Historic Mosques of Kuwait

Kuwait was a small trading center for hundreds of years prior to the discovery of oil and reconfiguration of the city. Starting with the First Master Plan in 1950, much of the old town was destroyed. Some pre-1950 buildings remain including Bait Ghaith, Bait Dickson, Seif Palace, Khazaal Palace, the American Missionary Hospital, the Sadu House, the Behbehani Complex, but it is certainly mosques that make up most of Kuwait’s historic buildings. In his article Historic Mosques in Kuwait, Hossam M. Mahdy writes that, “by the seventies almost all the urban fabric of the old city was gone. Old mosques were not demolished for religious reasons. And whenever the master plan suggested a road or any other development on the site of an old mosque, the plan was altered to allow the mosque to survive. Today the remaining old mosques stand like dwarfs amongst huge office buildings, multi-story car parks, and ultra-modern shopping malls. They form a good part of the very little that remains from the architectural heritage of Kuwait.”

Al Hamdan Mosque, right behind the Grand Mosque, was built in 1844. It first stood out to me because of its comparatively short minaret. In an article about the design of mosques, Omar Khattab writes that, “in 1912 there were few minarets in Kuwait that could hardly be seen above the rooftops of houses due to their low height… traditional mosques of Kuwait were simple and humble in their architectural features. The Ministry of Awqaf & Islamic Affairs have adopted the single and simple minaret model, apart from the large capacity model type (more than 2000 worshippers) where there are two minarets.” Below you can see a photograph of the mosque as well as a miniature replica of it in Shaheed Park.

Marzouq Al-Bader Mosque, which was built in 1810 and today is right near Fahad Al-Salem street. It has a small coffee shop called Erth attached to it. An Arab Times article from 2018 said that the khutbah (Friday sermon) is held in Tagalog for the expat Filipino community.

Al Khalifa mosque, which according to the book Mubarak Al-Sabah: The Foundation of Kuwait, was one of the three major mosques during Mubarak’s reign. Souad M. Al-Sabah also writes in the book that in 1912, the first ice-making plant in Kuwait opened nearby the Al-Khalifa Mosque. It was owned by a Jewish citizen of Kuwait named Khawaja Saleh Muhlib.

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