History of the Sacred Chamber

By Dr. Imtiaz Ahmad

INTRODUCTION
Hujrat are those huts in which Prophet Mohammad (SAS) used to reside with his wives. When the Prophet’s Mosque was being built, two huts were also constructed for Prophet’s wives Aisha (RUA)  and Sauda(RU). More such huts were built as the number of wives of the Prophet (SAS) increased. All these huts or rooms were adjacent to the mosque and their doors used to open in the mosque. Each hut consisted of a room. It’s walls were built by unbaked bricks of mud and the roof by the branches of palm tree. It had also a tiny yard.
As described in Bukhari, Dawud bin Qais (RU) said, “I saw these huts or hujrat. These were covered by the branches of the palm trees. The distance between the entrance door and the door of hujra was about three meters. Each hujra was roughly 5×5 meters. ”
Hasan Basri (RU) said, “I was a teenager and I could touch the ceiling of each hut as I stood in it. Each hujra consisted of only one room. The roof of each room was made of wooden pieces.” (Bukhari 581, Khilasa-tul-Vifa 278).
The wives of the Prophet (SAS) spent their lives in such ordinary rooms. The hujra of Aisha (RUA) will be described below in more detail. Other hujrat are described in by the author’s separate book titled ‘Houses of the Companions of the Prophet (SAS).’
When Omar bin Abdul Aziz (RU) expanded the Prophet’s Mosque, he included in it all the hujrat except that of Aisha (RUA). Sacred Chamber means that room in which the Prophet used to live with his wife Aisha. Prophet passed away in this room and was buried in this very room. Later on Caliph Abu Bakr (RU) and Caliph Omar (RU) were also buried in this room. Isa (AS) will be buried in this room as well when Allah (SWT) will send him down from the sky and when he (AS) will die like other human beings.

DREAM OF AISHA (RUA)
Aisha (RUA) said, “I saw in a dream that three moons fell in my lap. I described this dream to my father Abu Bakr (RU).” When Prophet Mohammad (SAS) died and was buried in Aisha’s room, Abu Bakr (RU) referring to Aisha’s (RUA) dream said to her, “This is the one among your moons and it is better than the other two.”

BURIAL IN AISHA’S CHAMBER 

 

Imam Malik (RTA) said, “Prophet Mohammad (SAS) died on Monday and was buried on Tuesday. Some people suggested that he should be buried near the pulpit. Others suggested Baqee graveyard for his burial. Abu Bakr (RU) said, ‘I have heard from Prophet Mohammad (SAS) that a prophet is buried at that spot where he passes away.’ Hence Prophet Mohammad (SAS) was buried in Aisha’s hujra.”
When Prophet Mohammad (SAS) was given a bath before his burial, a sound was heard calling for not removing the shirt of the Prophet (SAS). Hence his shirt was not removed and he was given bath with his clothes on.”
“People offered Salat-ul-Janaza individually. No congregational salat was held with an Imam.”   (Muwatta Imam Malik)
Salam Bin Obeid (RU), was one of the residents of Suffah. He narrated that the companions asked Abu Bakr (RU), “Should we bury the Prophet?” Abu Bakr (RU) replied, “Yes”. They asked, “Where?” Abu Bakr (RU) said “Where he died”. Hence the Prophet (SAS) was buried in Aisha’s chamber. (Majma-al-Zawaid).
As described in Bukhari, Aisha (RUA) said, “Prophet Mohammad (SAS) said during his illness before death, ‘Where will I stay tonight? Where am I supposed to be tomorrow?’ All his wives very willingly agreed to let him stay in my chamber during his final illness? He passed away when his head was in my lap. He was buried in my room.”

PREPARATION FOR THE GRAVE
Abdullah bin Abbas (RU) narrated that at the time of the bath of the Prophet (SAS) some companions gathered outside his house. Abbas (RU) called two of them. He sent one to bring Abu Obeida bin Jarrah (RU) since he used to dig straight graves in Makkah. Abbas (RU) sent the other person to bring Abu Talha (RU) since he used to dig graves in Madina with a side trench in it. At that time Abbas (RU) also made this supplication, “O Allah, choose one of them for your beloved Prophet”. By chance the  messengers could not find Abu Obeida (RU) or Abu Talha (RU). Hence Abbas (RU) made the grave for the Prophet with a side trench at the bottom of the  grave. (Bukhari, Muwatta)

BURIAL OF ABU BAKR (RU)
Caliph Abu Bakr (RU) left a will with Aisha [ to bury him by the side of Prophet Mohammad (SAS). Hence he was buried there in such a way that his head was in line with the shoulders of Prophet Mohammad (SAS). A grave with side trench was prepared for him.
Ibn Kathir wrote that Abu Bakr (RU) died in Jamada II of 13H. He was sixty three years old just like Prophet Mohammad (SAS). He was, in this way, with the Prophet (SAS) after death just like he was with him during his lifetime. During Abu Bakr’s (RU) fifteen days illness, Omar (RU) led the salat. (Al Bidaih Wa An Nihaih)
SUPPLICATION OF OMAR (RU) AND HIS MARTYRDOM
Prophet Mohammad (SAS) migrated to Madina and spent rest of his life there and finally died in Madina. Prophet (SAS) used to encourage Muslims to reside and die in Madina. As described by Ibn Majah and narrated by Ibn Omar (RU), Prophet Mohammad (SAS) used to say, “You should wish to die in Madina. I shall be a witness for the person who dies in Madina.”
Hence Omar (RU) used to make the following dua as mentioned in Bukhari, “O Allah, please grant me martyrdom and make me die in the city of Your beloved Prophet (SAS).”
Ibn Kathir wrote that Allah (SWT) granted the dua of Omar (RU) and combined his both wishes. Omar (RU) was leading Sala-tul-Fajr on 26th of Dhul Hajja in the year of 23H. A person attacked him with a double edged sharp dagger causing a fatal wound. This was done by a slave of Al-Mugayyrah bin Shaabah. This slave was known as Abu Luh Luh who was a worshipper of fire and not a Muslim by faith.
Lot of blood was gushing out of the wound of Omar (RU). He was immediately brought to his home. At times he passed out and at times he regained his senses. When he was reminded of the salat, he completed his salat and said “Those who do not establish salat have nothing to do with Islam.” Omar (RU) enquired, “ Who was the attacker?”  He was told about Abu Luh Luh, the non Muslim. Omar (RU) said “All praise is for Allah (SWT) who did not cause my death by the hands of a person who is Muslim by faith.” Soon after this he died and was buried by the side of Abu Bakr (RU) on the first of Muharram in the year 24H. Omar (RU) was the third moon which Aisha (RU) saw in her dream.

OMAR’S (RU) PERMISSION FOR BURIAL
As mentioned in Bukhari and narrated by Amar bin Maimon (RU), “I saw that Omar (RU) was instructing his son, Abdullah bin Omar (RU) to visit Aisha (RUA) and after conveying his salam to her, to make the following request. ‘Omar (RU) requests you to grant him permission to be buried along with his companions in her chamber.’ Ibn Omar went to Aisha (RUA) and requested her accordingly. She said, ‘I had reserved this spot for myself. I however, grant you the permission out of sympathy.’ When Ibn Omar returned he informed Omar (RU) about the permission of Aisha (RUA). Omar (RU) said, ‘After my death again convey my salam to Aisha (RUA)  and request her once again to grant the permission for burial in her chamber. If she does not grant the permission, bury me in Baqee cemetry.’ Aisha  again granted the permission.”
ALI’S (RU) DUA
As mentioned in Bukhari, Ibn Abbas (RU) narrated, “Omar (RU) was put on a cot or a bed after his death. Many people surrounded the cot and were making supplications for Omar (RU). I was among these people. One person put his hand on my shoulder. I turned around and noticed that it was Ali (RU). Ali (RU) made the following supplication, ‘O Omar, may Allah’s (SWT), mercy be showered on you. I wish when I face Allah (SWT) I go there with wonderful deeds like yours. I swear I have full faith in the fact that Allah (SWT) will make you join your companions. I often heard this from Prophet Mohammad (SAS), ‘I, Abu Bakr and Omar went. I, Abu Bakr and Omar entered. I, Abu Bakr and Omar came out.”

VEIL OF AISHA (RUA)
After the burial of Omar (RU) in the Sacred Chamber, Aisha (RUA)  put a partition between the area occupied by the graves and rest of the room. It was because Omar (RU) was not mahram to her. Hence she continued keeping her veil from him even after his death.
It is mentioned in Tabka-tul-Kubra and narrated by Malik bin Anas (RU), “After burial of Omar (RU) in the Sacred Chamber, Aisha (RUA)  divided her room into two parts by building a wall between the graves and rest of her tiny living area. Whenever she went to the area occupied by the graves, she wore Islamic veil.”
It is mentioned in Vifa-ul-Vifa, Aisha (RUA)  said, “When no wall was built between the graves and my living area, I never took my veil off and used to stay wrapped up in clothes.”
These steps of Aisha (RUA)  are a guiding light for the Muslim women to observe the Islamic veil. Every muslim woman should ask herself how close she is to this Islamic practice.

ORDER OF THE THREE GRAVES
There are different narrations regarding the order and lay out of the graves of Prophet Mohammad (SAS) and his two companions resting in the Sacred Chamber. Most of the scholars have described it as follows. First grave from Qiblah or from the southern wall of the Sacred Chamber is of  Prophet Mohammad (SAS). Abu Bakr’s (RU) grave is a bit north of the Prophet’s (SAS) grave in such a way that the head of Abu Bakr (RU) is in line with the shoulders of the Prophet (SAS). Slightly north of it is the grave of Omar (RU) and his head is in line with the shoulders of Abu Bakr (RU). Samhoudi  and other scholars preferred this description over other versions. Nawawi and  many other scholars have used this lay out to guide visitors for salutation to Prophet (SAS) and his companions. Nawawi said, “The visitor should face towards the grave with his back toward Qiblah and respectfully offer salutation to the Prophet (SAS). Then move about half a meter to his right and offer salutation to Abu Bakr (RU). Finally move about half meter more to his right and offer salutation to Omar (RU).

THE OUTER APPEARANCE OF THE GRAVES 
It will be pertinent to mention here that the companions never put bricks or other similar materials on these three graves. Qasim bin Mohammad bin Abu Bakr (RU) narrated as mentioned in Sunan Abu Dawud, “ I visited Aisha (RU) and requested her to show me these three graves. I observed that the graves were neither very high above the ground nor totally in level with the ground. I saw these covered with reddish color earth.”
It is mentioned in Tabqa-tul-Kubra by Ibn Saad as narrated by Qassim, “I was only a child when I visited these graves which were covered with reddish color earth.”
It is mentioned in Fatah Bari as narrated by Abu Bakr Ajari (RU)
 “I saw these graves during the period of Omar bin Abdul Aziz (RU). These were about four inches above the ground level”. It is also mentioned in Fatah Bari as narrated by Rija bin Haiwah,
 “Waleed bin Abdul Malik wrote to Omar bin Abdul Aziz to purchase the hujrat of the wives of Prophet Mohammad (SAS) and include this area in the mosque as well. When the walls of the hujrats were removed, these graves became visible. The sandy soil on the graves had somewhat leveled off. Omar bin Abdul Aziz rebuilt the walls of Aisha’s chamber during the expansion of the Prophet’s Mosque.”
A renowned scholar, Samhoudi, mentioned in Vifa-ul-Vifa that the walls of the Sacred Chamber were remodeled in 878H. He had the privilege and honor of entering the Sacred Chamber during these repairs. Samhoudi said, “As I entered the Sacred Chamber, I found very delicate fragrance there which I had never experienced in my life before. I offered salutation to the Prophet (SAS) and his both companions. Then I focused my attention to condition of the graves so that I could describe it fully to others. All three graves were almost even to the ground level. At one place there was a slight rise above the ground level. It was probably, Omar’s (RU) grave. The graves were definitely covered by ordinary earth.”
After this occasion nobody has been able to see these graves since all the four walls of the Sacred Chamber have been fully built upto the roof level and closed for any view.
I may add that some people are carrying pictures of these graves indicating that the graves are built of bricks or stones and are quite high from the ground level. It is total fabrication. This approach is like following the footsteps of Jews. When Jews wanted to make something permissible for them, they would ascribe it to Prophet Moses (AS) to justify their actions.

SPOT FOR THE FOURTH GRAVE
As mentioned some hadith and other authentic books there is a spot for a fourth grave in the Sacred Chamber. This is the same spot which Aisha (RUA) offered to Abdur Rahman bin Auf (RU). Hafs bin Omar bin Abdur Rahman narrated, “ When Abdur Rahman bin Auf (RU) was on his death bed, Aisha (RUA) sent him a message that I have kept a spot for you near the Prophet (SAS). Accept it, if you like.” Abdur Rahman (RU) said, “ I have heard that you have not removed your veil since Omar (RU) was burried in your room. Furthermore, I do not like to convert the house of the Prophet (SAS) into a cemetery. I have promised Osman bin Mazun (RU) that our graves will be situated close to each other.” (History of Madina-Ibn Shabah)
Hence there is a spot for a fourth grave in the Sacred Chamber. It is also mentioned in Bukhari that Aisha (RUA)  left this will with her nephew Abdullah bin Zubair (RU), instructing him not to bury her in the Sacred Chamber. Rather bury her with rest of the wives of the Prophet (SAS) in Baqee cemetery since she does not wish to distinguish herself from his other wives.
Imam Malik (RTA) said, “There was some space in the Sacred Chamber. Hence Aisha (RUA)  was told that, if it pleased her, she would be buried there after her death”. Aisha (RUA)  replied, ‘I would then become one who invents an innovation.’”
Many scholars have written that there is a spot for a grave near the eastern part of the Sacred Chamber. Saeed bin Al-Musayyab said, “This is the spot for Isa (AS).” Furthermore, it is obvious that there was a tiny living area for Aisha (RUA) in her humble hut after the partition was built to separate her from the graves. In other words, there is a spot for the fourth grave in the Sacred Chamber, where Isa (AS) will be buried.
BURIAL OF ISA (AS)
Tirmidhi has mentioned as narrated by Abdullah bin Salam (AS), “The characteristics of Prophet Mohammad (SAS) are described in Old Testament and it is also mentioned there that Isa (AS) will be buried with him”.
Abdullah bin Omar (RU) has narrated that Prophet Mohammad (SAS) said, “Isa (AS) will descend to the earth. He will marry and will have children. In this way he will spend forty five years and finally he will die and will be buried with me. On the Day of Judgement. I, Isa (AS), Abu Bakr and Omar will rise from the same site.”   (Al-Vifa).
HISTORICAL STAGES IN CONSTRUCTION OF THE SACRED CHAMBER

Original hujra or hut of Aisha  was built of branches of palm trees covered with blanket of hair. The frame of the door was made of wood. The branches of trees were replaced by bricks by Omar (RU).
It is narrated by Obeid ullah bin Abu Yazeed that the walls of the house of Prophet (SAS) were not made of bricks, stones or any other such materials. Omar (RU) rebuilt these walls by bricks during his Caliphate. These walls were, however, small. Abdulla bin Zubair raised these higher. (Tabka-tul-Kubra). Near the end of the first century of Hijra, Omar bin Abdul Aziz constructed the walls of the Sacred Chamber with black stone.

THE EVENT OF A VISIBLE FOOT
Urwa bin Zubair narrated that hujrat were removed during the period of Waleed bin Abdul Malik in order to include them in the expansion of the Prophet’s Mosque. At that time the eastern wall of the Sacred Chamber collapsed. It was necessary to dig its foundation to rebuild it. In this process a foot appeared.
Someone said that it was perhaps  the Prophet’s (SAS) foot. Urwa saw it and said, “I swear it is not the Prophet’s foot, it is Omar’s (RU) foot”.

 

More detail of this event is given by Abdullah bin Mohammad bin Aqeel. He said, “I used to come to the Prophet’s Mosque in the later part of the night. I used to salute Prophet (SAS) and then used to stay in the mosque till salat-ul-fajr. One night it was raining. When I reached near the house of Al-Mugayyara bin Shaabah (RU), I came across some fragrance which I had never experienced before. I entered the mosque and saluted the Prophet (SAS). I was surprised to see that one wall of the Sacred Chamber had collapsed. I went inside the chamber and saluted the Prophet (SAS) again. Shortly after this Omar bin Abdul Aziz, the Governor of Madina, arrived there since he had been informed about the fall of the wall. He ordered to cover the Sacred Chamber with a large piece of cloth. In the morning a builder was brought and was told to go inside the chamber. He requested that another person should also accompany him. Omar bin Abdul Aziz (RU) became ready for it. Qasim bin Abu Bakr volunteered for it also. Similarly Salim bin Abdullah bin Omar volunteered too and insisted to accompany them as well. Omar bin Abdul Aziz (RU) said, ‘We should not bother the residents of the graves by crowding there.’ Omar (RU) then said to his freed slave, Mazaham, ‘Please go inside all alone.’ Mazaham said, ‘The first grave is slightly lower in height than the other two graves.’ After the completion of the renovation Omar (RU) said to Mazaham, ‘Go inside again and clean the Sacred Chamber.’ Mazaham went in again and did the general cleaning there after the renovation activities. Later on Omar (RU) remarked, ‘I wish I had done this cleaning in place of Mazaham. This cleaning activity would have been better for me than all of the worldly assets.’” 

 

FIVE CORNERED WALLS
In 91H, Omar bin Abdul Aziz built these five cornered walls around the inner four walls of the Sacred Chamber so that nobody may enter the Sacred Chamber. These outer walls are about seven meters high and are covered by a cloth. These days this outer structure is called Sacred Chamber. Samhoudi said, “The outer walls were made with five corners instead of four, so that the Sacred Chamber does not resemble the Kabah. This was to avoid any possibility of people making prostration to the Sacred Chamber.

 

In 1296H, a screen of a window fell inside the Sacred Chamber. Burzanji went, with the Imam of Prophet’s Mosque, on the roof of the mosque. They saw that there was an inner smaller dome. The inner Sacred Chamber was  a square structure and covered with a cloth. Hence it was not possible to see inside the Sacred Chamber enclosed by the four walls. 

 

RENOVATION OF WALLS OF THE SACRED CHAMBER
During the period of Qaitabai, the walls of the Sacred Chamber were renovated again. Samhoudi described it as follows:
 “The eastern wall of Sacred Chamber developed some cracks. The cracks were filled and white washing was done on top of it. In due course of time these fillings wore off and cracks appeared in the five cornered walls of the Sacred Chamber. Hence on the 14th of Shaaban 881H, the outer five walls of the Sacred Chamber were removed for reconstruction. The cracks were also visible in the inner four walls of the Sacred Chamber. Hence these innermost walls were also removed. This made the Sacred Chamber open and visible.” Samhoudi stated, “I had the privilege and honor to enter the Sacred Chamber. I entered from the backside (i.e. North). I experienced a unique fragrance there which I never came across in my life. I humbly saluted the Prophet (SAS) and his two companions. I then took part in reconstruction of the Sacred Chamber voluntarily and this construction work was completed on the seventh of Shawwal.”
Samhoudi added, “We saw that the inner structure of the Sacred Chamber was a square and built of black stones similar to the stones of Kabah. There was no door in it. The visitor automatically develops very lovely feelings there.”
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About MuQeet

This is MuQeet. Author. Educator. Soft Skill Trainer. Freelancer. Editor. YasSarNalQuR'aN is my primary blog. There are two other amazing blogs: www.Muqith.wordpress.com and www.IslamCalling.wordpress.com Subscribe if you wish to stay connected, InshaaAllah. Thank you.
This entry was posted in History of the Sacred Chamber (where the Prophet (sal-lal-lahu-alaihi-wa-sallam) is buried). Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to History of the Sacred Chamber

  1. Marrium says:

    I am an architectural student, doing thesis on graveyards. Could somebody help me in this, specifically in the history,origin of graveyard after advent of islam, its space planning.

    • MuQeet says:

      Dear Sister in Islam,
      Assalamu Alaikum.
      If you are looking out for the concept of Islamic architecture in relation to graveyard, i am sorry, you wouldn’t be able to get any authentic Islamic info on the topic. In Islam, a Muslim grave/graveyard must devoid of any concrete structures. No building of any concrete or cemented structure over the grave is allowed in Islam. Built with four boundary walls, a Muslim graveyard must be simple in nature.
      Secondly, some people will try to tell you otherwise citing the examples of huge tombs built over the graves of saints and so-called leaders of Muslim community. Please don’t believe in such things as such things are deviations from Islam. Islam condemns the building of lofty tombs over the graves as it paves way to grave-worship.
      If you can change the topic of your research to Mosque Architecture, you will find rich resources to complete your thesis easily, InshaAllah.

      • Usman says:

        Thankyiu for letting us know.but holy prophet pbuh was the one for whom both the worlds were created. The respect and protocol we give him is just not what he deserves but our love will be for him till the end of this world !

  2. tariq imam jubejo says:

    SubhanAllah

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