1- The Mosque of the Prophet

Islam: One of today's global religions and the third monotheistic religion, revealed after Judaism and Christianity and accepting them both.  Brought by the Prophet Muhammad (570-632) in Arabia, it soon spread all over the southern and eastern Mediterranean, Africa, and south, east, and central Asia. In Arabic, the word Islam literally means,"to surrender, to submit" (to the will of God), which is the essence of the religion.

Mecca: Birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad and a major trading center in Arabia that linked Byzantine Syria in the north with Yemen in the south.  The tribe of Qureish lived in Mecca and was divided into 40 clans of varying wealth and status.

The Ka‘ba in Mecca: The center of worship and pilgrimage before Islam which became the axis mundi of Islam's conception of the universe and the qibla towards which worshippers face when praying.  Date of building unknown.

The House and Mosque of the Prophet at Medina: The Islamic prototype of both religious and residential architecture, built in 622 C. E. (1 A.H.or After Hegire, the emigration of the Prophet to Medina), and enlarged several times in the first century of Islam, the most important of which is the enlargement of al-Walid, the Umayyad caliph, in 707.

Qibla: The direction of Mecca toward which Muslims are required to face when they perform their prayer.

The Architectural Repertoire available to the Early Muslims:

Mecca: The cult and trade center.

The palaces of Yemen: Signs of a sophisticated agrarian culture.

North Arabian cities (Mada‘in Salih): Trade cities that connected north and south.

Petra: the Nabatean capital carved in the rock with hybrid Hellenistic sensitivities.

Palmyra: A caravan city turned imperial center with heavy Roman influences

Rusafa (Sergiopolis): Capital of the Ghassanids, clients of Constantinople.

The Iwan Kisra at Ctesiphon: The seat of Sassanian kings, the other superpower.

Bostra: a Syrian-Roman city and another capital of the Ghassanids; the illustration of urban splendor in the eyes of the Prophet Muhammad.