Madinah Munawarrah ("the enlightened city") ranks as the second most holiest place in Islam after Makkah. It is the city that gave refuge to the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) and the early Muslims upon their migration from Makkah and where lies the burial place of the Prophet (s.a.w.).
- The city of Madinah was originally known as Yathrib, an oasis city dating as far back as the 6th century BCE. During the war between Jews and Romans in 3rd century CE many Jews fled Jerusalem and migrated to their ancestral place of Yathrib (present Madinah). Nero sent massive Roman force under Petra Lenidas to Madinah to massacre the Jews in 213 CE. A community survived and by the time the Prophet (s.a.w.) had migrated there was a large Jewish presence around the city.
- The Jews were eagerly waiting for the arrival of a prophet who, according to their scriptures, would appear in Madinah. They used to taunt the local Arabs that when he did arrive, according to their prophesies, the Jews would destroy the pagans as the ancient people of Aad and Thamud had been destroyed for their idolatry. However, when they realized that the final prophet was chosen among the Arabs rather than from the Jews their pride got the better of them and they rejected him even though as the Quran mentions (2:146) they recognized him as they recognize their sons. In spite of this there were some Jews who embraced Islam, most notably Hussain bin Salam, one of their most learned Rabbis. The Prophet (s.a.w.) changed his name to Abdullah bin Salam.
- The city of Madinah was not unfamiliar to the Prophet (s.a.w.) when he emigrated there. His father Abdullah was buried there and when he was six years old he had travelled with his mother Aminah and their devoted slave girl Barakah (later to be known as Umme Ayman). In later life he recounted how he had learned to swim in a pool which belonged to his kinsmen with whom they had stayed, and how the boys taught him to fly a kite. However, not long after they had set out for the return journey his mother fell very ill, and died a few days later at Abwa, not far from Yathrib and there she was buried. Barakah did what she could to console the boy, now doubly an orphan and brought him back to Makkah.
- About a year before the migration, the Prophet (s.a.w.) had dispatched Mus’ab bin Umair (r.a.) on a mission to propagate Islam (Tableegh) to the people of Madinah. Many of the Ansar became Muslims at his hands.
- Madinah is 210 miles (340 km) north of Makkah. At the time of the Prophet (s.a.w.), Madinah was approximately the size of the present masjid and the surrounding white tiled area.
- Narrated Anas (r.a.): Whenever the Prophet (s.a.w.) returned from a journey and observed the walls of Madinah, he would make his mount go fast, and if he was on an animal (i.e. a horse), he would make it gallop because of his love for Madinah. [Bukhari]
The Prophet (s.a.w.): “For the believer, Madinah is the best place. If only they could understand it's virtue fully, they would never leave it, and whoever departs from Madinah, having become disenchanted with it, Allah will send someone better to replace him. And whoever bears patiently the ordeals of Madinah, for him shall I be an intercessor(or witness) on the Day of Qiyamat." [Muslim]
- It is narrated by Aisha (r.a.): When we came to Madinah, it was an unhealthy, uncongenial place. Abu Bakr (r.a.) fell sick and Bilal (r.a.) also fell sick; and when Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.) saw the illness of his Companions he said: “O Allah, make Madinah as beloved to us as you made Makkah beloved or more than that; make it conducive to health, and bless us in its sa’ and mudd’ (two standards of weight and measurement) and transfer its fever to Juhfa.”[Bukhari]
- It is stated in another hadith: “There will be no town which Ad-Dajjal (the anti-Christ) will not enter except Makkah and Madinah, and there will be no entrance (road) but the angels will be standing in rows guarding it against him, and then Madinah will shake with its inhabitants thrice and Allah will expel all the nonbelievers and the hypocrites from it.” [Bukhari]
- Narrated Abu Huraira (r.a.): The Prophet (saw) said, "Verily, Belief returns and goes back to Madinah as a snake returns and goes back to its hole (when in danger)." [Bukhari]
Masjid-e-Nabwi is the masjid (mosque) established by the Prophet (s.a.w.) upon his migration to Madinah. It is the second most revered masjid in Islam and the second largest in the world, after Masjid al-Haram in Makkah.
- When the Prophet (s.a.w.) migrated to Madinah (then called Yathrib), the chiefs of the city and his immediate followers rode around his camel in their best clothes and in glittering armour. Everyone was hoping he would stop by their house. The Prophet (s.a.w.) would answer everyone politely and kindly, “[This camel] is commanded by Allah; wherever it stops, that will be my home.”The camel moved on with slackened reins, reaching the site of the present masjid and knelt down. The Prophet (s.a.w.) alighted and said, “This is the home” and inquired as to who owned the land. The land contained a few date trees, graves of polytheists, a resting spot for herds of cattle and was owned by two orphan brothers, Sahl and Suhail. The Prophet (s.a.w.) purchased the land, had the trees cleared and the polytheists graves dug up and levelled.
- He then gave orders that his newly acquired courtyard should be made into a masjid (mosque) and work began immediately. Most of the building was done by bricks made of stones and kneaded clay but in the middle of the northern wall (which faced the original Qibla in Jerusalem) stones were put on either side of the prayer niche. The palms in the courtyard were cut down and their trunks were used as pillars to support the roof of palm branches, but the greater part of the courtyard was left open. Small stones were laid on the floor to prevent it from becoming too muddy. At the rear of the masjid, the Prophet (s.a.w.) built a shaded area called as-Suffah in which the poor companions would spend the night. Two small huts were also constructed on the eastern side of the masjid to accommodate his two wives at the time, Aisha and Sauda (r.a.).
- The Prophet (s.a.w.) gave the Muslims of Madinah the title of Ansar which means Helpers, whereas the Muslims of Quraysh and other tribes who had left their homes and emigrated to the oasis he called Muhajirun, meaning Emigrants. All took part in the work, including the Prophet (s.a.w.) himself, and as they worked they chanted two verses which one of them had made up for the occasion:
“O Allah, no good is but the good Hereafter, So help the Helpers and the Emigrants.” And sometimes they chanted: “No life there is but the life of the Hereafter. Mercy, O Allah, on Emigrants and Helpers.”
The masjid was built twice during the lifetime of the Prophet (s.a.w.). The first time was shortly after he had made the Hijra to Madinah in 622 CE, with the size of the masjid being approximately 35 x 30 meters and the height 2.5 meters. It was rebuilt seven years later after the Fath (opening) of Khaibar. The increasing number of Muslims by then necessitated an increase in the area of the mosque to accommodate more worshippers. Usman (r.a.) paid for the land to accommodate the extension which made the masjid approximately 50 x 50 meters. The height was also increased to 3.5 meters.
- When the revelation came down to change the Qibla to Makkah in 624 CE, the whole masjid was re-orientated to the south.
- The masjid also served as a religious school, community center, court and also as a confinement for prisoners.
- Anas (r.a.) reports that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said:
“Whoever performs forty salat in my masjid, not missing one salat in the masjid, for him is granted exemption from the fire of Hell, and exemption from punishment and he shall remain free of hypocrisy.” [Ahmad]
- Abu Umar (r.a.) narrated that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said:
“One salat offered in my masjid is superior to one thousand salats offered in other masjids except Masjid al-Haraam (Makkah al-Mukarramah).” [Bukhari]
This gold grill is the front part of the Roza Mubarak, the Sacred Chamber in which the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) passed away and where he is buried. It also houses the graves of the first two Caliphs of Islam, Abu Bakr (r.a.) and Umar (r.a.).
- With regards visiting Madinah and performing the Ziyarah (visiting the grave of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.)), the Prophet (s.a.w.) said:
“Whoever visits me after my death is like he who had visited me during my life.”[Tabraani]
“Whoever performs his Hajj in Makkah, then comes to Madinah with the sole aim of visiting me in my Masjid, for him shall be written (the rewards of) two accepted Hajj.”[Daylami]
“When a person stands at my grave reciting blessings on me, I hear it; and whoever calls for blessings on me in any other place, his every need in this world and in the hereafter is fulfilled and on the day of Qiyamat I shall be his witness and intercessor.” [Bayhaqi]
- The viewing holes above are aligned to the faces of the inhabitants of the graves. The largest hole on the left directly faces the noble face of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.). The one in the middle is aligned to the face of Abu Bakr (r.a.) and likewise the one on the right is aligned to the face of Umar (r.a.).
- The Prophet (s.a.w.) was buried in the house of Aisha (r.a.) in whose house he was staying at the time of his death. The wives of the Prophet (s.a.w.) lived in small, simple huts adjacent to the masjid. Each hut consisted of a room which was approximately 5m x 4m with a small backyard and were made of unbaked bricks of mud with branches of palm tree as a roof covering.
- On the left side of the hut of Aisha (r.a.) was the hut of Sauda (r.a.), the second wife of the Prophet (s.a.w.). The hut of Hafsa (r.a.), another wife of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and the daughter of Umar (r.a.) was on the opposite side. There used to be a very narrow street between their houses, just enough for one person to walk through. Aisha (r.a.) and Hafsa (r.a.) used to converse with each other while sitting in their own huts. Part of the hut of Hafsa (r.a.) was located inside the present Sacred Chamber and part of it is where visitors stand for salutation to the Prophet (s.a.w.).
- In 91 AH Umar bin Abdul Aziz (r.a.) built five cornered walls so that nobody may enter inside the Sacred Chamber. After several plots were uncovered to steal the body of the Prophet (s.a.w.) by digging underneath the graves, the Sultan Nurruddin Zengi had a trench built around the chamber which was filled with molten lead.
Death and burial of the Prophet (s.a.w.)
In Muharram 11 AH the Prophet (s.a.w.) developed a temperature which kept getting higher and he became increasingly ill day by day. He sought permission from his wives to stay in the room of Aisha (r.a.) which they readily acceded to. On Monday, 12 Rabi al-Awwal, he came out with a bandage tied around his head. Abu Bakr (r.a.) was leading the salat and moved backwards but the Prophet (s.a.w.) motioned him to complete the prayer.
- Among the last advice the Prophet (s.a.w.) gave out was the importance of prayer and the just treatment of slaves and servants. In closing he said:
“I leave with you two things. As long as you hold them tightly, you will never go astray; they are the Book of Allah (the Quran) and my sunnah.”
- The Prophet (s.a.w.) grew weaker and eventually passed away on the afternoon of Monday, 12 Rabiul-Awwal, 11 AH (633 CE).
- The companions offered funeral prayers individually, without an Imam. The people said: “Bury him near the pulpit.” Others said, “Bury him in Baqi.” Then Abu Bakr (r.a.) came and said, “I heard the Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.) saying: ‘A Prophet was never buried except at the place where he died.’” Thus , a grave was dug under the bed in the room and whilst they were bathing him they intended to remove his shirt and a voice was heard, “Do not remove the shirt.” He was then bathed with his shirt. [Muwatta Malik]
Death and burial of Abu Bakr (r.a.)
- Caliph Abu Bakr (r.a.) left a will with his daughter Aisha (r.a.) to bury him by the side of the Prophet (s.a.w.). He died in Jamad al-Ukhra in 13 AH at the age of 63, the same age as the Prophet (s.a.w.) at the time of his death. During his fifteen days of illness Umar (r.a.) led the salat. Abu Bakr (r.a.) had been Caliph for around two and a half years.
Death and burial of Umar (r.a.)
- Caliph Umar bin Al-Khattab (r.a.) was stabbed by a Christian slave named Firoz (also known as Abu Lulu) who then committed suicide. Shortly before his death he said to his son, Abdullah: “Go to the mother of the believers, Aisha (r.a.) and say, ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab sends his greetings to you,’ and request her to allow me to be buried with my two companions.” Aisha (r.a.) said, “I had the idea of having this place for myself but today I will give preference to him over myself.” When he returned he said: “She has allowed you (to be buried there).” On that Umar (r.a.) said: “Nothing was more important to me than to be buried in that (sacred) place.” He died on Muharram 1, 24 AH, his tenure as Caliph lasted ten and a half years. Suhaib (r.a.) led his funeral prayer. After the burial of Umar (r.a.) in the Sacred Chamber, Aisha (r.a.) put a partition between the area occupied by the graves and the rest of the room as Umar (r.a.) was not mahram to her.
- There is a spot for a fourth grave in the Sacred Chamber where Isa (a.s.) [Jesus] will eventually be buried. Tirmidhi has mentioned as narrated by Abdullah bin Salam (r.a.), “The characteristics of Prophet Mohammad (s.a.w.) are described in Old Testament and it is also mentioned there that Isa (a.s.) will be buried with him.”
- Abdullah bin Omar (r.a.) has narrated that Prophet Mohammad (s.a.w.) said, “Isa (a.s.) will descend to the earth. He will marry and will have children. In this way he will spend forty five years and finally he will die and will be buried with me. On the Day of Judgement. I, Isa (a.s.), Abu Bakr and Omar will rise from the same site.”
This door, on the eastern side of the Roza Mubarak marks the place where the door of the house of Ali (r.a.) and his wife Fatima (r.a.) was located. Fatima (r.a.) was the youngest and most beloved daughter of the Prophet (s.a.w.).
The area between the sacred chamber and the Pulpit (Minbar) is known as the Riadhulul Jannah i.e. Garden of Paradise. It is presently distinguished by a green carpet and is also referred to as Rawdah.
- Abu Hurairah (r.a.) narrated that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said:
“Between my house and my pulpit lays a garden from the gardens of Paradise, and my pulpit is upon my fountain (Al-Kauthar).”[Bukhari]
- Scholars have interpreted the above narration as follows: The Garden is parallel to a garden above it in Paradise. Or it is in reality a garden of paradise, which will be returned to paradise in the hereafter. Or it is like the gardens of paradise, because the peace and tranquility which is experienced in it when engaged in the remembrance of Allah resembles that of paradise. [Akhbar Madina tur Rasool, Ibn Najjar]
- The original size Is approximately 22 meters in length and 15 meters in width, part of it is in the chamber of the Prophet (s.a.w.).
Mehrab (Prayer niche):
- The Prophet (s.a.w.) prayed for about 16 months facing towards Al-Quds in Jerusalem on his arrival in Madinah. If one was to walk away from the ‘Aisha column’, leaving it towards your back, the fifth column will be in line with the door marked as Bab-e-Jibraeel. This fifth column was the approximate praying spot of the Prophet (s.a.w.) for the above period. It was near to the extreme north boundary of the original mosque.
- After the change in Qiblah, the Prophet (s.a.w.) offered salat near Aisha’s column for a short period while facing towards the Ka’bah. Later he started leading salat at the spot where the Mehrab Nabwi is nowadays. Note that there was no mehrab at this spot during the period of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and the four Caliphs.
- In 91 AH, Umar bin Abdul Aziz made a praying niche in the form of a mehrab. Since then it is called Mehrab Nabwi. If you were to stand in the mehrab for offering salat, your place of sajda will be where Prophet’s (s.a.w.) feet used to be. The Prophet’s (s.a.w.) place of sajda is intentionally covered by the thick wall of the mehrab.
- The Prophet (s.a.w.) used to lean against the trunk of a palm tree when he was tired or exhausted while delivering a sermon. The Ansar humbly suggested to him, “If you approve, we can make a pulpit for you.” The Prophet (s.a.w.) approved it and a pulpit was made. Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) sat on this pulpit to make an address. When the Prophet (s.a.w.) started using the new pulpit, the old tree yearned for him like a camel missing its calf. The Prophet (s.a.w.) hugged the trunk until it had calmed down and then ordered that a ditch be dug and the trunk buried decently into it.
- The Prophet (s.a.w.) used to stand on the third rung while delivering his sermons. When Abu Bakr (r.a.) became caliph, he stood on the second rung and Umar bin Khattab (r.a.) stood on the first. Caliph Usman bin Affan did as Umar (r.a.) had done for six years before he returned to the old position of the Prophet. Amir Muawiyyah (r.a.) made a pulpit consisting of nine rungs. The leaders started sitting on the seventh rung. The pulpit has since been kept in this form and the Khateeb has been sitting on the seventh rung since that time. The pulpit has been replaced on many occasions throughout the centuries. The present pulpit was put up by Sultan Murad in 998 AH.