The Blue Mosque in Istanbul, also known by its official name, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Turkish: Sultan Ahmet Camii), is an Ottoman-era historical imperial mosque in Istanbul, Turkey. A functioning mosque, it also attracts large numbers of tourist visitors. It was constructed between 1609 and 1616 during the rule of Ahmed I. Its Külliye contains Ahmed’s tomb, a madrasah, and a hospice. Hand-painted blue tiles adorn the mosque’s interior walls, and at night the mosque is bathed in blue as lights frame the mosque’s five main domes, six minarets, and eight secondary domes. It sits next to the Hagia Sophia, the principal mosque of Istanbul until the Blue Mosque’s construction, and another popular tourist site. The Blue Mosque was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1985 under the name of “Historic Areas of Istanbul”.
The Blue Mosque has five main domes, six minarets, and eight secondary domes. The design is the culmination of two centuries of Ottoman mosque development. It incorporates many Byzantine elements of the neighboring Hagia Sophia with traditional Islamic architecture and is considered to be the last great mosque of the classical period. The architect, Sedefkâr Mehmed Ağa, synthesized the ideas of his master Sinan, aiming for overwhelming size, majesty, and splendor. The upper area is decorated with approximately 20,000 hand-painted glazed ceramics in 60 different tulip patterns. The lower stories are illuminated by 200 stained glass windows. The mosque is preceded by a forecourt with a large fountain and a special area for ablution. An iron chain hangs in the court entrance on the western side. Only the Sultan was allowed to ride into the mosque on horseback, and he would need to lower his head not to hit the chain, a symbolic gesture ensuring the humility of the ruler before Allah.
Al-Masjid an-Nabawī (‘The Prophetic Mosque’), is a mosque built by the last Islamic prophet Muhammad in the city of Medina in the Al Madinah Province of Saudi Arabia. It was the second mosque built by Prophet Muhammad in Medina, after Masjid Quba’a, and is now one of the largest mosques in the world. It is the second holiest site in Islam, after the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca.
The land of Al-Masjid an-Nabawi belonged to two young orphans, Sahl and Suhayl, and when they came to know that Muhammad wished to acquire their land for the purposes of erecting a mosque, they went to the Prophet and offered the land to him as a gift; the Prophet insisted on paying a price for the land because they were orphaned children. The price agreed upon was paid by Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, who thus became the endower or donor of Al-Masjid an-Nabawi on behalf of, or in favor of, Prophet Muhammad. Al-Ansari also accommodated Muhammad upon his arrival at Madinah in 622.
Prophet Muhammad shared in the construction of the mosque. Originally an open-air building, the mosque served as a community center, a court of law, and a religious school. There was a raised platform or pulpit (minbar) for the people who taught the Quran and for Prophet Muhammad to give the Friday sermon (khutbah). Subsequent Islamic rulers greatly expanded and decorated the mosque, naming its walls, doors, and minarets after themselves and their forefathers.