The Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah is one of the three Greatest Mosques
in Islam. The Prophet said about them A Muslim should not travel to any
mosque to pray except these three Mosques. No wonder, it was the mosque
which was built by the prophet on a land which he bought and built it
with the assistance of other Muslims. It was the first Islamic call
center, and is also the first school in Islam. It is the Mosque that has
the Mihrab, the Minbar and the Prophet’s room in which he lived with his
wives and it is the place where his body was buried and his two
companions Abu-Bakr and Omar.
When the prophet (P.B.U.H.) migrated from Makkah he stayed in Quba, an outskirt of Madinah for three days and built a mosque and ordered Ammar bin Yasser to lead people in prayer there before he continued his journey to Madinah. On his way people used to stand on the way of his she-camel so that they get the honor of hosting him in their houses but he told them that the she-camel is ordered by God to stop on a certain place it will not stop anywhere except there. The camel stopped and kneeled on a piece of land belonging to two orphans from Bani Al Najjar, so the Prophet said he would buy it from them and he did so though they offered it to him free of charge but he insisted and paid 10 Gold Dinars for the plot of land.
Most of his companions who were present at that time participated in building the mosque from local materials, he himself used to take brick and other materials until the mosque was built and the direction of the prayer was at first towards Jerusalem. The mosque had three doors. One towards the South when the Qibla was towards Jerusalem, one towards the East known as the Prophet’s Door and sometimes called Ottoman’s Door also which was later called Gabriel Door, the third door was towards the West known as Atika Door (Atikah bint Abdullah bin Yazeed bin Mu’awiyah today known as Mercy Door.
When the Kiblah – the direction of prayer-was changed towards Ka’aba in Makkah, another door towards the North was opened. On the 7th year of Hijra, the mosque was expanded because it was too small for the great number of people who attended it. The expansion was on the East and the West. Caliph Omar expanded it on the mosque and added three new doors to it to make the number of the doors six. During the Era of the Abbasid Caliph Al Mahdi in the year (161-165) the number of doors was increased to 24 doors.
Later on, in the Mamluk era, most of these doors were blocked, and only the main four doors were maintained, namely: the door of the Jibril, the door of Women, the door of Greeting, and the door of Mercy, and the longest and most beautiful door was the door of Greeting, and those doors had shutters of the walnut wood, with brass inscriptions.