MADINAH MUNNAWARRAH-THE PROPHET'S CITY
May 11, 1994:
We reached our abode, an apartment complex similar to the previous housing arrangement. It was late at night and there were seven people in the same room with me.
An Arab brother was snoring so loud like a train whistle that it was hard to sleep. Soon the time for Tahajjud came and we heard its Adhan from the Prophet's Masjid. It was a new experience for me.
The Tahajjud prayer is an optional prayer which the beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to perform regularly. While the Adhan is pronounced, there is no congregational prayer at the Masjid for Tahajjud.
[At] around 4:15 a.m., the Adhan for the Fajr prayer was pronounced. Even though the residence was at a walking distance of about a kilometer, we had our buses which could take us two-thirds of the way to the Masjid.
I went there for the Fajr prayer. The nearby streets were blocked [with] traffic and so we walked about one-third of a mile.
There were shops on the right side of the road and Jannatul Baqi (this is where Aisha and a number of the Companions of the Prophet [peace and blessings be upon him] are buried) on the left as we walked towards the Masjid. Masha Allah, the size and grandeur of the Masjid were impressive.
There were a large number of people praying on the marble floor outside the building. The air conditioning was so powerful that it could be felt [at] a distance from the outside.
There was a Salatul Janazah after the Fajr prayer which appeared to be a regular occurrence during Hajj. It was very inspiring to offer my first Salah there with such a huge crowd. I felt nearness to the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him).
I made an attempt to reach the area where the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) is buried, but there was a lot of push and shove. [I] decided to postpone my intentions.
[At] around 6 a.m., the Masjid area around the Prophet's (peace and blessings upon him) grave was blocked to allow women to visit the site. I decided to walk around in the building and visit different areas of the Masjid.
As I went around, I sat and recited the Quran at various places. Copies of the Quran were available everywhere to read. I also offered Nafl Salah many times at different locations in the Masjid. Then I lay down at a few places to stretch my legs and give [a] rest to my troubling back. I came back [at] around 7 a.m. and saw a lot of shops opening up on my way back.
In the Masjid, lying flat on my back, I marveled at the beautiful structure and design of the Masjid and reflected on how the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would have felt seeing such a lush design.
In his time there were no carpets, A/C [air conditioning] or lights. The place was small and there was no Zamzam flowing from Makkah to Madinah.
I also reflected on Ashab As-Sufa, the Sahabah who had devoted their lives [to] learning Islam. [They] used to live in a separate quarter of the Masjid. Abu Huraira was one of those Sahabah.
Most Sahabah and the Prophet lived in a condition of poverty and [did] not [have] much to eat. This was especially the case with Ashab As-Sufa.
Just a couple of days [earlier] I was reading some Ahadith in Sahih Bukhari (see the next paragraph) in which there was an incident reported about them.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) on a request by a tribe sent about seventy Ashab As-Sufa to the tribe to teach Islam. When these Sahabah reached there, they were all martyred despite the assurances given by the tribe to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), who was so grieved on hearing the incident that he prayed Qunut for a month in the Isha prayer.
Narrated Asim: I asked Anas bin Malik about the Qunut. Anas replied, "Definitely It was (recited)." I asked, "Before bowing or after it?" Anas replied, "Before bowing." I added, "So and so has told me that you had informed him that it had been after bowing." Anas said, "He told an untruth (i.e. "was mistaken," according to the Hijazi dialect). Allah's Apostle recited Qunut after bowing for a period of one month." Anas added, "The Prophet sent about seventy men (who knew the Quran by heart) towards the pagans (of Najd) who were less than they in number and there was a peace treaty between them and Allah's Apostle (but the Pagans broke the treaty and killed the seventy men). So Allah's Apostle recited Qunut for a period of one month invoking Allah to punish them."(Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 2, no. 116)
The original Masjid including the living quarters of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), his wives and Ashab As-Sufa are all part of the current Masjid.
With my eyes closed, I journeyed back in time, about 1400 years, and felt the presence of the noble personalities sitting, walking, praying, listening to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) among them, preparing to defend the Islamic state and willing to give up everything for the sake of Allah Ta'ala.
Once towards the front of the Masjid, while lying down I looked up in admiration of the beautiful blue ceiling in that portion of the Masjid.
But then suddenly a small bird came flying in and I realized that it was the early morning blue sky. It was [the] most pleasing blue sky I have ever seen. The floor of the entire Masjid is covered with beautiful rugs. Every pillar has a plate with the name of Allah inscribed.
After going back to the residence, I tried to rest and then went back to the Masjid for Zuhr prayer around 12:30 p.m.
I stayed in the Masjid till 10:00 p.m. and offered the rest of the prayers of the day in the Masjid. I did go out to the shopping area and searched for a bookstore. There were plenty of shops for cloth, clothes and gold jewelry but hardly any bookstores.
I did eventually find a book shop and purchased some books including Sahih Muslim. There were a lot of Arabic books but not many in English. Two of the books I purchased were published by Darel Fikr Al-Islami, Beirut. One was on Hadith Qudsi and the other was a Fiqh/Hadith book by Imam Ibn Hajr.
While in the Masjid, I had a chance to visit [the] Prophet's grave. The crowd happened to be manageable at that time and I was able to stand there for a short while and offered Dua and Salam.
Hadrat Abu Bakr and Omar are also buried there alongside the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Afterwards I visited Jannatul Baqi, which is across the street from Masjid an-Nabawi.
Jannatul Baqi is a big graveyard where Hadrat Aisha, Uthman and a large number of other Sahabah are buried. There are no marks on the graves and no one there was willing to tell us which one belonged to whom.
These were highly emotional moments to feel the company of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and the Sahabah. In my prayers I recited Surah Ad-Duha (Quran 93:1-11), Surah Alam Nashrah (Quran 94:1-8), Surah Al-Kauthar (Quran 108:1-3) and felt as if I was talking to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and I had his company.
While walking in Jannatul Baqi', I touched the ground and picked up some dust in my hand in awe. May Allah be pleased with all the Sahabah and forgive our sins.
We were concerned about the safety of Imran and prayed for him. We held a Shura to decide for tomorrow's itinerary, which included visits to various places in Madinah.
It is 12:28 after midnight and a brother in the room is snoring like a rocket. It is hard to sleep.
Pillars in the Prophet's (peace and blessings be upon him) Masjid were all decorated with beautifully calligraphed name of Allah inscribed on plates. I also saw the names of the Prophet and Sahabah written on the inside wall of the front section. The names in order from left to right on the same line were:
Abbas Hussain Ali Umar Muhammad Masha'Allah Allah Abu Bakr Uthman Hasan Abu Hurairah