Last update:
4 November 2009
16 Thu AlQe'da 1430

Ouwaysiyyah (Sarwa) Mosque

Includes the Sanjakiyah Mosque/Madrassa

Tripoli > History > Monuments > Mosques > Ouwaysiyah Mosque

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Brief Notes
  • Location: Hadeed Gate area (Samak ascent)
  • Surface area: 451 m2
  • Date of construction (as zawiyah): Unknown
  • Reconstruction commissioned by: Prince Haydarah
  • Date of reconstruction (as a Mosque): 941 H/1535 CE
  • Historical period: Mameluke/Ottoman
  • Proprietor: Islamic Awqaf Directorate of Tripoli


At present the Ouwaysiyyah is a complex of different structures: The proper Ouwaysiyyeh mosque, the Ouwaysiyyeh mousallah, the Mahmoudiyeh (or Sanjak) Madrassa, and the remains of the former Crusader Monastery.

The Ouwaysiyah Mosque was first built by the Mamelukes and served as a small Madrassah (theological school). It is claimed to be related to Ouways alRoumi, who ordered its construction in 865 Hejirah. This person was the leader of a religious sect in Islam known as the Tareeka Ouweysiyyeh and had thousands of followers in Damascus (Syria), Baalbek, and Tripoli (Lebanon) during the 10th century Hejirah/16th CE. The Madrassah was then enlarged and became a mosque as ordered by Prince Haydarah in 941 H/1535 CE and as indicated by an inscription at the minaret of the mosque. In that same year, the Mahmoudiyeh school (known as Sanjak) was built next to the mosque and recently it became a part of it. For this, it is possible to see both Mameluke and Ottoman motifs in the Ouwaysiyah mosque. The minaret is Ottoman in style. The mosque contains Tripoli’s largest domes. In the hall is the grave of the Governor of Tripoli Prince Ahmed Pasha Shatarfeel.

Ouwaysiyah Musalla (Praying Corner)

Inside the mosque, a small prayer corner was built at an unkown date. That area used to be a small church for the Orthodoxe Christians of the city of Tripoli, that is a part of a large monastery. The church may date back to the Crusades Era. It was turned into a prayer corner for Muslims at the beginning of the 19th century CE. The corner was separated from the main mosque by means of a wall that was removed much recently. The prayer corner is distinguished from the rest of the mosque since it was standing on a high ground.

The details of the conversion of the church into the Ouweysiyyeh Mousallah (small praying area) include an interesting story on the harmony between Christian and Muslim Tripolitans. The church was turned into a prayer area for Muslims upon a suggested agreement that was first posed by the Christians of the city. The full story is preserved in the letters stated in the book of Mr. Abdallah Ghurayyeb (an eminent Christian from the city), of which we can state the following: "It is a good idea to speak about the history of this church. I say that it was a church for the Orthdoxe Christians of Tripoli. It is now the Sarwa Mosque in the Sagha District of Tripoli. When the church became in the center of the residential area occupied by Muslims, using it for the rituals during the fests and holly days became an inconvenient process. For this, Christians of the city met with the Muslims and handed their church. Muslims turned the place to be a mosque just after the Christians cleared their belongings such as the icons, etc... The Muslims in return gifted to the Christians a land where a saponery (Soap Making Factory) used to stand and they built instead their new church, the St. Nicolas Church. This way, the saponery became a church and the church became a mosque."

Sanjakiyah Mosque and Madrassa
  • Location: Hadeed gate (within the Ouwaysiyah Mosque compound)
  • Commissioned by: Mahmoud Beyk alSanjak
  • Date of construction: 1027 H/1617 CE
  • Historical period: Ottoman
  • Characteristics: The Sanjakiyah Mosque includes an Ablaq-styled mihrab (alternating black and white stones) on top of which are lots of decorations and colored symmetrical drawings.
  • Proprietor: Islamic Awqaf Directorate of Tripoli
Photo Album
The Ouwaysiyah Mosque and its neighborhood
The Ouwaysiyah Mosque and its neighborhood.

The Minaret of the Ouwaysiyah Mosque in Tripoli Lebanon

The Mihrab of the Ouwaysiyah Mosque

The Dome of the Ouwaysiyah Mosque.

The Dome of the grave of the Governor of Tripoli Prince Ahmed Pasha Shatarfeel within the Ouwaysiyah Mosque.

The Sanjakiyah Madrassah.

The Minaret of the Ouwaysiyah Mosque in Tripoli Lebanon The Minaret of the Ouwaysiyah Mosque in Tripoli Lebanon

The minaret of the Ouwaysiyah Mosque
Between the shaft and balcony on the minaret of the Ouwaysiyah Mosque, a fish-scale muqarnas creates a transition zone.

Decoratif motifs at the Ouwaysiyah Mosque in Tripoli Lebanon

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