King Fahd’s Expansion of the Holy Mosque in Makkah
King Fahd’s Expansion of the Holy Mosque in Makkah: Historical Note
The religious center of the Holy City of Makkah is the Haram Mosque and the well of Zamzam.
The present Haram, meaning “sanctuary”, dates from 1570 (978 AH), and takes the form of a central quadrangle surrounded by stone walls. Around the inner sanctuary is a marble pavement, the El Mataf. The holiest shrine of Islam, the Ka’aba, is situated at the heart of the Holy Mosque’s central courtyard.
The Haram Mosque has a long and glorious tradition of expansion, dating back to 638 (7 AH) when the ever increasing number of Muslims led the second caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab, to develop the site.
When the late King Abdul Aziz established the modern Saudi state, one of his primary concerns, like that of the early caliphs, was his role in overseeing the well-being of the pilgrims undertaking the annual Hajj. Aware that the Holy Mosque could not support the growing numbers of worshippers, he initiated a refurbishment and expansion program.
King Fahd’s Expansion of The Holy Mosque in Makkah (1)
In 1988 (1408/09 AH) King Fahd laid the foundation stone for the third Saudi expansion of the Mosque in the Holy City of Makkah, and so began the latest, and most spectacular, phase in its recent development. In his role as Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd’s attention to the needs of the Holy Places has been unfaltering, and most obviously manifested in a multi-billion dollar program of modernization to make the places of pilgrimage more accessible to ever greater numbers.
King Fahd’s Expansion of The Holy Mosque in Makkah (2)
The development of the Holy Mosque site in Makkah has incorporated an expansion of the western wing of the existing Mosque, and a subsequent enlargement of the building to hold more than a million worshippers during the Holy Month of Ramadan, and during Umrah and Hajj. The expansion project includes over 60,000 square meters of prayer area on the enlarged roof, in addition to another almost 86,000 square meters in the surrounding plaza. Two towering minarets have been added to complement the seven existing whitened stone structures, the latest additions carefully matching the former in architectural style. An elaborate new entrance and 18 other gates have also been built. Other exquisite decorative work commissioned by King Fahd adorns a series of three domes running parallel to the main gate structure and close to 500 marbled columns on the ground and first floors.
King Fahd’s Expansion of The Holy Mosque in Makkah (3)
New prayer halls on the ground and first floors are complete and ready to accommodate the millions who now make the journey of a lifetime to the Holy City of Makkah, and a sophisticated broadcasting network has been installed to cope with the additional requirements. Indeed, the safety and comfort of the Hajjis has become a major concern for the authorities, necessitated by their sheer volume in recent years. The newly laid floor tiles were made of specially developed heat-resistant marble, and to further ensure the comfort of worshippers the whole structure is cooled by one of the world’s largest air-conditioning units. To facilitate the movement of worshippers to the newly developed roof area of the Holy Mosque during the busiest seasons, additional escalators have been incorporated alongside a number of fixed stairways in the northern and southern sides of the building. Moreover, in order to reduce the build-up of traffic around the Holy Mosque, the development project has involved the construction of a new tunnel for vehicles in the vicinity of Alsouk Alsagir. Pedestrian routes and tunnels have also been carefully planned and laid out to ensure the safety of the worshippers.
King Fahd’s Expansion of The Holy Mosque in Makkah (4)
Other improvements resulting from King Fahd’s initiative have included a newly laid drainage system. (Flooding and drainage problems had beset the Holy City of Makkah and its holy sites since the pre-Islamic period.)