By Muhammad Sayed Al-Jakni
After years of suffering and patience, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was granted permission by Almighty Allah to emigrate to Madinah. It was narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) said: “Oh Allah! You have ordered me to leave the place I love the most. Oh Allah! Make us go to the place You love the most!”
Shortly afterwards the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Oh Allah! Make us love Madinah as much as we love Makkah or more.”
The Prophet’s (pbuh) love for Madinah surpassed his love for Makkah, although the latter is home to the Ka’ba and Muslims from around the world turn toward it to perform their prayers. Haj, the journey of a lifetime, is also performed in Makkah.
But the comparison between both the cities is different: Makkah represents holiness and sanctity whereas Madinah love, mercy, and sanctity. The grave of the Prophet (pbuh) also lies in Madinah.
When the Prophet (peace be upon him) arrived in Madinah, he started building the first mosque for Muslims. A Qur’anic verse revealed during the period was: “A mosque founded on righteousness from the first day is more worthy for you to stand in.”
When the Prophet (peace be upon him) entered Madinah, he was riding his camel and everyone in Madinah was inviting the Prophet (pbuh) to stay in their home. The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Leave the camel. It will stop where the Almighty Allah orders it to stop.”
The camel stopped at a spot which later became the area consisting of the ‘Mihrab’ (niche in the wall indicating the direction of prayer),” the pulpit and ‘Al-Rawdah Al-Sharifah’ (the Noble Garden). The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that area is a garden from the gardens of Paradise. It is the area where prayers are answered and Muslims cry while supplicating to Allah; it is the area from where the Prophet (pbuh) preached about Islam.
After his death, the Mothers of Believers, the Prophet’s (pbuh) wives, educated and taught Muslims about Islam from there.
Located inside the ‘Al-Rawdah Al-Sharifah’ are the rooms of the Mothers of Believers. A Qur’anic chapter, Al-Hujorat, was named after these rooms as they have special sanctity as a gift from Allah, which no one can ignore or regard it as insignificant. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Between my house and my ‘Minbar’ (the pulpit), there is a garden from the gardens of Paradise.” The reward of performing a prayer at the mosque is equivalent to 1,000 prayers elsewhere except at the Grand Mosque.
When the Prophet’s Mosque was built, Muslims used to face the ‘Bait Al-Maqdas’ while performing their prayers. The Prophet (pbuh) was ordered later to face the Ka’ba when performing prayers. Qur’anic verses were revealed to him to change the ‘Qiblah’ (direction) while he was at Bani Salamah Mosque, which is located on the west side of Madinah. The change of ‘Qiblah’ was one of the most significant events in the Islamic history because it made the Jews angry and indignant, and Muslims happy and joyful.
Before the change of ‘Qiblah,’ the Prophet (pbuh) always wanted to face the Ka’ba when performing prayers.
Allah says in the Qur’an: “We have certainly seen the turning of your face, [O Muhammad], toward the heaven, and We will surely turn you to a ‘Qiblah’ with which you will be pleased. So turn your face toward ‘Al-Masjid Al-Haram.’ And wherever you [believers] are, turn your faces toward it [in prayer].”
According to the prevailing opinion regarding the issue of the ‘Qiblah,’ the part of the Qur’anic verse that says “So turn your face toward ‘Al-Masjid Al-Haram’ means turn your face towards the Ka’ba. Throughout the history of the Prophet’s Mosque, Muslims have preserved the ‘Qiblah’ and no one has made any major changes to it except minor ones made by two caliphs: Omar Bin Al-Khattab and Othman Bin Affan. They both moved the location of the ‘Mihrab’ a few meters further; and this decision was undertaken after the majority of the companions unanimously agreed to it. There was no difference of opinion over the decision as it was based on the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) saying of moving the ‘Mihrab’ by a few meters.
Two things to note: Firstly, Omar Bin Al-Khattab expanded the Prophet’s Mosque from the western and northern sides in line with what the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, and whatever he has legislated should be done by Muslims. When Omar Bin Al-Khattab expanded the ‘Mihrab,’ he was working according to the Prophet’s (pbuh) sayings. It was narrated by Imam Ahmad that when Omar Bin Al-Khattab expanded the mosque, he said: “I wouldn’t have expanded this mosque had I not heard the Prophet (pbuh) say: “We should expand our mosque.” Read part 2 in tomorrow’s edition