Jami' al-Aqsab
Damascus, Syria
Aqsab Mosque is located to the north of the walled city of Damascus, in the vicinity of Bab al-Salam, on Suq Sarujiyya. It dated to the Ayyubid period and more precisely to the rule of King al-Ashraf I Musa bin al-Adil II (1229-1237). It is believed to have been built over a Byzantine church. Under Mamluk rule, the mosque was enlarged to accommodate larger crowds in 1321, and in 1408 it was largely rebuilt on a bigger scale by Nassir al-din Muhammad bin Ibrahim Ben Manjak. Renovations took place in 1450 and 1495.

The mosque is composed of a prayer hall giving onto a courtyard and a square minaret attached to its east wall. The courtyard is paved with contemporary terrazzo tiles and framed with three-bay arcades on the north, east and western sides. Built of alternating limestone and basalt voussoirs, the arches rest on pink stone columns and pilasters with carved capitals. The east arcade houses a tomb dedicated to Aqsab al-Sadat, or the seven companions of the Prophet Mohammed, as indicated by an inscription above the mausoleum door. Entered from the courtyard, the prayer hall is composed of a row of four columns aligned in the east-west direction, supporting five arches below the flat roof. The walls are covered with white glossy paint.

The mihrab on the qibla wall is a pointed arched niche, covered with a semi dome set in an intricately decorated rectangular frame. Its semi dome and crown arch are built of alternating white and yellow stones, while the lower part of the niche is built with yellow stone only. Its arch rests on two marble columns on each side carrying muqarnas capitals. The lower part of the niche is decorated with three blind niches composed of porphyry and gray marble inlaid with turquoise ceramics and mother of pearl. A Quranic inscription painted in gold runs along the bottom of the mihrab semi-dome. A large inscriptive medallion framed in stone sits above the keystone of the mihrab arch, whose spandrels bear marble discs covered with gilt floral motifs on stone, surrounded by tile mosaics. Two similar golden discs adorn either side of the mihrab, framed by geometric compositions. Above the mihrab are three windows with painted wooden frames and colored glass.

Rising next to the east mosque wall is the minaret rectangular shaft terminating at a hexagonal turret. The shaft is built of courses of yellow stone interrupted by bands of basalt and limestone. Just below the balcony, the shaft is punctured at its four sides by double arched windows, each topped by a pointed arch built of alternating basalt and limestone voussoirs. Above, a roofed balcony built of metal and wood wraps around the shaft. The roof and its turret are later additions built with sheets of plywood and metal.

Sources:

Rihawi, Abdul Qader. Arabic Islamic Architecture: Its Characteristics and Traces in Syria, 86. Damascus: Publications of the Ministry of Culture and National Leadership, 1979.

Sauvaget, J. Les Monuments Historiques de Damas , 73. Imprimerie Catholique: Beirut, 1932.

Shihabi, K.A. Ma'adhin Dimashq: Tarikh wa Tiraz, 131-136. Dimashq: Manshurat Wizarat al-Thaqafah fi al-Jumhuriyya al-'Arabiyah al-Suriyah, 1993.

Talas, Asa'ad. Les Mosquées de Damas, 222-223. Damas: Institut Français de Damas, 1975.
Location
Shari' al-Malik Faysal, Bab al-Salam, Damascus, Syria
Images & Videos
Associated Names
Events
1234/631-632 AH; enlarged 1321/721 AH; rebuilt 1408-1409/811 AH
Style Periods
1169-1260
Variant Names
Jami' al-Aqsab
Mosque of al-Aqsab
Variant
Aqsab Mosque
Variant
Masjid al-Qasab
Variant
Jami' Maz al-Qasab
Variant
Building Usages
mausoleum
funerary
mosque
religious