The Holy Prophet’s Mosque (Masjid Al-Nabi)
By: Ayatullah Shaheed Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim
Situated in the holy city of al-Madinah, the Prophet’s Mosque is the next in merit after the Sacred Mosque. As has been cited, to offer one prayer in this mosque is equal in reward to one thousand prayers that are offered in other mosques. According to other traditions, a single prayer is even equal in reward to ten thousand prayers offered in other mosques.1
Within the area of the Prophet’s Mosque, there is a garden of Paradise, which is the distance between his house, which is now his burial place, and his minbar (pulpit).
In his book of al-Kafi, Shaykh al-Kulayni has reported through a valid chain of authority that Mu’awiyah ibn Wahab asked Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) about the authenticity of the following tradition that is ascribed to the Holy Prophet (S): The area between my house and minbar is a garden of Paradise.
The Imam (‘a) answered confirmatively and added: The house of ‘Ali and Fatimah, peace be upon them, lies in the area between the house in which the Holy Prophet (S) is buried and the door that is facing the street going to al-Baqi’ Cemetery. If you enter from that door, the wall would hit your left shoulder if it was still there.
The Imam (‘a) then referred to other houses and quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: A single prayer that is offered in my mosque is equal to one thousand prayers that are offered in other mosques except the Sacred Mosque, which is more meritorious (than my mosque).2
Another tradition holds that the Holy Prophet’s tomb is on a canal of Paradise.3
According to a number of traditions some of which are validly reported, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) has said that to offer a prayer in the house of Lady Fatimah (‘a) is more preferable than offering prayers in the area defined as a garden of Paradise and thus known as Rawdhah. Shaykh al-Kulayni in al-Kafi has reported that Yunus ibn Ya’qub asked Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) whether it is better to offer a prayer in the house of Lady Fatimah (‘a) or in the Rawdhah.
The Imam (‘a) answered, “To offer a prayer in Fatimah’s house is better.”4
According to another tradition, to offer prayers in the Holy Prophet’s houses, one of which is of course the house of Imam ‘Ali (‘a), is equal to offering prayers in the Prophet’s Mosque or even producing a bigger reward.5
As has been previously mentioned, the house of Imam ‘Ali and Lady Fatimah, peace be upon them, is situated in the area between the house in which the Holy Prophet (S) is buried and the door facing the street that goes to al-Baqi’ Cemetery.6
According to a narration deemed as valid by a group of scholars, the area of the Prophet’s Mosque is three thousand and six hundred cubits.7
The borders of the Prophet’s Mosque and the Rawdhah have been mentioned in two authentic traditions. Abu-Basir al-Muradi is reported to have quoted Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) as saying: The borders of the Rawdhah in the Prophet’s Mosque extend to Taraf al-²ilal, and the border of the Prophet’s Mosque extends from the two columns to the right of the minbar up to the public way behind Suq al-Layl.8
Muhammad ibn Muslim is reported to have asked the Imam (‘a) about the borders of the Prophet’s Mosque, and he was answered: It extends from the column that is situated near the head of the tomb to the two columns lying behind the minbar to the right side of the kiblah direction. Behind the minbar, there was a narrow way in which a sheep could pass but a man must pass aslant. The yard of the mosque extended from the court to the patio.9
Other Holy Sites in the Holy Prophet’s Mosque
In addition to the mosque, the Rawdhah, the houses of the Holy Prophet (S), and the house of Imam ‘Ali and Lady Fatimah (‘a), which are highly regarded and enjoy special merits, there are other sites inside the Prophet’s Mosque that are considered blessed and meritorious, such as the Prophet’s minbar and niche where he used to offer prayers.
Shaykh al-Kulayni in al-Kafi has reported through a valid chain of authority that Mu’awiyah ibn ‘Ammar quoted Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) as saying: When you accomplish your prayers near the tomb (of the Holy Prophet (S)), you may come to the minbar, pass your hand over it, hold the two lower pommels, and then rub your face and eyes, for this act brings about eye healing. You may then offer prayers there, praise and thank Almighty Allah, and implore Him for settling your needs. The Holy Prophet (S) has said, “The area between my house and minbar is a garden of Paradise and my minbar is standing on a canal of Paradise.” This canal is the small door. You may then go to the Holy Prophet’s standing-place and offer as many prayers as you like.10
One of the other places regarded special is Maqam Jibra'il (the Standing-place of Archangel Gabriel) where the Archangel would stop to gain permission from the Holy Prophet (S) to enter.
Shaykh al-Kulayni in al-Kafi has reported through a valid chain of authority that Mu’awiyah ibn ‘Ammar quoted Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) as saying: You may come to the standing-place of Gabriel, which is under a drainpipe, because at this very place, Archangel Gabriel used to stop to seek permission from the Holy Prophet (S) before he would visit him. You may say these words at this place: O All-magnanimous! O All-generous! O Nigh! O Remote! I beseech You to send blessings upon Muhammad and his Household and to grant me this blessing of Yours over again.11
Amongst the other consecrated places in the Prophet’s Mosque are the three columns; namely, Abu-Lubabah’s12 Column, known as Ustuwanat Abi-Lubabah or Ustuwanat al-Tawbah (The Repentance Column) and the other two columns following it towards the Holy Prophet’s prayer-place, standing-place, and niche. Those who visit the Holy Prophet’s tomb and mosque perform certain rites at these columns.
These certain rites and recommended acts have been mentioned by Shaykh al-Kulayni in al-Kafi and Shaykh al-Tusi in Tahdhib al-Ahkam with many traditions of valid chains of authority.
For instance, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan has reported on the authority of Mu’awiyah ibn ‘Ammar that Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) said: While residing in Madinah for three days, you may observe fasting for three days beginning with Wednesday. On Tuesday night, you may offer a prayer at Abu-Lubabah’s Column, which is also called the Column of Repentance to which Abu-Lubabah tied himself until he was excused by Almighty Allah. You may spend Wednesday thereat. The next night and day (i.e. Thursday), you may offer prayers near the next column, which is situated behind the Holy Prophet's (S) standing-place.
Fasting on Thursday, you may spend the next night and day (i.e. Friday) at the next column, offering prayers and sitting there. You may then fast on Friday. If possible, you should abstain from talking except when necessary. Do not leave the mosque except for an urgent need, and do not sleep at all as long as you are there. If you do all that, you will gain much reward. On Friday, thank and praise Almighty Allah and invoke His blessings upon the Holy Prophet and his Household. Then, pray to Him to grant you your requests. Include these words with your prayer: O Allah, whatever I need from You whether I have mentioned it or not, whatever entreaty, which I have besought from You or not; I turn my face towards You, beseeching You to grant it in the name of Your Prophet, Muhammad, may Allah bless him and his Household, the Prophet of Mercy. Settle all my needs for me, be they insignificant or great.
If you do all that, then you will deserve to have your requests granted, Allah willing.13
1. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 3:543, H. 1, 2, & 3..
2. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 3:542, H. 1.
3. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 3:543, H. 4.
4. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 3:547, H. 1.
5. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 3:543, H. 4.
6. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 3:542, H. 1.
Unfortunately, all these traces have been wiped out because the Wahhabi sect (which dominates in Makkah and Madinah) does not respect the signs and traces of Islamic history. Moreover, it attempts to totally obliterate such traces.
It seems that the “door facing the street that goes to al-Baqi’ Cemetery” indicates the door that presently is to the back of the shrine that currently stands on the Holy Prophet’s tomb, which is the north eastern corner of the shrine.
7. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 3:546, H. 2.
8. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 3:546, H. 3.
9. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 3:546, H. 1.
10. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 10:270, H. 1.
11. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 10:271, H. 1.
12. - Abu-Lubabah, Bashir ibn ‘Abd al-Mundhir, of the Ansar (supporters; Muslims of Yathrib who accepted and received the Holy Prophet (S) and the emigrants of Makkah), was one of the Holy Prophet’s companions (Sahabah). During the Battle of Badr, the Holy Prophet (S) ordered him to stay in Madinah, yet he allotted a share of the spoils of war for him. This column carrying his name has a story: When the Holy Prophet (S) besieged the Jews of Banu-Qurayzah, they pleaded for conciliation, but the Holy Prophet (S) refused, asking them to accept the condition to agree to any decision made by Sa’d ibn Mu’adh in this regard. They therefore asked him to grant them respite so that they could take counsel with Abu-Lubabah because, to them, he was a good adviser. Abu-Lubabah advised that they should not accept this condition because it would lead them to be sentenced to death.
Afterwards, he felt sorry for giving this advice, seeing it as betrayal and disloyalty to the Holy Prophet (S). He therefore repented and decided to tie himself to a column in the Prophet’s Mosque, refraining from having any food. Because this state lasted for seven days, the man fainted. Then, Almighty Allah’s acceptance of his repentance was revealed to the Holy Prophet. (S) When he was informed of the acceptance of his repentance, he asked the Holy Prophet (S) to come to untie him personally. See Al-Mamuqani, Tanqih al-Maqal 1:175.
13. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 10:274, H. 1.