Hujrah

Posted on 04/03/2012 by marina

HUJRAH حجرة. The “chamber” in which Muhammad died and was buried, which was originally the apartment allotted to ‘Ayishah, the Prophet’s favorite wife. It is situated behind the Masjidu ‘n-Nabi, or mosque, at al-Madinah, and is an irregular square of fifty-five feet, separated from the mosque by a passage of about 26 feet. Inside the Hujrah are supposed to be the three tombs of Muhammad, Abu Bakr, and ‘Umar, facing the south, surrounded by stone walls, without any aperture or, as others say, by strong planking. Whatever this material may be, it is hung outside with a curtain, somewhat like a four-post bed. The outer railing is separated by a darker passages form the inner, and is of iron filagree, painted green and gold. This fence, which connects the columns, forbids passage to all men. It has four gates, the Babu ‘l-Muwajihah (the Front Gate), the Babu Fatimah (the gate of Fatimah), the Babu ‘sh-Sham (the Syrian Gate), and the Babu ‘t-Taubah (the Gate of Repentance). The Syrian Gate is the only one which is not kept closed, and is the passage which admits officers in charge of the place. On the southern side of the fence there are three small windows about a foot square, which are said to be about three cubits from the head of the Prophet’s tomb. Above the Hujrah is the green dome, surmounted by a gilt crescent, springing from a series of globes. Within the building are the tombs of Muhammad, Abu Bakr,, and ‘Umar, with a space reserved for the grave of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom Muslims say will again visit the earth, and die and be buried at al-Madinah. The grave of Fatimah, the Prophet’s daughter, is supposed to be in a separate part of the building, although some say she was buried in Baqi’. The Prophet’s body is said to be stretched full length on the right side, with the right palm supporting the right cheek, the face fronting Makkah. Close behind him is placed Abu Bakr, whose fact fronts Muhammad’s shoulder, and then ‘Umar, who occupies the same position with respect to his predecessor. Amongst Christian historians, there was a popular story to the effect that Muslims believed the coffin of their Prophet to be suspended in the air, which has no foundation whatever in Muslim literature, and Niebuhr thinks the story must have arisen from the rude pictures sold to strangers. Captain Burton gives the annexed plan of the building:

It is related that Muhammad prayed that God would not allow his followers to make his tomb an object of idolatrous adoration, and consequently the adoration paid to the tomb at al-Madinah has been condemned by the Wahhabis and other Muslim reformers.
In A.D. 1804, when al-Madinah was taken by the Wahhabis, their chief, Sa’ud, stripped the tomb of all its valuables, and proclaimed that all prayers and exaltations addressed to it were idolatrous. (See Burton’s Pilgrimage, vol. ii; Burckhardt’s Arabia and Wahhabis.)
The garden annexed to the tomb is called ar-Rauzah, which is a title also given by some writers to the tomb itself.
Abu Da’ud relates that al-Qasim the grandson of Abu Bakr came to ‘Ayishah and said, “O Mother, lift up the curtain of the Prophet’s tomb and of his two friend, Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, and she uncovered the graves, which were neither high nor low, but about one span in height, and were covered with red gravel. (Mishkat, book v, ch. vi pt. 2)

Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam