The Mosque of Muzaffar, commonly known as Jami' al-Hanbalia, was built for the followers of the Hanbali school of Islam. Began under the patronage of Sheikh Maqdisi, it was completed by Muzaffar al-Din Abu Sa'eed al-Kawkaburi, a prince from Arbil. Inscriptions suggest that planning and construction began as early as 1202-1203/599 AH and in use by 1207-1208/604 AH, although its minaret is dated to 1215-1216/606 AH. The mosque is situated in the Salihiyya area of Damascus, on a side street off Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulsi Lane, outside the fortifications of the old city. It is the first Ayyubid monument built in Damascus and the oldest surviving mosque after the Umayyad Mosque.1
The mosque's plain façade hides an elaborate courtyard and a prayer hall modeled after the Umayyad Mosque. Its plan is composed of a rectangular prayer hall preceded by an arcaded courtyard to the north, with a minaret to the northeast corner of the courtyard. The prayer hall is divided into three aisles with heavy piers and columns, carrying stone arches that support a pitched timber roof. The mihrab is a shallow niche on the qibla wall and is set in a rectangular frame decorated with geometric patterns and topped by a line of Quranic inscription. The niche is crowned with a muqarnas semi-dome and framed with two Roman columns. The mihrab is flanked from each side by two arched windows currently blocked by air-conditioning equipment.
The prayer hall is lit through large casements placed inside heavy stone frames located at regular intervals at the ground level. The southern wall has a second tier of windows, some of which are made of colored glass. A few other colored windows lighten either end of the pitched roof. Windows flanking the main entrance on the north wall are richly decorated with stucco panels carved with floral motifs and text at their tympanum. To the right of the mihrab, a wooden minbar, the oldest in Syria, displays fine wood carving, with interlocking geometric shapes and intricate floral motifs.
The courtyard has a central fountain and is surrounded by an arcade on three sides that is carried on stone piers. The arcade columns are crowned with Roman or Byzantine capitals and the gallery wall above the arcade is punctured by numerous arched windows. The southern wall of the courtyard, which holds the main entrance to the prayer hall, is built with alternating stone courses of basalt and limestone. Located behind the arcade at the northeast corner of the courtyard, the minaret is shifted from the main axis of the mihrab with the main entrance. The minaret is similar to al-Aruss minaret of the Umayyad Mosque; it is a tall tower crowned with a wooden balcony and a stone finial.
1. Specific evidence for dating the mosque is discussed in Allen, Ayyubid Architecture.
Allen, Terry. "Jami' al-Hanabilah". In Ayyubid Architecture
. Occidental, CA: Solipsist Press, 2003. http://www.sonic.net/~tallen/palmtree/ayyarch/ch6.htm#damas.jhan
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