Authors: Emine Bala, Mohammed Abdulghani, Ali Bala, Hasan Wishyar Jamal

Foundation and History

Built in 1983, Haji Yahiya Mosque was founded by Al Haj Yahiya Saeed Khidhir and his sons. Mullah Ahmad Abdulwahab is the imam for the daily prayers, and Mullah Abdulsatar, who has a bachelor’s degree in Islamic Sciences from the University of Dohuk and a master’s degree in Islamic Studies from Omdurman Islamic University in Sudan, gives sermons at the mosque on Fridays. There are 10 servants who are paid by the family of Haji Jamal.[1]

Gate of the mosque. ©Hasan Wishyar Jamal

[1] Interview with Mullah Ahmad Abdulwahab, March 30, 2019.

Location and Building

The Haji Yahiya Mosque is located in Mahabat Street in a residential area. It is close to 100 Meter Street and the Science Faculty of Salahaddin University. The mosque consists of two floors and can accommodate 950 individuals. The building includes a haram, two event halls for men and women separately, an imam’s room, an ablution area, toilets, a garden, a washroom for the deceased, and a storage facility.

The mosque has two minarets, one on each side of the main entrance. These two hexagonal towers are 28 meters tall. There is a single dome extending over the center of the haram with a radius of 3 meters and featuring 19 horseshoe-arch windows.

The haram is on the right-hand side of the mosque and has 18 rows of seats. It consists of three sections with minbar and mihrab and a dome over the center of the haram. The mosque has 18 toilets for men and four for women, which are positioned in the qibla direction of prayer. There are also 18 ablution sinks for men and five for women. An event hall for men is located beside the toilets and the ablution area. Totaling some 241 square meters, the ground floor can be reached from the mosque courtyard.

Yard of the mosque. ©Hasan Wishyar Jamal
Prayer hall photo by Hasan Wishyar

The imam’s room – measuring nearly 59 square meters and including a library with windows open to the courtyard – is located between the separate event halls for men and women. To the back of the mosque and opposite the women’s events hall, the washroom for the deceased, toilets and a storage room cover over 50 square meters. The mosque also has a parking lot with space for 19 cars. It is outside the campus opposite the mosque, covering nearly 249 square meters.

Gate of the Mosque (C) Hasan Wishyar Jamal

Prayer and Worship

One of the most noted mosques in the city, the busy Haji Yahiya can accommodate around 950 people for prayer. For this reason, the mosque attracts visitors for prayer from far afield. Some 40 people attend the Fajr prayer, plus another 80 for the prayers of Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha.

Weekly Meeting

On Fridays, approximately 1,500 people – of whom 60% are men, and 40% women – attend prayers. People usually prepare for prayers and recite the Holy Quran individually; however, one professional reciter reads the Quran through a microphone so people in the neighborhood can listen as well. After the adhan, the imam holds the Friday sermon for usually 40 to 50 minutes, and after that, visitors stand andpray together. Afterwards, usually some people greet the imam and talk for a while, while those who want to donate or help others visit the charity office.

Yearly Meetings

Most Muslims gather in the mosques during the feasts and Haji Yahiya is one of the most crowded mosques in Erbil at those times. Among its annual events, the mosque organizes Mawlud in the month of the prophet’s birth. Around 1,000 people attend Mawlud, when the mosque serves sweets to participants and organizes khutbah and Islamic songs with Daf drum playing.

Community and Group Activity

The mosque hosts around 150 funerals and engagement ceremonies throughout the year, serving visitors from far and wide.

The mosque attracts many people to prayers since the Haji Yahiya family provides food such as sweets and fruit. The imams’ sermons and advice are another reason to attend because most Muslims believe that they need effective preachers to renew their faith.

Public Relations

The Haji Yahiya Mosque does not have ties to any political parties or organizations, nor does it publish or print any periodicals.