There are a lot of religious places and centers in el-Beqaa, especially the sacred places that people visit in order to approach God and pray in order to have the blessings of the God the Merciful, and profit from the spiritual atmosphere that predominates in these places. The most important of them are:
Maqam el-Nabi Yusha’ Ben Noun (peace be upon him)
It is a Maqam to the east of Rasm el-Hadath town on the road of el-Hermel.
Maqam el-Nabi Najjoum
Located east of the village of Tarayya, this sanctuary is formed by an ancient tomb covered with a dome, surrounding a small fountain that keeps the same level of flow during all seasons, summer as winter; its water is inexhaustible in the dry season and even in winter it does not increase, that is why it is considered a blessed water by visitors of this sanctuary.
Maqam el-Nabi Shiit
He is one of Adam’s sons (peace be upon him) and the best of them. He was the one who succeeded his father (peace be upon him). It is said that he was buried in the fields out of the village of Ser’in in the Beqaa. A big town was built around this Maqam as people came to live near it, and thus the town held the name of this Maqam. It contains a mausoleum of about 40 ells. Believers visit it in order to celebrate religious occasions such as the mid of Shaaban (eighth month of the lunar year) and others.
Maqam el-Nabi Suleiman
It is located outside of Younine town to the Southwest. The Nabi Suleiman (the prophet Suleiman) has many miracles about which speak the inhabitants and the neighbors. There’s also a fresh water source at its extremity from which people drink in order to be blessed.
Islamic worship places in the city of Baalbeck:
Maqam el-Sayida Khawla (Mrs Khawla)
She is the daughter of el-Hussein Ali (peace be upon them) whose Maqam and Tomb are located near the historical castle of Baalbek at the southwestern entry of the city. It is said that she was the daughter of the youth master of the Heaven’s residents. She was barely five years old when she fell sick while prisoners of the el-Hussein family were being taken to Baalbek. She died when they got there and was buried near a cypress tree. A dome that was built above her tomb is there till today and a mosque with some halls and two minarets have been built around it.
It is the mosque of Ibrahim el-Khalil according to “Yaqout el-Hamwi” in his book “Mo’jam el-Beldan” (dictionary of the countries). Its mihrab is still standing inside the roman temples of Baalbek. The Muslims built it after they had entered to Baalbek in 15AH/635AC. That’s why it is considered the oldest Islamic site existing till today in Lebanon since the reign of the orthodox caliph “Omar Ben el-Khattab” (may God be pleased with him).
The Great Umayyad Mosque
Built in the first century after the Hegira, during the Umayyad reign, on the remains of a Byzantine church, it is the largest mosque of all Baalbek. It is 60 meters long and 50 meters wide. It contains in the middle 30 columns carried from roman temples neighboring the castle. Some of them are decorated with Corinthian capitals either of granite or of massive stones. The walls of the mosques rise for 8 meters. Its architecture is similar to the Umayyad mosque in Damascus. It includes a courtyard surrounded by porticoes and a square minaret that stands in the courtyard like a war tower. The mosque’s walls hold many inscriptions that are decrees belonging to the Mamluk age. It was left ruined for a long time during the Ottoman and the modern ages. Lately, it has been restored and rehabilitated to perform regular prayers in there.
Ra’s el-Ain Mosque
Known by the name of “Masjid el-Hussein”, this mosque was built in 61AH/681AC above the ruins of an old Phoenician temple, near the spring of Ra’s el-Ain. The stones of the temple were used in building the mosque. Later, the Mamluk sultan el-Zaher Baybars renewed and enlarged it in 676AH/1277AC. It is 50 meters long and 38 meters width. It has 22 columns, distributed in a way that divided the mosque into three mosques inside the main mosque. It has six arches, a huge mihrab, a rocky minbar, 6 gates which stones have been decorated with geometrical lines and designs. A rivulet from the spring of Ra’s el-Ain runs through the main frontal mosque. Two other rocky mihrabs stand in the other two mosques.
It is a small square prayer hall. Its internal side is 6 meters. The king “el-Amjad Bahram Shah” ordered to build it in 596AH/1199AC as stated by the inscription above its mihrab. The mosque was built with stones of different sizes.
It was there in the AH sixth century/ AC twelfth century. It was restored in the Mamluk age in 682AH/1283AC, during the governorship of el-Mansour Qala’un, as stated in the plaque fixed on the northern side of the mosque. It is proper to the followers of el-Hanbali doctrine that was common in Damascus and Baalbek during the Mamluk age; hence, it was named after them. It is distinguished by its hexagonal minaret standing in the west corner. Inside the mosque, there were a center for the Koran studies and a zawiya for the Sufis.
It is a cave divided in two rooms sculptured in the rock, under Kobbat el-Amjad. In the first southern room stands the mihrab that is in the middle of its wall. And near the corner lies the grave of el-Sheikh Abdullah el-Yunini who died in 617AH/1219AC, as well as the tombs of a lot of his followers.
It is el-Jarkas mosque, located near the northern fence of the castle. It has a decorated door, a mihrab, and above its door is a plaque holding an inscription stating that it was erected in 812AH/1410AC, above the tombs of two Mamluk men of the followers of el-Zaher Barquq. The entry of the dome is decorated with an arch of stone pads that was common in the Mamluk age. The entry is decorated as well at the bottom with embellishments graved on the two sides of the wall. On the four corners of the plaque is graved the emblem of “the Cup”.
It was built by the Emir Yunes el-Harfoush in 1028AH/1618AC above the remains of an old mosque, which might be the mosque known by el-Jokendar Mosque. It contains a slab that states the construction date and holds three lines of poetry. The upper corner of its door was decorated with two slabs on which the name “Ali” is graved in a triangle shape. Later, the mosque was renewed in 1327AH/1918AC. It is about 30 meters long and 20 meters wide, with three columns in the middle, surmounted by small simple capitals. Its minaret is hexagonal, standing over a square base as high as the wall of the mosque
Belonging to the Ayyubid age, it is adjacent to el-Zohra temple, near Venus temple. It is distinguished by its polygonal minaret, surmounted by a balcony shaded by an umbrella of tiles, itself surmounted by a small polygonal dome. The minaret was built in 638AH/1240AC during the reign of the king el-Saleh Ismael el-Ayyubi. On its door is fixed a plaque stating the construction date. It was restored in 1140AH as stated by the inscription inside a triangle of large sides.
*Other mosques in Baalbek: In Baalbek there are others mosques and Mazars, such as: Mazar el-Sayeda Khawla, Mazar el-Nabi En’am, Sidi Qaisar Mosque, Hay el-Tofailiyah Mosque (Ghafra Mosque), el-Sheikh Mahmoud Mosque, and others.
Maqam el-Nabi Ayla
It is the Maqam of a prophet called Ayla in the town named after him near the city of Zahleh, at 10 kilometers of the western foot of the Beqaa plain, on the western chain of Lebanon Mountains. People visit it to ask for help when they face disasters and problems, as he is known for his miracles. They believe that God responds to those who ask him from this Maqam. People also visit it on Sundays and Fridays to ask for blessings and make vows.
Maqam el-Nabi Nouh
In el-Qorq town stands a maqam known as the Maqam of el-Nabi Nouh (peace be upon him). People visit it for blessings in religious occasions and come from everywhere to approach God by the mediation of the owner of this Maqam, though they know very well that he is not the same Nouh (Noah) of the flood. El-Qorq is a town to the north of Zahleh city.
Maqam el-Set Sha’wanah
It is located in the region of Amiq at the foot of el-Barouq Mountain to the East, overlooking the Beqaa plain and el-Sheikh Mount. It is surrounded by a forest of oak trees famous for its fresh air and clean water. It is said that el-Set Sha’wanah was the daughter of a king. She left with her father the life of joys in palaces to live an ascetic life in that region. She was buried in that place where the Mazar was built. It is a simple stone building surmounted by a dome that shades her mausoleum visited by faithfuls from all religions and sects in order to get the blessings and make vows.
Maqam el-Sheikh el-Fadel (Mohamed Abi Hilal)
This Maqam is located in the town of Ain Atah between Rashayah and Hasbayah. It is attributed to el-Sheikh Mohamed Abi Hilal known by el-Sheikh el-Fadel. He’s one of the Druze holy men and one of the most remarkable ascetic savants. He was a contemporary of the Emir Fakhr ed-Din el-Ma’ni the Second (seventeenth century). The Sheikh el-Fadel is considered the owner of a spiritual and intellectual madrasah that is complementary, by its precepts, to the Madrasah of the Emir el-Sayed Abdullah el-Tanoukhi.
*Other mosque in the Beqaa: There are many Maqams (sanctuaries) and Mazars (shrines) so that every single village contains a Maqam or a Mazar of a holy man in all the Beqaa.
There are Maqams and Mazars that are said to belong to prophets, and others to holy men. The truth is that they belong to men who were so good that they could be considered as holy men. All villages and towns of the Beqaa include a Maqam for a prophet or a holy man, such as el-Nabi Sami in Shamastar town, the holy man Ismael in Taria town, el-Nabi Yussuf in Qfardan town, el-Nabi Atrif in the valley of el-Sibat to the east of Brital town, el-Nabi Sreij in el-Kharibah town and el-Nabi Yunus near Shaat town.