Ibn Ghalboun Mosque

Ibn Ghalboun Mosque is located in the village of Al-Malaytah in Qasr Ahmed area, northeast of the city of Misrata. Its construction history dates back more than 500 years ago. It was established in 1771 AD and it is considered one of the oldest mosques in Misrata.

Muhammad bin Khalil bin Ahmed bin Abd al-Rahman bin Ghalboun, known as Ibn Ghalboun, a Libyan historian and astronomy scholar, was born in the village of al-Shurou’ (now Malaytah) in Qasr Ahmed in the city of Misrata in the late seventeenth century. He studied Qur’an and other related majors, including astronomy. He went to Tripoli to expand his education. Then travelled to Egypt and joined the prestigious islamic educational destination, the Azhar Mosque where he polished his knowledge on his fields. In 1720, he returned back home and founded in Qasr Ahmed the Zawia (a teaching room meant to “illuminate” minds hence called Manara: Lighthouse in Arabic)

Although the mosque had been built in 1771, but the mosque had been actually built it in a smaller size than it is today by Mahmoud Khazen Dar Al-Fenisi, who is the treasurer of Tripoli back during the governor Demirji Aq Muhammad Dai Anatoli in 1678. He built it for the village and made it an endowment for Ghalboun’s family. He also built five Mosques in Tripoli including this mosque, as Ibn Ghalboun himself mentioned.

In the year of 1726, at the time of Ahmad Pasha al-Qaramanli (the grandfather not the grandson), heavy rains ravaged the country and the buildings sadly included the mosque that was severely damaged, urged Ibn Ghalboun to reform it with the help from Ahmed Pasha al-Qaramanli with money for the maintenance process

Behind the main entrance of the mosque, you find yourself in the middle of a small area connecting the prayer hall, the teaching room (Az-Zawia), the simple minaret, the ablution place, and the Mat’hara المطْهرة (a small room for washing (Ghusl) from the Janaabah).

In the premise of Ibn Ghalboun Mosque and right above the praying hall’s door, a clay plaque with a writing carved on says:

“In the name of of Allah the most Merciful. Establishment; mister Muhammad, the village of al-Shurou’, Qasr Ahmed tribe, 1811”

Al Mizwalah الِمزْولة, built with the mosque to determine prayer times through the shadow of the metal stick. It is said that it was used to estimate evening prayers on the 14 nights of the lunar months as well.

Mohammed Ibn Ghalboun had contributed to the documented Libyan treasure by writing several books, the most impactful one is Al-Tadhkar (The Souvenir) which is considered the most important and oldest source of history in Libya so far, unveiling essential historical periods of the country. He has written another book on astronomy as well. Al Tadkhar was a great benefit to researchers, Libyans and orientalists in writing their books on Libya, such as Ahmed al-Naib and Sheikh al-Taher al-Zawy (1890-1986). Orientalists like the Italian Ettore Rossi (1894-1955) and the French Charles Feraud (1829-1888).

The pillars of the mosque are quintessentially Libyan in style that remained still, unlike the pillars of the teaching room (Az-Zawia) that were taken and stored in a safe place.

Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Ghalboun used to host the pilgrims on their way to the land of Hijaz. They used to meet in his teaching room Az-Zawiah and delve into matters of religion, jurisprudence and learning along other religion scholars.

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