Khaled Ibn alWalid Mosque (2)

The Ablaq Style

The mosque has a wide court of 3647square meters, and a number of porticos and arches built along the Ablaq style, that is alternative rows of white and black color stones which is the style of architecture of Homs since old times. In the eastern part of the court there are four rooms; one is assigned for ablution, the second is used as a museum of Islamic artifacts, while the other two rooms were specialized for students of Islamic sciences. The mosque has two slender minarets built of lime white stones and decorated with simple stalactites each of them is decorated with an ottoman cone. We entered through one of the two main gates, inlaid with mother of pearl,

to the prayer hall which is a rectangle of 30.5X 23.5m, topped with nine domes, the central one is 12m in diameter and 30m high from the ground. In the southern side of the prayer hall there are three niches, the central one is the most beautiful. It is built of decorated herbal marble designs. The other two niches have the same size of the central one but are not decorated. Two white marble columns stand on both sides of the central niche which is decorated with beautiful designs surrounded with a marble fence.

A wonderful piece of art

Building mausoleums and tombs is a prominent phenomenon which characterized the Ayyoubid style of architecture. The tradition followed in building mausoleums is always made on a square shape with a dome based on corner bases. Some of these mausoleums have no mosques near them or over them and some of them are linked to a mosque like the tomb of the prophet's Companion Khaled Ibn alWalid which is in the north western corner of the prayer hall.

The style is familiar in size and shape of the Fatimid era. In addition to its religious value it is an architectural wonder representing the start of the art of wood carving.

Local Style

Researcher Mohammad Faisal Sheikhani, director of the Islamic antiquities of Homs spoke to us about the history of the mosque and it architecture:

In 1903 the mosque of Khaled Ibn alWalid, which was renewed by alZaher Baibars at the end of the 12th. Century AD, started to appear in a bad shape compared with other mosques in Arab cities.

Therefore Sultan Abdulhamid II ordered the old mosque to be demolished and to build a new mosque in the place which was finished in 1912. An architect from Istanbul designed the new mosque and the workers were from Homs. An architect from Homs; Bashi A'aref Khozam, and another one from the Samra family, both of them Christians, participated in designing the mosque. In 1908 the financial supply from the Sultan dried up after the rise of the Movement of Union and Sublimity, which could dethrone the Sultan, therefore the people of Homs started collecting donations in addition to the gifts and vows offered to the mausoleum to complete the mosque. In a later period the residents of each quarter in Homs took turns to participate in building the mosque and to transport stones from the quarries of Homs to the site. Sheikhani adds: "Most of the references written about the mosque said that it was designed along the Ottoman style with some Arabic elements. We do not deny the Ottoman influence, but we insist that the mosque is unique in its style and is different from all Ottoman mosques of Istanbul and Damascus. Some people say that the domes are Ottoman but we all know that the Ottomans took domes from other peoples like the Persians and the Arabs. Even the semi domes were copied by Sinan Pacha from Aleppo's mosques. We notice that the internal Ottoman decorations like the qashani, the golden Quranic verses fixed on the domes and semi domes, and the pencil sharp minarets which end with a lead cone are absent in the Mosque of Khaled Ibn alWalid. The internal walls are kept clean white without any qashani tiles, and the minarets are slender but not sharp and are not lead topped like the typical ottoman minarets.


Haifaa Mafalani