KEJAMNYA ISLAMIC CONQUEST
The Church of Mar Yonnan, later the Mosque of Nebi Yunus
An interesting edifice in the city of Mosul is the Mosque of Nebi Yunus, said to be the burial place of the Biblical Jonah. It is built on the mound beneath which is part of the ruins of the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh.
When in the 14th century the Barber geographer Ibn-Battuta, visited northern Mesopotamia he acknowledged the existence of Nineveh. and the Nebi Yunus mosque and admitted that it was previously a Christian church. He wrote:
"There too is the hill of Nabi Yunus, (prophet Jonah), (upon whom be peace) and about a mile from it, the spring called by his name. It is said that he commanded his followers to purify themselves in it. .... In it's vicinity is a large village, near which is a ruined site said to be the site of the city known as Nineveh, the city of 'yunus' . The remains of the encircling walls are still visible, and the position of the gates that were in it are clearly seen.". (Faga M. Brian, "Return to Babylon", Little Brown & Co., Canada 1979 p.17.)
He noted that the Nabi Yunus mosque of Nineveh was once a Christian church before being confiscated by the Arabs. Wigram wrote; "This edifice still stands today, it was once the cathedral of the independent patriarch of Nineveh [See of Nineveh]".(W. A. Wigram, "The Cradle of Mankind", London 1922, p.85.)
After its 612 B.C. destruction Nineveh was resettled and during the Christian era became an important relgious center of the christian Assyrians. The Assyrian Churches; i.e; Church of the East, Syrian Orthodox Church, and the Chaldean Church have historically observed a Special Fast known as the 'Rogation of the Ninevites' based on the Book of Jonah of the Old Testament which attests to the survival of the ancient Assyrians.
According to the 19th century Badger, the Assyrian writer Bar Saliba shortly before Ibn-Battuta's visit had identified the person buried in the edifice as patriarch Hannan Yeshua of the church of the East who was elected to that office during the caliphate of Abd 'ool-Melek ibn Merwan, cir. AD 686.
He wrote: "Hannan-Yeshua resided in the convent of the prophet Jonah, which is situated on the western side of the wall of Nineveh facing the eastern gates of Mosul, and the river Tigris separates the cities. When he died, he was buried here, in a coffin made of ebony, Six hundred and fifty years afterwards, the tomb containing the coffin was opened, and the body was discovered whole, and looked as if sleeping. Most of the inhabitants of Mosul went to see this sight, and we also went to see it with our eyes. And, even now, whoever desires to behold it, and to receive blessing therefrom, is at liberty to do so; and if any disbelieve, let them go, and see and believe."
(George Percy Badger, "Nestorians and their Rituals, A Mission to Mesopotamia and Coordistan in 1842-1844", Volume II. London , notes to page 87, DD)
The Nebi Yunus is the not the only Assyrian church which exists as mosque.