The first major expansion and improvement of the Masjid Al-Haraam on a grand scale was also initiated during the reign of King Saud with his enthusiastic interest and support and as with the Prophet's Mosque in AlMedina, with the aid of modern technology and more then an eye on the future.
The Masjid Al-Haraam was, until recently, located at a point surrounded by mountains and buildings, with very little to separate it from the latter, particularly on the northern and western sides. Located in a bowl, it also used to suffer heavily from flooding whenever it rained in its vicinity. Hence, every technological step was considered for implementation in order to minimize its mal-effect and all other faced by the citizens and the Pilgrims by grading the surrounding rocky areas, cutting, roads, tunnels and other facilities, until Makkah and the Masjid Al-Haraam have reached the present state, which currently enables the latter to accommodate no less than one and a half million people at a time.. With planning Undergoing review regularly in the light of need experience and technological advancement.
This new Project, as can be imagined, was a massive operation right from the start, which took more than twenty years to complete. It was divided into four major phases for purposes of completion.
This Phase saw the removal of the galvanized metal ceiling covering 'Al-Mas'a' the place of 'Sa'ee - between Al-Safa and Al-Marwah and its replacement by a proper high concrete ceiling.
The Second Phase saw the completion of the external construction work of the new structure. For the new foundations, it was found necessary to excavate through debris to a depth of four meters. It was also during this Phase, that the 'Tawaaf' or Circumambulation area was expanded to its present size, and the steps built to reach the well of Zamzam.
This Phase, the implementation of which started after King Faisal's historical decision to retain the Ottoman structure and blend it with the new ones, aimed, by adopting the concept of the circle as a unit upon which to base the expansion, to enhance the role of the Ka'bah as the focal point faced by the Muslims during worship in all corners of the world. It was the adoption of this design concept that led to the use of the octagon, which one meets with time and again in the Masjid Al-Haraam.
The Design of the Basement and Ground Floor
Under this Expansion Project, the basement occupies an area of 31,200 sq. meters and includes spacious areas for prayer and an extra 250 rooms or cells, as well as lower passages and stairs to enter the Masjid from inside. The ground floor consists of two sections: the covered areas inside the Masjid, and the raised pavements that are located in the exterior yard. The area of the interior section is 46,100 sq. meters, and connects directly with the doorways and the areas assigned for the flow of traffic, as well as the placed for prayer. The tiled uncovered areas around the Masjid are 13,250 sq. meters and a part of it is surrounded by shops and public lavatories.
The Design of the First Floor
The first floor is about twelve meters above the ground floor and is accessible through 13 large staircases and four overpasses that help to connect the northern and the eastern entrances with the level of the upper passages and from there on to the first floor, the area of which is 46,100 sq. meters. The layout of this floor and its purpose of utility is more or less the same as the ground floor except that, there are spacious rooms above the three main entrances for purposes of instruction. The area of the Mass's has also been expanded to double its capacity for the performance of this important ritual of the 'Umrah and the Hajj - (i.e.): the 'Sa'ee -¬ between the hillocks of al-Safa and Al-Marwah.
The building has been provided with three entrances upon which the minarets stand, the seventh minaret being located by the dome of Safa. The roofs of the three entrances contain water tanks with water sterilization and purification systems, as well as electrical power equipment.
The Artistic Concepts and Decorative Designs used in the Haraam
Through fourteen centuries of rich cultural synthesis and the inter-mingling of various factors belonging to many great civilizations of the bygone era, Islamic art, design and culture have managed to evolve and mature a language, which, despite the vastness and diversity of its range, still manages to present, a rare conceptual unity in expression, wherever the locate and lands itself easily to adaptation.
Architectural, artistic and decorative concepts and designs inspired by this great civilization and rich cultural heritage were introduced tastefully at . every stage and used throughout for the embellishment of the edifice, whether this was in the guise of geometric, floral or what are sometimes referred to as Arabesque designs - be this in concrete, stone, wood or metal and this applied to Calligraphic styles and the decoration of Calligraphic panels as well, which reflected appropriate verses from the Qur'an - words of the Almighty to the 'Believers'.
The Ceiling of the New Structure
For example, numerous designs were used for decorating the ceiling of the new structure, which covers the passage wings, the prayer halls and the "Mesa's". Each ceiling panel, which is either a square or rectangular frame, has at its centre, a medallion in the form of a hexagonal star, a lotus flower or a spiral. These ceiling panels are painted in a blend of different colors.
Calligraphy in bold Knife style in relief and in gold on a white background has been used extensively in decorative medallions as well as panels all over the newly constructed areas of the Mosque. The entrance also has a rectangular frame, in which, the 'Basmalah' - 'In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate' - is inscribed, as is the Formula of testification of faith, I.e. – "There is no God save Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah". The dome above the safe displays a band of Qur'anic verses in gold.
Materials Utilized and Construction
In this expansion, enforced concrete has been used throughout and covered with artificial stone and marble in order to provide the structure with a luxurious finish. The foundations of most of the structure were. Laid on the sandy soil of the Wadi Ibrahim, with the exception of the foundations of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah and the minarets, which were laid on rock. All construction work, whether inside the Mosque or relating to its exterior, was carried out on solid foundations of enforced concrete and strength and durability were the two most important key words in all the rationale that underlay the implementation of all aspects and phases of the new construction, whether it concerned floors, walls, the ceiling or tiling. For example, even steel hooks were used to support the marble and artificial stone used to cover the walls; whereas in the case of floors etc:¬- both, marble and stone were treated before being laid firmly, only after which concrete was poured to render them an integral, inseparable part of he whole.
To provide some idea of the quantities of materials used in the construction during this expansion of the 'Haraam', it is worth mentioning for example, that, marble has been used to cover 115,450 sq. meters of the ground surface, with an additional81,000 sq. meters of exposed area around the Masjid, and a further area amounting to 60,000 sq. meters of wall surface, and terrace partitions etc on the ground and the first floors, as well as the sixty-eight stairways and the lower parts of the walls of the seven minarets. The quarry for these vast quantities of marble are located between Makkah and Jeddah in Wadi Fatima, Madrakah, and Farsaan and the stone used was hewn and polished in Jeddah. Whereas for the artificial stone, special moulds in concrete of the required design had to be prepared.
As with most aspects of all projects to do with the two Holy 'Harams' of Makkah and al-Madinah, Bin Ladin Organization - a Saudi construction ring and contracting firm, founded by the prodigious, Hadhramaut born Muhammad' Awadh Bin Ladin, was at the centre of the composition of metal work designs to be utilized in the 'Haraam' at Makkah, following which, three of he major doors and a smaller one also were manufactured in Egypt. . While the doors are encased in a frame of steel and decorated with brass, the partitions, barriers and railings are of oxidized aluminum, light and easy to clean and maintain. For those interested in cold statistics, the metal surface area of the doors is estimated to be more than 6,600 sq. meters, with an additional 5,400 sq. meters in the guise of partitions or railings for balustrades, or used in outside facades.
A thin layer of gold has also been used to coat the calligraphic panels displaying Qur' anic verses, as well as the crescents on top of the minarets
or domes and the casing and the base supporting the crystal piece covering the 'Maqaam' or Station of Ibrahim.
Reorganization and Expansion of Space for Offering Prayers.
Taking an individual the capacity of the Mosque was reviewed under three different circumstances - a) normal days; b) periods of religious significance such as the holy month of Ramadan and c) the Hajj season. It was computed that, during the normal period, the old structure would provide space for some 12,000 and the new expansion to 100,000, which another 24,000 offered their prayers in the courtyard. During, periods of religious significance, the old portions of the 'Haraam' would hold an extra 6,000, the courtyard another 12,000 and the newly constructed portions a total of about 150,000 through partial use of the corridors etc:-. However, when the Hajj season arrived, the external areas alone would be utilized by well over 100,000 people, with the new portions accommodating more than 225,000; the old structure some 25,000 and the courtyard, another 50,000. However, it goes without saying that, each year, the number of people offing prayers in the 'Haraam' and arriving for the Hajj increases and no matter however swiftly the government attempts to keep pace with this development by improving and expanding the requisite facilities on an almost ongoing basis, the 'Haraam' and the Agencies and Departments catering for the Pilgrims find their capacity and resources stretched to the maximum.
The Repair Works on the Ka'bah
While the expansion of the Masjid was underway, some deterioration in the state of repair of the Kasbah's structure was also detected, for this issue had not been addressed since 1039H (1629AD). Thereupon, a committee of scholars, engineers, architects and other relevant experts was formed by King Saud's command, to look into the nature and extent of repair work and improvements that ought to be undertaken.
Upon examination, the committee noticed that some of the wooden beams supporting the roof of 'the Ancient House' had become infirm due to climatic changes and age and that, due to the deterioration of the wooden beams, parts of the walls had swelled up. After the committee had submitted its recommendations the repair works were started on Friday the 18th of Rajab 1377H (February 1958AD) following a ceremony under the auspices of the then Crown Prince and the King's next brother, Faisal,
This was attended by representatives of many major Islamic organizations. The repair works recommended called upon the removal of the wooden upper ceiling of the Ka'bah, and its replacement with enforced concrete; the repair of the beam under the upper ceiling, whose height was about 1.35 meters, as well as of the walls and their marble facade. This work was accorded great importance and executed swiftly, so that it took three weeks and was completed on 11th Sha'baan 1337H (1958AD).
It has to be emphasized here that, just as in the case of all those rulers who had preceded the Al Saud in the custodianship of the Holy Sanctuaries of Makkah and Al-Madinah, Kings 'Abdul 'Aziz, Saud and their successors esteemed, as they continue to do now, any opportunity of leaving a lasting mark for posterity in their service, as the personification and the realization of their most cherished ambitious and desires.
Divided into pre-planned phases, work on the Makkah 'Haraam' was approved for implementation by royal decree on 5th Muharram 1375H (August 1955AD), upon completion of work on the Prophet's Mosque in Al-Madinah and building work, which was to last for over twenty years, was started on 4th Rabee' Al-Thaani 1375H, with the 'Mesa' - the area of 'Sa'ee'.
Phase I (1375HJ1955AD - 1381H1961AD):
This Phase (1) actually took up till 20th Jamaad Al-Thaani 1381H (December 1961AD) and some of the major works covered by it following the acquisition of the adjacent land to be covered by the Phase, included:
1- Demolition - whereby, all the buildings and shops etc:- (I) in and around the area and ward known as Al-Mesa (because of its proximity to that part of the 'Haraam ); (II) relevant parts of the ward of Al-Ajyaad (ie - from Al-Bukhaariyyah Lane to Al-Souq Al-Sagheer and between the 'Haraam', entrances 0f Baab Al-Widaa' and Baab Ibrahim; and (III) the area knows as Al-Qashaashiyyah, were demolished. Parts of Al-Mesa area were used for opening up the road known as Al-Shaamiyyah, just as the acquired parts of Al-Qashaashiyyah were used for road widening and re-rooting, which was to enable the areas north-east (ie - Al-Ghazzah) of the 'Haraam' to be linked to those lying to its south-east and south-west (i.e. - Al-Souq Al-Sagheer). Work on this had started in Rabee' al-Thaani 1375H (November 1959AD) and finished in about six months, just before the Hajj that year. Within two years of that date, an underground passage, running for some seventy meters under the floor of the Mesa and then for some sixty-five meters along the inner side of the walls of Al-Safa', was built in re-enforced concrete, to withstand the pressure of sudden water as a result of flash-floods, and enable it to flow through without causing damage, unlike in the past.
2- Excavation and Debris Removal - during this phase, covered the area of Al-Mesa's and about 95% of Al-Ajyaad also, where; three to four Meters of debris - the remains of former construction - had to be removed. A basement was constructed here, adding some 19,300 sq. meters to the area assigned for prayer. Some 70% of the required excavation in the area of Baab Al-Malik Saud (the King's Entrance) was also completed during this period.
3- Concrete Works - planned for implementation during this phase were started in hot pursuit of the excavation and debris removal, and covered all the referred to areas in requisite degrees. For example, all the planned works were completed in the areas of Al-Mesa and Al-Ajyaad, along with most of the portion of Baab al-Malik and a large percentage of the area between it and the Baab Al-'Umrah as well.
Once this was done, work started in these areas during the beginning of 379H (July 1959AD) for applying the finish and installing doors, windows, grills and other fixtures, installations and appliances.
Phase II (1381H/1961AD - 1389H/1963AD):
Even though work on the Project may be described to have been continuous, for reasons of computation and various calculations, the Second Phase is dated to have started in Jamaad Al-Thaani of 1381H (December 1961AD). A noticeable feature of the construction so far was that, while there was a twenty meters gap between the old and the new structures on the north-western and the south-eastern sides, the two structures almost met in the south-west and the north-east.
During this Phase, demolition works were continued between him Baab Al¬Malik and the Baab Al- 'Umrah, while fresh work was also initiated between it and the Baab Al-Salaam.
Upon completion of the Finishing and Installation work that had outstanding from the First Phase in the areas of al-Mesa_ Al-Ajyaad the 'Baab Al-Malik_ and between it and the 'Baab Al-'Umrah', efforts, coinciding with the half-way stage of this Phase, saw the beginning of similar work on the areas between the 'Baab Al-'Umrah' and the 'Baab al¬Salam', as well as the latter and the area known as "Al-Muthallath" ('the Triangle_)_ located by Al-Mesa.
Basically, this Second Phase saw to the completion of the expansion of the old area assigned for the 'Tawaaf', primarily due to the demolition of the building that used to cover the Well of Zamzam and relocation of the 'Minbar (Pulpit) and the structure shading it, as well as the construction of a compact and feasible edifice to mark the 'Maqaam_ or 'Station' of Ibrahim, which was officially ceremoniously inaugurated by King Faisal on 18th Rajab 1387H (November 1967 AD).
This period also saw the convening of a major conference - a landmark in itself, which gathered the greatest Muslim architects and engineers from all parts of the Islamic world, to review the proposal of building a double ¬storied structure as had been initially planned, while knocking down the old edifice or preserving and renovating it and inter-connecting it with the new buildings to be constructed. Deliberations over these issues, which concluded in favor of the latter option of retaining the old building of the 'Haram' and linking it with the proposed new structure, thus exhibiting a sense of continuity that provided a connection between the past and the present, also more or less signified the dawn of the next or Third Phase of the Expansion, which started in 1389H (1969AD) and ended in 1393H (1973AD).
Although this phase and a part of the former Second Phase fall in the reign of King Faisal and not of King Saud, description of the work on this project as it evolved has been continued with here in preference to dividing it and placing it under the achievements of the reigns of the relevant monarchs. In support of this step, it may be added here that, even though the implementation of this mega-project had stretched into two reigns, the basic planning for it, subject of course to constant review, had been envisaged and presented at one and the same time. That this Expansion Project, which had been planned to cater to the needs of the future for some time to come, but was outgrown and over-taken by rapidly expanding needs within its own life-time, thus necessitating the call for expansion of a large number of facilities, is another story, which has to be covered under the reigns of the succeeding monarchs, Khaled and Fahd.
Phase III (1389H/1969AD - 1393H/1973AD):
The third Phase, which started in 1389H (1969AD) and lasted till1393H (1973AD), basically concentrated on finishing all complementary building activity to be undertaken between the old and the new 'Haraam' structures, in the south-eastern and north-western sectors. This was double-storied. Building activity on the outer periphery of the 'Haraam' was also continued with. This while demolition, excavation and debris removal work progressed at a rapid pace in parts of the old 'Haraam' in order to link and blend the old structure with the new as decreed by King Faisal . Concrete works were also completed in this sectors during this phase, along with the 'Baab Al-'Umrah', and 'Baab Al-Salaam' areas, while finishing works were also pressed on with every where, as needed.
'Baab Al-Safaa' leading to the floor level
Meanwhile, the slope of the 'Baab al-Safaa' leading to the floor level of Al-Mesa's as well as the floor's surface area were tiled with sectioned marble and the road leading to it Al-Safaa' road (King Saud's Street) was widened by slicing off a portion of the adjacent hill in order to accommodate two-way traffic movement. To facilitate to and fro movement for wheel-chairs between the hillocks of Al-Safaa' and Al-Marwah, two special passages protected by aluminum railing on either side, were also created.
The tiling of the floor of 'Baab al- 'Umrah' with marble was also begun, while work in the area of 'Al-Muthallath' by the Mesa's was completed along with the tunnel in the Ajyaad, even though this (latter) project was started during this phase. Layers of water-resistant and heat insulation materials were also laid during this phase between the 'Baab Al-'Umrah' and the 'Baab Al-Salaam' and in the two extra wings. Doors, windows and iron and metal fixtures were also installed. Tiling and finishing work was also started in the basement, which work on the facade of the new building was completed.
Procedures were worked out to reduce the traffic pressure on the roads around the 'Haraam', which were paved in over-laid with a fresh coat of asphalt in keeping with the approved plan for the five public squares or piazzas around the Holy Mosque. Rebuilding was also completed of parts of the old building of the old building of the 'Haraam', which had been knocked down in pursuit of implementation of the King's orders to ensure that, the "old" blended with the "new" in a feasible manner. Work on the two minarets of the 'Baab Al-'Umrah' and the 'Baab Al-Salaam' was also completed.
The Total Costs
The total costs of the completed works of this Project were about Saudi Riyals (SR) 1,000 million. This included SR. 316 million spent on civil works; SR 48 million on electrical works and SR 155 million as the cost of the expansion of the area for the 'Tawaaf' (Circumambulation) as well as the disposal and drainage arrangements for water in the 'Haraam'. Meanwhile, SR. 425 million were paid as compensation for properties acquired for the purposes of the expansion between the years 1375H and 1395H (1 955AD and 1975AD) - the duration of the three Phases.
in support of the accuracy of these figures, it may be added that, these are based on the records of expenditure maintained by the Director-General of the Project for the Expansion of the 'Masjid Al-Haraam' (the Holy Mosque).
Minarets in the history of the Islamic faith evolved out of a need the hours of the five obligatory and other prayers on specific occasions for the advantage of the Muslim Community through the medium of the 'Adhaan' or the 'Prayer Call'. As such, the Prophet's Companion, Bilaal, because of the beauty and depth of his voice, was the first to discharge this function in Islam.
Although modern technology and loud speakers etc:- have rendered the traditional role of the minarets defunct somewhat in the case of the Great Mosque of Makkah, they nevertheless continue to retain their utilitarian function as landmarks of awe-inspiring majesty and beauty and are considered an inseparable feature of every proper mosque, let alone the Grand Mosque of Makkah, which is considered the least and cynosure of all Muslim eyes during worship.
Each major entrance to the 'Haraam' has a minaret on either side of it alongside one on the 'Qubbah' or Dome of Al-Safa' and measured from the level of the 'Tawaaf' area to the pinnacle point of the crescents surmounting these edifices, each minaret stands 95 meters tall.
The three major entrances to the Ka'bah are located at aces to its north, west and south. For example, users of the northern entrance of 'Baab AlSalam' find themselves facing 'Al-Rukn Al-'Iraqi' (the Iraqi Corner) or the Ka'bah, while those utilizing the western entrance of the 'Baab al'Umrah' will emerge face to face with 'Al-Rukn Al-Shaami' (the Syrian Corner) and others entering the 'Haraam' from the south via the 'Baab Al-Malik 'Abdul 'Aziz', will find 'Al-Rukn Al-Yamane' (the Yamani Comer) opposite them. The fourth comer of the Ka'bah bearing the 'Hajar Al-Aswad' (the Black Stone) faces the Dome of Al-Safaa' and consequently has no like entrance.
The Floors, Walls, Ceilings and Staircases:
The ground and the first floors of the 'Haraam' are extensively tiled with white or ash-grey marble, soothing of tone. Its majestic walls, which stand some twelve meters high, are also covered with marble. At the same time, the ceilings display a regular range of decorative designs and motifs which have been referred to earlier and which go on to provide a sense of unity.
Staircases play a vital role in the new building of differing sizes in keeping with their function; there are forty-two of these by the entrances leading to the ground floor level of the Masjid; another seven on the first floor level, and eight more for the basement level. All these are encased in white and black marble. There are also some more staircases inside the Mosque - for example, seven of these lead to the basement, another nine go up from the main entrances and Al-Marwah to the roof, while another five-square in shape -lead from the basement right up to the roof's top.