Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Honorable Birth Place of the Prophet (PBUH)(Islam)

The Library of the Honorable Makkah

A Document of Architectural and Historical Research

Dr. Sāmī Muhsin Angāwī,
PhD in Islamic Architecture


In the name of Allah, and peace and blessing upon the Messenger of Allah. The blessed birth place [of the Prophet Muhammad] has the been the center of attention for the whole Islamic nation over the span of 1400 years, remaining a brilliant reflection throughout Islamic history, to be seen with utmost clarity by both the current and coming generations, revisiting immortal memories, and remembering within its vicinity the life of the one “possessed of tremendous character.” This location gets its historical, educational and civilizational importance from the events which took place in it throughout the passage of time. The one about Allah said: “and we have not sent you save as a mercy for all the worlds” was born in it. Multiple narrations by trustworthy historians confirm the specified location is the birth place of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

The continuity of the history of nations supported by factual archeological documents, is something needed in modern life, especially in construction work, and in the restoration of historical buildings. Add to that the historical documents and archeological discoveries found in excavations, all of which contribute to beneficial knowledge, like the other sciences of the humanities, as contrasted with mythology and imagination. The difference between myth and truth is proof [facts], and the proof of history is the material evidence supporting its claims. The science of archeology has become significantly more advanced [today], incorporating other sciences, such as physics and chemistry, and other sciences which benefit humanity.

To safeguard human heritage Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “do not demolish old buildings; for they are the ornament of the city.”

When they demolished the rooms the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) used in Medina Saeed bin Naseeb – may Allah have mercy on him – said, "By Allah I wished they had left it alone, so that the new generation in Medina and those visiting, will see what the Prophet (pbuh) was satisfied with in his life, which would have caused people to become frugal, and abandon the accumulation of wealth and showing off."

This means safeguarding the heritage of the ancestors, and studying it in order to benefit in our modern life. The birth place is considered one of the last relics from the Prophet’s life remaining in Mecca.

The initial building of the library at the (honorable birth place of the Prophet):

We thank Allah, and those overseeing the protection of the religious sites, and those thinking about them in this blessed nation. The newspaper al-Bilād as-Saudīa published an article we are quoting here, titled "A School and a Library at the Historical Sites" which stated:

His majesty the great king, King Abdul-'Azīz – may Allah bless the soil of his grave with a good scent – gave to the honorable Shaikh Abbas Kattan the al-ard al-bayda (the blessed land), known as the home of As-Sayyidah Khadījah may Allah be pleased with her, the wife of the generous Prophet (pbuh), in order to build on top of its ruins, a school for Quranic memorization. He also gave to him the place where the greatest Prophet (pbuh) was born, in order to build on top of its location a huge library, which will be visited by those seeking knowledge. The construction will begin this week according to the plan.[1]
The library of Makkah al-Mukarrama in place (of the honorable birth place):
Historically and locally, this place is known as simply the birth place of the honorable Prophet (pbuh). The library is located on Al-Qashāshīa Street in the al-Mawlid (birthplace) District, which is known nowadays as souq al-lail (the Night Market). The Shaikh Abbās Kattān, the previous treasurer of capital of Makkah al-Mukarrama, hopes to build a public library in this place. And he has agreed with his in-laws, the family of “al-Kurdi,” to buy from them the famous library of Mājid Kurdi, known as the Mājidiyya Library, which is one of the most valuable private libraries around. The contents of this library will be moved to the new location, in order to safeguard the birth place of the Prophet (pbuh) from being neglected, and honoring him by establishing a beneficial entity for the people [in its location].
Ownership of the location
The Prophet (pbuh) was born in the home of his father `Abdullah ibn `Abdul-Muttalib. When he became blind `Abdul-Muttalib divided his wealth between his children during his life; therefore the birthplace of the Prophet (pbuh) and what is around it, belonged to his father Abdullah ibn Abdul Muttalib, and after which the Prophet inherited it from him.[2]
The Historical Background of the Place of Birth of the Noble Prophet
Muhammad bin Jarīr at-Tabarī (224-320 H.E.) said is his Tārīkh, from Ibn Ishāq relates:

The Messenger of Allāh (pbuh) was born on Monday in the year of the Elephant. And it is said that he (pbuh) was born in the house related to ibn ‘Aqīl. Indeed the Messenger of Allāh (pbuh) granted it to ‘Aqīl bin Abī Tālib and it did not leave the care of ‘Aqīl until his death. His son sold it to Muhammad bin Yūsuf, the brother of al-Hajjāj bin Yūsuf, who sold it and built his house to what it is referred to as 'the house of ibn Yūsuf' and this household remained therein until al-Khayzurān ejected them and made it into a place of worship.[3]

Abū al-Walīd al-Azraqī (d. 250 H.E.) in his books of Akhbar Makkah wa ma ja' fiha min aathaarin the mention of the locations in which it is commendable to pray in Makkah and what lies therein of the relics of the Prophet (pbuh) and what is venerable from them cites:

The house, in which the Prophet (pbuh) was born, is the house of Muhammad bin Yūsuf, the brother of al-Hajjāj bin Yūsuf. ‘Aqīl took the responsibility at the time the Prophet (pbuh) migrated. The Messenger of Allāh (pbuh) says on the year of the Farewell Speech, when it was said to him, "Where shall we live O Messenger of Allāh (pbuh)," asked "has ‘Aqīl left for us a shade (shelter or house)?" And the house remained in he and his son’s custody until his son sold it to Muhammad bin Yūsuf after which he moved in and is call 'al-Baydā,' which is known [even] today as "ibn Yūsuf." And this household remained until al-Khayzurān, mother of the two khalīfs, Mūsa and Hārūn made hajj and changed it into a place of worship and evicted them from the house and bought it from the foundation to the alley which runs by the house, for which it is called the Alley of the Birthplace of the Prophet (pbuh).4

Taqī ad-Dīn al-Fāsī (775-832 H.E.) said in his book, Shifa al-Gharām bi-Akhbāri al-Balad al-harām, in mentioning the description of the building:

It is a square house that has column with two nodes. Its western pillar is towards the south, is a large nook that is parallel to its door which is on the side towards the mountain. And it also has another door on the eastern side, in which are ten windows; four on its eastern wall which has the door already mentioned therein; on it northern wall are three and on the western wall one, in the nook there are two with one on the northern side and one to its right. Therein is the Mihrāb and close to it is a bore….. made of wood and in the middle of the Mihrāb is green marble and this marble is enclosed with silver - according to what Ibn Jarīr mentioned the width of the silver is three handspans. In this location he made the ascription "the place the blessed Messenger (pbuh) was born." The measurement of this area is 24 and 1/4 arms-lengths from the northern wall to its facing wall on the south facing the mountain. And the measurements of it width is 11 and 1/ 8 arms-lengths. And that is its eastern wall which has the western wall adjacent to it at its door. The height of the nook cited is 13 ½ arms-lengths and length 8 ½ arms-lengths. All measurements were done with a steel ruler.

Al-Azraqī did not mention the description of this place nor its measurements. Most of its descriptions have disappeared and the details of its construction are unknown, except for that made known by an-Nāsir al-‘Abbāsī, who constructed it in the year 576 (H.E.) followed the King al-Muzaffar in the year 666 (H.E.), ruler of Yemen, then his grandson al-Mujāhid in the year 740 and in the year 758 (H.E.) followed by the Prince Shaykhūn, one of the leaders if the state of Egypt and during the sovereignty of the King al-Ashraf Sh‘ābān, the ruler of Egypt with the authority of a director of the state Yulbagha al-Khāsakī in the year 760 (H.E.) and the last part of the year of 801 (H.E.) or after it from wealth which the King al-Zhāhir al-Barquq dispensed generously for the re-construction al-Masjid al-Harām and other places in Makkah and the erection [of the monument] to the birthplace of the Prophet (pbuh) which took place after his death.5

Shaykh Abū Bakr bin ‘Alī bin Tahīrah in his book, al-Jām‘ī al-Latīf fī Faļl Makkah wa Ahlihā wa Banā’ al-Bait ash-Sharīf:

As far as the birth places are concerned, among them is the most significant - the birth place of our Master the Messenger of Allāh (pbuh), so we will begin with it. It is in Makkah in the place known as the Night Market, distinguished as the birthplace of the Prophet (pbuh). ‘Aqīl bin Abī Tālib took possession of it and whatever was in it at the time of the migration (of the Prophet (pbuh)) which he (pbuh) alluded to in his words in the farewell speech, "Did ‘Aqīl leave for us a shade or a house?" The house remained in the care of ‘Aqīl and his son until one of his sons sold it to Muhammad bin Yūsuf, the brother of al-Hajjāj, and the house became known as al-Baydā’-the Luminous. It remained in this state until al-Khayzurān, the mother of the two caliphs Mūsa al-Hādī al-‘Abbāsī and his brother Hārūn ar-Rashīd made the pilgrimage, evicted them and made it a place of worship. Thus it being the place of [the Prophet's] birth (pbuh), its ancestral significance was inherited by the Khalaf from the Salaf.6
Muhammad Labīb al-Batānūnī in his book The Hijazi Trip in his description of the location of the birth place of the Noble Prophet (pbuh) said:

As far as the location of the birth of the Prophet (pbuh), it is the "neighborhood of the people of ‘Amir" also known as "neighborhood of the Prophet's birthplace" where the road is elevated approximately a meter and a half from it and descends from the middle that leads to a door that opens to the north and [from which one] enters to a courtyard whose length reaches approximately twelve meters and six meters in width. Its western wall is a door that enters from it to a dome in the middle facing the western wall, of wood. Inside of it is marble and its interior is concave to manifest the birthplace the Master, the Messenger (pbuh). The dome and the courtyard outside of its plane doesn’t exceed eight square meters. It is the house which the Messenger of Allāh (pbuh) was born. And the Messenger (pbuh) granted this house to ‘Aqīl bin Abī Tālib and his son who [later] sold it to Muhammad bin Yūsuf al-Thaqafī the brother of al-Hajjāj. When he built his house there it became known as the 'House of Ibn Yūsuf,' as did the neighborhood. That remained so until al-Khayzurān, the mother of ar-Rashīd, bought it and proportioned it and made it into a masjid which it remains until this day.7

Muhammad Tāhir al-Kurdī al-Makkī said in his book On the history of Makkah and the Blessed House of God:

That the location of the birth of the Prophet (pbuh) is Makkah in the Night Market. It is the neighborhood of ‘Alī in which is built therein a beautiful building built by the mayor of the capitol, Shaykh ‘Abbās bin Yūsuf al-Kattān who died on the 17th of Rajab 1370 H.E. - may Allāh be merciful to him. He began to build it from his own special account to be a public library that the scholars frequent and request. He began building this house two months before his death and when he died his son Shaykh Amīn completed it.8


From the civilizational, economic and geographical standpoints, building over verifiable antecedent properties for the location of the present library the ultimate consequence tends towards the eradication of our cultural makeup and heritage. Therefore the noble neighborhood from whose locale issued forth the greatest heavenly religion in an earlier epoch should certainly be under protection like other such [historically significant] places. It is not like (other) locations, for the establishment of its significance is due to what it contains of the relics which its people consider historic, important aspects of the history of the beloved Prophet's life-story.

Therefore we see the act of preserving the present library essential. If in fact there is need to erect a new one, its construction should be a new style of a building totally enclosing the existing building from all sides at a distance from it its walls of no less than 15 meters leaving the present building intact, like an inner courtyard, which is inaccessible.

Thus for the present building there are two alternatives: either to sully the great care [taken in preserving it] and placing it under the supervision of technocrats who has no connection to what exists of these ancient relics from the blessed Prophet's epoch; or to conserve the interior as a courtyard in the new building so its historical connection remains intact, from the time of the era of immaculate prophethood up until the time of the late ‘Abd-‘Aziz ibn Sa’ud.

[Original Arabic article]

[1]Al-bilad as-Saudia, “A School and a Library at the Historical Sites,” edition # 998, 1370 Islamic Era, (Sunday, March 4, 1951).

[2]Muhammad Tāhir al-Kurdī al-Makkī, Nadhar at-tārīkh al-qaweem li-makkah wa baytillah il-kareem, (On the history of Makkah and the Blessed House of God ) vol. 1, page 170.

[3]Muhammad bin Jarīr at-Tabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wal-muluk (History of Nations and Dynasties), p. 156.

[4] Abū al-Walīd al-Azraqī, The Reports of Makkah and What Relics are Therein (The Reports of Makkah and What Relics are Therein), pg. 158.

[5] Taqī ad-Dīn al-Fāsī, Shifa al-Gharām bi-Akhbāri al-Balad al-harām, p.

[6] Abū Bakr bin ‘Alī bin Tahīrah, al-Jām‘ī al-Latīf fī Faļl Makkah wa Ahlihā wa Banā’ al-Bait ash-Sharīf, p.

[7] Muhammad Labīb al-Batānūnī, al-Rihlah hijāzīyah, 1327 H.E., pg. 50.

[8]Muhammad Tāhir al-Kurdī al-Makkī, Nadhar at-tārīkh al-qaweem li-makkah wa baytillah il-kareem, (On the history of Makkah and the Blessed House of God ) vol. 1, page 170.
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