The diagram above is a plan view of the front part of Masjid Nabwi and identifies pillars (ustuwaanah) where a significant event or act occurred (the pillars themselves are not important). Note that the position of these pillars was the same as in the time of the Prophet (s.a.w.).
1. Ustuwaanah Hannanah (the weeping pillar):
This is also called the Ustuwaanah Mukhallaq. This is the most blessed of the pillars for this was the Prophet (s.a.w.)’s place of Salat. On this spot there once used to grow a date palm tree. Before the advent of the mimbar, the Prophet (s.a.w.) used to lean on it while delivering the khutbah (sermon). When the mimbar was made the Prophet (s.a.w.) used it for the khutbah. It so happened when the change took place, such a bitter sound of weeping was heard from the tree that the whole masjid echoed; and those in the masjid started weeping. The Prophet (s.a.w.) then said: “The tree cries because the zikr of Allah was near it, and now that the mimbar is built it has been deprived of this zikr in its immediate vicinity. If I did not place my hand on it, it would have cried thus till the Day of Qiyamat.”. Afterwards the tree dried up and was buried.
2. Ustuwaanah Sareer
'Sareer' means sleeping place. It is reported that the Prophet (s.a.w) used to make i'tikaaf here also, and used to sleep here while in i'tikaaf. A platform of wood used to be put here for him to sleep on.
3. Ustuwaanah Tawbah
Also known as Ustuwaanah Abu Lubabah. Abu Lubabah (r.a.) was one of the famous Sahaba. Before Islam, he had much dealings with the Jews of Banu Qurayzah. When they acted treacherously during the Battle of the Trench and were taken captive he told them that they were to be killed by making a sign across his throat. After having done that he become so grieved at this indiscretion that he could not rest.
He thereupon came to the masjid and at this spot where a date-tree used to stand, he bound himself to the trunk saying: “As long as my repentance is not accepted by Allah, I shall not untie myself from here. And the Prophet (s.a.w.) himself must undo my bonds.”When the Prophet (s.a.w.) heard this he said: “If he had come to me I would have begged forgiveness on his behalf. Now he had acted on his own initiative, I cannot untie him until his repentance has been accepted.”
For many days he remained tied there, except for Salat and the call of nature. At such times his wife and daughter used to untie him and then again tied him to the tree. He remained without food and drink as a result of which his sight and hearing were affected. Then after a few days one morning while the Prophet (s.a.w.) was in tahajjud prayer in the house of Umme Salamah (r.a.), he received the good news that his tawbah had been accepted. The Sahaba (r.a.) conveyed the news to him, and wanted to untie him but he refused, saying: “As long as the Prophet (s.a.w.) does not untie me with his blessed hands, I shall not allow anyone else to do so.”When the Prophet (s.a.w.) entered for Fajr Salat he untied him.
4. Ustuwaanah Aisha (r.a.):
The Prophet (s.a.w.) used to say his prayers here and afterwards moved to the place at Ustuwaanah Hannanah. It is also called the Ustuwaanah Qu'rah. The reason for this is that Aisha (r.a.) reports that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said: "In this masjid is one such spot that if people knew the true blessed nature thereof, they would flock towards it in such in a manner to pray there they would have to cast such lots (i.e. Qu'rah)."
People asked her to point out the exact spot which she refused to do. Later on, at the persistence of Abdullah bin Zubair (r.a.) she pointed to this spot. Hence it is called Ustuwaanah Aisha, because the Hadith is reported by her and the exact spot was shown by her. It is a fact that Abu Bakr and Umar (r.a.) very often used to pray here.
5. Ustuwaanah Ali (r.a.)
Also known as Ustuwaanah Mah’ras or Hars. ‘Hars’ means to watch or protect. This used to be the place where some of the Sahaba (r.a.) used to sit when keeping watch or acting as gatekeepers. Ali (r.a.) used to be the one who mostly acted as such, for which it is often called Ustuwaanah Ali (r.a.). When the Prophet (s.a.w) entered the masjid from the door of Aisha’s (r.a.) room, he passed this spot
6. Ustuwaanah Wufood
‘Wufood’ means delegations. Whenever deputations arrived to meet the Prophet (s.a.w) on behalf of their tribes, they were seated here and here he used to meet them, conversed with them and taught them Islam.
7. Ustuwaanah Jibraeel
This was the usual place where Jibraeel (a.s.) used to enter to visit the Prophet (s.a.w). Today it cannot be seen as it lies inside the sacred chamber of the Prophet (s.a.w).
8. Ustuwaanah Tahajjud
It is reported that this was the spot where late at night a carpet was spread for the Prophet (s.a.w) to perform tahajjud prayer, after all the people had left.
This pillar, the fifth one down from the ‘Aisha’ pillar and in line with Bab-e-Jibraeel is the approximate spot where the Prophet (s.a.w.) led salah in Madinah when the Qiblah was still towards Jerusalem and at the opposite direction of Makkah.
This raised platform, behind the Roza Mubarak and in line with Bab-e-Jibraeel, is the approximate place where the Prophet (s.a.w.) used to spread his prayer mat and perform the Tahajjud salah from time to time.
- Isa bin Abdullah (r.a.) said, “When visitors used to depart at night, the Prophet (s.a.w.) used to spread a mat behind Ali’s (r.a.) hut and used to offer voluntary salat there. One day one person saw him offering voluntary salat at this spot during the month of Ramadhan. This person also started offering voluntary salat at this spot. Another person happened to pass this way and he started his salat also. A third person followed these two persons. By and by a large number of people gathered there. When the Prophet (s.a.w.) saw many people he wrapped up his praying mat and went away. When these people met Prophet (s.a.w.) in the morning, they said, “We were only trying to follow you in offering voluntary salat at night.“ The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “I was concerned about you very much. My concern was that Allah (swt) may make the offering of night salat during Ramadhan obligatory for you and you may fail to keep up with it.”
This diagram marks the location, towards the front of the present Masjid-e-Nabwi, of the platform that housed the Ashab us-Suffah (The People of the Bench). The platform was originally on the north wall of the masjid and was moved back when the masjid was extended in 7 AH.
The Ashab us-Suffah were companions of the Prophet (s.a.w.) who, along with the performance of religious duties, were mostly tradesmen or farmers. Some had, however, dedicated their lives exclusively for prayer and spiritual discipline in the close company of the Prophet (s.a.w.).
They neither had wives nor children, and if any were to get married, he would leave the group. Many of them would go to the jungle in the day to collect wood, which would then be sold for money to feed themselves and the other members of the ‘suffah'.
There currently exists a raised platform behind the platform where the Prophet (s.a.w.) performed Tahajjud, it is on the right of those entering from Bab-e-Jibraeel. This platform is commonly mistaken to be the platform of the Ashab us-Suffah, it was actually built by the Turks for the service and custodial personnel of the masjid. This section sits outside the masjid in the time of the Prophet (s.a.w.) so could not have been the suffah.
The precise number of the Ashab us-Suffah is not known, but it is estimated that the suffah could hold up to three hundred people at any one time, and that roughly seventy people made up its’ permanent residents. The initial inhabitants of the suffah were members who had migrated from Makkah and were without any accommodation.
Some of the companions who at one time were members of the Ashab us-Suffah were:
•Abu Huraira (r.a.)
•Abu Dhar al-Ghifari (r.a.)
•Ka’ab ibn Malik (r.a.)
•Salman al-Farsi (r.a.)
•Hanzalah bin Abi Amr (r.a.)
•Huzaifah bin Yaman (r.a.)
•Abdullah bin Mas’ood (r.a.)
•Suhaib bin Sanan Roomi (r.a.)
•Bilal bin Ribah (r.a.)
- The Ashab us-Suffah passed their lives in the service of the Prophet (s.a.w.). In the morning they would listen to his words of wisdom and at night, after sleeping for a while, they would spend the rest of the time in prayer. Because of their devotion and prayer, many of the Ashab us-Suffah were very poor and unable to afford clothing. Abu Huraira (r.a.) said, “I saw seventy of Ashab-us-Suffah in such a condition that none of them had complete dress for himself. Each one of them had one sheet that he tied up with his neck. Some of them had their sheets reach near their ankles but others’ sheets reached just below their knees. Each of them used to hold the partition of his sheet with his hand lest his body is exposed”.
- Most of the companions went for two days in succession without food, so much that when the Prophet (s.a.w.) came into the masjid to lead the congregational prayers, they would fall down due to weakness. Food given in charity to the Prophet (s.a.w.) was given to them, and when the Prophet (s.a.w.) was offered food as a present, he would invite them to share it.
Often, the Prophet (s.a.w.) would ask one of his other companions to take some of the Ashab us-Suffah for supper, and to entertain them as best they could. Sa`d ibn 'Ubada (r.a.) sometimes entertained as many as eighty men at once.
Uqbah ibn-e- Amir (r.a.) has said:
“Rasulullah (s.a.w.) came to us while we were sitting on the ‘Suffah’ and asked if any one of us would like to go to the market of ‘Buthan’ or ‘Aqiq’ and fetch from there two she-camels of the finest breed without committing any sin or severing a tie of kinship. We replied that everyone of us would love to do so. Rasulullah (s.a.w.) then said that going to the masjid (mosque) and reciting or teaching two ayaat are more precious than two she-camels, three ayaat are more precious than three she-camels, and that similarly reciting or teaching of four ‘ayat’ is better than four she-camels and an equal number of camels.” [Muslim]
This is a view of the eastern wall of Masjid-e-Nabwi showing current prominent doors, some of which were used at the time of the Prophet (s.a.w.).
1. Bab-e-Baqi (Door of Baqi)
This door was installed in 1408 AH and is exactly opposite to Bab-e-Salaam which is on the western side. This door is to facilitate the flow of people leaving the masjid after giving salutation to the Prophet (s.a.w.) and his two companions.
2. Funeral place
The Prophet (s.a.w.) used to lead Salat-ul-Janaza at this site and the Sahaba continued this tradition. Abu Saeed Khudri (r.a.) described how and when this place was used for funeral services:
“In the very beginning we used to inform the Prophet (s.a.w.) when someone was near death. The Prophet (s.a.w.) used to visit the ailing person and made supplication for his forgiveness. Many times the Prophet (s.a.w) stayed there till the completion of the funeral services. In this way the Prophet (s.a.w.) had to wait there for a very long time at each such occasion. We, therefore, decided to take the body of the deceased person near the Hujrat (houses of the wives of the Prophet) so that the Prophet (s.a.w.) can lead the salat more easily. The Prophet (s.a.w.) started offering Salat-ul-Janaza in the area described above.”
The Turks built an enclosure around the funeral courtyard which used to be open to worshippers. Recently however, it is used as a storage space for materials needed in Masjid-e-Nabwi.
3. Bab-e-Jibraeel (Door of Jibraeel)
This door is also called Bab-un-Nabi since the Prophet (s.a.w.) used to enter the masjid through this door.
Jibraeel (a.s.) came to the Prophet (s.a.w.) after the battle of Ahzab (the battle of the Confederates and also known as the battle of the Trench), and talked to the Prophet (s.a.w.) at the door step of Bab-e-Jibraeel. It is mentioned in Bukhari as narrated by Aisha (r.a.), ‘After the battle of Ahzab, the Prophet (s.a.w.) disarmed himself and took a bath. In the meanwhile, Jibraeel (a.s.) came riding a pony and talked to the Prophet (s.a.w.) near the door step of of Bab-e-Jibraeel. Jibraeel (a.s.) said to the Prophet (s.a.w.), “You have put away your arms but we (the angels) are still in battle uniforms. So you should come with us to attack the tribe of Banu Qurayza.’ Aisha (r.a.) added, ‘I was looking at Jibraeel (a.s.) through the cracks in the door of my hut. Jibraeel (a.s.) was covered with dust.’
4. Bab-un-Nisa (Door of the Women)
Umar (r.a.) expanded the masjid during 17 AH. He built this door at the end of eastern wall of the mosque. Women used to enter the masjid from this door and offered their salat in the last rows and thus were able to avoid contact with men. Abu Dawud mentioned that Umar (r.a.) said, “We should let the ladies use this door exclusively.”