Prophet’s (P.B.U.H) Masjid was built upon our Prophet’s arrival in Madinah (formerly called Yathrib). On the Holy Prophet’s arrival in Madinah, every Muslim hoped that the Prophet (S.W) would honor his abode with his presence and give him a chance to be his host. But Allah had planned otherwise. The Prophet slackened the reins of his camel and politely told the wishful audience,
“This camel is commanded by Allah; wherever it stops, that will be my home.”
The camel, by the will of Allah, who had saved that sacred place for His beloved Prophet’s (P.B.U.H) mosque through generations, stopped at the site of the current Prophet’s Masjid. The Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم announced the place to be his home and inquired about its ownership. The land belonged to two orphans, who were paternally related to the Prophet’s family. Despite their reluctance, they were paid the price for the land in full and everyone immediately set to work. The place was cleared of garbage and polytheist graves and a corner was aligned to serve the purpose of a Masjid (mosque). A shelter was built in another corner that served as a dwelling for homeless Muslims, referred to as As-hab-e-Sufa. Two small huts were built in the eastern corner of the mosque to accommodate the two wives of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم at that time, Ayesha and Sauda (R.A)
The Masjid has been repeatedly renovated since then, and the present mosque, embellished with marble and gold, leaves us in awe. The second largest Masjid (mosque) in the world after Masjid-e-Haram and indeed a ‘Heaven on Earth’, Prophet’s (P.B.U.H) Masjid is the final resting place of our Prophet (S.W.) and his closest companions. It is a place that is known to every Muslim and is always brimming with worshipers from around the world. Despite its obvious features, there are some things that the public is still unaware of.
Let’s take a look at some of the facts and mysteries of the Masjid-E-Nabavi:
The current Masjid is larger than the old city:
The current mosque is almost a 100 times bigger than the original size of the mosque. In those times, the ‘Jannat-ul-Baqi’ cemetery bordered the boundary of the old city. The fact that today, it lies just outside Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم Masjid, implies that the current size of the Masjid almost entirely takes up area occupied by the old city, itself.
It was the first place in the Arabian Peninsula to have electricity:
During the Ottoman Empire, when the electricity was introduced into the Arabian Peninsula, Masjid-E-Nabavi was the first place to be lit up. Interestingly, this was a few years before the Sultan received electricity in his own palace at Istanbul.
There’s an empty grave in the Prophet’s room:
For long, myths prevailed about the presence of an empty grave in the Prophet’s room. It was not until some individuals who went to change the coverings inside the ‘Hujra’ actually noticed the presence of an empty space next to where Holy Prophet (S.W), Hazrat Abu-Bakr(R.A) and Hazrat Umer(R.A) are buried. Islamic scholars are of opinion that the place is reserved for Hazrat Isa (A.S) who was taken to heavens and will return back at an appointed time. Only the times to come will prove or disprove the authenticity of this opinion.
The mosque was destroyed by fire:
Not many people are aware of the fact that a large portion of the old mosque, including the Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم minbar, was completely destroyed by a devastating fire. This accident took place centuries after the Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم death. The fire devoured the roof and walls of the Masjid, exposing the Prophet’s resting place for the first time in 600 years!
There was no dome earlier, now there are two:
You will be surprise-struck to hear that there was no dome over the Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم grave for almost 650 years after his death. The first dome ever constructed was made of wood and was built by a Mamluk Sultan in 1279. The green dome that we see today was built upon that inner dome and encompasses the room of the Prophet (S.W). The inner dome was much smaller than the present dome and had the names of Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H), Hazrat Umar (R.A) and Hazrat Abu-Bakr (R.A) inscribed on its inner side.
The dome used to be purple!
It may seem a bit weird, but the green color that is normally believed to be a color code for mosques, didn’t much apply to Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم Masjid for a long period of Islamic history. The Arabs were very fond of the color purple and so for quite long, the dome was actually painted purple-blue. Yes! Purple. At another time it was white. The dome has been renovated and colored many times before it reached the form and color that it is today, only a 150 years ago.
What is inside Hazrat Fatima’s (R.A) room?
Belongings of Holy Prophet (S.W) were normally kept inside his own room or Hazrat Fatima’s (R.A) room that was merged with the Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم room after expansion. During the World War 1, when Madina was under siege, the Ottoman commander stealthily transported many of those valuable artifacts to Istanbul, which can now be seen in the Topkapi Palace. Some items still remain but lack any evidential proof.
The Masjid has 3 Mihrabs:
Mihrab is an arched recess in the wall of a mosque that is used to define the direction of Holy Kaaba towards which the Muslims turn for prayer. Normally, each mosque has one Mihrab but Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم Masjid has 3. The original Mihrab was the Prophetic Mihrab which was built upon the place from where the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم led the prayers, excluding the space of his feet. This was done so that the feet of the Maliki Imam would overlap the place with the Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم footprints. The next Mihrab was set a little ahead of the original one and was made on the orders of the Sultan Suleyman for the Hanifi Imam to lead prayers. The current Mihrab is ahead of all and is currently used as a point where congregational prayers are held.
The place is full of secret signs:
The Holy Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and his family spent a major portion of their lives inside the mosque. So it is no wonder that every place inside the masjid would hold their memories and signs of the events of their lives. Each pillar, dome or window has a story to tell and their historical n religious significance is recorded in Islamic literature. Hence at the time of renovation, those exact locations are preserved with special signs, such as minor changes in architectural design at those special places. The purpose at hand was to preserve the sites without distracting the public from worship, which is why they are still a mystery for an ordinary man.