Abu Hanifa Mosque

Abu Hanifa Mosque
Location in present-day Iraq
Basic information
Location Iraq Baghdad, Iraq
Geographic coordinates 33°22′20″N 44°21′30″E / 33.372091°N 44.358409°E / 33.372091; 44.358409Coordinates: 33°22′20″N 44°21′30″E / 33.372091°N 44.358409°E / 33.372091; 44.358409
Affiliation Islam
Branch/tradition Sunni Islam
Leadership Imam(s):
Sheikh Abd al-Sattar Abd al-Jabbar[1]
Sheikh Ahmed Hassan al-Taha
Architectural description
Architectural type Mosque
Architectural style Islamic; Seljuk; Ottoman
Date established c.985–986 AD / 375 AH
Capacity 5,000
Interior area 10,000 m2 (110,000 sq ft)
Dome(s) 4
Minaret(s) 2
Minaret height 35 m (115 ft)

The Abu Hanifa Mosque (Arabic: مسجد أبو حنيفة Masjid abū Ḥanīfah) or (Arabic: مسجد أبي حنيفة Masjid abī Ḥanīfah) also known as (Arabic: جامع الإمام الأعظم Gāmi` al-imām al-aʿẓam) is one of the most prominent Sunni mosques in Baghdad, Iraq.

It is built around the tomb of Abu Hanifah an-Nu'man, often called the "Great Imam" (Al-imām al-aʿẓam), the founder of the Hanafi madhhab or school of Islamic religious jurisprudence. It is in the al-Adhamiyah district of northern Baghdad, which is named after Abu Hanifa's by the name of (Al-imām al-aʿẓam).


Abu Hanifa mosque 2015

Abu Ja'far al-Mansur offered Abu Hanifa to be Qazi al-quzat, the judge of judges, but he refused, which caused him being tortured and put in prison. He was lashed 110 lashes until he agreed. Al-Mansur ordered Abu Hanifa to make fatwas that expand the caliph's authority, which Abu Hanifa disagreed to do, leading him back to prison.[2]

While he was in prison, Abu Hanifa died in 150 AH / 767 AD in Baghdad, either from being poisoned or from old age.[3] He was buried in al-Khayzuran Cemetery, named after al-Khayzuran bint Atta that was buried in it, 23 years after Abu Hanifa was.[4] It was said that his funeral was attended by 50,000 people, and was attended by al-Mansur himself.[5]



During the Buwayhid rule of the Abbasid Caliphate, in 375 AH / 985–986 AD, a medium-sized mosque was built near Abu Hanifa's tomb, by the orders of Samsam al-Dawla.[6] It was said that Abu Jaafar al-Zammam built a hall inside of the mosque in 379 AH.[7]


Later, in 459 AH / 1066 AD, the Grand Vizier of the Seljuk Emperor Alp Arslan, Abu Saad al-Khwarizmi or al-Mustawfi, built a shrine for Abu Hanifa in the mosque, along with a white Dome.[8] Al-Khwarizmi also built a school near the mosque, named the Great Imam School, for teaching the Hanafi madhab. According to Ibn Khallikan, the school was opened on September 22, 1067, therefore, the Great Imam school is the first school in Baghdad.[9] It took four months and a half to build the school (from January 8, 1067 to May 15, 1067).

The Amir [Abu Saad al-Khwarizmi] wanted to go back to the palace of the sultan, Alp Arslan. He went on Jamadi al-Akhira 27, 459 AH (May 15, 1067 AD). During his time in Baghdad, he built a great high dome on Abu Hanifa's tomb, and spent a lot of money on it. He built a malban and made it high, just like the shrines of the family of Ali ibn Abu Talib. He built a hallway for it and a nave, making it a big mosque. He built a school for the followers of Abu Hanifa and brought teachers for them and gave them lots of money to spend. He did a good job in that matter.[10]
Sibt ibn al-Jawzi, Mir’at al-zaman
While Khadija Arslan-Khatun, the sister of Sultan Alp Arslan, was visiting Baghdad in Jamadi al-Oula 459 AH, Abu Saad al-Mustawfi went there to welcome her. During his days in Baghdad, he built a shrine for Imam Abu Hanifa, made a malban for the shrine, built a dome, created a school for teaching Abu Hanifa's lectures and brought scholars to teach in it.[11]
Abu'l-Faraj ibn al-Jawzi, Al-Muntazam fi Tarikh al-Milouk w al-Umam

Ottoman era

After the invasion of Baghdad by the Safavid dynasty in 1508, Abu Hanifa mosque and school were destroyed and abolished, due to sectarian conflicts that the Safavids had.[12] The Ottomans invaded Baghdad in 1534 and replaced the Shi'ite Safavid with the Sunni Ottoman rule. Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent first visited, after invading Iraq, Najaf and Karbala. And then, he visited the abolished mosque of Abu Hanifa and ordered to rebuild it and recover all the damages.[13] Along with recovering the mosque, they also added new features to it, like a minaret, a hall, a bathroom, from 50 to 140 shops and the dome that they rebuilt was a dome that was never seen like it before. They also built a square fortress around the mosque and a watchtower. The fortress was armed with 150 soldiers with different military equipment.[12]

Golden Age

A view of the main hall 2012

In 1638, the Ottomans re-invaded Baghdad, after it was recaptured by the Safavids in 1623. Sultan Murad IV turned to Adhamiyah and particularly, Abu Hanifa mosque, because it was the shrine of the Imam of the sultan's madhab. A luxurious dome was built on the mosque. He also brought some of the al-Ubaid tribe to live in houses around the mosque to protect it.[13] The sultan ordered to renew the school and appointed employees to manage the school, along with allowing celebrations and holidays in the school.[14] With the administration of Shaykh al-Islām Yahia, the sultan ordered to rebuild the buildings around the mosque and decorate it with strips of gold and silver, decorate the mosque with green wool drapes and expand the upper and lower gates. The mosque became at its greatest during the period of the rule of Sultan Murad IV.[14]

In 1080 AH / 1669 AD, the brother of the vizier, Mohammed Bek Daftary, reconstructed old parts of the mosque and built a hallway in it.[15] In 1090 AH / 1689 AD, Omar Pasha reconstructed the mosque and made its garden one of the most wonderful gardens in Baghdad.[16]

Rebuilding and expanding

Abu Hanifa mosque during the 1960s.

In 1757, during the rule of the Mamluk dynasty in Iraq, the Vali of Baghdad, Suleiman Pasha, renewed the shrine and built a dome and a minaret.[13] In 1217 AH / 1802 AD, some of the mosque's constructions almost fell down, causing the destruction of some parts of the mosque, but Suleiman Pasha, rectified the matter and reconstructed the old buildings and painted the top of the minaret with gold.[17] In 1255 AH / 1839 AD, Sultan Abdülmecid I ordered to reconstruct the old damaged parts of the mosque[17] and decorate it with a tunic from Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, which was welcomed with superior greetings by the residents of Baghdad because of its holiness.[18]

In 1288 AH / 1871 AD, the mother of Abdülaziz, Pertevniyal Sultan, vowed when she was sick, that if she got healed, she will rebuild the mosque with her own money, which she did after she got better.[7] Sultan Abdulaziz ordered to form a committee that consisted of three employees in the mosque and the mayor of Adhamiyah. The cost of reconstructing the mosque was 80,000 liras.[19] The committee made a construction map and gave it to the most popular engineer in Baghdad, Asit Karz, the map contained two hallways, several rooms from the south, east and north, a garden, a chapel, a big courtyard and a school for teaching Quran. The reconstructing lasted for five years.[20]

Twentieth century

In 1910, Sultan Abdul Hamid II ordered to reconstruct the mosque, renew the wall and build more rooms for students and poor people. These renovations costed 2,300 liras.[17] There were several other reconstructions over the years. The most important ones were in 1918 and 1935, where the old rooms were replaced with bigger new rooms,[21] and 1948, where they renewed the flooring and verses of Al-Fath was written on the walls of the hallways.

In 1959, after the 1958 Revolution, loads of upgrades were done on the mosque. The government gave the construction money to the engineer, Najmuddin Abdullah al-Jumaili. He started working in Ramadan 1379 AH / February 1960 AD with the construction lasting for five years. These upgrades included:[21]

Battle of Adhamiyah

On April 10, 2003, during the Battle of Baghdad (2003), a four hours fight went on between the American forces and the Iraqi forces that were positioned inside the mosque. Parts of the domes, clock tower and the halls were destroyed. People that lived near the mosque cleaned the mosque from shattered glass and battle effects, along with protecting the mosque from those who stole most of Baghdad.[22] The Sunni endowment, with the corporation of several companies and families, rebuilt the destroyed parts of the mosque, until it was fully recovered in 2004.[22]
Later, in 2006, missiles were fired by a Katyusha rocket launcher and fell in the mosque's courtyard without any damages done to the mosque.[22]


The total area of the mosque is 10,000m². It can fit 5000 people in it. On Friday prayers, the regular number of worshipers is 1000, while on the regular everyday prayers, 200-250 worshipers come to the mosque.[22]

Main hall

Main hall of the mosque in 2014

The main hall is a great rectangular hall with an area of 578m². It consists of eight marble pillars with a large dome on top of them with iron chains hanging from them to hold the chandeliers,[23] with three other domes built around it on three rectangular pillars made of stone and plaster. The dome of the main hall is decorated with small accurate trappings, just like the doors and pillars.[23] The walls are also covered with Jordanian marble, three meters above the ground. The main hall contained two niches covered with geometric motifs with four pillars built around them, decorated with gorgeous trappings and writings of Al-Baqara.[24]


The mosque had two hallways that surround the main hall, one from the east and another from the north, with an area of 800m² each.[25] 26 domes are built on top of the hallways, based on 12 pillars. Between every one of them 4.5m.[25] There are three doors for the hallways, one from the side of the residential area and two from the side of the markets.[26]

Clock tower

In 1919, the big double-faced clock was given by the mosque of Abdul-Qadir Gilani to the Abu Hanifa mosque to fix it and place it in the mosque, but it was old and most of it was damaged.[27] Abu Hanifa mosque published in the newspapers, on February 17, 1921, the need of a specialist to help fixing the clock, but no one responded.[28] On March 17, 1921, Abdul Razzaq Mahsoub promised to check it and, if possible, fix it. After examing it, he found it very damaged and incapable to function, so he requested making another clock that looks like the old one from the Directorate of Religious Endowments. They accepted the request on March 24.[28] On March 25, 1925, the work started on the clock in Mahsoub's house, where he made a four-faced clock with the help of his sons, Mohammed Rasheed and Abdul Hadi.[27] It was completed on December 28, 1929, where Mahsoub gave it to the Directorate of Religious Endowments, but they did not take it, because they weren't sure of it.[29] He hanged it on a high wall in house until October 10, 1932, where an exhibition was opened, where Mahsoub displayed the clock and got the first place for it.[29] It stayed in the gardens of the exhibition until February 1933, where the directorate accepted the clock but didn't hang it because there was no tower. It stayed for 26 years in the directorate's stocks until 1961, where the tower was built and the clock was hanged.[28] In 1973, the clock tower was covered with golden aluminum sheets.[29]

See also


  1. "Imam of the Abu Hanifa mosque, Abd al-Sattar Abd al-Jabbar, calls the security forces to stop some of their members from provoking people in a way that raises sectarian gaps". Sharqiya Television. May 21, 2014.
  2. Ibn al-Bazzaz, Mohammed M. (1904). Virtues of Imam Abu Hanifa. Riyadh: National King Fahd Library.
  3. Najeebabadi, Akbar S. (2001). The History of Islam (2 ed.). Darussalam Press. ISBN 9960892883.
  4. al-Aadhamy, Waleed (2001). Elders of Time and Neighbors of Nu'man. Baghdad: al-Raqeem Library.
  5. Abu Zahra, Mohammed (1947). Abu Hanifa: Life and Era - Opinions and Fiqh (2 ed.). Cairo: Dar al-Fikr al-Arabi. ISBN 9771024361.
  6. Nasir, Turki M. (2011). "Minarets: Great Imam Mosque (Abu Hanifa An-Nu'man)". al-Wa'i al-Islami (555).
  7. 1 2 al-Maqdisi, al-Bushari (1991). Best partitions in the knowledge of the region (3 ed.). Madbouli Library.
  8. al-Aadhamy, Hashim (1964). History of the Great Imam mosque and al-Adhamiyah mosques. 1. Baghdad: al-Ani Press. p. 28.
  9. Jawad, Mustafa (1940). "The First School in Iraq". al-Mu'allim al-Jadeed (1).
  10. Ibn al-Jouzi, Abu Muzaffar. Mir'at Az-zaman.
  11. Ibn al-Jawzi, Abu'l-Faraj. Al-Muntazam fi Tarikh al-Milouk w al-Umam (PDF). 16. Beirut: Scientific Books Press. p. 100.
  12. 1 2 al-Aadhamy. History of the Great Imam mosque and al-Adhamiyah mosques 1. p. 29.
  13. 1 2 3 4 Al Shakir, Osama S. (October 30, 2013). "History of the Mosque of Abu Hanifa and its school". Abu Hanifa An-Nu'man Mosque.
  14. 1 2 al-Alousi, Mahmoud S. (1924). History of Baghdad's mosque and its monuments.
  15. al-Azzawi, Abbas (1935). History of Baghdad between the two invasions (5 ed.). p. 101.
  16. al-Azzawi. History of Baghdad between the two invasions (5 ed.). p. 115.
  17. 1 2 3 al-Aadhamy. History of the Great Imam mosque and al-Adhamiyah mosques 1. p. 54.
  18. al-Aadhamy. History of the Great Imam mosque and al-Adhamiyah mosques 1. p. 77.
  19. al-Aadhamy. History of the Great Imam mosque and al-Adhamiyah mosques 1. p. 31.
  20. al-Aadhamy. History of the Great Imam mosque and al-Adhamiyah mosques 1. p. 32.
  21. 1 2 al-Aadhamy. History of the Great Imam mosque and al-Adhamiyah mosques 1. p. 36.
  22. 1 2 3 4 "Abu Hanifa Mosque". Masajid al-Iraq.
  23. 1 2 al-Aadhamy. History of the Great Imam mosque and al-Adhamiyah mosques 1. p. 37.
  24. al-Aadhamy. History of the Great Imam mosque and al-Adhamiyah mosques 1. p. 40.
  25. 1 2 al-Aadhamy. History of the Great Imam mosque and al-Adhamiyah mosques 1. p. 42.
  26. al-Aadhamy. History of the Great Imam mosque and al-Adhamiyah mosques 1. p. 43.
  27. 1 2 al-Aadhamy. History of the Great Imam mosque and al-Adhamiyah mosques 1. p. 48.
  28. 1 2 3 "Story of Abu Hanifa Moaque". Radio Dijla.
  29. 1 2 3 al-Aadhamy. History of the Great Imam mosque and al-Adhamiyah mosques 1. p. 49.
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