. . . . Al Masjid Al Nabawi . . . .
Al Masjid Al Nabawi was the first institution to be built following Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam migration in 622 AD from Makkah, where he was born, to the town of Yathrib, which became known as 'Al-Madînah an-Nabi", or 'City of the Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam, and is today simply Madînah.
Surrounded as it was by the shops and stalls of all kinds of merchants, the new Masjid soon became the political and economic as well as the spiritual nucleus of the city, and played both a practical and a symbolic role in unifying the citizens, ultimately providing a solid foundation from which the Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam and his companions could set forth and establish the Islamic state.
According to history, the manner in which the Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam decided on its location was to let his white camel loose, and choose the site where it finally stopped to rest. The entire Muslim community, both the residents of Yathrib and those who had migrated from Makkah with the Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam, participated in the construction of this first Masjid, which was simply an open courtyard about 805 square meters in area surrounded by a wall made from bricks and tree trunks. On the eastern side apartments were built to house the Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam and his family. By 629 the Prophet had enlarged the area of the Masjid to 2,475 square meters.
Under the first four Khalifah's, Madînah and the Masjid where the Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam was buried continued to be the seat of government, reinforcing the synthesis of religion and governance in the Islâmic state. The first two Khalifah's, Abû Bakr As Siddîq Radi-Allahu 'anhu and 'Umar bin Al-Khattab Radi-Allahu 'anhu, were buried next to the Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam in the place that had originally been the Prophet's Muhammad Sallallahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam home, and which today is covered by the famous green dome of the Masjid. For over seven centuries no additional improvements were made until Sultan Qaid Bey added another 120 square meters in 1483. Another three centuries passed, and in 1849 Sultan Abdul Majid initiated another extension of 1,293 square meters.
Soon after the establishment of the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932, King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud issued a royal decree ordering the expansion of the Masjid Al Nabi, a plan implemented by his son King Saud in 1950. This first Saudi expansion was the largest the Masjid had ever seen, and not only doubled it in size, but also brought about changes in the city of Madînah itself. The number of pilgrims continued to increase rapidly, from an average of 100,000 annually in 1955 to one million in 1970 and more than two million in 1980. In 1973 King Faisal Bin Abdul-Aziz ordered the construction of awnings on the west side of the Masjid as a temporary solution to protect visitors from the elements, and in 1981 Custodian of the Two Holy Masjid's King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz began research into plans for further extensions that would ultimately result in a five-fold increase in the size of the Masjid. The Masjid today is one hundred times the size it was when the Prophet first established it, and can accommodate at any one time, more than half a million worshipers.