• Birthplace of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ

    The birthplace of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was originally his father’s house, belonging to Abdullah ibn Abdul Muttalib I and was situated at the edge of the Banu Hashim district in Makkah. The site now serves as a public library and is located outside the walls of Masjid al-Haram to the east, adjacent to the hill of Marwa. The Prophet ﷺ was born in the month of Rabi al-Awwal in the Year of the Elephant (April 571), at the time of Fajr according to popular opinion.

    Birthdate of the Prophet ﷺ

    Various narrations suggest different dates for the Prophet’s birth ﷺ, including the 2nd, 8th, 9th, or 12th of the month. The most popular opinion among scholars is that the Prophet ﷺ was born 55 days after the incident of the People of the Elephant (Ashab al-Fil), specifically on Monday, the 12th of Rabi al-Awwal, which corresponds to around April 20th, 571 AD. This opinion is also shared by the people of Makkah, who traditionally visited the birthplace of the Prophet ﷺ on this day to commemorate his blessed birth, known as the Mawlid.

    Qays bin Makhramah I narrated:

    The Messenger of God ﷺ and I were born on the Day of the Elephant, so we were born at the very same time. It was suggested that he was born a month after the Elephant, or forty days later, or fifty days later.1Ahmad and al-Bayhaqi

    Events before the Birth of the Prophet ﷺ

    Before the birth of the Prophet ﷺ, there were numerous signs that signalled the imminent arrival of Allah’s most beloved creation, Sayyiduna Muhammad ﷺ. Some of these signs included:

    • The destruction of Abrahah and his army of elephants.
    • The Arabian Peninsula experiencing greenery after a prolonged period of drought.
    • Idols falling to the ground.
    • The extinguishing of the perpetual fire of the Persians, which had been burning for over a thousand years.
    • Fourteen arches of Chosroes’s (Kisra) palace collapsing due to an earthquake.
    • Lake Sawa, a sizable river spanning six miles in length and width between Hamdan and Qom, drying up.
    • The river of Samawah, flowing between Kufa and al-Sham, starting to flow again.
    • A divine light emanating from the blessed body of the mother of the Prophet ﷺ, Aminah bint Wahb J through which she saw the palaces of Busra.

    The Muhaddith Abu Nu’aym V recounts the following narrative in Dala’il al-Nubuwwah, based on the authority of Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Abbas I:

    On the night when the nur of the Prophet was transferred from the loins of Sayyiduna Abdullah to the womb of Sayyidatuna Aminah, a remarkable event unfolded: all creatures on the face of the earth were granted the ability to speak. Among them, the animals of Quraysh, especially, spoke in their own languages and proclaimed, ‘Tonight, the noblest of Allah’s creation and the greatest of all Prophets has entered the womb of his mother. He is adorned with the crown of leadership on this earth and shines as a beacon of light for the entire world.’

    Animals from the east conveyed glad tidings to those in the west, while sea creatures similarly exchanged joyful news about the imminent arrival of the Prophet.2al-Zurqani ‘ala al-Mawahib – 1/108

    His mother’s pregnancy was exceptional, devoid of any heaviness or specific cravings for certain foods. Some accounts suggest that she initially experienced heaviness at the beginning, transitioning to lightness as the pregnancy progressed, making it remarkable by any measure.

    Scholars hold differing opinions regarding the duration of his mother’s pregnancy, with some asserting nine months, others suggesting seven, and still others proposing six months.

    The Miraculous Birth of the Prophet ﷺ

    The birth of the Prophet ﷺ was an event marked by miraculous occurrences. At the time of his birth, a divine light filled the heavens from east to west.

    Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi V narrates the following account attributed to Sayyidatuna Aminah J, the beloved mother of the Prophet ﷺ:

    At the moment Muhammad ﷺ was born, a large cloud appeared, illuminated by bright lights, accompanied by the sounds of horses, birds, and people speaking. Suddenly, he vanished from my sight, and I heard a proclamation: ‘He should be shown to the east, west, and seas, so that all may recognize his appearance, qualities, and name. Show him to all living creatures, including mankind, Jinn, angels, birds, animals, etc., so they too may recognize him.

    Let him possess the appearance of Adam, the wisdom of Sheeth, the courage of Nuh, the closeness of Ibrahim, the eloquence of Isma’il, the acceptance of Ishaq, the wisdom of Salih, the patience of Lut, the glad tidings of Ya’qub, the resolve of Musa, the patience of Ayyub, the obedience of Yunus, the jihad of Yusha’, the voice of Dawud, the love of Daniel, the respect of Ilyas, the chastity of Yahya, and the asceticism of ‘Isa; let him embody all the qualities of the previous Prophets and Messengers Q.

    Then, the cloud vanished, and I saw him wrapped in a green silk cloth, with water dripping from it. A voice proclaimed, ‘Indeed, Muhammad has been granted dominion over all creation, and there is nothing in creation that is not subservient to him.’ I beheld his face, radiant like the full moon, emitting a pleasant fragrance of musk.

    At that moment, three individuals appeared: one holding a silver water pot, another a tray of green emeralds, and the last a shimmering ring. The ring was washed seven times, and with it, the Seal of Prophethood was imprinted between the shoulders of Muhammad ﷺ. He was then wrapped in a silk cloth, carried, and presented back to me.3al-Zurqam ‘ala al-Mawahib – volume 1, pages 113-115

    In the tradition of Uthman bin Abi al-‘As, narrated by his mother Fatimah, the daughter of Abdullah M, she witnessed the birth of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ at night. She said:

    All that I could see in the house was light. Verily, I looked at the stars and they came so close that I said, ‘They are going to fall on top of me.’ It was reported that he was initially covered with a bowl, but it was immediately cast off him, splitting in two. This event marked the beginning of the signs of prophecy in relation to him ﷺ.

    Remarkably, the Prophet ﷺ was born already circumcised and with his umbilical cord detached and his fingers clenched, except for his index finger pointing upwards in a gesture of glorification towards Allah.

    The fact that the Prophet ﷺ was born on a Monday imbues it with great significance. It has been reported by Imam Ahmad V that Abdullah ibn Abbas I stated:

    The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was born on a Monday, received prophethood on a Monday, passed away on a Monday, migrated from Makkah to Madinah on a Monday, arrived in Madinah on a Monday, and raised the Black Stone on a Monday.

    The News of the Birth of the Prophet ﷺ

    It was customary for the father to be the first to be informed of his child’s birth. However, since Sayyiduna Abdullah I had passed away shortly before the birth of the Prophet ﷺ, his grandfather, Sayyiduna Abdul Muttalib I, was the first to be informed.

    At that moment, he was performing Tawaf around the Kaaba. Overwhelmed with joy upon receiving the news, Abdul Muttalib hastened to the house. Upon seeing the radiant face of his grandson, he immediately embraced the Prophet ﷺ and carried him to the Kaaba to make du’a for barakah (blessings). It was Abdul Muttalib who bestowed the name Muhammad ﷺ upon the Messenger of Allah.4al-Mawahib al-Ladunniyyah with Sharh al-Zurqani – Wiladatuh – Ayat Hamlih – volume 1, page 232

    Ibn Ishaq V said:

    When his mother gave birth to him, she sent for his grandfather Abdul Muttalib saying, ‘You have had a boy, so come and see him.’ He immediately came and looked at him. She then informed him of what she had seen during her pregnancy and what she was told regarding him, including the command to name him Muhammad. They claim that Abdul Muttalib took hold of him and entered the Kaaba with him. There, he stood, praying to God and expressing gratitude for the blessings bestowed upon him. Afterward, he returned the newborn to his mother.

    Thuwaybah J, Abu Lahab’s maidservant, hurried to her master to inform him of his nephew’s birth. Overwhelmed with joy, Abu Lahab freed Thuwaybah, indicating with his index finger and saying, “Go, you are free!” After his passing, some of his family members saw him in a dream and inquired about his condition. Abu Lahab pointed to his index finger and stated, “I have found no comfort since I left you, except that every Monday I am given a trickle of water to drink from this, because of my manumission of Thuwaybah.”5Sahih al-Bukhari

    Um Habiba J narrated that Urwa I said:

    Thuwaybah was the freed slave girl of Abu Lahab whom he had manumitted, and then she suckled the Prophet. When Abu Lahab died, one of his relatives saw him in a dream in a very bad state and asked him, ‘What have you encountered?’ Abu Lahab said, ‘I have not found any rest since I left you, except that I have been given water to drink in this (the space between his thumb and other fingers) and that is because of my manumitting Thuwaybah.
    [Narrated in Sahih al-Bukhari]

    Shaykh Abd al-Haqq Muhaddith al-Dehlawi V highlights a very important point regarding this incident:

    The above incident provides compelling proof for those who express joy and spend their wealth on celebrating and rejoicing in the blessed birth (Mawlid) of the Messenger of Allah. When a disbeliever, such as Abu Lahab – who is cursed and condemned in the Holy Quran – benefits from his act of manumitting Thuwaybah as an expression of joy on the birth of his nephew, what reward awaits the Muslim who, in their true love for the Messenger of Allah, expresses joy and spends their wealth in celebration?6Madarij al-Nubuwwah – volume 2, page 19

    Mawlid al-Nabi ﷺ

    The term Mawlid al-Nabi ﷺ, as well as referring to the celebration that takes place to mark the birth of the Prophet ﷺ is also used to refer to his birthplace.

    This site holds immense blessings and historically, the sultans of Islam have erected magnificent buildings here to commemorate it. Muslims from Makkah, Madinah and around the world would assemble here for Mawlid gatherings and to recite Salawat upon the Prophet ﷺ. For centuries, the Mawlid was celebrated in and around the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in Makkah.

    Shaykh Abd al-Haqq Muhaddith al-Dehlawi narrates:

    I once participated in a Mawlid gathering held by the people of Makkah during the night of 12 Rabi al-Awwal at the blessed birthplace. When the miraculous incidents that occurred at the time of the noble birth were being mentioned, I observed pillars of light rising from the gathering. I focused my attention on these pillars of light and came to realise that they were lights of Divine Mercy and of angels who frequent such gatherings.7Fuyud al-Haramayn

    The third-century historian, Abu al-Walid al-Azraqi V, mentions the house where the Prophet ﷺ was born is one of the many places in Makkah where the performance of salah is desirable.8Akhbar Makkah wa ma fiha min al-Athar, 2:160

    The Quranic scholar al-Naqqash V mentions that this Mosque of the Birthplace of the Prophet ﷺ is a place where supplications made at noon on Mondays are answered.9Al-Fasi’s Shifa’ al-Gharam bi-Akhbar al-Balad al-Haram, 1:199

    The following account consolidates eyewitness accounts from three 10th-century authorities: ibn Zahira’s Jami al-Latif fi Fadli Makkata wa-Ahliha, al-Haytami’s al-Mawlid al-Sharif al-Muazzam, and al-Nahrawali’s al-Ilmam bi-Alam Bayt Allah al-Haram:

    Each year on the 12th of Rabi al-Awwal, following the Maghrib prayer, the four qadis of Makkah, along with large gatherings comprising jurists, Makkan notables, shaykhs, zawiya teachers, students, magistrates, and scholars, depart from Masjid al-Haram in unison for a visit to the birthplace of the Prophet ﷺ, making dhikr and reciting Tahlil as they walk. The houses on the route are illuminated with numerous lanterns and large candles, and a great many people are out and about. They all wear special clothes and take their children with them. Inside the birthplace, a special sermon for the occasion of the birthday of the Prophet ﷺ is delivered.

    Following the Isha prayer, the entire assembly returns to Masjid al-Haram, which is almost overcrowded, and sits down in rows at the foot of Maqam Ibrahim. Within the mosque, an imam initiates the Tahmid and Tahlil. Once more, supplications are offered for the Sultan, the Emir, and the Shafi’i qadi.

    Ibn Jubayr V, the Andalusian traveller, in his Rihla states:

    This blessed place (the Birthplace Mosque of the Prophet ﷺ) is opened, and all men enter it to derive blessings from it on every Monday of the month of Rabi ul-Awwal, for on that day and in that month was born the Prophet.10Rihla, pages 114-115

    In their Kitab al-Durr al-Munazzam, 7th-century historians Abu al-Abbas al-Azafi and his son Abu al-Qasim al-Azafi W said:

    Pious pilgrims and prominent travellers testified that on the day of the Mawlid in Makkah, no activities are undertaken, and nothing is sold or bought, except by the people who are busy visiting his Noble Birthplace of the Prophet ﷺ, hastening to it. On this auspicious day, the Kaaba is opened and visited.

    The famous 8th century historian Ibn Battuta V relates in his Rihla:

    Every Friday after the Jummah prayer, as well as on the Prophet’s birthday ﷺ, the door of the Kaaba is opened by the head of the Banu Shayba, the doorkeepers of the Kaaba. During the Mawlid, Najm al-Din Muhammad ibn al-Imam Muhyi al-Din al-Tabari, the Shafi’i head judge of Makkah, organizes the distribution of food to the descendants of the Prophet ﷺ and the inhabitants of Makkah.

    At the beginning of his commentary on al-Busiri’s Hamziyya poem, Shaykh al-Islam ibn Hajar al-Haytami al-Makki W makes reference to “the renowned mosque that stands on the site of the Prophet’s birthplace ﷺ.”

    Development of the Site of the Birthplace

    The birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, situated in what later became known as Suq al-Layl, was originally owned by his father Abdullah, who inherited it from his father Abdul Muttalib. Subsequently, ownership of the property was transferred to the Prophet ﷺ himself.

    Following the Prophet’s ﷺ migration to Madinah, the ownership of the house transitioned to his cousin Aqil bin Abu Talib I, who kept possession of it beyond the Conquest of Makkah. It was eventually passed on to his son who then sold it on to Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-Thaqafi (d. 714/15), a governor within the Umayyad Caliphate and brother of the tyrannical al-Hajjaj. He expanded it, and the house became known as al-Bayda’ and Dar ibn Yusuf.

    Subsequently, during the pilgrimage of al-Khayzuran bint Atta (d. 789), the wife of Abbasid Caliph al-Mahdi and mother of Caliphs Harun al-Rashid and al-Hadi in 171 AH (787), she purchased the building from the descendants of Muhammad ibn Yusuf and converted it into a mosque. This mosque served not only as a place for regular prayers but also as a centre for recounting the story of the Prophet’s birth ﷺ and his biography (seerah). It became known as Zuqaq al-Mawlid.

    Over time, the building underwent multiple renovations, notably by the Abbasid Caliph al-Nasir in 576 AH (1180), al-Malik al-Muzaffar Yusuf of Yemen in 666 AH (1268), followed by his grandson al-Mujahid Ali, in 740 AH (1339), then the Mamluk emirs, and later by Sultan al-Zahir Barquq in 802 AH (1400).

    During the Ottoman era, Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent oversaw the reconstruction of the building in 935 AH (1529), followed by subsequent renovations to its architecture by later Ottoman sultans.

    The building used to be a square structure featuring two pillars, ten windows, two doors, and a prayer niche. The prayer niche, crafted from green marble and adorned with silver, was a centrepiece, with a small concave near it to mark the precise location of the Prophet’s blessed birth ﷺ. Its upkeep was maintained until it faced destruction at the hands of Saudi authorities.

    In 1953, following discussions involving Shaykh Abbas al-Qattan, the mayor of Makkah at the time, and King Abdul Aziz, a library was constructed on the site. This is known as Maktabat Makkah al-Mukarramah and remains intact to the present day.

    The following account was given by a traveller to Makkah in 1959:

    This building, along with the domes on the blessed graves in Jannat al-Mu’alla and Jannat al-Baqi, were destroyed by the Najdi government after seizing control of al-Hijaz, and for years it remained bare. However, on visiting the place to seek blessings during my visit of the Blessed Sanctuaries in 1959, I observed that a small building had now been reconstructed but which was locked. I was informed by some of the locals that it now functioned as a library and that Mawlid and Salawat gatherings were now banned and outlawed. However, I and a few of my companions secretly gathered there and recited Salawat. I was overcome by a feeling of peace and wept profusely for some time.

    Amid recent expansions of the Haram, surrounding structures were razed, leaving the birthplace standing alone at the periphery of the marble plaza encircling the precinct of Masjid al-Haram. It’s situated close to the Salam and Bani Hashim doors of the mosque and near the hill of Marwa.

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