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The expansion of the Prophet's Mosque (Part 2)
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 20 - 11 - 2012


Muhammad Sayed Al-Jakni
MADINAH — The expansion of the mosque during the time of both caliphs covered only the area of the ‘Qiblah' area, and not the whole mosque.
Noorul Deen Al-Samhoudi, the well-known historian of Madinah, quoted the following saying narrated by one of the companions: “While the Prophet (peace be upon him) was sitting in his usual praying spot inside the mosque, he said ‘We should expand our mosque' and pointed with his hand toward the ‘Qiblah.'” Based on this saying, Omar Bin Al-Khattab moved the location of the ‘Qiblah' by a few meters. This saying reflects the respect and great keenness companions held for whatever the Prophet (pbuh) said.
Secondly, Othman Bin Affan increased the Prophet's Mosque area and expanded it from the western and the northern sides just like Omar bin Al-Khattab had done. He also bought the houses surrounding the Prophet's Mosque for the sake of expansion. Before his death, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) gave Othman Bin Affan the glad tidings of a house in Paradise.
He had also moved the ‘Qiblah' by few meters and built in it the ‘Mihrab,' known as “Al-Mihrab Al-Othmani,” which had been named after him.
The Imams of the Prophet's Mosque have been performing prayers and leading congregations of Muslims from inside this ‘Mihrab' to date. Othman Bin Affan's decision for expansion was based on one of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): “The area between my house and the original ‘Mihrab' is a part of Paradise.”
Caliph Othman Bin Affan received permission from Hafsah (may Allah be pleased with her), one of the Prophet's wives, to include her room in the expansion that covered the entire area between the Prophet's grave and the pulpit inside the mosque, which is called ‘Al-Rawdah Al-Sharifah.'
Ibn Zubalah narrated on the authority of Abdullah Bin Omar Bin Hafas that Caliph Omar moved the ‘Qiblah' wall to the location of the pillars inside the Prophet's Mosque, while Caliph Othman moved it further ahead. Hafsah (may Allah be pleased with her), was asked to give up her room for the sake of expanding the mosque and a house nearby the mosque was bought for her instead. The ‘Qiblah' wall was moved further ahead toward the end of ‘Al-Rawdah Al-Sharifah.'
Ghali Al-Shanqiti, a historian who has written profusely about Madinah, said in one of his books that the rooms of the Prophet's wives surrounded the mosque from the southeast side, the east, and the north up to the northwest corner, particularly at “Al-Rahmah Gate.” Hafsah's room was located exactly where visitors of the Prophet's Tomb stand with the tomb on their left side. A little bit to the north, there was an alley separating Hafsah's room from Aisha's room, according to Al-Shanqiti.
Noone, throughout these past centuries, dared to change the location of the Mihrab inside the Prophet's Mosque or expand the mosque beyond Al-Rawdah Al-Sharifah. Only the western, northern, and eastern sides of the mosque have seen expansions throughout the history since the time of the Prophet's companions, who followed the footsteps of the Prophet when they expanded the mosque.
In one of his books on the history of Madinah, Al-Samhoudi wrote: “No one has even made any suggestion to make any changes to the location of the ‘Mihrab' inside the Prophet's Mosque, not even the companions, because the ‘Mihrab' has been in the same place ever since and remained as it is. It was placed by Angel Jibreel in this spot. Al-Nawawi, a well-known Muslim scholar who died in 1278, said every spot on which the Prophet stood and performed prayer should be left unchanged.”
Several expansions and restorations have taken place inside the Prophet's Mosque over the past centuries. The most significant ones were listed in a history book about Madinah written by Ali Hafiz, a renowned historian.
Looking at the above table, it becomes apparent that the largest expansion was ordered by the Kingdom's founder King Abdul Aziz, who implemented the project following numerous requests by the people of Madinah. The expansion news appeared in Al-Madinah daily in 1948 while the expansion was implemented in 1950 after several houses surrounding the Prophet's Mosque were expropriated and their owners were compensated. It took five years for the expansion to be completed. The implementation of phases was carried out by King Abdul Aziz's son, King Saud, in 1955.
In fact, the Prophet's Mosque and the Grand Mosque have seen several expansions during the era of Al-Saud. Roads were paved, tunnels were dug, airports were developed, and currently train projects linking Makkah and Madinah are being implemented. Today, the Prophet's Mosque is awaiting one of the largest expansion projects in its history, similar to previous expansion projects in terms of focusing on the parts that have been expanded by previous Muslim rulers and leaders and the caliphs before them.
All the previous expansions have left the position of ‘Mihrab' and Minbar (the pulpit) unchanged. The ones made during the era of the caliphs were endorsed unanimously by Prophet Muhammad's companions. Al-Abbas, the Prophet's uncle, had even donated his house for the expansion. It used to be in the same spot where the ‘Mihrab' was erected by Omar bin Al-Khattab.
The expansion introduced to the western side covered a part of Hafsah's room and was also approved by the companions and wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him). It has been reported that all the following expansions, including the ones carried out by the Saudi government, have been approved unanimously.
The proposal for the new expansion was made by several committees, all headed by the Emir of Madinah. It took these committees two years to finish their proposal, which takes into consideration all Shariah and historical aspects of expansion. Exquisite Islamic architecture is vividly reflected in the tall minarets and large domes that appear in the proposal's drawings.
Read part 3 in tomorrow's edition


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