Al-Mudhaffar Mosque in Taiz

The city's main mosque that witnessed the succession of kings in its renovations
July 4, 2024

Al-Mudhaffar Mosque in Taiz

The city's main mosque that witnessed the succession of kings in its renovations
July 4, 2024
Photo by: Ahmed Pasha


Mosque/Al-Mudhaffar Mosque


Old City of Taiz

Construction Order and Timeline:

Commissioned by the Royal King Yusuf bin Umar bin Ali bin Rasul, known as Al-Mudhaffar, the construction of the mosque began at the beginning of his reign in 649 AH (1251 AD). 

Architectural Style:

This historical mosque holds significance as it witnessed the reign of Al-Mudhaffar and the successive renovations carried out during that time. Its architectural style reflects the era of the Rasulid Dynasty, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Taiz.


The Al-Mudhaffar Mosque, located at the heart of Taiz, is widely recognized as the main mosque of the entire city. It holds great historical significance as the oldest and largest mosque, occupying a central position within the old city. The presence of this majestic mosque adds a touch of beauty and charm to its surroundings. While the exact year of its establishment remains unknown, it is through the reign of King Yusuf bin Umar bin Ali bin Rasul, known as Al-Mudhaffar, for nearly half a century that we can approximate its founding. It is evident that the mosque was constructed during the early years of his rule, which commenced in 649 AH (1251 AD), following the transfer of power from the Ayyubids to the Rasulids over two decades earlier in 626 AH (1229 AD).

The oldest known photograph of the historic Al-Mudhaffar Mosque dates back to the year 1895. It was captured through the lens of the French traveler, explorer, and photographer, Désiré Charnay (1828-1915).

Al-Mudhaffar Mosque was constructed by King Al-Mudhaffar during a time when Friday prayers were held at Al-Rashidiya Mosque, which was located near the Odaina neighborhood or in its vicinity. The choice of location made by the king proved to be a wise one, as subsequent kings focused on renovating and expanding the mosque rather than building a competing one. The warrior king himself added the western wing in the same architectural style, and later, during the reign of Al-Ashraf II, the eastern extension was constructed in a similar fashion. The mosque visibly became wider over time, although it deviated slightly from the construction style of other facilities in that era. It is worth noting that during that period, mosques served as schools, and schools served as mosques. However, this particular mosque came to be recognized as the main mosque of the city by the people.

The last known photograph of the historic Al-Mudhaffar Mosque before the collapse of its old minaret was taken in 1961-1962 by the German consul, Willy Georg Steffen.

Indeed, the historians of the Rasulid dynasty have meticulously recorded the dynasty's reverence for religious landmarks, even after their reign came to an end and the Tahirids assumed power. Among these cherished landmarks, the Al-Mudhaffar Mosque stood out as a focal point of their attention. Sultan Al-Mansur Abdulwahhab took great care to modify the mosque's facade and construct a pulpit within this addition, exemplifying their unwavering dedication to safeguarding religious heritage. Subsequently, during the reign of Sultan Amir bin Abdulwahhab, a momentous decision was made to undertake a grand transformation of the mosque, making it a symbol of magnificence and beauty. During one of his visits to Taiz, Sultan Amir ordered the complete demolition and subsequent reconstruction of the mosque, aiming to elevate its aesthetic allure while preserving its profound historical significance.

The last year of Imam Ahmad Hamid al-Din's reign in 1962 marked the unfortunate collapse of the central minaret of the mosque. However, after a span of twenty-five years, in 1987, a new minaret was erected at the eastern end of the mosque, following the distinctive Sana'ani architectural style commonly found in Yemeni minarets. Although it was possible to construct the new minaret in the same architectural style as the mosque, a conscious decision was made to honor the traditional Yemeni style in its design and construction. The newly constructed minaret reaches a height of approximately 45 meters and is supported by a sturdy square base with thick walls. This base is adorned with black stones, known as Abyssinian stones, which serve a twofold purpose. Firstly, they act as a protective barrier, preventing the intrusion of rust and salt into the minaret's foundation and its supporting structure. Secondly, these stones contribute to the minaret's aesthetic appeal, adding an element of elegance and beauty to its overall design. Additionally, the newly constructed minaret is adorned with three balconies encircling its structure. At its top, a radiant white dome rests, reflecting the sunlight with a dazzling glow. When viewed from a distance, the minaret bears a striking resemblance to a meticulously crafted pencil. Its outer wall features small, meticulously placed openings or niches, evenly spaced, serving the purpose of breaking the emptiness between the minaret's pinnacle and the first balcony where the call to prayer is proclaimed. The minaret boasts a substantial diameter, engineered to withstand powerful winds and maintain its unwavering stance.

A photograph of Al-Mudhaffar Historical Mosque captured through the lens of Swedish pilot Ingvar Svensson in 1954-1957.

The Al-Mudhaffar Mosque and School consists of a prayer hall with dimensions of 39.60m x 15.18m. The prayer hall is divided into a central section and two wings. It is crowned by a grand dome that is supported by arches. The walls of the western and eastern wings are adorned with beautiful inscriptions. Adjacent to the prayer hall, towards the south, there is an open courtyard. The minaret proudly stands in the southeast corner of the mosque. Extending from the courtyard towards the west, you will find a mausoleum featuring two small domed chambers. On the eastern side, the original features have been removed, and now there are baths in that area.

The Al-Mudhaffar Mosque and School is indeed comprised of a prayer hall measuring 39.60m x 15.18m. The prayer hall is divided into a central section and two wings, and it is topped by a magnificent dome supported by arches. The walls of the western and eastern wings are adorned with exquisite inscriptions, adding to the aesthetic appeal of the mosque. Adjacent to the prayer hall, towards the south, lies an open courtyard. The minaret proudly stands in the southeast corner, serving as a prominent symbol of the mosque. Moving from the courtyard towards the west, you will come across a mausoleum housing two small domed chambers.

The Al-Mudhaffar Mosque building showcases a remarkable architectural design. Constructed with sturdy stone materials, it presents a rectangular shape with two elevated floors. The ground floor of the mosque comprises a network of corridors and rooms that were originally utilized as living quarters for students pursuing religious studies. Over time, these spaces were transformed into storage areas, serving practical purposes for the mosque community. Notably, one of these corridors stands out with its unique vaulted ceiling, shaped like a semi-barrel. This architectural feature adds an element of elegance and character to the building.

Moving up to the second floor, you'll find the heart of the mosque and its accompanying facilities. Here, an open courtyard known as a "sahn" takes center stage. Surrounded by three arcades on the eastern, western, and southern sides, the courtyard creates a sense of tranquility and provides a welcoming space for worshippers and visitors alike. The arcades not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of the mosque but also offer shade and protection from the elements. To the north of the courtyard, you'll discover the prayer hall, where congregational prayers are held. This space is particularly notable for its southern facade, which offers a captivating view. The careful placement of the prayer hall allows natural light to flood in, creating a serene and inviting atmosphere for worshippers. Overall, the Al-Mudhaffar Mosque building showcases a harmonious blend of architectural elements, from its solid stone construction to the thoughtful design of its courtyard and prayer hall. It stands as a testament to the beauty and functionality of Islamic architecture, providing a place of worship and community for those who visit.

Moreover, the Al-Amiriya domes, constructed during the reign of King Tahiri Amer bin Abdulwahab, were adorned with exquisite calligraphy and vibrant colors within their interiors. These decorative elements added a touch of elegance and beauty to the domes. However, the passage of time, along with negligence and lack of awareness, has caused many of these domes to lose their original splendor. Unfortunately, the once vibrant colors have faded, and the intricate designs have been obscured by layers of white plaster.

Positioned prominently at the forefront of the mosque, specifically on its northern side, proudly stand three majestic domes truly breathtaking, commanding attention with their imposing size and captivating architectural design. The arrangement of these domes is thoughtfully crafted, as between each larger dome, you will find four smaller domes. This arrangement creates a visually stunning composition that is both harmonious and aesthetically pleasing to the eye. These unique domes hold a significant place in the history of mosque architecture in Yemen, as they are regarded as some of the most beautiful, largest, and oldest examples of their kind. They showcase the mastery and skill of the artisans who crafted them, leaving a lasting legacy of architectural excellence. Standing in their presence, one cannot help but be in awe of their grandeur and the intricate details that adorn their surfaces.

Further, these remarkable domes serve as a testament to the rich cultural and artistic heritage of Yemen, reflecting the ingenuity and creativity of the craftsmen of the time. Their presence in the Al-Amiriya Mosque is a testament to the enduring legacy of Islamic architecture in Yemen and a source of inspiration for those who appreciate the beauty and significance of architectural masterpieces.

The Al-Mudhaffar Mosque from the outside - photographed by Ahmed Pasha - 2016.


  1. "Taiz City: A Dazzling Branch in the Garden of Arab History" by Mohammad Mohammad Al-Mujahed. This book, published in 1997, explores the rich historical significance of Taiz City in Yemen. 
  2. "Mosques of Yemen: Their Origins, Development, and Characteristics" by Mohammad Zakaria. Published by the Obadi Center for Studies and Publishing in Sana'a in 1998 which provides a comprehensive exploration of the mosques in Yemen.

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