Boundaries of the Rawdah
Scholars have disagreed about the boundaries of the Rawdah. There are several Hadiths that define the Rawdah boundaries.
First opinion: between the tomb of the Prophet ﷺ and his pulpit
The first opinion is that the Rawdah is located between the house of Aisha J, in which the grave of the Prophet ﷺ is situated, and his pulpit. This is based on the following hadiths:
Between my house and my pulpit is one of the gardens of Paradise and my pulpit stands on my pool (al-Hawd).
[Narrated in Sahih al-Bukhari]
As a side note, the Pool that is mentioned in this Hadith – al-Hawd (Arabic: الحوضي) will be located near the near entrance of paradise on the Day of Judgment, and those who are permitted to drink from it by the Prophet ﷺ will never experience thirst again. The water in al-Hawd is collected from a river of Paradise, known as al-Kawthar (Arabic: الكوثر). About this pool, the Prophet ﷺ says:
My pool is so large that it takes a month’s journey to cross it. Its water is whiter than milk, and its smell is nicer than musk, and its drinking cups are as numerous as the number of stars of the sky. Whoever drinks from it, will never be thirsty again.
[Narrated in Sahih al-Bukhari]
About his pulpit, the Prophet ﷺ is reported to have said:
The pillars of this pulpit of mine are firmly embedded in Paradise.
[Narrated by Ahmad, al-Nasa’i and al-Hakim]
In another Hadith, the grave of the Prophet ﷺ is mentioned, rather than his house:
Between my grave and my pulpit is one of the gardens of paradise.
[Narrated by Ahmad, Bayhaqi and Ibn Abi Shayba]
The Prophet ﷺ states in another Hadith:
My pulpit is on one of the gates of paradise. Between the pulpit and Aisha’s house is one of the gardens of paradise.
[Narrated by Al-Haytami]
Therefore, according to these three narrations, the Rawdah is the area between the pulpit and the Sacred Chamber, measuring about 26.5 metres from west to east along the original Southern (Qibla) wall. It does not extend beyond this.
Second opinion: between the houses of the Prophet ﷺ and his pulpit
The second opinion is that the area of the Rawdah is larger. Scholars cite another narration as evidence, in which the Prophet ﷺ said:
Between these houses (meaning the houses belonging to the Prophet ﷺ) and my pulpit is one of the gardens of Paradise, and the pulpit is one of the gates of Paradise.
[Narrated by Ahmad]
During the life of Prophet ﷺ, his houses were situated from the southeastern corner of Masjid Nabawi, where visitors now stand facing the Muwajaha to greet the Prophet ﷺ and his companions, up to the northeastern corner of the mosque. Therefore, they extended along the entire eastern wall of the mosque.
From the northeastern corner, they further extended along the northern wall up to the northwestern corner. The Rawdah would then extend from the Prophet’s ﷺ pulpit, positioned about midway along the Southern (Qibla) wall of the mosque, up to his houses, which were spread along the eastern and northern walls, until the old Bab al-Rahmah (Door of Mercy).
Furthermore, some scholars opine that in the narration which reads, “Between my house and my pulpit is one of the gardens of Paradise”, the word “house” should be interpreted to mean all of the houses of the Prophet ﷺ, rather than only Aisha’s house, which later came to contain his blessed grave.
Third opinion: between the house of the Prophet ﷺ and his musallah
A third opinion extends the area of the Rawdah even further. This is based on the following Hadith in which the Prophet ﷺ said:
Between my house and my musallah is one of the gardens of Paradise.
[Narrated by Tabarani, al-Haytami and Ibn Shabba]
This narration extends the Rawdah from the Prophet’s ﷺ tomb all the way to the musallah area, which was where the Muslim community would perform their Eid prayers, located beyond the built-up area of Madinah near Masjid al-Ghamamah.
Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas I, one of the ten companions promised paradise by the Prophet ﷺ, built a house west of Masjid Nabawi within the area described in this narration, in order to receive the blessings of living within the area of the Rawdah. Aisha and other companions M approved of his actions for that very reason.
Considering the aforementioned hadiths, it seems the Prophet ﷺ is describing the same garden of Paradise, which extends throughout all of the areas regardless of whether he mentioned a smaller or larger part of it at any particular time.
Literal or Metaphorical?
There are differing opinions about the Rawdah being of the “Gardens of Paradise”. Should the hadiths regarding this sacred area be taken literally or metaphorically?
Some scholars are of the opinion that the Rawdah is like the Gardens of Paradise in that the peace and tranquillity one feels when worshipping in the Rawdah resembles the peace and tranquillity of Paradise. Others have said that this area is a gateway to the gardens of Paradise and the Pool of al-Kawthar for those who perform good deeds in the Rawdah. In other words, the Prophet ﷺ is urging worshippers to perform righteous acts within the Rawdah so they will be able to drink from al-Kawthar and attain Paradise on the Day of Judgement. Other scholars have interpreted the Rawdah as being parallel to a garden above it in Paradise.
On the other hand, Imam Malik I and many other scholars are of the opinion that there is no need to interpret these narrations further because the literal meaning is credible and there is nothing in the Quran and Sunnah that opposes this notion. According to these scholars, this very tract of land was brought to the earth from Paradise and will be returned to Paradise after the Day of Judgement.
The Rawdah Today
The boundaries of the Rawdah today are marked according to the first opinion, i.e. the Rawdah is the area between the tomb of the Prophet ﷺ and his pulpit inside Masjid Nabawi. This area was adorned significantly during the Ottoman era in an effort to sanctify and highlight its significance.
Part of the Rawdah also lies inside the Sacred Chamber of the Prophet ﷺ beyond the gold grill and is inaccessible to the general public. There are also six pillars within the Rawdah which hold special significance.
The Rawdah is rectangular in shape and measures 26.5 metres in length from east to west, although part of it lies in the Sacred Chamber, so the accessible area is 22 metres long. From north to south, it measures 15 metres. The total area of the Rawdah is approximately 397.5 square metres.
Sacred Pillars of the Rawdah
As previously mentioned, there are six sacred pillars inside the Rawdah area. There are also another two pillars inside the Sacred Chamber, which are inaccessible to the general public. The six in the Rawdah are marked by large green circles with gold inscriptions. These are:
- Perfumed Pillar (Ustuwanah al-Mukhallaqah; اسطوانة المخلقة) / Weeping Pillar (Ustuwanah al-Hannana; اسطوانة الحنانة)
- Pillar of the Bed (Ustuwanah al-Sarir; اسطوانة السرير)
- Pillar of the Guard (Ustuwanah al-Haras; اسطوانة الحرس) / Pillar of Ali ibn Abi Talib (Ustuwanah Ali ibn Ali Talib; اسطوانة علي بن أبي طالب)
- Pillar of Delegations (Ustuwanah al-Wufud; اسطوانة الوفود)
- Pillar of Repentance (Ustuwanah al-Tawbah; اسطوانة التوبة) / Pillar of Abu Lubabah (Ustuwana Abu Lubabah; اسطوانة ابو لبابة)
- Pillar of Aisha (Ustuwanat Aisha; اسطوانة السيدة عائشة) / Pillar of Casting Lots (Ustuwanah al-Qur’ah; اسطوانة القٌرعة) / Pillar of the Emigrants (Ustuwanah al-Muhajireen; اسطوانة المهاجرين)
Each of these pillars has special importance. Main article: Masjid Nabawi Pillars.
As well as the pillars, the Prophet’s ﷺ minbar (pulpit) and mihrab (prayer niche) are also located in the Rawdah.
Accessing the Rawdah with a Permit
To enter and pray inside the Rawdah, you will be required to book a Rawdah permit through the Nusuk app. This application was developed to manage the overwhelming demand from pilgrims and visitors wishing to visit the Rawdah.
To secure a permit to visit the Rawdah, here’s what you need to do:
- Download and install the Nusuk app: You must download and install the Nusuk app on your smartphone.
- Create an account: After installing the app, if you haven’t done so already, you will need to create an account. Instructions on how to set up and navigate the Nusuk app are here.
- Navigate to the Rawdah booking section: Once your account is set up, navigate to the section specifically dedicated to booking permits for the Rawdah. This is entitled “Praying in the Noble Rawdah – Men” or “Praying in the Noble Rawdah – Women”. This section should provide information about the availability of permits.
- Check availability and select a time and date: Within the Rawdah booking section, you can check the availability of permits for different dates and times. Select the date and time slot that aligns with your intended visit. Keep in mind that availability may be limited, so it’s advisable to plan your visit well in advance.
- Make the booking: Follow the instructions and complete the booking. Your permit should now be available on your phone within the Nusuk app. You will need to present this on your phone when you arrive at the Prophet’s Mosque ﷺ.
- Arrival at the mosque: At the time of your Rawdah visit, you should arrive to queue in advance of your booked time slot. The queue to access the Rawdah will be in the courtyard of Masjid Nabawi. You may need to line up for quite a while.
- Permit check: Before entering the door of Masjid Nabawi leading to the Rawdah, you will need to show your permit on the Nusuk app to the security staff.
- Entering the Rawdah: You will then be granted access to the mosque. You may need to wait a while outside or in another part of the masjid before you’re allowed to enter the Rawdah. Take this opportunity to send Salawat on the Prophet ﷺ and engage in Dhikr.
Note: Make sure you behave with decorum within Masjid Nabawi; don’t push or behave aggressively towards others in an effort to enter the blessed area.
Main article: Rawdah Permit
Praying in the Noble Rawdah
Once you’re inside the Rawdah area, take a moment to absorb your surroundings and reflect upon the hallowed ground you’re standing on. You are recommended to do the following inside the Rawdah, providing you have space and don’t inconvenience anybody else:
- Pray two Rakahs Nafl behind one of the sacred pillars, preferably behind the Pillar of Aisha (Ustuwaanat Aisha). Aisha J is recorded to have said that if people knew the significance of praying in this spot, they would draw lots for a chance to pray there.
- Make an abundance of Dua – the Rawdah is a place where supplications are accepted.
- Ask for forgiveness near the Pillar of Repentance (Ustuwanah al-Tawbah).
- Send an abundance of Salawat upon the Prophet ﷺ.
If there is a lot of crowding, do your best to make space for others.
Main article: Praying in the Rawdah