Haji Nooraddin Mosque
Authors: Emine Bala, Mohammed Abdulghani, Ali Bala, Hasan Wishyar Jamal
Foundation and History
The Haji Nooraddin Mosque was founded by Haji Nooraddin Shahab Al-Mukhtar, who was a well-known grocer and merchant in Erbil. He was known for his high morals, compassion and religious principles. Construction for the mosque started in 1951 and took one year to finish. The following year, the building was opened to the public. Many people attended the opening ceremony.
Previously, there were some shops owned by Jewish people on the present site of the mosque. When these owners left and went back to Israel, Haji Nooraddin bought their properties, on which he built three houses. The lands were commercial properties; later, Haji Nooraddin converted them to a mosque and supervised the construction of the building. He strongly believed that the location was appropriate for a mosque that could be easily accessed by all the workers and visitors of the bazaar.
The mosque was renovated in 2017 and opened on November 20, 2018, which was the Mawlid al Nabawi holiday. The grand opening ceremony was held and supported by the family.
The mosque has been operating for 67 years under four imams: Mullah Salih Kozapanka, Mullah Ahmed Mamixalani, Mullah Siddiqi Nogharani, and the current imam, Mullah Omer Khattab, who has been preaching there for 35 years. Two servants, who take care of cleaning and maintenance, are paid monthly by the mosque administration. There are no voluntary workers and no money is received from the government to pay their salaries.
Since day one, the mosque has also acted as a learning center for the teaching of all aspects of the Holy Quran including memorization, translation, and interpreting. Historians have conducted many interviews about the mosque since the 1970s, but they have remained unpublished for unknown reasons.
Interview with Abdulla Othman, February 20, 2021.
Location and Building
The mosque is located on the grand bazaar of Erbil, one of the busiest and most important places in the city. It is where the Kayseri bazaar is located and stands opposite the statue Kotri Salam (Dove of Peace). Before its reconstruction, the haram of the mosque measured 117 square meters and was equipped with seven restrooms, but the haram has now expanded to include three prayer halls that work on a daily basis, with a total of 30 restrooms. It also contains a library for preserving historical religious books. Approximately 1,100 people can fit inside the mosque. Opposite the mosque building, and next to the statue of Kotri Salam in the courtyard, there is a separate room for women storing all the items used for the main building. The statue, which was also renovated by the family, stands 10 meters tall and the dove atop the column weighs 1,300 kilograms. The mosque was constructed by Turkish architects, but the interior design and decoration are in Persian style.
Prayer and Worship
As the shops are closed on Fridays, the bazaar is not busy and the people usually attend the mosques that are near their houses for Friday prayer; for these reasons, Friday prayers are not performed in the mosque. However, daily meetings are held in the mosque, and Mullah Omer Khattab preaches to the attendees about spiritual, Quranic, and general social issues, especially the ones that are currently topical in the country. These issues are preached about in the afternoon prayers. Because there is no residential area near the mosque, Fajr prayer is not held here. The Dhuhr, Asr and Maghrib prayers attract around 600 people each, while 500 people attend the Isha prayers. Some 80% of participants in the daily prayers are male and 20% are female.
The Haji Nooraddin Mosque holds yearly meetings that include Mawluds (around three times a year), Eid, feasts, and charity events, such as collecting financial donations from the congregants for people in need during Ramadan. Approximately 1,000 people attend the Eid prayers, at which the congregants simply perform their prayers, celebrate each other’s special occasions and leave the mosque. Occasions such as funeral or engagement ceremonies are not held in this mosque due to its location far from the settlements; only daily prayers are performed.
Community and Group Activities
Every year, donations are collected for the poor during Ramadan and the food is distributed by the mosque administration. Quran lessons are given by the preacher once a week, and every day during the month of Ramadan. Moreover, the Mullah preaches about commercial principles in the Quran since the mosque is located in the bazaar, and the congregations mostly consist of tradesmen and people who go shopping at the bazaar.
The mosque has no websites or newsletter of its own. It functions independently and has no links to any organizations or political parties.