We had a few hours spare time and visited the Larabanga mosque. It is Ghana’s oldest mosque and one of West Africa’s most important historical sites built in the 1400s. Simply amazing!
At first they said no photography is allowed inside the mosque. I explained that I wanted to take them in order to raise awareness of the history of the mosque, to which the Imam agreed.
These are possibly the first official photos of the inside ever .
The Larabanga mosque is Ghana’s oldest mosque and was founded in the early 1400s by Ibrahim Ayuba al-Ansari who was sent here from al-Madinah al-Munawwara by his Shaykh.
This is the small doorway to enter the mosque. The part painted black at the bottom is said to be from the original foundations.
Despite the hot temperatures of the Larabanga area, the mosque stays cool inside due to it being constructed from mud. The curvy black tree trunks which support the roof are brought from a nearby forest. The wood is so dense it sounds like metal when knocked on.
This is one of the worshipers. The mosque is full for each of the five daily prayers. On Juma, there are over one hundred men and women crammed into the small edifice with hundreds more who pray outside.
It is said that the founder of the mosque, Ibrahim Ayuba al-Ansari was buried under this place where the tree has grown. The locals told us he was from Banu al-Najjar, the same tribe as the mother of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.
Every year the fruits and leaves from the 500 year old tree are picked and shared between the different tribes and this is a means of bringing everyone togther to share and increases the peace, harmony and brotherhood between them.
The feeling I had after crouching down to get through the small door and then stepping in to the mosque was indescribable.
It reminded me of the feeling I get when I enter al-Madinah al-Munawwara. There was something in the air… 🙂
Every year after the rainy season, the local residents of Larabanga come together and renew the mud on the outside of the mosque and repaint it.
The branches of wood serve as markers to indicate the levels and height of each part of the building during this process.
Meeting Imam Osman Sulaiman who leads the five daily prayers at the Larabanga mosque. We also met his two brothers and were shown a picture of his late father after he had returned from Hajj, he was the grand-Imam of the whole area, may Allah have mercy on him.
This small room above the mihrab and accessed from the roof of the mosque is where the mosque founder, Ibrahim Ayuba al-Ansari used to spend time alone reading the Qur’an, contemplating and praying.
Adam Kelwick is a Muslim Chaplain from Liverpool who often travels around the world to discover Islamic heritage. He also engages in public speaking and charity work. You can follow him on Facebook here.