The Masjid’un-Nabi and the Building of the House of the Prophet

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 Where is the masjid un nabi the building? Where is the house of the prophet?

There was no mosque in Medina at first and the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- used to offer salat wherever he saw fit. It was not long after he had a second mosque built after Quba, the Masjid’un-Nabi that stands today.

Upon arriving in Medina, Qawsa, the camel of the Noble Messenger  -upon him blessings and peace-, crouched on a patch of land adjacent to quarters of the Najjar Clan left vacant for drying dates, which belonged to two orphans of the clan, Sahl and Suhayl. Descending from his camel, the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- then declared:

“Allah willing, this will be our spot!” Inquiring the owners of the land, he was informed by Muadh ibn Afra -Allah be well-pleased with him- of their owners. Sending for Sahl and Suhayl afterward, the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- bid the orphans to put up a price for the land, so he could purchase it off them.

“No way, Messenger of Allah”, responded the youths. “We can only do as much as grant the land to you as present and expect out rewards from none other than Allah!”

But the Blessed Messenger -upon him blessings and peace- did not accept their generous offer and purchased the land after paying its price. (Bukhari, Manaqib’ul-Ansar, 45, Salat 48; Muslim, Masajid, 9)

The land had some graves belonging to idolaters, small mounds here and there and date trees. The graves were dug up and the bones were relocated elsewhere, the mounds were leveled up and the trees were cut.[1] The Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- then ordered some mud bricks be cast for the construction.[2]

During the construction, the Noble Messenger -upon him blessings and peace- took to the work of carrying the bricks with his Companions, saying, at the same time:

“This burden is not the burden of Khaybar, but the best and cleanest deed that can be offered to Allah.” (Bukhari, Manaqib’ul-Ansar, 45)

Through these words, the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- was indicating that the work they were carrying out had no worldly ends, inherent with much greater benefit than goods like dates and raisins people imported from Khaybar for commercial purposes.

A Companion carrying soil came upon the Noble Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, who himself had a mud brick in his hand, and urged him to let him carry the brick instead, only to be met with the answer:

“Better you go and grab another brick, for you do not stand in greater need for Allah than I!” (Samhudi, I, 333)

Spiritual responsibility and the incentive to encourage fellow Muslims to work had the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- personally laboring in the construction,[3] which inspired the Companions to remark, “…relaxing while the Prophet labors will only lead us astray”. (Ibn Hisham, II, 114)

Present during the construction was a man from Hadramawt, skillful in mixing and casting mud bricks, who received the personal praises of the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- :

“May Allah have mercy on one who executes his art with perfection. Continue doing your work, for I see you are good at it!” (Samhudi, I, 333; Diyarbakri, I, 344)

Allah, glory unto Him, too, wills Believers to execute all their deeds with perfection, commanding in the ayah أَحْسِنُوا, “…do your works perfectly”, which is immediately followed by “…for Allah loves those who carry out (their works) with perfection.” (al-Baqara, 195)

While carrying mud bricks shoulder to shoulder with his Companions during the construction of the Masjid, the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- also repeated the following words, originally articulated by another Companion:

“Allah…The true reward is that of the Hereafter. Have mercy on the Ansar and Muhajirun!” (Bukhari, Manaqib’ul-Ansar, 45)

While everybody else was carrying the bricks one by one, Ammar ibn Yasir  -Allah be well-pleased with him- was carrying them two at a time, one for himself and the other on behalf of the Noble Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-. Upon seeing his diligent effort, the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace-, brushing the dust off him, asked:

“Why are you not carrying the bricks one at a time like your friends Ammar?”

“I am doing it in anticipation of the reward from Allah”, he replied. The Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- thereupon patted him back on the back and said, “Others have one reward, Ammar, whereas you have two!” (Ahmad, III, 91; Ibn Kathir, al-Bidaya, III, 256)

The report below attests to the fact that both men and women labored enthusiastically in the building of the Masjid:

“When his wife passed away, Abdullah ibn Awfa –Allah be well-pleased with him- urged people to ‘Carry her coffin…with enthusiasm, too. For indeed, she and her slaves used to carry the stones of the Masjid of the Prophet, built upon the foundations of piety, at night. And we men were carrying them in twos come day.” (Haythami, II, 10)

A quadrangle, the Masjid’un-Nabi originally had a length and width of approximately a hundred zira,[4] and a height of five to seven zira, the first three at the base of which was stone and the ascending remainder of mud bricks.[5] Mud was additionally used in the mortar of the building.[6] As columns, logs of date trees were rowed together on the qibla side of the Masjid, and leaves and branches of the same trees were used for its roof and pillars.[7] It had a mihrab faced towards the Masjid’ul-Aqsa at Jerusalem and three doors. Once the qibla was relocated towards Kaabah, the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- had the first door closed, in place of which he had another one opened on the Damascus side wall.[8]

Two additional rooms were built adjacent to the Masjid for the lodging of the Noble Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- and his family;[9] the number of which progressively increased.

Hasan Basri, who during his childhood breathed the air of the house of the Noble Messenger -upon him blessings and peace- due to her mother serving as helper to the honorable Umm Salama, recounts how a person could then easily touch the roof of these rooms,[10] from which one could guess they were not so high. The doors of the rooms consisted of felts made of black fleece.[11]

Said ibn Musayyab, one of the great imams of the Tabiun generation, expresses his grief over the demolishing of these rooms during the reign of the Umayyad dynasty and their incorporation to the Masjid:

“By Allah, how I would have wished these rooms to be left as they were, so that today’s generation and those to come and visit could see exactly how much the Messenger of Allah was content with in life and thereby turn away from hoarding up and boasting over wealth!” (Ibn Sad, I, 499-500)

As the Mosque was covered with date branches and leaves, when it rained, its surface of soil would give way to mud. Once during Ramadan, while the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- was in itiqaf, the splattering rain had inundated the Masjid and traces of mud could be seen on the Prophet’s -upon him blessings and peace- face as he lead the fajr salat.[12]

On another occasion, it had again rained, dampening the surface. A man then carried some sand inside his clothes and laid it on the surface to dry it out. Impressed, after completing the salat, the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- expressed his satisfaction by remarking:

“How wonderful a measure!” (Abu Dawud, Salat, 15/458)

Once, on the way back from Damascus, Tamim’ud-Dari -Allah be well-pleased with him- brought with him a considerable amount of lamps, with oil and strings to go with them. It was Friday when he made his way inside the Masjid. He asked his servant Abu’l-Barrad to put some oil and water inside the lamps, hang them up inside the Masjid and light them up after sunset. Seeing the Masjid glowing with lamps upon entering, the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- inquired whose idea this was.

“It was Tamim’s, Messenger of Allah”, was the response. Visibly happy, the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- then said to Tamim:

“You have lit up Islam and adorned her Masjid, so may Allah light you up in Here and the Hereafter!” (Samhudi, II, 596-597; Ibn Hajar, al-Isaba, II, 18)

In the words of the Blessed Messenger -upon him blessings and peace-, the Masjid’un-Nabawi is one of the three mosques worthy of journeying to with the purposes of visiting and worshipping. (Bukhari, Fadl’us-Salat, 1; Muslim, Hajj, 505-510) He in fact says in a hadith:

“The area between my house and my minbar (pulpit) is a garden from among the gardens of Paradise. My minbar stands above my Pool (of Kawthar).” (Bukhari, Fadl’us-Salat, 5; Fadail’ul-Medina 11; Muslim, Hajj, 502)

On the words of the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, a salat offered at his Mosque reaps a reward a thousand times greater than that offered anywhere else, apart from Kaabah, the Sacred House. (Bukhari, Fadl’us-Salat, 1; Muslim, Hajj, 505-510)

According to the report of Anas -Allah be well-pleased with him-, the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- used to address the congregation inside the Masjid resting against a date trunk. The need for a minbar was glaring, so it was put up, on which the Noble Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- was to give his khutbah thereafter. But the moment the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- ascended the minbar for the first time, as if to give vent to the agony of being abandoned, a groan resembling that of a camel was heard from the trunk. The Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- then immediately came down from the minbar and patted the trunk awhile. Only after that did the trunk stop groaning and find peace. (Bukhari, Juma, 26; Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 6/3627)

“It cried because of falling distant to the dhikr of Allah that was previously carried out close to it”, the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- said. (Bukhari, Manaqib, 25; Ahmad, III, 300)

Reports vary as to where the trunk was placed after the incident. One account states it was buried in a ditch dug up underneath the minbar, while according to another, it was placed on the ceiling. Wherever it may have been placed, one thing is known. During the rebuilding of the Masjid in the time of Caliph Othman -Allah be well-pleased with him-, the trunk was taken by Ubayy ibn Kaab -Allah be well-pleased with him-, who kept it in his house until it was entirely consumed by bugs.[13]

In his Mathnawi, the great Mawlana Rumi makes the illustrious date trunk talk in a spiritual language:

“The Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- descended from the minbar and patting the date trunk with his blessed hands, asked, with the profoundest of insights:

‘What is that you want, date trunk? Why do you weep? What is wrong?” The date trunk then began speaking in its own language, and shedding warm tears, said:

‘Your longing, Messenger of Allah, has burnt me to crisp…it has filled me with an incommunicable grief and yearning. The fortunate and happy pole against which you used to rest at sermon time was I. But now you have left me and ascended a minbar. The minbar is now your rest. But Messenger of Allah! Please acknowledge my pain, for which being on Earth could ever stand your separation?’

In response to the deep plea of love pronounced by the date trunk, the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- said, soothingly:

‘Since you wail from the pain of separation, date trunk, wish from me whatever you please! Should I request Allah to turn you into a lusciously green and vibrant tree, providing fruits for entire mankind, East and West? Or should I ask Him to make you into a cypress sapling of Paradise where you shall remain forever young and ripe, like the most beautiful of bodies?’

Receiving these gratifying compliments, the trunk then made the following request of the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, manifesting its scorching love deep inside:

“I want neither, Messenger of Allah. My only wish is to annihilate in your existence…therefore I plea you to bury and dispose of me and save me from my mortal body. For no matter how luscious and beautiful a tree may be, it takes its nutrition from the sun and water. But my life has received its nourishment from your own light. It has tasted the zest of providing a rest for you, warming in your warmth and scorching in your love. I may no longer be separated from this sweet pleasure. I want that which is eternal. Bury and dispose of me in such a way that I will be able to revive with your one and only light and become eternal.’

That date trunk was buried so it could be resurrected on the Day of Judgment like a human being.”

Immediately after gracing Medina, one of the first initiatives the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- took towards instituting a tight knit Islamic community was the building of the Masjid. Casting off differences of wealth and status and gathering at the house of Allah, glory unto Him, five times a day, no doubt plays an enormous role in establishing brotherhood among Believers. It is for no other reason that Muslim towns have generally been founded around mosques, which have acted as hubs for the neighborhoods around it, in a way accommodating an outward expansion of settlement.

Together with being a precinct of worship, the Masjid, during the Age of Bliss, was a school, an assembly for deciding matters at hand, a center for discussing administrative and military issues, a hospital and a place of leisure. The Masjid also provided boarding for unmarried or homeless Companions who frequented the lessons, talks and dhikr assemblies held there, effectively making it, at the same time, a guesthouse.

[1] Muslim, Masajid, 9.[2] Ibn Saad, I, 239.[3] The Prophet’s -upon him blessings and peace- attitude is exemplary of the ideal conduct those in administrative positions should exert: to be the forerunner, at all times, in carrying out all responsibilities and avoiding the arrogance of taking a responsibility lightly, however small it may seem. Deriving utmost benefit from the quintessential example of the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, during the construction of the magnificent Sultan Ahmad Mosque, Sultan Ahmad I had worked like a laborer with a shovel and pickax in hand. After his death, her daughter Gevher Nesibe Hatun had a dream in which she saw him in a magnificent place in Paradise, and she curiously asked, ‘With what deed did you attain to such a high rank, father?’ ‘I carried stones on my back during the construction of the mosque’, he replied, ‘and that is the reason I have been given this high rank’.

To think that when Sultan Ahmad I was carrying stones on his back, a beautiful display of Islamic morals, the Ottoman State was at her peak, ruling the vastest territories on record. Kings were bowing to her majesty and were ordained only by the hands of her grand viziers.

[4] A zira is 75 cm’s.[5] Ibn Saad, I, 239.[6] Diyarbakri, I, 344.[7] Bukhari, Salat, 62.[8] Diyarbakri, I, 346.[9] Ibn Saad, I, 240.[10] Ibn Saad, VII, 161; Suhayli, I, 248.[11] Ibn Saad, I, 499.[12] Bukhari, Itiqaf, 1.[13] Ibn Saad, I, 251-252.

Source: Osman Nuri Topbaş, The Prophet Muhammed Mustafa the Elect II, Erkam Publications

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