In the early thirteenth century, Zaidi Imam Abdullah ibn Hamza, known also as al-Mansur, constructed a palace and funerary mosque in Zafar Dhibin high on a mountain, overlooking an open-air cistern that dates to the pre-Islamic Himyarite period.
The mosque is organized around a courtyard and two tombs. The tomb of the Imam is located in the middle of the courtyard while the tomb of his son is built at the southeast corner of the complex. The prayer hall (haram), located to the north of the courtyard, is rectangular in plan and features two rows of columns with decorated beams that support an ornate coffered ceiling with Ayyubid style motifs. The colonnade forms a wide central nave, as seen in Fatimid mosques. A dome once covered the mihrab bay, however, a bomb destroyed it. The courtyard façade of the prayer hall has five doorways with trefoil arches and blind archways at either end. The tomb of the Imam is located on axis with the mihrab.
The mausoleums of the Imam and his son are among the earliest built in Yemen. They are square in plan and both covered by domes. These tombs had three open arched sides with a closed qibla wall to the north. They are richly decorated with kufic and thuluth inscriptions carved in stucco on the squinches of the domes.
The minaret was built with the mosque and is one of the oldest surviving in Yemen today. Constructed in brick, it rises over the cistern at the southeast corner. Its shaft is carved with serpentine figures in a zigzag pattern.
Finster, Barbara. 1992. An Outline of the History of Islamic Religious Architecture in Yemen. In Muqarnas IX: An Annual on Islamic Art and Architecture. Oleg Grabar (ed.). Leiden: E.J. Brill, 128, 130, and 132. http://archnet.org/library/documents/one-document.jsp?document_id=3681 [Accessed July 12, 2004]