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The Holy Mosque Expansion Process

As Makkah was and will be the ultimate destination to any Muslim around the world to visit at least once in life time, expansion of the Holy Mosque of Makkah was necessary to accommodate the huge and accelerating numbers of Muslims.

The Haram was built in the 7th century and has been modified, rebuilt, and expanded on a regular basis ever since. Major expansions took place in the 1980s and further work is going on today.

The beginnings of the Holy Mosque were established under Caliph Omar Ibn al-Khattab (634-644). The caliph ordered the demolition of houses surrounding the Kaba in order to accommodate the growing number of pilgrims, then built a 1.5-meter high wall to form an outdoor prayer area around the shrine.

During the reign of Caliph Uthman Ibn Affan (644-656), the prayer area was enlarged and covered with a simple roof supported by wooden columns and arches.

In 777, a major rebuild took place under Abbasid Caliph al-Mahdi (775-785) to accommodate the growing number of pilgrims. The existing mosque was demolished along with more houses in the area and a new mosque was constructed in its place. Measuring 196 by 142 meters, it was built on a grid plan with marble columns from Egypt and Syria decorated with gilt teak wooden inlay. Al-Mahdi's mosque also included three minarets, placed above Bab al-Salam, Bab Ali and Bab al-Wadi.

Between 1955 and 1973, the first of many extensions under the Saudi kings was commissioned by King Abdul Aziz (1932-1953). As part of the renovations, the Mas'a gallery connecting the Rock of al-Safa' with al-Marwah was extended to reach the mosque. The two-story extension was built of reinforced concrete arches clad in carved marble and artificial stone, which communicates with the street and the mosque via eleven doors.

A major extension sponsored by King Fahd (1982-present) consisted of a new wing and an outdoor prayer area on the southeast side of the mosque. In the two-story wing, air conditioning circulates below the tiled floors and is supplied through ventilation grids located at the base of each column. The facade of the extension blends in with the previous constructions, with gray marble facing from the Fatimah Mountains and carved white marble bands. The monumental King Fahd Gate consists of three arches with black and white voussoirs and carved white marble decoration, flanked by two new minarets matching the older ones. The windows are covered with brass mashrabiyya and framed with carved bands of white marble. The minor gates have green-tiled sloped canopies.

And till this day the expansion process is continuing…

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