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Landmarks from Iraq - Abu Hanifa Mosque


The Abu Hanifa Mosque is one of the mosques and schools in Baghdad.

It is located in Adhamiya quarter of Baghdad to the northeast of the city on the Rusafa side, and it faces the Kadhimiya area which refers to Moussa Kadhim who is located there.

Abu Hanifa Mosque is built around the tomb of Abu Hanifa Al Numan in 375 AH.

Imam Abu Hanifa died in Baghdad in 150 AH / 767 AD during the time of Abu Jaafar Al Mansur. He was buried north of Baghdad in a placed that was later called the Khayzaran Tomb, which refers to Khayzaran daughter of Ata’, wife of caliph Mahdi and mother of Al Hadi and Harun Al Rashid, who died and was buried there in 173 AH. Imam Abu jHanifa Al Numan Bin Thabet Bin Al Numan is of the Iraqi Arabs who settled there before Islam.

The mosque was built in 375 AH and it includes a big school. In 459 AH (1066 A.D.), a tomb was built in addition to a dome atop the grave, and the area next to the tomb was then known as Imam Abu Hanifa’s locality. Teaching at the school was limited to Islamic religious jurisprudence.

In his trip to Baghdad in 580 AH (1184 A.D.), Ibn Jubair described the eastern side of the city as follows: “To the northeast of Baghdad, outside of the city is a big locality adjacent to Rusafa where there was the famous castle door on the shore. In that locality is found a great tomb with a high white dome, and there is the grave of Imam Abu Hanifa, and the locality is known as that of the latter”.

Ibn Battuta visited Baghdad in 727 AH (1327 A.D.) and described the city, mentioning the mosques where Friday summons are held, and they are Al Khalifa mosque, Al Sultan mosque, and Rusafa mosque in the Adhamiya quarter. Imam Abu Hanifa’s shrine is found between the Rusafa mosque and Al Sultan mosque, a mile away from Rusafa. Had it been for the presence of Abu Hanifa’s shrine and school in Baghdad, the area would have been destroyed and vanished after Baghdad’s fall and Hulagu’s occupation just like many other areas ceased to exist.

The tomb and the mosque were restored by king Mohammad Bin Mansur al-Khwarizmi after the Ottomans’ arrival to Baghdad in 1534 A.D. where Sultan Suleiman Al Qanuna made some reforms. Upon the return of the Sultan of his visit to Karbala and Najaf, he visited the tomb of Imam Abu Hanifa which was destroyed, so he ordered the re-construction of the dome, the mosque and the school. He also ordered the construction of a guesthouse, a bathroom, a Khan and forty to fifty surrounding shops. He then ordered the reconstruction of a castle to guard the mosque, the school and the area, employing around 150 soldiers with military equipment and guns to protect the place. Further reconstruction was made by Sultan Murad IV when he entered Baghdad in 1048 AH (1638 A.D.), as he was accompanied to Adhamiya by some members of the tribe of slaves who lived around the shrine of Imam Abu Hanifa to protect it.

In the Mamluk era, specifically Governor Suleiman Pasha (Abu Laila) the shrine was renewed and the lighthouse and the dome were established in 1757 A.D. In 1291 AH (1874 A.D.) the mosque was rehabilitated by order of the Sultana, mother of Sultan Abdul Aziz.

Imam Abu Hanifa’s school remained the only one in Adhamiya, along with some Quran teaching schools until 1911 A.D. where the mosque was restored and the school was reorganized and named Faculty of the Great Imam, and it was built during the reign of the Ottoman Empire, as scholar and sheikh Numan Al A’zami claimed the lost rights of Abu Hanifa mosque from the Ottoman Sultan, and the magazine he issued (Tanweer Al Afkar) used to speak on his behalf, so he worked hard to obtain the sultan’s approval in order to establish a college in the mosque. Sheikh Numan had the largest credit in the quest to create and build that college which is considered one of his greatest achievements. He later called it “Darul Uloom for Religious and Arabic Sciences”, then the “College of Sharia”, only to be called “Faculty of the Great Imam” again. It is noteworthy that there have been some restoration works during the monarchy. In 1923 A.D., it was ordered to restore the Adhamiya College and to make it a subsidiary of the Cabinet of the Ministry of Endowments, and it became the largest religious school in Iraq.

After the 14th of July, 1958, a 25 m high cylindrical tower was built and it was covered with blue and white Mosaic tiles to be ready to receive the Adhamiya Clock which was set in 1961 and remained working regularly. In 1973, the Ministry of Endowments covered the tower with golden corrugated aluminum plates.

There were also some restoration works during the Republican era, as well as during the 1980s.

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