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Chapter 5: The Pilgrimage of Islam

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THE PILGRIMAGE OF ISLAM
ENCOMPASSING THE FIVE SCHOOLS OF LAW
By: Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri

Chapter 5
Visiting The Prophet

 

The overwhelming experience of the Ka‘bah and all that surrounds it is one of divine majesty; the overwhelming experience of the Prophet's tomb and all that surrounds it is one of divine beauty.  Visiting the Prophet is a journey of love: as the Qur`an says of him: ‘And We have not sent you but as a mercy to the worlds.’ (21:107)

 

Visiting the Prophet is a significant event, for he is the way to God.  He said about himself, ‘I am the city of knowledge.’  This was not an idle boast, for he was not speaking from the ordinary locus of the self.  He was so interwoven with the Divine design, with God’s will, that no lower self of his remained.  He acted by the Real, spoke by the Real, and was guided by the Real even as he guides now by the Real.  This is the meaning of the saying that he was the ‘Walking Qur`an’.

 

The Prophetic nature is the human manifestation of Reality described in the Qur`an thus: ‘Be, and it is!’ (2:117).  The Prophet is in the perpetual present, which admits neither beginning nor end.  He has been endowed with what may be described, in the most positive sense, that although he is in this world, he is not of this material world.  He is the perfected human being; one who can direct other human beings towards and along the path to God.

 

There are two elements necessary for one to follow this path.  The first is imitation of the Prophetic actions, together with the knowledge and desire to reach the goal.  The second is to love the Prophetic form and action and what they stand for.  Love for the Prophet is love for God, for he was the perfect human manifestation of God’s attributes and actions.  God is known by His attributes and actions, for he is One in essence, attribute and action. In regard to following the Prophet the Qur`an says:

Say: if you love Allah then follow me.  Allah will love you and conceal for you what keeps you from Him.  (3:31)

And the Prophet said in a famous tradition, ‘Whoever loves me is loved by God.’  Love is the magnetic force which attracts.  Love is the elixir which transmutes imitation into reality.  Love is the vehicle to Divine knowledge.

 

There is a certain etiquette recommended by the men of knowledge in Islam for anyone visiting the Prophet’s city, his mosque and his place of burial, for love requires courtesy.  The following is a summary of some of what they have expressed.

 

 

The Reward of Visitation

 

Imam Husayn asked the Prophet what reward one might have for visiting him, and the Prophet replied,

My son, if someone visits me while I am alive or dead, or visits your father, your brother or yourself, it becomes incumbent upon me to visit him on the Day of Resurrection and rescue him from his sins.

Elsewhere the Prophet said, 

            Whoever goes to Makkah for the Pilgrimage but does not visit me in Madinah, will be treated harshly by me on the Day of Judgement.  It is incumbent upon me to intercede for one who visits me, and whomever I intercede for, the Garden is necessarily his.  Whoever dies in the Sacred Mosque of Makkah or my mosque in Madinah is not turned away, nor is he called to account.  He dies as one whose destination is God, and he will be gathered on the Day of Resurrection with the companions of Badr.

 

Approaching Madinah

 

While travelling to Madinah you should invoke blessing on the Prophet often, and upon sighting the city say, ‘O Lord, this is the Sacred Precinct of your Prophet, so make it a protection for me from the Fire and a place of safety from the punishment and harm of the Reckoning.’  You should take a ritual bath before entering, perfume yourself, dress in your cleanest clothes, and enter Madinah in a state of humble exaltation.

 

When you see the city, bear in mind that it is the city that God chose for His Prophet.  The Prophet emigrated to it, and  it was here that his Lord revealed the laws of Islam. It was also here that the Prophet fought and defeated his enemies and established his Prophetic practice.  From this city God made His way victorious, and in it His Prophet passed away, causing Allah to bless it.

 

When in Madinah one ought to reflect upon the fact this is the place where the Prophet walked, and that upon every spot upon which you place your feet the Beloved Prophet may have placed his.  Form a mental picture of the Prophet while walking in humility and tranquillity, and reflect upon the vast knowledge God entrusted to his heart.  God, the Most High, raised his remembrance until he joined it with His own remembrance.  He thwarted the actions of anyone who attempted to disgrace His Prophet, even by so little an action as raising one’s voice above his.  Bear in mind what God bestowed upon those who were fortunate enough to gain his companionship, to see him and listen to his speech, and feel sorrow because you have not had the opportunity of his physical companionship.

 

Bear in mind that although you have not seen him in the physical world, the vision of him in the Hereafter will be a momentous affair.  Realize, also, that perhaps seeing him  will occur amidst great grief and affliction, because your actions will have prevented you from being admitted to his presence, for he said:

Raise your consciousness to reflect upon people who will say, ‘O Muhammad, O Muhammad!’  So I will say, 'O Lord, they call for me.’  ‘Verily,’ He will reply, ‘You do not know what they did after you.’  So I will say to them, ‘Go far away, and keep your distance.’

Upon arriving in Madinah, go directly to the Prophet’s place of burial in his mosque.  Upon reaching the Prophet’s mosque, remember that the laws of God were enacted in that very courtyard, and that it has seen the best of created beings, living and dead.  You should raise your hopes in anticipation, entering the mosque in a state of humility and exaltation, for it is the most suitable place for any believer to induce humility in his heart.

 

 

Entering the Mosque and Greeting the Prophet

 

The Door of Gabriel is the best entrance, and is located on the north-west side of the mosque.  Walking through the door you will see a structure ahead and to the left, the nearest end of which is Fatimah’s house, while farthest to the left is the Prophet’s tomb and the tombs of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar.  On the right, directly behind Fatimah’s house, is a platform, which is the place where a group of the Prophet’s followers called the ahl al-suffah used to stay.  Go to the door of the Prophet’s tomb, which is surrounded by a silver lattice, and greet the Messenger of God while standing before the door of his tomb.  You must stand in his presence as though he were still alive in the physical world, and draw close to his tomb as you would have approached him if he were alive.  He knows of your presence, where you stand, and the fact that you have journeyed to visit him.  Your greetings and blessings reach him; you must imagine his noble and compassionate being and recall his exalted rank, for God sends angels to greet anyone from his community who greets him.  The Prophet said, ‘Whoever blesses me once, God blesses him ten times.’  If the reward of blessing the Prophet with the tongue is so great then what must be the reward for visiting him with one’s body?

 

Thereafter you should go to the eastern side of the tomb, which, if you are facing in the direction of the qiblah, is on the right.  Looking through the grillwork you will see a green cloth extended from the ceiling to the floor, surrounding the grave.  This is the place nearest the Prophet’s head and the place for intimate conversation with him.  The musk-filled breezes of God’s mercy are wafted from the tomb, engulfing those who have come to His Messenger in love and submission.

 

It should be noted that due to the restrictions placed on the times when women can enter this blessed area, it is advisable to find out upon arrival during which times it is permissible to go near his tomb. There is, of course, no restriction on entering the mosque.

 

 

Supplications

 

At this point the following supplication may be made:

 

I witness that there is no god except God, One without associate, and I witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.  I witness that you, Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah, are the Messenger of God.  I witness that you have conveyed the message from your Lord.  I witness that you gave sincere counsel and exhortation to your people, strove in the way of God and worshipped Him alone, so that you obtained certainty.  You called to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation, conveying the truth.  You were kind and compassionate to those who believed and harsh with those who denied the truth.  God has caused you to reach the highest station of nobility.  All praise is due to God, Who has rescued us by you from association and error.  O Lord, bestow Your blessings and those of Your near angels and righteous servants, prophets and messengers, the blessings of all the inhabitants of the heavens and earth and whoever glorifies You, from the beginning to the end, upon Muhammad, Your slave and messenger, Your Prophet and Trustworthy One, Your deliverer and beloved, Your special friend, the best of created beings.  O Lord, give him the rank of the Garden, and send him forth to the highest station of one who is praise, a station of which anyone would be envious.  O Lord, surely You spoke and Your speech is the truth:

 

If those who wronged themselves had but come to you and sought forgiveness from Allah, asking the Messenger to forgive them, they would have then found Allah one Who accepts repentance, Merciful.

 

            I come to Your prophet seeking forgiveness, turning toward You in repentance from my sins.  O Messenger of God, by you I turn to God, my Lord and your Lord, so that He may grant me forgiveness for my wrong actions.’

 

Here you should ask God for your needs in the Prophet’s presence, raising your hands in supplication: if God deem the request suitable, it will be fulfilled.  The following supplication may be said:

 

           ‘O Lord, I entrust my affair to You.  I support myself against the grave of Muhammad your slave and Messenger, may Your blessing be granted to him and his family, and I face the direction of the Ka‘bah, with which You granted him satisfaction O Lord!  I have become aware that I do not control for myself the good that I hope for, nor can I repel from myself the evil that I am wary about.  I have become aware that the affair is in Your Hands, and thus there is no one poorer than I.  I am destitute regarding what You send down to me of good.  O Lord! keep away from me what is not of benefit.  O Lord! I seek refuge with You in all my affairs, that your blessings to me do not cease.  O Lord! adorn me with piety, grace me with Your benefit, grant me overflowing abundance of well-being and vitality, and provide me with thanks for all You have given me.’

 

Then proceed to the pulpit (minbar), run your hands over the knobs and wipe your face and eyes.  Stand by the pulpit and praise God, asking for what you need, for the Prophet said:

What lies between my grave and my pulpit is one of the gardens of Paradise.  My pulpit is one of the canals of Paradise, whence its foundations are raised.

 

Visiting Fatimah

 

The narrations differ concerning the burial of Fatimah al-Zahrah.  One tradition says her grave is in the cemetery of al-Baqi‘, while another says that it is between the grave of the Prophet and his pulpit, which is perhaps why he said, ‘What lies between my grave and pulpit is one of the gardens of Paradise.’  Still other narrations say that she is buried in her house, and this seems to be the most probable place.  As we mentioned before, Fatimah’s house is to the rear or south of the structure (al-rawdah) that contains the Prophet’s grave.

 

 

Visiting the Prophet’s Family and Companions

 

In the cemetery of al-Baqi‘ are the graves of  ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan, Malik ibn Anas, Imam Hasan, Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir, and Imam Ja‘far al-Sadiq, as well as the Prophet’s uncle, ‘Abbas.  Also buried here are many of the Prophet’s Companions.  All the tombs were levelled to the ground in 1925 A.H. by the Wahhabis.  Simple pieces of stone now outline their graves.  The cemetery was closed to visitors for many years until recently, when thousands of pilgrims demanded that the authorities open the gates.  Now it is opened for a few hours a day after fajr.

 

The cemetery is easily reached by going out of the Prophet’s Mosque through the Door of Gabriel, walking across until you reach the edge of the forecourt, whereupon you ascend a staircase which brings you to the gate of the cemetery.  As you enter the gate, the graves of the Prophet’s family lie straight ahead and to the right, at a distance of approximately 100 yards.

 

There are other places of blessing to visit in Madinah, such as the Mosque of Quba’, the Mosque of Fadih, the graves of the martyrs, the Mosque of al-Fath, Uhud and the grave of Hamzah.

 

 

Leaving Madinah

 

Upon leaving Madinah, go to the site where the Prophet’s body lies, then, standing opposite the head greet him; then go to the pulpit, reciting the invocations for him as much as possible and supplicating for what you may desire.  Returning to the Prophet’s tomb, face the direction of the Ka‘bah, with the left shoulder as close to the tomb as possible, and offer six or eight cycles of prayer, with a supplication after every two cycles.  Then face the Prophet and bid him farewell:

 

‘May God’s blessings and peace continue upon you unceasingly.  Would that God not allow this to be my last visit to His Prophet’s grave, may His blessings encompass him and his family.  If, however, I die before I am able to return, then surely I witness in death what I have witnessed in life, that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.’

Back Up

Preface: The Pilgrimage of Islam ] Introduction: The Pilgrimage of Islam ] Chapter 1: The Pilgrimage of Islam ] Chapter 2: The Pilgrimage of Islam ] Chapter 3: The Pilgrimage of Islam ] Chapter 4: The Pilgrimage of Islam ] Chapter 4: The Pilgrimage of Islam (Continues) ] [ Chapter 5: The Pilgrimage of Islam ]