Of course, as the birthplace of Islam, its a no-brainer that Saudi Arabia is also home to the oldest mosques in the world including Masjid al-Haram, Quba Mosque and Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (although all have been changed up a bit in the centuries since worshippers first gathered at these sites).
However, Islam spread quickly and mosques were readily erected wherever the faith took root. Here is a look at some of the oldest mosques in the world.
1. Huaisheng Mosque, China
Also known as the Lighthouse Mosque and as the Great Mosque of Canton, the structure has been rebuilt many times since its founding more than 1,000 years ago. Located in Guangzhou, old Chinese manuscripts say the mosque was constructed in 627 A.D. by an uncle of the Prophet Muhammad.
2. Masjid al-Qiblatayn, Somalia
Mostly in ruins today, this mosque is located in Zeila and was constructed shortly after the hijra in 627 A.D.
3. Palaiya Jumma Palli, India
Constructed between 628 and 630 A.D. in Tamil Nadu, the mosque was reconstructed in 1036. It was originally built by merchants and traders from Yemen.
4. Cheraman Juma Masjid, India
Located in Kerala, this mosque was first constructed in 629 A.D. Arab traders first brought Islam to the region, leading to the building of the mosque.
5. Great Mosque of Kufa, Iraq
Although it has been greatly expanded over the centuries, this mosque dates back to 639 A.D. and is located – as the name suggests – in Kufa.
6. Mosque of Uqba, Tunisia
Dating back to 670 A.D., this mosque was established by the Arab general Uqba ibn Nafi and is located in Kairouan.
7. Imam Hussain Mosque, Iraq
As one of the holiest places of pilgrimage for Shiites, this mosque holds the mausoleum of Imam Hussein bin Ali and was constructed in 680 A.D.
8. Khamis Mosque, Bahrain
Although a ruin today, this mosque is believed to be the first constructed in Bahrain. With foundations laid as early as 692 A.D., it was also reconstructed in the 14th and 15th centuries.
9. Al-Aqsa Mosque, Palestine
Situated in Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa was constructed in 705 A.D. and is considered to be the third holiest site in Islam.
10. Al-Zaytuna Mosque, Tunisia
Also housing one of the greatest universities in the history of Islam, Al-Zaytuna has graduated numerous Muslim scholars over more than 1,000 years. Groundbreaking for the mosque is believed to have taken place in 698 A.D.
11. Umayyad Mosque, Syria
Nestled in the old city of Damascus, the structure was first erected in 715 A.D.