Jami' al-Kabir (Ma'arrat al-Nu'man)
Ma'arrat al-Nu'man, Syria
The Great Mosque of Ma'arrat al-Nu'man (or Ma'arra) was rebuilt in the first half of the twelfth century/sixth century AH. As was the case with many early Syrian mosques, Ma'arrat al-Nu'man's mosque stands on the site of an earlier sanctuary: a church and, before that, likely a pagan temple. This history is evident in the numerous examples of architectural materials from pre-Islamic buildings of the Roman and Byzantine periods re-used in the mosque. 

The mosque's plan is centered on a large rectangular courtyard with a long, shallow prayer hall on its south side. Six domes cover the central bays of the prayer hall before the mihrab. The large rectangular courtyard, the wide and shallow prayer hall, and the domed central axis of the prayer hall are all features reminiscent of the layout of the Umayyad Mosque of Damascus, whose plan inspired numerous mosques in Syria and Northern Mesopotamia.At the center of the courtyard stood a water tank covered by a canopy resting on ten columns with antique Corinthian capitals.

The mosque's square minaret bears a close resemblance in form and ornamentation to the minaret of the Great Mosque of Aleppo, although it is plainer and less well executed.2 An inscription on the minaret attributes the work to Qahir ibn 'Ali ibn Qanit. Qahir ibn 'Ali signed another structure at Ma'arra and has a known death date of 1199/595 AH, providing a terminus ante quem for the minaret.3 

It was reported in June 2016, that air-raids targeting Idlib caused severe structural damage to the mosque, primarily affecting the courtyard and its contents. Several stone archways have reportedly collapsed, and wall surfaces have been marred by shrapnel. Additionally, a modern metal awning, added to provide shade in the courtyard, has been destroyed. While the mosque has suffered damages from bombings in the past, this was the first time that the mosque was directly hit. 


  1. See Ernst Herzfeld, "Damascus: Studies in Architecture - IV," Ars Islamica 13-14 (1948): 118-138. 
  2. "Great Mosque Minaret, Ma'arrat al-Nu'man," in Allen, Ayyubid Architecture.
  3. Herzfeld, "Damascus: Studies in Architecture - II," 39.


Allen, Terry. Ayyubid Architecture. Occidental, CA: Solipsist Press, 1999. http://www.sonic.net/~tallen/palmtree/ayyarch/ [Accessed February 12, 2018].

Burns, Ross. Monuments of Syria, 146-147. London: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd., 1992.

Herzfeld, Ernst. “Damascus: Studies in Architecture - II.” Ars Islamica 10 (1943): 13–70, 36-39.

Rihawi, Abdul Qader. Arabic Islamic Architecture in Syria, 145. Damascus: Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, 1979.

"Syria’s third-oldest mosque damaged by airstrike: ‘A violation of historical sites’." Syria: Directsyriadirect.org [Accessed June 2, 2016]. 
Ma'arrat al-Nu'man, Syria
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Associated Names
Associated Collections
first half of 12th/6th AH
Style Periods
Variant Names
جامع معرة النعمان الكبير
Jami' Ma'arra al-Nu'man al-Kabir
Building Usages