Monday, April 6, 2015

Mount Sinai Summit Mosque

Near the Church of the Holy Trinity on the summit of Jebel Musa, thought by many to be Mount Sinai, there is a small square Fatimid mosque, the successor to a mosque probably built in the early 12th century (between 1101 and 1130), although the Jabaliya Bedouins believe it dates to the rule of the Caliph 'Umar (from 634 to 644). 
Pilgrims and hikers, before sunrise on Jebel Musa, huddle to the side of the mosque.
The opposite side of the mosque (to the right). The Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity is set back and to the left.
The entrance to the mosque is above, behind the iron railing.
A view which shows the fourth side of the mosque.
The mosque is above a cave which the Bedouins believe Moses lived and fasted in during his 40 days and nights on Mount Sinai and where the Prophet Muhammad spent a night when he was a caravaner. The cave is now a storeroom for a Bedouin who runs a cafe business for tourists on top. Apparently there is a small altar and mihrab in the cave which is now behind a locked door. In my wandering around the summit, I believe I saw this little cafe, but had no idea of its significance at the time. 
Fortunately the mosque was unlocked and I was able to view inside. The mihrab is center and back.
A niche on a wall to the left.
The right wall.
The Jabaliya Beduoins celebrate the Feast of the Prophet Saalih (Nabi Saalih) each spring. They hike to the summit of Jebel Musa where they offer a sacrifice of a goat or a sheep in honor of Moses. They smear the doorposts of the mosque with the blood of the sacrifice.  Edward Palmer, in the 19th century, speaking of the Jabaliya noted, "Once in a year they sacrifice a sheep or goat upon it to the Israelitish Lawgiver, and the doorway of the little mosque upon the summit is all stained and blackened with the blood of victims." 

The information for this post came from Mount Sinai, a book from the University of Texas Press, by Joseph J. Hobbs. 


  1. No dome or minaret? I love the garish interior colors and the meticulous Arabic writing that contrasts with the blurry paint job.

  2. That colorful interior is quite the contrast to the simple outer building.