Name of Monument:Sidi ‘Uqba (mosque, minaret and tomb)
Location:The site of Sidi ‘Uqba is located approximately 6 km south of Tehouda and abut 20 km east of Biskra, on the Khengat Sidi Nadji road, Sidi ‘Uqba, Biskra, Algeria
Date of the monument:Hegira 67–416 / AD 686–1025
Period / Dynasty:Zirid
Description:‘Uqba ibnNafi, one of the Prophet’s companions and governor of Ifriqiya, met his death during a battle against Koceïla and his troops, who were waiting for him near Tehouda on his return from a victorious expedition that had led him as far as the Atlantic. The Sidi ‘Uqba mosque was built around ‘Uqba ibnNafi’s tomb.The sanctuary and the mosque demonstrated great simplicity, all the architectural elements having been covered over in white-washed mortar; not a single expensive, ornate or precious material was used for the construction. The mosque‘s layout is not dissimilar to that of the most ancient mosques, notably the very first one built by the Prophet himself, as is demonstrated by the parallel positioning of the bays to the qibla wall. The column bases were linked together by a raised section of floor, about 10 cm, that defined the area required for the aligned prostration of worshippers. The columns, some of which are palm-tree trunks covered in white-washed mortar, are crowned with capitals moulded from white-washed mortar, and support arches from which all decoration is absent. Highlighted by an arch – which is decorated with stucco featuring simple geometric motifs and irregular tracery – the mihrab is crowned by a semi-circular dome with radiating fluting. The capitals are also fluted, and are thus suggestive of highly stylised palm trees. Two domes emerge from the terrace that covers the prayer hall; one over the tomb, the other over the space in front of the mihrab.The famous two-leafed door, made of carved cedarwood, that guards the access to the prayer hall from one of the three entrances from the side courtyard, was moved to the opposite wall during development work undertaken in the mosque in 1969–70. Renovation work and work involving the ‘integration’ of the mosque into an enormous cultural complex were carried out over the last few years under the claim of endowing the sanctuary and mosque with some ‘gloss’: in fact, this work has totally defaced the spirit of the place.
How monument was dated:
Through the gathering of historical sources and stylistic analysis, G. Marçais offers 67 / 686 and 416 / 1025 as dates:
67 / 686 for construction of the tomb; comparing the letters of the inscription on the tomb with those of Kairouanese epitaphs dated to around 416 / 1025 would place the ‘renewing of the sanctuary’ to around the same time. Other inscriptions also exist: on the wall of the sanctuary, a wooden plank carrying an inscription sculpted in relief offers the date of 1215 / 1800; similarly, the mosque’smihrab is dated to 1214 / 1789. According to Captain H. Simon in his “Notes sur le mausolée de Sidi Okba” (Revue africaine, 1909, pl. III), these dates refer to expansions or repairs.
Selected bibliography:Blanchet, P.,La porte de Sidi Okba, Paris, 1900.
Bourouiba, R.,Apports de l’Algérie à l’architecture arabo-islamique, Algiers, 1986.
Bourouiba, R.,L’art religieux musulman en Algérie, Algiers, 1981.
Ministère de l’information et de la culture, Les mosquées en Algérie, Algiers, 1974.
Ibn Khaldun (d. 808H) in his Tariqh writes that Ubqa bin Nafi along with 300 senior companions were martyred, a mosque was built on the grave of Uqba bin Nafi (rad.) and that its a shrine of baraka (blessings) :
واتبعوا عقبة وأصحابه رضي الله عنه حتى إذا غشوه بتهودة ترحّل القوم وكسروا أجفان سيوفهم، ونزل الصبر واستلحم عقبة وأصحابه رضي الله عنهم ولم يفلت منهم أحد. وكانوا زهاء ثلاثمائة منكبار الصحابة والتابعين استشهدوا في مصرع واحد، وفيهم أبو المهاجر كان أصحبه في اعتقاله، فأبلى رضي الله عنه في ذلك اليوم البلاء الحسن، وأجداث الصحابة رضي الله عنهم أولئك الشهداء عقبة وأصحابه بمكانهم ذلك من أرض الزاب لهذا العهد.
وقد جعل على قبر عقبة أسنمة ثم جصّص، واتخذ عليه مسجد عرف باسمه وهو في عداد المزارات ومظان البركة، بل هو أشرف مزور من الأجداث في بقاع الأرض لما توفّر فيه من عدد الشهداء من الصحابة والتابعين الذين لا يبلغ أحد مدّ أحدّهم ولا نصيفه، وأسر من الصحابة يومئذ محمد بن أوس  الأنصاري ويزيد بن خلف العبسيّ  ونفر معهم ففداهم ابن مصاد صاحب قفصة.
From all of the above, we see that one of the oldest mosque in North Africa (only next to Sidi Uqba masjid in Khairoun, Tunisia), was built over the mausoleum and tomb of the companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him) from the earliest of times. And this continued to remain for 1400 years until today with only added works of renovations. There was not a single scholar in Islam who ever objected to it.
The significance of this today being that its another example from pure Sunni Islam to prove false the common Salafi-Wahhabi revisionist history/folklore and propaganda, that such practice of buildings tombs and mosque is considered as idolatry in Sunni Islam or that it should be destroyed, or that these practices were invented by Turks and what not.