• Maqam Ibrahim

    Maqam Ibrahim (Arabic: مقام إبراهيم; “Station of Ibrahim”) is the ancient stone upon which the Prophet Ibrahim S stood while constructing the Holy Kaaba. As he struggled to lift the heavy stones for the Kaaba’s construction, he used this stone as a platform to build upon. The imprints of his feet remained on the stone. Over time, Prophet Ibrahim’s footprints were worn away by people touching and wiping it. Today, the stone is contained in a gold enclosure about 11 metres away from the Kaaba.

    Virtues of Maqam Ibrahim

    The Maqam Ibrahim is associated with numerous virtues.

    Symbol of Divine Favour

    When Ibrahim and his son Ismail o raised the foundations of the Kaaba, they prayed for acceptance, saying, “Our Lord, accept this from us, You are the All Hearing, the All Knowing”, as mentioned in the following verse:

    وَإِذْ يَرْفَعُ إِبْرَٰهِـۧمُ ٱلْقَوَاعِدَ مِنَ ٱلْبَيْتِ وَإِسْمَـٰعِيلُ رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّآ ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلْعَلِيمُ
    As Ibrahim and Ismail built up the foundations of the House [they prayed], ‘Our Lord, accept [this] from us. You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.
    [Surah al-Baqarah, 2:127]

    This stone became a symbol of divine favour and acceptance.

    Place of Prayer

    Muslims are instructed to take it as a place of prayer during Hajj and Umrah, as mentioned in the Quran:

    وَاتَّخِذُوا مِنْ مَقَامِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ مُصَلًّى

    And take the Maqam Ibrahim as a place of salah.
    [Surah al-Baqarah, 2:125]

    It is the sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ to perform Tawaf and pray two rak’ahs at the Maqam Ibrahim.

    One of Allah’s Signs

    Moreover, Allah Himself mentions the Maqam Ibrahim among His evident signs in Surah Ali Imran:

    فِيهِ ءَايَـٰتٌۢ بَيِّنَـٰتٌۭ مَّقَامُ إِبْرَٰهِيمَ
    In it are clear signs [such as] the Maqam Ibrahim.
    [Surah Ali Imran 3:97]

    A Place Where Du’a is Answered

    Maqam Ibrahim is one of the stations where supplications are answered. Performing Tawaf and praying near the Maqam is said to result in the forgiveness of sins. Many Companions such as Umar, Abdullah ibn Umar, Uthman, Abdullah ibn Abbas, Abdullah ibn Zubayr, and Tamim al-Dari M used to pray at the Maqam Ibrahim and for forgiveness there.

    One of the Jewels of Paradise

    It is also considered one of the jewels of Paradise, as described by the Prophet ﷺ. Abdullah bin Amr I narrated that he heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ saying:

    Indeed, the Corner and the Maqam are two jewels from the jewels of Paradise. Allah removed their lights, and if their lights had not been removed, they would have illuminated what is between East and West.
    [Narrated in Tirmidhi]

    Location of Maqam Ibrahim

    There is a difference of opinion about the exact location and meaning of Maqam Ibrahim, leading to several interpretations:

    The Stone Where Prophet Ibrahim Stood

    Scholars generally agree that Maqam Ibrahim refers to the stone located in Masjid al-Haram. This stone is significant because it contains the imprints of Prophet Ibrahim’s feet, and it is behind this stone that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ prayed after performing his Tawaf around the Kaaba.

    There are several versions of the circumstances leading to the appearance of Ibrahim’s footprints in the stone at Maqam Ibrahim:

    1. Building the Kaaba: According to Ibn Kathir and others, when Ibrahim was building the Kaaba and the walls became too high, he stood on the rock that became known as the Maqam Ibrahim while Ismail handed him stones for the Kaaba’s construction.
    2. Washing Ibrahim’s Head: al-Tabari suggests that the event occurred when Ismail’s wife was washing Ibrahim’s head. Ibrahim stood on the stone while his head was being cleansed and his footprints were imprinted on it.
    3. Calling for Pilgrimage: A third tradition, reported by al-Tabari and others, reports that Ibrahim stood on the Maqam Ibrahim to summon people to perform the pilgrimage to Makkah after completing the construction of the Kaaba.
    4. Stone as a Qibla: According to a fourth tradition narrated by al-Azraqi, Ibrahim used the stone as a qibla, praying at the stone and facing the door of the Kaaba. It is said that the angel Jibril S prayed two rak’ahs at the stone and instructed Ibrahim and Ismail how to pray.

    The Entire Haram

    Mujahid ibn Jabr V suggests that Maqam Ibrahim refers to the entire Haram of Makkah.

    Specific Hajj Sites

    According to Ata ibn Abi Rabah V, Maqam Ibrahim encompasses Arafat, Muzdalifah, and the Jamarat, which are key locations in the Hajj pilgrimage.

    All Hajj Sites

    Abdullah ibn Abbas I is of the opinion that Maqam Ibrahim signifies the entirety of the Hajj rituals, encompassing all the sacred acts performed during the pilgrimage.

    Consensus on the Location

    Scholars largely agree that the first interpretation regarding the location of Maqam Ibrahim is the most accurate. Several points support this view:

    1. Revelation of Verse 2:125: It is narrated that when the Prophet ﷺ and Umar I passed by the Maqam, Umar asked if it was the shrine of their father, Ibrahim. The Prophet ﷺ confirmed it was. Umar then suggested making it a place of prayer. The Prophet ﷺ responded that he had not been commanded to do so. However, before sunset that day, the verse was revealed: “And take the Maqam Ibrahim as a place of salah.” (Quran 2:125). According to Imam al-Suyuti, Umar’s judgement was confirmed in revelation 21 times and is one of his many virtues.
    2. Divine Command: The Quranic verse mentioned above does not pertain to any other site within the sanctuary but specifically to this stone. This interpretation aligns with the tradition that Prophet Ibrahim stood on this stone, a significant and verified event.
    3. Place of Prayer of the Prophet ﷺ: According to Jabir I, after completing the Tawaf, the Prophet ﷺ recited the verse: “And take the place of Ibrahim as a place of prayer” (Quran 2:125) at the Maqam. This recitation at that specific location implies that the verse refers to that very place.
    4. Existence of Footprints: The stone at Maqam Ibrahim has imprints of Prophet Ibrahim’s feet, which were formed when he stood on the stone. This event solidifies its significance and justifies the specific naming.
    5. Local Custom: In local custom, the term “Maqam Ibrahim” specifically denotes this location. If someone in Makkah were asked about the Station of Ibrahim, they would understand it to mean this specific site.

    Thus, the first statement, which identifies Maqam Ibrahim as the stone where Prophet Ibrahim stood, is supported by both scriptural evidence and established tradition.

    History

    Prophet Ibrahim

    Maqam Ibrahim holds significant historical and religious importance, tracing back to the time of the Prophet Ibrahim. It is believed that the Maqam Ibrahim was the stone upon which Prophet Ibrahim stood during the construction of the Kaaba. Ibn Abbas I narrates:

    Once more, Ibrahim thought of visiting the family he had left (at Makkah), so he told his wife (Sarah) of his decision. He went and found Ismail behind the Zamzam well, mending his arrows. He said, ‘O Ismail, Your Lord has ordered me to build a house for Him.’ Ismail said, ‘Obey (the order of) your Lord.’ Ibrahim said, ‘Allah has also ordered me that you should help me therein.’ Ismail said, ‘Then I will do.’ So, both of them rose and Ibrahim started building (the Kaaba) while Ismail handed him the stones, and both were saying, ‘O our Lord! Accept (this service) from us, Verily, You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.’ (2:127). When the building became high, and the old man (i.e. Ibrahim) could no longer lift the stones (to such a high position), he stood over the stone of Al-Maqam, and Ismail carried on handing him the stones, and both of them saying, ‘O our Lord! Accept (this service) from us, Verily You are All-Hearing, All-Knowing.’
    [Narrated in Sahih al-Bukhari]

    Over the subsequent centuries, as the number of Muslims visiting the site increased, the footprints continued to erode, leading to further fading of the original imprint. Anas ibn Malik I said:

    I saw the imprint of Ibrahim’s feet. I could make out the toes and the sole, but the people’s constant touching of it erased most of it.”
    [Narrated in Muwatta Imam Malik]

    Prophetic Era

    The Maqam Ibrahim remained in its original position adjacent to the Kaaba until the time of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. It was then moved to its current location in response to a divine command revealed during the conquest of Makkah, ensuring that worshippers behind it would not obstruct those performing Tawaf around the Kaaba. This occurred when the Quranic verse instructing believers to “take the Maqam Ibrahim a place of prayer (2:125)” was revealed.

    It was the sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ to perform two rak’ahs of salah at the Maqam Ibrahim after completing Tawaf of the Kaaba.

    Jafar al-Sadiq I narrates:

    And then going to the Station of Ibrahim, he (the Prophet ﷺ) recited: ‘And adopt the Station of Ibrahim as a place of prayer.’ And this Station was between him and the House…Allah’s Apostle ﷺ recited in two rak’ahs: ‘Say: He is Allah, One” and ‘Say: O Unbelievers.’
    [Narrated in Sahih Muslim]

    Umar ibn al-Khattab

    During the reign of Umar ibn al-Khattab I, a devastating flood known as the “Sayl Umm Nahshal” occurred, sweeping away the Maqam Ibrahim from its original position. Umar, deeply concerned, hastened from Madinah and convened the companions, seeking their assistance in locating the shrine’s original site during the time of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

    A companion came forward, claiming to have prepared for such an eventuality by measuring the distance that determined the shrine’s location in relation to its surroundings. Upon confirming the accuracy of the measurements, Umar ordered the shrine to be returned to its rightful place.

    This significant event took place in Ramadan 17 AH, and the Maqam has remained in its restored position to this day.

    Abbasid Era

    During the Abbasid era, improvements and renovations were made to the Maqam Ibrahim to ensure its preservation and adornment.

    Abu Ja’far al-Mansur, the second Abbasid Caliph, was among the first to build a dome over the Maqam Ibrahim.

    During the pilgrimage of Caliph al-Mahdi in 160 AH (776 CE), Abdullah ibn Uthman ibn Ibrahim al-Hajabi brought the Maqam to al-Mahdi’s residence. Al-Mahdi rewarded him generously, stroked the Maqam, poured Zamzam water over it, and drank the water with some relatives.

    In 161 AH (777 CE), the Maqam was lifted by its keepers, fell, and cracked. Upon learning of this, al-Mahdi sent a thousand dinars for its repair. The cracks were reinforced with gold on both the upper and lower parts. It was placed on a granite base and adorned. This practice of having a base has been maintained ever since.

    Subsequently, during the caliphate of Al-Mutawakkil in 236 AH (850 CE), further enhancements were made, as the Maqam was decorated with gold. This layer of gold was placed atop the existing adornment.

    In 241 AH (855 CE), the custodians of the Kaaba informed al-Mutawakkil that the “chair” (kursi) holding the Maqam was covered with lead sheets and suggested replacing them with silver. Al-Mutawakkil sent Ishaq ibn Salama, along with over thirty goldsmiths, marble workers, and other craftsmen, to replace the lead with silver and cover the Maqam with a teakwood cupola.

    In 251 AH (865 CE), the gold layer added by al-Mutawakkil was removed and minted to fund a war against Isma’il ibn Yusuf, the Shi’i rebel. The layer added by al-Mahdi was retained.

    By the year 256 AH (870 CE), the ornamentation initiated by Al-Mahdi required renovation and reinforcement. Consequently, the Maqam was removed from its position for repairs and renewal. During this process, additional layers of gold and silver were added. After its renovation, the Maqam was carefully carried back to its original position. It received praise and recognition from the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mu’tamid.

    Originally, the Maqam Ibrahim was left open without any protective barrier. However, during the Qarmatian attack on Makkah in 317 AH (929 CE), when they stole the Black Stone, there was an attempt to steal the Maqam as well. Quick-thinking servants managed to conceal it from the invaders. Following this incident, the necessity of protecting the Maqam became apparent. Consequently, two movable domes were constructed for it, one made of wood and the other of iron. A casket was crafted to house the Maqam.

    Ottoman Era

    As time progressed, the need for a more permanent structure became evident. Thus, a dedicated enlousure was constructed, featuring a canopy at its rear extending towards the Maqam itself, providing space for people to perform the two rak’ahs of prayer. This initial structure was erected in the year 810 AH (1408 CE). Over time, it underwent restoration and renovation by various sultans and other benefactors.

    Saudi Era

    King Saud bin Abdulaziz

    During the reign of King Saud bin Abdulaziz, in 1954 CE, a proposal to relocate the Maqam Ibrahim from its original position was made. The intention behind this proposal was to alleviate congestion and facilitate the movement of pilgrims during Tawaf, as the narrow path was hindering the flow of worshippers. A specific day was designated for King Saud to oversee the relocation of the shrine.

    At that time, Sheikh Al-Shaarawy, who served as a professor at the College of Sharia in Makkah, became aware of this proposal. Concerned about the potential violation of Sharia law, he took immediate action. Sheikh Al-Shaarawy contacted Saudi and Egyptian scholars to seek their support in addressing the matter. However, he learned that the plan to relocate the Maqam was to advance.

    Undeterred, Sheikh Al-Shaarawy sent a comprehensive telegram to King Saud, spanning five pages. In this telegram, he presented the issue from both a jurisprudential and historical perspective. He emphasized the sanctity of the position where the Maqam Ibrahim was placed by the Prophet ﷺ, asserting that such sacred sites should not be altered. Drawing upon the precedence of Umar ibn al-Khattab I, who refrained from altering the position of the Maqam, Sheikh Al-Shaarawy argued for its preservation.

    Upon receiving the telegram, King Saud convened a meeting with scholars to evaluate Sheikh Al-Shaarawy’s arguments. The scholars unanimously agreed with the points raised in the telegram. Consequently, King Saud issued a decree to retain the Maqam Ibrahim in its original location. Furthermore, he instructed a study of Sheikh Al-Shaarawy’s proposals to expand the Mataf (the Tawaf area around the Kaaba). One such proposal involved placing the stone within a small, unbreakable glass dome, as opposed to the large, restrictive building that previously housed the shrine.

    King Faisal

    During King Faisal bin Abdulaziz’s reign, significant measures were taken to enhance the surroundings of the Maqam Ibrahim and improve the worshippers’ experience.

    On the 25th of Dhul-Hijjah 1384 AH (March 16, 1965 CE), the Muslim World League initiated a directive to remove any structures around the Maqam. The aim was to maintain the Maqam in its original location while ensuring the safety and convenience of worshippers. To achieve this, it was proposed to encase the shrine in a thick, sturdy crystal box to prevent accidents while still allowing visibility of the shrine.

    King Faisal endorsed this proposal and issued orders for its implementation.

    A cover made of high-quality crystal was crafted for the Maqam, surrounded by an iron barrier for added protection. Additionally, a marble base was constructed, measuring 180 by 130 centimetres, and standing at a height of 75 centimetres. These measures were carried out in Rajab 1387 AH (November 1967 CE). The previous structure that housed the Maqam Ibrahim was removed. As a result, 15.6 square meters of the Mataf area was freed up for Tawaf.

    In a ceremony, the curtain of the crystal cover was raised, symbolizing the completion of the project. The expansion of the Mataf area provided worshippers with greater space to perform the Tawaf rituals comfortably. As a result, the burden of crowding was significantly reduced.

    Details of the encasement of the Maqam Ibrahim were as follows:

    • Circumference of the dome: 80 centimetres
    • Thickness of the glass: 10 centimetres
    • Height of the Maqam Ibrahim above the ground: 1 metre
    • Height of the stone upon which the Maqam stands: 75 centimetres
    • Height of the casing: 3 metres
    • Weight of the brass casing: 600 kg
    • Total weight of the complete casing: 1700 kg
    • Area covered by the casing: 2.4 square metres

    King Fahd

    During the reign of King Fahd bin Abdulaziz in 1418 AH (1998 CE), significant renovations were undertaken on the cover of the Maqam Ibrahim.

    The cover of the shrine was refurbished, transitioning from copper adorned with gold slices to a new design featuring crystal and decorated glass elements. A strong crystal glass cover, designed to withstand heat and breakage, was installed.

    This refurbishing included changing the black marble base to white marble, matching the Mataf. The project was completed on 21st Shawwal 1418 AH (1998 CE) at a cost of two million Saudi Riyals.

    Description

    The current shape of the Maqam Ibrahim resembles a hemispherical dome. It weighs approximately 1.75 kg and stands at a height of 1.3 metres. The diameter at the bottom of the shrine measures 40 centimetres, with a uniform thickness of 20 centimetres on all sides. The outer diameter at the bottom expands to 80 centimetres. The circumference of the circular base is approximately 2.51 metres.

    Presently, the Maqam Ibrahim is positioned in front of the door of the Kaaba, approximately 10 to 11 metres east of the Kaaba itself. It is situated in the direction leading towards Safa and Marwa.

    The last time the Maqam was examined was around 1960 by historian Muḥammad Tahir al-Kurdi. His description is below:

    The Noble Maqam, resembling a cube, stands at a height of 20 centimetres. Each side of the cube measures 36 centimetres from the surface, except for the fourth side, which extends slightly longer to 38 centimetres. Consequently, the circumference of the Maqam is approximately 150 centimetres.

    Embedded within this stone are the imprints of the feet of the Prophet Ibrahim. The depth of one foot imprint measures 10 centimetres, while the other measures 9 centimetres. Although the traces of the toeprints have been erased over time due to frequent touching and wiping by devotees, the position of the footprints remains discernible upon close examination.

    According to al-Kurdi, details of the Maqam Ibrahim are as follows:

    • Height: 20 cm
    • Length of three sides at the top: 36 cm
    • Length of the remaining side: 38 cm
    • Circumference at the top: 146 cm
    • Circumference at the bottom: 150 cm
    • Depth of the first foot imprint: 10 cm
    • Depth of the second foot imprint: 9 cm

    The actual stone of the Maqam Ibrahim is completely covered by a silver alloy case. The Saudi authorities decided to display a deep imprint of two feet on this silver case. Unfortunately, this outer imprint does not reflect the current imprint of the stone, nor does it represent the original imprint as it once was.

    Therefore, the Maqam stone itself is not visible inside the glass housing. Instead, a silver encasement covers the stone, with artificial imprints designed to represent the original.

    This arrangement was intended to protect the Maqam while still allowing pilgrims to venerate the site. However, it does not provide an authentic view of the original stone or its true imprints.

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