What is Al-Nejashi?

The region of Tigray located in Northern Ethiopia is of great religious and historical significance.
Many argue that Tigray is the cradle of Ethiopian civilization, as it is in the Tigray region where two of the three major monotheistic religions Islam and Christianity first were introduced while Judaism was
practiced since antiquity predating Christianity. Tigray has been a popular tourist destination not
only amongst Ethiopians but also the rest of the world due to its rich cultural, religious, and
historical significance. From the architectural wonder that is the obelisks of Axum, the famous
Abune Yemata church made of hewn rock, to the first Mosque in Ethiopia, Al-Nejashi, there is so
much to explore and take in.

Islam was brought to Ethiopia and Africa through the region of Tigray, seat of the mighty
Axumite kingdom. Al Negashi was the first mosque to be built in Ethiopia making it the oldest
mosque in Africa, historians placing the time of its construction as early as 613 AD or 9 BH. It is
the first mosque to be built outside of Makkah, Saudi Arabia after the Prophet Muhammed sent
his disciples to seek refuge in Abyssinia when facing persecution from their fellow Arabs. As
time went on and Islam spread, the Al-Nejashi mosque served as a national treasure of Tigray.

Initially built from wood and stone it has since been remodeled in the 1950s and cared for by the
Hajji Abdu family of Adwa in order to preserve this historic and cultural wonder. It was further
upgraded and expanded thanks to the generosity of Sheikh Muhammed Hussein Al-Amoudi and
the Turkish government decades before the war in Tigray broke out in 2020. Unfortunately, due
to the 2020-2022 war in Tigray the mosque became a casualty of war suffering horrendous
damage, a part of its historical structure significantly altered. ARDI’s mission is not only to
restore and rehabilitate the national treasure, but also to enhance it by launching a major
development project that would include a new large state of the art mosque, a comprehensive
university with world class academic standards, and a research center that would attract
scholars not only from Ethiopia and Africa but from all over the world. The development project
also encompasses communal and hospitality services including a 4-star hotel. The aim is to
transform the historic site into a premier destination for global tourism and make it a catalyst for
the economic recovery of the war devastated region.

Ultimately, ARDI hopes that in creating a meticulously planned tourist attraction with all the
necessary amenities Al-Negashi Mosque can continue to be a source of marvel to the world,
increase the economic activity of the war torn region, and eventually gain the recognition by
UNESCO as a world Heritage site. This dream can only be made possible with the support of our
generous donors, our community, and the global Muslim Ummah as a whole

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