Madinah is the second holiest city in Islam, after Makkah. There are only two mosques in the whole world that can accommodate millions of people. And, the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah is one of them.
Situated in the beautiful city of Madinah, Prophet’s Mosque, also known as ‘Masjid-an-Nabawi’ holds great significance among Muslim. Each year, many believers come from all over the world come to this holiest city. Thus, they intend to pay a visit to the Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) mosque.
Brief History of Masjid an Nabawi
One of the most significant events in Islam is the migration of the Prophet (SAW) from Makkah to Madinah in 622 CE. At that time, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) instructed the followers of Islam to emigrate to Madinah. Indeed, the powerful tribes of Makkah were starting to persecute the Muslims to hinder the religion’s spread. This ‘hijra’ marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar.
After the migration, Prophet (PBUH) began to spread Islam in the city of Madinah. He drafted the constitution of Madinah and gave proper guidelines for the residents and the Muslims who had migrated from Makkah. Madinah then became the most substantial base of Muslim ummah and laid the foundation of Islam’s rapid spread.
Here in Madinah, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) also made a mosque next to the house he was residing in. We also now know as ‘Masjid an Nabawi’ was once the Holy Prophet’s (SAW) resting place. The mosque was later on extended and now considered the second largest after Masjid – al-Haram in Makkah.
Let’s take a look at the brief history of the construction of Prophet’s Mosque.
· Initial Foundation
The Prophet (SAW) refused to take the land for the mosque from two orphan brothers as a gift. Therefore Abu Ayyub al- Ansari paid for the purchase. It took around 7 months to complete the mosque’s construction, and Holy Prophet (PBUH) himself took part in its construction. It was a simple structure with mud walls raised over stone foundations and measured no more than 98 ft x 115 ft. To shield attendees and participants from the heat, only a portion of the Masjid had a roof. The roof was made of date palm tree trunks and branches that were cut from the courtyard.
- A shaded area on the Southern part called ‘Ahl al-sufa’ served as a shelter for poor and homeless companions who needed a place stay.
- On the Eastside, He had two huts build for his wives to stay.
- The rectangular enclosure had three doors, ‘Bab Jibril’ (Door of Gabriel) to the West, ‘Bab al-Rahman’ (The door of mercy) on the South and ‘Bab al Nisa’ (Door of the women) towards the East.
- Prophet’s mosque also served as a religious school, community centre and a court of law.
· Expansion of the Mosque
During the lifetime of the Prophet, Masjid-an-Nabawi was renovated 2 times. The second being 7 years later, restored it after the ‘Fath’ (opening) of Khaibar. By then, the growing number of Muslims had required an increase in the mosque area to adjust more worshippers. Uthman ibn Affan paid for the property to fund the extension that made the Masjid approximately 50 x 50 meters. The height was raised to 3.5 meters as well.
The Ummayad and Abbasid rulers carried out its expansion work in the later years. By 707 CE. ‘Al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik’ demolished the structure and ordered to rebuild a new and more prominent mosque in its place. This construction incorporated the Nobel tomb of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and the land where the Prophet’s family was residing in. It is key to note that the place between the Prophet’s tomb to his minbar is known as the ‘Garden of Paradise’, ‘Riyad al-Jannah’.
The Prophet SAW said: “What is between my house and my mimbar is one of the meadows of the Garden.” (reported by Imam Malik)
The entire expansion of the Prophet’s mosque was estimated to be around 2,369 sq. meters. For the first time in the Prophet’s Mosque, the expansion during Al-Walid bin Abdul-Malik’s reign included constructing a hollow mihrab and minarets. A total of 4 minarets, one in each corner, were built and terraces on the mosque’s roof.
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The al Madina Center for Arabic is the first language school specializing in teaching Arabic to non-Arabic speakers, based in Medina, Saudi Arabia.
· Later Renovations
No further expansion took place after the Al- Walid’s expansion. In 654 AH a fire took place and damaged the Prophet’s mosque. Muslim caliphs and leader contributed to pay for the restoration. The last Abbasid Caliph–‘Al-Musta’sim Billah’ sent workers from Baghdad to fix the mosque in 655 AH.
Later in 886 AH, another fire erupted that destroyed any part of the mosque’s roof. At the time, Egypt’s ruler ‘Sultan Qaytbay’ sent material and workers for the restoration. Thus, the mosque was once again roofed in 888 AH. He expanded it 120 sq. meters, and after its completion in 890 AH, required no further expansion or reconstruction until 387 years. However, there were repairs and renovations required from time to time. For example, the crescent above minarets and tomb were replaced.
In 1265 AH (1849 AD), the Ottoman Caliph, ‘Abdulmejid II’, sent a team of architects, engineers, workers, equipment, and materials to restore and enlarge the Prophet’s mosque. The development took thirteen years. Red stone from Al-Jamawat Mountain west of Madinah was a part of the material used. These stones were used for building columns, while black basalt stone walls were constructed.
During the late King Abdullah tenure, the largest expansion took place who ordered 250 umbrellas that would give shade to more than 800 worshippers under each umbrella. Six tracks on the south side of the mosque were shaded to shield pedestrians. The first group of the umbrellas is 14.04 meters tall while the second group is 15.03.
Significance of Masjid an Nabawi
Indeed ‘Masjid an Nabawi’ was of immense importance during the Holy Prophet’s life (PBUH). It allowed the Muslim community to peacefully learn Islam’s teachings and strengthen their faith without worrying about being attacked.
During the Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) life, the mosque was a formal institution where important matters were discussed. Weak and poor Muslims of the community found shelter and the Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) support. It was a uniting factor amongst Muslims during its construction that encouraged brotherhood and trained Muslims to work simultaneously to achieve a goal. It soon became a platform that taught students the Holy Quran’s teaching and served as a religious school.
Today the mosque is open 24/7, and regardless of the time, a believer could find peace at the Prophet’s mosque. ‘Raudah’. However, it opens for a brief amount of time for the ladies. Every year, Muslims coming to perform hajj cannot resist but paying a visit to the Prophet’s mosque due to the kind of connection they feel. Here as a believer, you feel closer to your Prophet (PBUH) and feel secure with the presence of the same positivity as with the Prophet’s aura. The Prophet said in a famous hadith:
“Do not prepare yourself for a journey to any mosque [to earn a special reward of prayers] but the three mosques al-Masjid al-Haram, al-Masjid al-Aqsa, and my mosque.” (Bukhari: No. 1115)
This further proves that by praying in these specified mosques, Muslims will receive an extra reward as stated in another Hadith that says:
‘The rewards for praying one prayer in the Prophet’s mosque is equal to one thousand times that of praying elsewhere with ‘the mosqe of Makkah’ being an exception.’
Lastly, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) asked a companion to make a sitting place for Him while he sat and taught Muslims for hours. This is when the first minbar/podium concept was introduced, which was basically a special place for the addresser. It gained a significant rank in mosques.
Unique Features of the Prophet’s Mosque
Various unique features make the Prophet’s mosque extremely important in Islamic history. Considering that Prophet Muhammad himself built the mosque, it holds substantial value in every Muslim’s eyes and represents that the Prophet believed in hard work.
· 100x Bigger Size
Considering the current size of the mosque, it is 100 times bigger than the original structure. Even with many renovations and constructions, the mosque holds an older section within. The area is highlighted with distinctive pillars and elements of Ottoman architecture can be observed in its design.
· Room of Fatima (RA)
Fatimah (RA)’s room is still present inside the premises, and many items belonging to the Holy Prophet (PBUH) were preserved in the room. However, during the first world war, the Ottoman commander got many artefacts moved to Istanbul. Many of those artefacts are exhibited in the Topkapi Palace today.
Camel decided · Location of Mosque
One of the unique traits of this mosque’s existence includes that the Prophet did not decide upon the place himself, but Allah guided him through his camel. After the migration to Madinah, it is believed that the Prophet claimed to settle wherever his camel would stop. The place where the camel stopped is the same place which we now know as Masjid-an-Nabawi. There is an empty grave in the Prophet’s room, and it is believed to preserved for Hazrat Isa (RA) who will come to the rescue of Muslims and be buried there upon his demise.
Muslim’s Motivation to Pray in the Prophet’s Mosque
Masjid-an-Nabawi holds great importance in every Muslim’s heart. It is no surprise that visitors pray and dream of the opportunity to come to visit the Prophet’s mosque. The blessings of praying in this mosque are more significant, and the feeling of contentment indeed gets to each present in the mosque.
Here, Muslims are bound to go in a state where they reflect upon their previous actions and think about their life choices according to Islam. This is because they are present in the mosque of that perfect individual whose life was set as an example for the entire Muslim community. The place dedicated to praying holds a superior rank, but the fact that the Prophet himself prayed in Masjid-an-Nabawi makes praying there even more special. Muslim scholars consider it as a part of Sunnah.
Praying here makes a Muslim feel closer to Allah, and piety comes to you naturally. Muslim can free their mind from any corrupt or evil thought that may be prevailing. Here, you focus on asking Allah’s forgiveness for your mistakes and sins. It is also believed that no wish is rejected from ‘Riadh-ul-Jannah’. The mosque is a symbol of Islam’s strength, and its unbeatable beauty represents the influence of the religion.
Prophet (SAW) was a symbol of excellence. And Masjid-an-Nabawi plays a crucial role in protecting Islam when it was at its initial stages. The Prophet’s mosque gave justice, guidance, and worship to the worshippers and what better way to pay our respect but to visit the amazing city of Madinah and offer prayers in Masjid-an-Nabawi.
Feel closer to your creator and ask for Allah’s forgiveness in the Prophet mosque as it guarantees a unique and fulfilling experience. The mosque represents Allah’s message on how men and women are equal, and they should fulfil their responsibilities as individuals.
The mosque holds a unique door for women and shows how both and women showed their roles without disregarding their boundaries. We hope and pray that if you haven’t been to the Prophet’s mosque as yet, the time quickly comes, and you can witness the absolute feeling of being complete to your core. (Amen)