in Europe there were many people of faith that had respect for coexistence. 

Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL), told delegates that when he talked about tolerance in Islam, he also meant tolerance in Saudi Arabia as a state that applied and was governed by Shariah law.

He said a state that respected others, human existence and brotherhood could not exist “unless there is respect for diversity and differences as a universal norm that no one can collide.”

According to Al-Issa, the Charter of Madinah (regarded as the first Islamic state constitution) was considered one of the best achievements of civil legislation in human history. “This document was held by the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, with the Jews and represented binding legislation for Muslims toward religious minorities.”

The MWL chief noted that the document included the protection of civil and religious rights. “The document cannot be absorbed by extremism, it is clear. These rights and freedoms have been preserved by this legislation. And the Prophet Muhammad coexisted with everyone and understood these differences and diversity.”

In his speech, Al-Issa explained how the Qur’an gave Jews and Christians a special name to celebrate their religious origins where they were called “people of the book,” in reference to the Torah and the Gospel. The history of Christians and Jews was also never omitted.

Addressing the event, director of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), Dr. Michael Privot, who converted to Islam 26 years ago, spoke about how the EU was characterized by increasing diversity, including religious and philosophical beliefs, even from the Muslim perspective.

“We encounter such a diversity of ways of being Muslim from a theoretical, cultural, philosophical, ideological point of view. Any single Muslim group or community is represented somewhere in Europe and this situation puts European Muslims in a very unique environment which is different from any other Islamic majority society in the world,” said Privot.

He pointed out that for the first time in history Muslim groups from Uzbekistan and Senegal were living together and trying to become a community in European societies.

“Societies, which have completely liberalized the market of religions, believe all faiths are accepted,” he added.

Earlier on Monday, an MWL forum in Makkah recommended that Islamic discourse should adhere to the principles of the Qur’an and Sunnah, the Muslims’ uppermost legislative sources, which are also known as the Two Divine Revelations.

The forum, titled “The Service of the Two Revelations,” called upon concerned authorities in the Muslim world to regulate Islamic fatwas in a way that prevented extremism and stopped producing any misguided explanations of the divinely revealed texts.

The participants also encouraged the use of modern technology, especially social media, to better serve the Qur’an and Sunnah to help link Muslim youths with the two revelations.

In addition, the gathering proposed establishing platforms for producing software and smart apps related to the Qur’an and Sunnah and the launch of an international service award under the umbrella of the MWL.

Al-Issa added that the MWL had staged a number of Qur’an memorization programs in 78 countries and said there were now 68 colleges and institutes where 7,500 students were studying the Qur’an.

“Some 61,275 Qur’an readers have graduated from these institutes, with 5,055 reciters having obtained authentic reading certificates. The IOQAS (International Organization of Qitab and Sunnah) has also carried out 193 training courses and provided nearly 3,000 scholarships,” he said.