Calligraphic Inscriptions in the Prophet's Mosque


The oldest Arabic calligraphy used for embellishment and as decoration in the Prophet's Mosque is attributed to the time of the Mameluke's, specifically to the Sultan Qaitibai (882-901 A.H.). There are also calligraphic inscriptions attributed to the Ottoman's, as well as those from the Saudi period.

An example of the calligraphic inscriptions and writings of those periods that adorn the walls, important places and objects within the mosque follow. (Please note that these are all in the Arabic language and what is contained herein is an explanation in English of the Qur'anic text and a translation of others).

The text of the inscriptions above the Sacred Chamber, on its northern and southern sides, is as follows: "This enclosure was built by the Sovereign Ruler, Al-Ashraf Abu Al-Nasr Qaitibai, in the year 888 A.H."

Some of the writing inscribed over the enclosure is difficult to read as it has been obscured by the green (paint). Part of the text on the eastern side reads, "O Lord, Be pleased (content) with Abu Bakr, 'Umar, 'Uthman, 'Ali, Talhah, Al-Zubair, Sa'ad, Sa'eed, 'Abdur Rahman bin 'Aouf and Abi 'Ubaidah bin Al-Juraah; Allah be pleased with all of them".

Also present are the famous verses about the 'Chamber':

Most Radiant Lord, May He be Exalted; Allah, the Creator,

There is nothing like Him in all of Creation, He has no ancestors, nor descendants,

Oh, Who pours forth the days, Gushing

From His Fingers, Realised the army extended.

Beneath this inscription, on all four sides is written:

There is no deity but Allah

Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.

Written on the right side of the 'mihrab' (prayer niche, indicating the direction of the prayer, that was built by Qaitibai, in the place from which the Prophet [Peace be upon him] led the prayers), below the arch of the column is:

This is the place of prayer of the Messenger of Allah, Peace be upon him.

On the left side of it, below the arc of the column is:

The Prophet, Peace be upon him, said: "Prayer is the mainstay of religion".

Around the mihrab, below the arch are the words of the Almighty, (from: Surah #9 Al-Taubah {The Repentance}, Verse 112): "(The believers whose lives Allah has purchased are) those who turn to Allah in repentance (from polytheism and hypocrisy, etc.) who worship (Him), who praise (Him), who fast (or go out in Allah's Cause), who bow down (in prayer), who prostrate themselves (in prayer), who enjoin (on people) Al-Ma'ruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all what Islam has ordained) and forbid (people) from Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism of all kinds and all that Islam has forbidden), and who observe the limits set by Allah (do all that Allah has ordained and abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which Allah has forbidden). And give glad tidings to the believers."

From the right over the beginning of the prior Qur'anic inscription is another (from Surah #2 Al-Baqarah {The Cow}, Verse 144): "Verily! We have seen the turning of your (Muhammad's, Peace be upon him) face to a Qiblah (prayer direction) that shall please you, so turn your face in the direction of Al-Masjid Al-Haram (at Makkah). And wheresoever you people are, turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction." (which continues with Surah #33 Al-Ahzab {The Confederates}, Verse 56): "Allah sends his Salat (Graces, Honours, Blessings, Mercy) on the Prophet (Muhammad, Peace be upon him), and also His angels (ask Allah to bless and forgive him). O you who believe! Send your Salat on (ask Allah to bless) him (Muhammad, Peace be upon him), and (you should) greet (salute) him with the Islamic way of greeting (salutation, i.e. As-Salamu 'Alaikum)."

On the posterior wall of the mihrab is the historic inscription of five lines written in the Mamlooki Thuluth script: "In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful, and Peace be upon our leader Muhammad. This Noble Mihrab has been placed in the prayer place of the Prophet by order of the Humble Slave (of Allah), the Sovereign Ruler, Al-Ashraf, Abu Al-Nasr Qaitibai. Allah is Eternal and Supreme. In the month of Dhu Al-Hijjah (of the Sacred Months), in the year 888 A.H..

Appended to the aforementioned inscription, in the same script, is the following: Its renovation was ordered by His Majesty, King Fahd bin 'Abdul 'Aziz AL Sa'ud, Who Glorifies Allah, in the year 1404 A.H..

Written at Baab Al-Salaam (the Gate of Peace) is the following text traceable to the Ottoman period: "In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful; (Surah #33 Al-Ahzab {The Confederates}, Verse 40): " Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the last (end) of the Prophets. And Allah is Ever All-Aware of everything." The Qur'anic text is then followed by: O Lord, endure us with honour, strength and victory, and open Paradise for your servant, our leader, Sultan Suleiman Shah bin Sultan Saleem Khan bin Sultan BaYazeed Khan bin Sultan Muhammad bin Sultan Murad bin Sultan Muhammad bin Sultan BaYazeed bin Sultan Murad bin Sultan Aur Khan bin Sultan 'Uthman Khan; Allah cherishes His helpers and perpetual is His property and His works are sealed with virtue and by Muhammad and his nation and companions and salutations. Dated (the month of) Safar, 941 A.H..

At Baab Al-Rahmah contains another Ottoman inscription that reads: The renovation of this door was ordered by the Noble Leader and Sovereign Ruler, Sultan Suleiman bin Sultan Saleem bin Sultan BaYazeed Khan bin Sultan Muhammad Khan bin Sultan Aur Khan bin Sultan 'Uthman Khan; Perpetual is His property and His works are sealed with virtue and by Muhammad and his nation. Dated (the month of) Venerable Ramadan, 947 A.H..

In the year 938 A.H., the Sultan Suleiman Khan restored the Hanafi mihrab that had been installed by Taughaan Sheikh between the minbar and the boundary of the Prophet's Mosque. It was adjacent to the Al-Shafi'e mihrab that was in the prayer place of the Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings upon him). In the heights of the Al-Suleimani mihrab is a Qur'anic inscription, circular in form, that reads: (Surah AL-Imran {The Family of Imran}, p/o Verse 37): "Every time he (Zakaria) he entered Al-Mihrab (a praying place or a private room)." Around the arch of the mihrab from its right side are the following Qur'anic verses: (Surah #2 Al-Baqarah {The Cow}, Verse 144): "Verily! We have seen the turning of your (Muhammad's, Peace be upon him) face to a Qiblah (prayer direction) that shall please you, so turn your face in the direction of Al-Masjid Al-Haram (at Makkah). And wheresoever you people are, turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction." (Surah #2 Al-Baqarah {The Cow}, Verse 135): "And they say, 'Be Jews or Christians, then you will be guided'. Say (to them, O Muhammad [Peace be upon him]), 'Nay (we follow) only the religion of Ibrahim (Abraham), Hanifa (Islamic Monotheism, i.e. to worship none but Allah [Alo0ne]), and he was not of Al-Mushrikun (those who worshipped others along with Allah)." (Surah #3 Al-'Imran {The Family of Imran}, Verse 68): "Verily, among mankind who have the best claim to Ibrahim (Abraham) are those who followed him, and this Prophet (Muhammad, Peace be upon him) and those who have believed (Muslims). And Allah is the Wali (Protector and Helper) of the believers." (Surah #27 Al-Naml {The Ants}, Verse 79): "So put your trust in Allah, surely, you (O Muhammad, Peace be upon him) are on manifest truth."

In the forefront of the mihrab, at the base of the arch is the verse from the Qur'an: (Surah #9 Al-Taubah {The Repentance}, Verse 112): "(The believers whose lives Allah has purchased are) those who turn to Allah in repentance (from polytheism and hypocrisy, etc.) who worship (Him), who praise (Him), who fast (or go out in Allah's Cause), who bow down (in prayer), who prostrate themselves (in prayer), who enjoin (on people) Al-Ma'ruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all what Islam has ordained) and forbid (people) from Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism of all kinds and all that Islam has forbidden), and who observe the limits set by Allah (do all that Allah has ordained and abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which Allah has forbidden). And give glad tidings to the believers."

Behind the mihrab, on its posterior wall are five lines of Al-Mamlooki Al-Thuluth script that state: This blessed mihrab was erected by the Victorious Ruler, Al-Sultan Suleiman Shah bin Al-Sultan Saleem Khan bin Al-Sultan BaYazeed Kahn; Cherish Allah His Helpers with Muhammad and his Nation. Dated (the month of ) Jumada Al-Awwal, 908 A.H..

Al-Burzinji has verified that the aforementioned date is incorrect, and he has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the year was actually 938 A.H.

During the period of the Sultan, Murad III, (982-1003 A.H.) the wall of the Qiblah and the Raudah were renovated (in 999 A.H.). The text of what is written on the wall is: O Lord, Eternal Sovereign of he who renovated this noble wall and he is our Great Sultan and Noble Ruler, the Sultan of the Two Qiblahs and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the Sultan Murad Khan. (Dated) 999 A.H..

The superb marble minbar was installed in the mosque in 988 A.H.. Inscribed over its portal are the following stanzas:

Dispatched the Sultan Murad bin Saleem

Requesting to increase his blessings of the Hereafter

And endure in the highest pinnacle of His Sovereignty,

Secure in the continual blessing of the lands,

Around the Garden of Al-Mustafa, Peace be upon him,

Our lord, the Serenity of all who worship,

The pillars of the pulpit were established,

By it guidance of the right and the truth of the heart,

The pulpit raises the right guidance and exalts it,

Mount it enduringly, the Rightly Guided Scholars,

Said fortune inspired by its history,

Preserve the pulpit of Sultan Murad.

On the right shutter of the door of the minbar: Open for Us the Best Door.

The Sultan Ahmed I (1012-1026 A.H.) presented the mosque with a silver tablet which is affixed on the southern side of the compartment that surrounds the Sacred Chamber. It dates to the year 1026 A.H., the text of which reads: In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful: (Surah #15 Al-Hijr {The Rocky Tract}, Verse 49): "Declare (O Muhammad, Peace be upon him) unto My slaves, that truly, I am the Oft-Forgiving, the Most-Merciful." (Surah #33 Al-Ahzab {The Confederates}, Verses 45-47): "O Prophet (Muhammad, Peace be upon him)! Verily, We have sent you as a witness, and a bearer of glad tidings, and a warner. And as one who invites to Allah (Islamic Monotheism, i.e. to worship none but Allah [Alone]) by His Leave, and as a lamp spreading light (through your instructions from the Qur'an and the Sunnah - the legal ways of the Prophet, Peace be upon him). And announce to the believers (in the Oneness of Allah and in His Messenger Muhammad, Peace be upon him) the glad tidings, that they will have from Allah a great Bounty." "Oh Lord, Oh Most Merciful, raise in rank this Noble Prophet and forgive your slave girded by the enjoinders of the law of Your Greatest Prophet. The Sultan Ahmed bin Sultan Muhammad bin Sultan Murad bin Sultan Saleem bin Sultan Suleiman bin Sultan Saleem bin Sultan BaYazeed bin Sultan Muhammad bin Sultan Murad bin Sultan BaYazeed bin Sultan Murad bin Sultan Aur Khan bin Sultan 'Uthman; Allah the Triumphant and Powerful, Grant him victory and manifest triumph." It is signed: The Sultan Ahmed, Who Presents this out of Beloved Devotion, 1026 A.H..

On the side panel is found the following text: There is no deity but Allah, The Sovereign of Manifest Truth, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, the Truthful, the Adherer to the Promise, the Trustworthy.

The Sacred Chamber was restored in the time of the Sultan, Ahmed of which the following text refers: Oh Lord, Allah, Who Perpetuates His Property (and) Who Assisted and Supported the Ruler of the Two Lands and Two Seas, the Sultan bin the Triumphant Sultan Ahmed Khan bin Al-Ghazi Muhammad Khan; the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and his State in Restoring this Noble Final Resting Place, and that was through his weak servant, Al-Hajj Moussa; Accept this renovation of the Noble Grave of the Mosque; 133 A.H..

During the reign of the Sultan, Mahmoud the First, (1143-1168 A.H.) the colonnades in the direction of the Qiblah were increased. This construction occurred in the year 1149 A.H. and on it is the following inscription: The construction of this colonnade was ordered by the Noble Sovereign of the Two Lands and the Two Seas, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the Triumphant Sultan, Mahmoud Khan bin (son of) the Late Sultan Mustafa Khan, All-Powerful is His (Allah's) Help; He who is known as Al-Hajj Ahmed Basha, Governor of the Seaport, the Grandmother of the World (Jeddah), and His Direct Servant, Al-Hajj Ahmed Agha, 1149 (A.H.).

Some renovation and restoration work was done in the time of the Sultan, 'Uthman III, (1168-1171 A.H.). What was written about it has been inscribed in the mosque and is as follows: Ordered the construction of the (Prophet's) Holy Mosque, the Great Sultan, 'Uthman Khan bin Sultan Mustafa Khan, Which was done through his Mayor and Agent, Al-Hajj Ibrahim Agha, formerly the Governor of the Two Holy Mosques and Supervisor of the Structure of the Mosque; Allah Perpetuates His Property and Grants Success; 1170 A.H..

In the time of the Sultan, 'Abd Al-Hameed I, in the year 1191 A.H., there was a huge construction project carried out in the Prophet's Mosque. White marble was installed between Baab Al-Salaam and the Door of the Southeastern Minaret. The first row of columns in the Raudah were also clad in marble, on them this inscription: This construction for this Holy Mosque was decreed by the Sultan, 'Abd Al-Hameed Khan bin Sultan Ahmed Khan, directly through and requiring (the services of) Allah's servant, Muhammad Ameen bin Faidullah, and Allah Perpetuates His Property Through the Span of Time; 1191 A.H..

The Ottoman Sultan, 'Abd Al-Majeed I, during his reign (1255-1277 A.H.), oversaw the largest construction, renovation and expansion, up until that time, of the Prophet's Mosque ever witnessed in its history. It absorbed the twelve years between 1265 and 1277 A.H.. The mosque's Qiblah wall still bears the inscribed Qur'anic text which is a relic of that time. The following is the text that appears on the eastern side of the interior wall, in front of the Sacred Chamber: In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful, (Surah #33 Al-Ahzab {The Confederates}, Verse 56): "Allah sends his Salat (Graces, Honours, Blessings, Mercy) on the Prophet (Muhammad, Peace be upon him), and also His angels (ask Allah to bless and forgive him). O you who believe! Send your Salat on (ask Allah to bless) him (Muhammad, Peace be upon him), and (you should) greet (salute) him with the Islamic way of greeting (salutation, i.e. As-Salamu 'Alaikum)."

The Qiblah wall is divided into different sections. From the ground and rising 60 centimetres, the wall is covered with white marble; above that and to the ceiling, there is a marble framework that surrounds porcelain tiles, which ends with the names of the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him). It reads: These are the names of the Prophet, Peace Be Upon Him: Ahmed - Muhammad - Taha and Mahmoud  the cure revealed, raise the status; the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him and upon his nation.

At a height of 50 centimetres there is a Qur'anic text, which rises 45 centimetres. It reads: (Surah #2 Al-Baqarah {The Cow}, p/o Verse 185): "  Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you. (He wants that you) must complete the same number (of days), and that you must magnify Allah [i.e. to say Takbir [Allahu Akbar; Allah is the Most Great] for having guided you so that you may be grateful to him." (Surah #59 {Al-Hashr}, p/o Verse 7): "And whatsoever the Messenger (Muhammad, Peace be upon him) gives you, take it; and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain (from it)."

Then, there is another framework of porcelain raising about 15 centimetres, followed by another that is 90 centimetres high, after which is another which contains, the following Qur'anic verse: (Surah #2 Al-Baqarah {The Cow}, p/o Verse 197): "  And whatever good you do, (be sure) Allah knows it. And take a provision (with you) for the journey, but the best provision is At-Taqwa (piety, righteousness). So fear Me, O men of understanding!"

After that there is another porcelain tile frame, 45 centimetres high, which encompasses the following from the Qur'an: (Surah #4 An-Nisa' {The Women}, Verse 64): "We sent no Messenger, but to be obeyed by Allah's Leave. If they (hypocrites), when they had been unjust to themselves, had come to you (Muhammad, Peace be upon him) and begged Allah's Forgiveness, and the Messenger had begged forgiveness for them: indeed, they would have found Allah All-Forgiving (One Who forgives and accepts repentance), Most Merciful."

Inscribed to the right and left of the Qiblah in square frames, from high to low, is the following, in squared Kufic script: There is no deity but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.

To the right is also Qur'anic verse inside of a hexagonal, coloured marble frame, that reads: (Surah #2 Al-Baqarah {The Cow}, Verse 144): "Verily! We have seen the turning of your (Muhammad's, Peace be upon him) face" .. and continues on the left, in the same form, with .. "to a Qiblah (prayer direction) that shall please you," . this then continues on the right with the text inside of a circle surrounded by a square frame of coloured marble, which reads: "so turn your face in the direction of Al-Masjid Al-Haram (at Makkah). . the verse is completed on the left with: "And wheresoever you people are, turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction."

Also to the right is "al-hadith an-nabawiyyah" (tradition of the Prophet, Peace be upon him), of three lines within a rectangular frame of coloured marble that says: "The Prophet said, the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him: Acceptable are your prayers; your Imam is of your scholars.

Writing and Inscriptions of the Saudi Period: :

The Saudi government places the utmost priority in the care that it provides to the Prophet's Mosque. This high degree of interest is evident in the first Saudi expansion that was begun during the time of King 'Abdul 'Aziz, the work of which was succeeded by King Sa'ud. He placed four stones in the corner of the western wall of the expansion and wrote (on them): These four stones were placed by His Majesty, King Sa'ud, to establish for the Prophet, Peace be upon him; and that is in the month of Rabi'e Al-Awwal, of the year 1373 A.H..

In the year 1405 A.H., the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, established the second Saudi expansion of the mosque, by laying the cornerstone. On it is inscribed: In the Name of Allah. He fixed it near the western entrance of the annex that was added onto the Qiblah wall of the old building . Inscribed on it is the following: In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful: (Surah #24 An-Nur {The Light}, Verse 36): "In houses (mosques) which Allah has ordered to be raised (to be cleaned, and to be honoured), in them His Name is remembered [i.e. Adhan, Iqamah, Salat {prayers}, invocations, recitation of the Qur'an, etc.]. Therein glorify Him (Allah) in the mornings and in the afternoons or the evenings." (Allah is the Greatest Truth). By the Grace of Allah, the Almighty; the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd bin 'Abdul 'Aziz AL Sa'ud; Allah, the Almighty, preserve him; is ennobled and honoured to emplace the cornerstone for the project for the construction and expansion of the Prophet's Mosque, on Friday, 9 Safar 1405 A.H., which corresponds to 2 November 1984.

Upon completion of the work the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd, emplaced the last brick in this blessed project. He fixed it to the side of Gate #38, Bab Al-Nissaa' (the Gate of Women). On it is inscribed: In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful: With the Blessings of Allah and the founding by the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad, Peace be upon him; the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd bin 'Abdul 'Aziz AL Sa'ud inaugurates, by emplacing the final stone, in the expansion of the Mosque of the Messenger of Allah, Peace be upon him, in service to Islam and to the Muslims; All praises are for Allah, the Lord of the Universe; Friday. 4 Dhu Al-Qa'adah 1414 A.H., corresponding to 15 April 1994.

With this expansion the Prophet's Mosque now contains 85 entrances, the doors of which are of fine, rare, wood imported from Sweden. They are clad with bronze and engraved in the centre of each is: Muhammad, Peace be upon him.

Over each of these portals is a slab inscribed with the name of the door; i.e. Baab Al-Salaam, Baab Al-Siddiq, etc.

Over each window, on the interior and exterior, is a slab of man-made stone, inscribed with: There is no deity but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.

In the heights of the walls, near the roof, there are circular, marble slabs which are inscribed with the names of some of the Noble Companions (Allah be pleased with all of them).

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