Travel and Leisure

Jannatul Baqi – The Historical Importance of Madinah’s Largest Cemetery

Al Baqi graveyard is regarded as one of the oldest and crucial cemeteries in Islam. Janatul Al Baki or Baqi al Gharqad is located in the southern east part of Masjid al-Nabawi. Baqi of the Boxthorn is known to hold the graves of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) dearest family members and companions along with many righteous individuals and scholars. Further, the cemetery consists of at least 10,000 graves of noticeable Muslims. Prophet Muhammad used to pray at the cemetery and took part in the funerals and burial processes. Read more about Jannatul Baqi.

What is the meaning of Baqi?

The literal meaning of Baqi is a land that consists of a variety of plants and trees. It has a close relationship with the word biqa which means a large piece of land. But with baqi in the picture, it particularly means land full of trees and their remains. Al Gharqad was the primary tree that grew in the location, commonly called desert thorn or Arabian boxthorn. The tree can be found all over the Arabian peninsula. But today, it does not grow in the area.

What is the location and size of Baqi?

Jannatul Baqi is located near the Masjid Nabawi and is one of the largest graveyards present in the world. It is also believed that thousands of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) relatives are buried in the cemetery along with many scholars of Islam. But the graves are indistinguishable as no identification marks are present on them.

There are three entrances to the cemetery present on the eastern, northern and western (the main entrance) sides. The people are using the western entrance to bury someone or visit the graveyard.

The part between Masjid Nabawi and Jannatul Baqi is called Bayn al Haramayn. In the past, it consisted of ahl al Bayt houses and also the market. In modern days all of it is replaced with a marble plaza in white. Also, an individual can locate the eastern gate of Masjid Nawabi from the Jannat ul Baqi entrance. Jannatul Baqi’s size has considerably increased from 80 sq mt to 175,000 sq mt over the years.

Prominent figures buried in the cemetery

Before Jannatul Baqi was popular, people were buried in several other cemeteries present in the region. However, when Allah asked Prophet to bury the first Muslim in the land occupied with trees, As’ad ibn Zurarah was buried in the cemetery. Another notable burial was that of Uthman ibn Maz’un. It is said that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) performed his funeral and final rites. In Jannat ul Baqi bibi Fatimah is also buried among many daughters of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Among the families of prophet, people buried can be listed below-

  • Grandson of the Prophet Muhammad Al-Hasan ibn Ali ibn Ali Talib
  • The paternal uncle of the Prophet Al-Abbas ibn Abdul Muttalib
  • Son of Zayn al-‘Abidin Muhammad al-Baqir
  • The great-grandson of the Prophet and son of Hussain Ali ibn Husain Zayn al-Abidin
  • Son of Muhammad al-Baqir Ja’far al-Sadiq
  • Imam Nafi and Imam Malik

Daughters of the Prophet

  • Fatima
  • Umm Kulthum
  • Zaynab
  • Ruqayya

Wives of the Prophet

  • Aisha bint Abu Bakr as-Siddiq
  • Hafsa bint Umar ibn al-Khattab
  • Sawda bint Zam’a
  • Zaynab bint Khuzayma
  • Juwayriyya bint al-Harith
  • Umm Salama bint Abi Umayya
  • Umm Habiba, Ramla bint Abi Sufyan
  • Zaynab bint Jahsh
  • Safiyya bint Huyayy

Sons of the Prophet

  • Uthman ibn Maz’un
  • Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas
  • Abdul Rahman ibn Awf
  • Khunais ibn Hudhafa
  • Asad ibn Zurara

Now, let us know a little about Jannat ul Baqi history.

Jannat ul Baqi before 1925

The construction of mausoleums and tombs in old Jannat ul Baqi

With the changing times, tombs and mausoleums were constructed on many important graves consisting of the daughters and wives of the Prophet Muhammad. The construction started after Hijri in the second century, and the next construction was done after Hijri in the fifth century. For 800 years, more shrines were constructed in Jannatul Baqi.

The first destruction of Jannatul Baqi

In 1774, Muhammad ibn Abd al-wahhab (founder of Wahhabi movement), along with Muhammad bi Sa’ud (Ruler of Al-Diriyaah), set onslaught to capture Hijaz from Ottomans. They captured cities like Riyadh, Al-Ahsa, Karbala in the initial phase. Then they conquered Makkah and destroyed mosques and historical sites like Jannatul Maulla cemetery. Finally, they moved on to the city of Madinah. The siege of Madinah continued for 18 months before it fell in their hands. They destroyed and looted the city along with Jannatul Baqi.

Reconstruction of Baqi

Bittered by the attack, Ottomans thought to recapture what had been lost. The result was the beginning of the Ottoman-Saudi war in 1811. The Ottomans finally defeated the Saudi army and recaptured Madinah in 1818. They rebuilt the structures and cities demolished by the Wahhabis. Muslims from everywhere supported and donated to the construction of the city.

The second destruction of Baqi

Wahabbis again launched an assault on the cities and towns of sacred Islamic lands in 1924. After capturing Makkah, they defeated Madinah in 1925. But this time, mausoleums and tombs were not destroyed, fearing the backlash from the communities living there. But not for long. After five months, the destruction began again.

Jannatul Baqi in today’s world

Despite many requests from the Muslim communities around the world, the cemetery remains in the state of rubbles and sands. The graves are unidentifiable as the markings are not present anywhere on any of the cemeteries. Crucial graves like that of the Prophet’s family can only be guessed due to raised walls around the graves. The graveyard opens only twice a day for the morning prayer and afternoon prayer. People are buried daily after the prayers. Women are not allowed to enter the premises, and they can only watch the cemetery from distant roads. Men can enter the cemetery, but they cannot take photographs or make videos of the graveyard. If they do so, they may be charged with fines. Standing near the graves are also not appreciated.

The cemetery, once one of the most popular cemeteries in the whole country, has turned to sand and dust now. The attacks on the cemetery and city have visible marks even today. Still, the attacks have not reduced the importance of Jannatul Baqi by a bit.

 

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