Seeing ‘Madina’ from a distance

Masjid an-Nabawi

It is written in Durr-ul-mukhtâr, “The fard hajj must be made before visiting Medina. It is also permissible to visit Medina first. While making the supererogatory hajj you go to the city which is on your way first. When entering Medina you must intend only to visit the Prophet’s ‘alaihis-salâm’ grave. One prayer of salât in Masjîd-i-Nabî is superior to a thousand prayers of salât at other places. So is the case with such kinds of worship as fasting, alms, dhikr, and reading the Qur’ân. You do not wear the ihrâm when you enter Medina. The prohibitions that are valid as you wear the ihrâm in Mekka are not valid in Medina. Ibn Teymiyya said that one should not go to Medina in order to visit the Prophet’s grave, but his assertion has been answered by the savants of Ahl-as-sunna. Imâm-i-Abû Hasan Alî Subkî ’rahmatullâhi ta’âlâ aleyh’, [in his books Erreddu li-Ibni Teymiyya and Shîfâ-us-sikâm fî ziyârat-iSayyid-il enâm], refutes Ibni Teymiyya’s misleading words with strong proofs. It is permissible even for women to visit the blessed grave at times when it is not crowded, provided they shall cover themselves.” The articles refuting Ibni Teymiyya, by Imâm-i-Subkî and other savants, have been published in Arabic in the book Islamic Savants.

It is written in Marâqilfalâh and in its marginal notes, “Seeing Medina from a distance, you say salât and salâm. Then say the following prayer: “Allâhumma hâzâ haram-u-Nabiyyika wa mehbit-u-wahyika famnin ’alayya bi-d-duhûl-i-fîhi waj’alhu vikâyatan lî min-an-nâr wa amânan min-al-’azâb waj’alnî minal-fâizîna bi-shafâ’at-il-Mustafâ yawm-al-meâb.” You make a ghusl before entering the city or Masjîd. You put on some good alcohol-free perfume. You assume new, clean clothes. It will be good to enter the city walking. After placing your luggage, etc. at some place, with a hanging head and a broken heart, meditating on the value and the greatness of those sacred places, saying the prayer, “Bismillâhi wa ’alâ millati Rasûlillah,” and the eightieth âyat of sûra Isrâ, which was revealed on the night of Hegira, and also the salawât-i-sherîfs, which are said also in namâz, you arrive at Masjîd. Entering Masjîd either through the Bâb-us-salâm or through the Bâb-ul-Jibrîl, you perform two rak’ats of Tahiyyat-ul-masjîd namâz near the minbar. The pillar of the minbar must be in line with your right shoulder. Rasûlullah ‘sallallâhu alaihi wa sallam’ would pray there. Then you perform two rak’ats of namâz of thanksgiving. After saying your prayers you stand up and with adab come near the Hujra-i-sa’âda. With your face toward the wall of Muwâjaha-i-sa’âda and toward Rasûlullah’s blessed face and your back toward the qibla you stand with adab, about two metres from the blessed grave. You keep in your mind that Rasûlullah sees you, hears your salâm and prayers, and answers you, saying âmîn. Beginning with, “Essalâmu ’alaika yâ sayyidî, yâ Rasûlallah…,” you say the long prayer in the (above-named) book. You say the salâms sent (by others) through you. Then, first saying the salawât, you say the prayers you choose. Then, moving one metre to your right, you greet Hadrat Abû Bakr by saying the long prayer in the book which begins as, “Essalâmu ’alaika yâ khalîfata Rasûlillah…” Then, moving half a metre to your right you greet Hadrat ’Umar by saying the long prayer in the book. Then you pray for yourself, for your parents, for those who asked you to pray for them, and for all Muslims. Then you come back opposite Rasûlullah’s blessed face. You say the prayer in the book and also other prayers which you will choose. Then you come to the pillar to which hadrat Abû Lubâba tied himself and made tawba (penance). Here, and in the Rawda-i-mutahhara, you perform supererogatory or qadâ salât. You make tawba and pray. At your own discretion, you should also visit Masjîd-i-Kubâ, Masjîd-i-qiblatayn, the martyrs of Uhud, the graves at Baqî, and many other sacred places.”

Ibn Qayyem says, “You say your prayers by turning your back to Rasûlullah’s grave. Likewise states Abû Hanîfa.” It is written in Durer-us-seniyya that “Alûsî, too, states so in his tafsîr.” However, all the savants of Ahl-as sunna write that you say your prayers by turning toward the blessed grave while putting the qibla wall behind you. Even Alûsî, who is a follower of Ibni Teymiyya and Ibni Qayyem, is reasonable enough not to hide the fact, and writes in his Ghâliya: “After performing two rak’ats of namâz in Masjîd, you come to the Hujra-i-sa’âda, turn towards his blessed face and, standing with adab as you would do if he were alive, say salât and salâm and say the prayers prescribed by the Sharî’a. For, Rasûlullah is alive in his grave too. Most savants say that it is a sunna to come from far away places only to visit the blessed grave. For, a hadîth declares, ‘He who comes to visit me and only visits me without doing anything else will have the right upon me that I should intercede for him.’ Another hadîth declares, ’I acknowledge the greeting of the person who greets me.’

Enlarging the Masjid an-Nabî
Abdulhaq-i-Dahlawî ’rahmatullâhi ta’âlâ aleyh’ says in Persian in his book Jazb-ul-qulûb: As the Masjid-i-sherîf was being built, two more rooms were built, one for Aisha and one for Sawda ‘radiyallâhu anhumâ’. Then, a room was built for each wedding, and the number of rooms became nine. It being a custom in Arabia, the rooms were made of date branches and were roofed with hair felt. Its doors were no more than hanging curtains. The rooms were on the south, east and north sides of Masjîd. Some of them were made of sun-dried bricks. The doors of most of them opened into Masjîd. Their ceilings were a span higher than a man of medium stature. There was a door between the rooms of Hadrat Fâtima and Hadrat Âisha. A few days before his passing away, he had the doors of the Sahâba’s rooms opening into Masjîd closed, with the exception of that of Abû Bakr.

In the seventeenth year of the Hegira, Hadrat ’Umar ‘radiyallâhu anh’ had Masjîd enlarged on the north, west and south sides. With the rooms belonging to the Zawjât-i-tâhirât ‘radiy-Allâhu ta’âlâ anhunna’ being on the east side, he did not do any enlargement on the east side. Thus, its south-north wall became a hundred and forty dhrâ’ [seventy metres] and the east-west wall became a hundred and twenty dhrâ’. He said, “I would not enlarge Masjîd if I had not heard the Prophet’s command: ‘It is necessary to enlarge my Masjîd!’ ” He had the new walls made of sun-dried bricks and date branches like the old ones. Hadrat Abbâs donated his room, which was adjacent to the west wall. Half of Ja’fer Tayyâr’s house adjacent to it having been bought, the two were added to Masjîd-i sherîf. In the meantime hadrat ’Umar had the Hujra-i-sa’âda restored with sun-dried bricks. In the thirtieth year of the Hegira hadrat ’Uthmân had these walls demolished again and the Masjîd enlarged. He had the new walls and the pillars made of stone and the ceiling of teak timber. A hadîth conveyed by Abû Hureira declares, “If they enlarged my Masjîd as far as San’â city in Yemen, all of it would be my Masjîd.”

In the eighty-eighth year the Caliph Walid gave an order to the governor of Medina ’Umar bin Abdul’azîz, having all four walls demolished, whereby the rooms of the Zawjât-i-tâhirât, which were on the east side, were added to Masjîd. The four walls of the Hujra-i-sa’âda were demolished and rebuilt with dressed stones from the base. As the base was being dug out Hadrat ’Umar’s one foot was seen. It had not rotted at all. A second wall was built around the Hujra. It had no doors. The ceiling of the Hujra became half a metre higher than Masjîd, and Masjîd became two hundred dhrâ’ long and a hundred and sixty-seven dhrâ’ wide. Forty craftsmen had been brought from the east Roman Empire, and the walls, the pillars, and the ceiling were ornamented with gold. For the first time, the mihrâb and four minarets were built. The work took three years. In the hundred and sixty-first year Mahdî, one of the Abbasid caliphs, enlarged it by erecting ten pillars only on the north side. Also the Caliph Ma’mûn enlarged it a little more in the year 202. Then, in the year 550, Jemâleddîn Isfahânî made a grating of sandalwood around the second wall. This grating is called Shabaka-i-Sa’âda. A white silk curtain, which was sent from Egypt in the same year and on which the Sûra-i-Yasîn was written in red silk embroidery, was hung around it. This curtain is called Settâra. In the year 678 [1279] the Turkoman sultan of Egypt Salih Klawun ‘rahmatullâhi ta’âlâ ’aleyh’ had today’s Kubba-i (k)hadrâ built and had it covered with sheet-lead. Today’s Masjîd was built in 888 [1483] by Eshref Qaytebay ‘rahmatullâhi ta’âlâ ’aleyh’, one of the Circassian sultans of Egypt, and was restored and embellished by the Ottoman sultans. Here, we end our translation from Jazb-ul-qulûb.

The Hujra-i-sa’âda (the Prophet’s grave), being close to the east corner of the qibla wall of Masjîd-i-sherîf, remains on the left side of a person who stands towards the qibla in the mihrâb. And the Minbar remains on his right. The area between the Hujra-i-sa’âda and the minbar is called Rawda-i-mutahhera. The Hujra-i-sa’âda is enclosed by two walls, one within the other. There is a hole in the middle of the ceiling of the inner wall. The outer wall reaching up to the ceiling of Masjîd, its green dome can be seen from long distances. The outer walls and the high grating outside are screened with curtains called Settâra. No one can go inside the walls, for they have no doors. On the 384th page of the book Mir’ât-i Medîna it is written that when Masjîd-i-sa’âdat was first constructed, its width was 60 dhrâ’ [25 meters], and its length 70 dhrâ’ [29 meters]. Two months before the Battle of Badr, i.e. in the month of Rajab of the second year, after the heavenly order to change the qibla direction towards the Kâ’ba was revealed, its door was moved from the north wall to the south wall, and the masjîd’s length and width were extended to a hundred dhrâ’ [42 meters] each. This door is named Bâb-ut-tavassul. During the restoration period of Velid bin Abdulmalik and the Abbasî Caliph Mehdî (rahmatullâhi alaihim ajma’în) in 165 [781], the masjîd’s length became 126 meters and its width 76 metres. Wahhâbîs extended it in 1375 [1955] and its length became 128 metres and its width 91 metres. They changed the historic names within Masjid-i Nabî and put the Wahhâbî names in their places.

Masjîd-i-Nabî now has five doors. Two of them are on the west wall; the one near the qibla is called Bâbussalâm, and the one near the north corner is called Bâburrahma. The east wall has no door on the qibla side. The east wall has the Bâb-i-Jibrîl, which is opposite the Bâburrahma.

The four different stages of enlarging Masjid an-Nabî:

1. Bâb as-salâm

2. Bâb al-Jibrîl

3. Bâb an-Nisâ

4. Bâb ar-rahma

5. Bâb at-tawassul

6. Shabakat as-Sa’âda

7. Hujrat as-Sa’âda

8. Muwâjahat ash-Sherîfa

9. Mihrâb an-Nabî

10. Mihrâb al-’Uthmânî

11. Part covered with sand