Green Dome

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The Green Dome at the Prophet's Mosque (Medina, present-day Saudi Arabia).

The Green Dome (Arabic: القبة الخضراء‎‎) is a green-coloured dome built above the tomb of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and early Muslim leaders, Abu Bakr and Umar. The dome is located in the south-east corner of Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (Mosque of the Prophet) in Medina.[1]

The structure dates back to 1279 AD, when an unpainted wooden cupola was built over the tomb. It was later rebuilt and painted using different colours twice in the late 15th century and once in 1817. The dome was first painted green in 1837, and hence became known as the Green Dome.[2]


Built in 1279 AD or 678 AH during the reign of Mamluk Sultan Al Mansur Qalawun,[3] the original structure was made out of wood and was colourless,[4] painted white and blue in later restorations. After a serious fire struck the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina in 1481, the mosque and dome had been burnt and a restoration project was initiated by Sultan Qaitbay who had most of the wooden base replaced by a brick structure in order to prevent the collapse of the dome in the future, and used plates of lead to cover the new wooden dome. The building, including the Tomb of the Prophet, was extensively renewed through Qaitbay's patronage.[5] The current dome was added in 1818 by the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II.[1] The dome was first painted green in 1837.[2]

When Saud bin Abdul-Aziz took Medina in 1905, his followers, the Wahhabis, demolished nearly every tomb dome in Medina based on their belief that the veneration of tombs and places thought to possess supernatural powers was an offense against tawhid.[6] Muhammad's tomb was stripped of its gold and jewel ornaments, but the dome was preserved either because of an unsuccessful attempt to demolish its hardened structure, or because some time ago Ibn Abd al-Wahhab wrote that he did not wish to see the dome destroyed despite his aversion to people praying at the tomb.[7] Similar events took place in 1925 when the Saudi militias retook—and this time managed to keep—the city.[8][9][10] In 2007, according to the Independent, a pamphlet, published by the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs and endorsed by the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, stated that "the green dome shall be demolished and the three graves flattened in the Prophet's Masjid".[11]

Tomb of Muhammad[edit]

View from the side of the Rawdah
The grave of Muhammad located inside the quarter seen here.

Muhammad's grave lies within the confines of what used to be his and his wife Aisha's house. During his lifetime it adjoined the mosque. The mosque was expanded during the reign of Caliph al-Walid I to include his tomb.[2] The Prophet's grave is an important reason for the particular high sanctity of the mosque.[citation needed] Millions visit it every year, since it is a tradition to visit the mosque after the pilgrimage to Mecca.

The first two Caliphs, Abu Bakr and Umar are buried next to the Prophet. Umar was given a spot next to Muhammad by Aisha, which had originally been intended for her. An empty place beside the tomb of Muhammad was reserved for Jesus.[12] According to Quran commentator Baidawi, Jesus will return to the Holy Land to kill the Antichrist and rule for 40 years, then be buried next to Muhammad.[13]

Muhammad's grave itself cannot be seen as the area is cordoned off by a gold mesh and black curtains due to Wahhabi teachings which forbid giving significance to graves (visitation of graves and the deceased is allowed in almost all of the other major sects of Islam). The grave itself is covered by symbolic sarcophagus and is adorned with green silk.

Green Dome and Prophet's Mosque at sunset

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Petersen, Andrew (2002-03-11). Dictionary of Islamic Architecture. Routledge. p. 183. ISBN 9780203203873. 
  2. ^ a b c Ariffin, Syed Ahmad Iskandar Syed (2005). Architectural Conservation in Islam : Case Study of the Prophet's Mosque. Penerbit UTM. pp. 88–89,109. ISBN 9789835203732. 
  3. ^ "Prophet's Mosque". ArchNet. Retrieved 2012-04-13. 
  4. ^ "The history of Green Dome in Madinah and its ruling". Peace Propagation Center. 4 June 2009. Retrieved 2012-04-13. 
  5. ^ *Meinecke, Michael (1993). Mamlukische Architektur. 2. pp. 396–442.  Meinecke, ', II..
  6. ^ Peskes, Esther (2000). "Wahhābiyya". Encyclopaedia of Islam. 11 (2nd ed.). Brill Academic Publishers. pp. 40, 42. ISBN 9004127569. 
  7. ^ Mark Weston (2008). Prophets and princes: Saudi Arabia from Muhammad to the present. John Wiley and Sons. pp. 102–103. ISBN 978-0-470-18257-4. 
  8. ^ Mark Weston (2008). Prophets and princes: Saudi Arabia from Muhammad to the present. John Wiley and Sons. p. 136. ISBN 978-0-470-18257-4. 
  9. ^ Vincent J. Cornell (2007). Voices of Islam: Voices of the spirit. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-275-98734-3. 
  10. ^ Carl W. Ernst (2004). Following Muhammad: Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World. Univ of North Carolina Press. pp. 173–174. ISBN 978-0-8078-5577-5. 
  11. ^ Jerome Taylor (24 September 2011). "Mecca for the rich: Islam's holiest site 'turning into Vegas'". The Independent. Retrieved 2012-04-13. 
  12. ^ Parrinder, Geoffrey (1995). Jesus in the Qur'ān. Oneworld, ISBN 9781851680948
  13. ^ Braswell, George W. (2000). What You Need to Know About Islam and Muslims. B&H Publishing Group, ISBN 9780805418293

Coordinates: 24°28′03.22″N 039°36′41.18″E / 24.4675611°N 39.6114389°E / 24.4675611; 39.6114389 (Green Dome)