ISLAMIC GRAVE WORSHIP REVISTED

The following excerpt is taken from Qadi ‘Iyad Ibn Musa al-Yahsubi’s Kitab Ash-shifa bi ta’rif huquq al-Mustafa (Healing by the recognition of the Rights of the Chosen One), translated by Aisha Abdarrahman Bewley (Madinah Press, Inverness, Scotland, U.K.; third reprint 1991, paperback), PART TWO. Concerning the rights which people owe the Prophet, Chapter 4. THE PRAYER ON THE PROPHET AND ASKING PEACE FOR HIM AND THE OBLIGATION OF DOING IT AND ITS EXCELLENCE.

What I am about to quote will prove that Muslims are Muhammadan grave worshipers for visiting Muhammad’s dead body in order to greet and pray for/to him. All emphasis will be mine.

SECTION 9

Concerning the visit to the Prophet’s grave, the excellence of those who visit it and how he should be greeted

Visiting his grave is part of the Sunna and is both excellent and desirable. Ibn ‘Umar said that the Prophet said, “My intercession is assured for all who visit me.”1

Anas ibn Malik said that the Messenger of Allah said, “Anyone who visits me in Madina for the sake of Allah is near me and I will intercede for him on the Day of Rising.”2

He said, “Whoever visits me after my death, it is as if he visited me while I was alive.”3

Malik disliked people saying, “We visited the grave of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.” People have disagreed about the meaning of this statement. It is said that he disliked it because of the Prophet’s saying, “Allah curses women who visit graves.”4 People relate that the Prophet then said, “I forbade you to visit the graves, but now you can visit them.”5

The Prophet said, “Anyone who visits my grave…” and used the word “visit”. It is said that this is because the visitor is considered to be better than the one visited. This has no foundation since not every visitor has this quality and so it is not a universal principle. The hadith concerning the People of the Garden talks about their “visit” to their Lord, so it is not forbidden to use this expression in respect of Allah.

Abu ‘Imran al-Fasi said, “Malik disliked anyone saying, ‘the tawaf of the visit’, or, ‘we visited the grave of the Prophet’, because people normally use that for visits between themselves, and he did not like to put the Prophet on the same level as other people. He preferred a specific statement like ‘We greeted the Prophet.’”

Moreover, it is merely recommended for people to visit each other whereas there is a strong obligation to visit the grave of the Prophet. “Obligation” here means the recommendation and encouragement to do that, not the obligation that is a legal duty.

I think the best interpretation is that Malik forbade and disliked the practice of connecting the word “grave” with the Prophet. He did not dislike people saying, “We visited the Prophet.” This is because of the Prophet’s statement, “O Allah, do not make my grave an idol to be worshipped after me. Allah was very angry with people who took the graves of their prophets as mosques.” So he omitted the word “grave” in order to cut off the means and close the door to this wrong action. Allah knows best.

Ishaq ibn Ibrahim, the faqih, said that when someone goes on hajj, he should go to Madina with the intention of praying in the mosque of the Messenger of Allah, seeking the blessing of seeing his Meadow,6 his minbar, his grave, the place where he sat, the places his hands touched and the places where his feet walked and the post on which he used to lean, where Jibril descended to him with the revelation, and the places connected with the Companions and the Imams of the Muslims who lived there. He should have consideration for all these things.

Ibn Abi Fudayk said that he heard someone state, “We have heard that all who stop at the Prophet’s grave should recite the ayat, ‘Allah and His angels bless the Prophet,’ (33:56) and then say, ‘May Allah bless you, Muhammad.’ If someone says this seventy times, an angel will call to him, ‘May Allah bless you!’ and all his needs will be taken care of.”

Yazid ibn Abi Sa‘id al-Mahri said that he went to ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdu’l-‘Aziz and when ‘Umar bade him farewell, he said, “I would like you to do something for me. When you reach Madina and see the grave of the Prophet greet him for me with peace.” Another said, “He used to send such greetings in his letters from Syria.”

One of the early Muslims said, “I saw Anas ibn Malik come to the Prophet’s grave. He stopped and raised his hands so that I thought he was beginning the prayer. He greeted the Prophet and then left.”

Ibn Wahb said that Malik said that when someone greets the Prophet, and makes supplication, he should stand with his face towards the grave, not towards qibla, draw near and greet him but not touch the grave with his hands. In Al-Mabsut, Malik says, “I do not think people should stand at the grave of the Prophet but should greet and then depart.”

Ibn Abi Mulayka said, “Anyone who wants to stand and face the Prophet should face the lamp which is in the qibla end of the grave at the Prophet’s head.”

Nafi‘ said, “Ibn ‘Umar used to make the greeting at the grave. I saw him come to the grave a hundred times or more. He would say, ‘Peace be upon the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. Peace be upon Abu Bakr.’” Then he would leave. Ibn ‘Umar was also seen to put his hand on the seat of the Prophet at the minbar and then place his hand on his face.

Ibn Qusayt and al-‘Utbi said, “When the mosque was empty, the Companions of the Prophet used to touch the knob of the minbar which was near the grave with their right hands. Then they faced to the qibla and made supplication.”

In the Muwatta’ we find that Malik, according to the transmission of Yahya ibn al-Laythi, used to stand at the grave of the Prophet and would pray on the Prophet, Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. According to Ibn al-Qasim and al-Qa‘nabi, he made supplication for Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. According to Ibn Wahb, Malik said that the greeter should say, “Peace be upon you, O Prophet, and the mercy of Allah and His blessings.” In al-Mabsut, he greeted Abu Bakr and ‘Umar.

Qadi Abu’l-Walid al-Baji said, “I think that he should supplicate for the Prophet using the term ‘salat’ and use a different word for Abu Bakr and ‘Umar as Ibn ‘Umar indicated.”

Ibn Habib said, “When you enter the Prophet’s mosque, you should say, ‘In the name of Allah and peace be upon the Messenger of Allah. Peace be upon us from our Lord. Allah and His angels bless Muhammad. O Allah, forgive us our wrong actions and open for us the gates of Your mercy and Your Garden and preserve us from the accursed shaytan!’

“Then you should go to the Meadow which is that part of the mosque between the grave and the minbar. Pray two rak‘ats there in which you praise Allah before standing at the grave. Ask Him for the complete fulfillment of the intention which brought you out to visit him and for help in realising it. If your two rak‘ats are outside the Rawda, that is sufficient although it is better if they are in the Rawda. The Prophet said, ‘The area between my house and the minbar is one of the meadows (rawdas) of the Garden. My minbar is on one of the raised gardens of the Garden.’

Then you stand at the grave with humility and respect, and bless him and give what praise you can. You greet Abu Bakr and ‘Umar and make supplication for them and do a lot of prayer in the mosque of the Prophet night and day. Do not forget to go to the mosque of Quba’ and the graves of the martyrs.”

Malik said in his letter to Muhammad,7The Prophet should be greeted when you enter and leave (i.e. the Prophet’s mosque).” Muhammad said, “When you leave the mosque, finish your time there standing at the grave. It is the same when you want to leave Madina.”

Ibn Wahb relates that Fatima said that the Prophet said, “When you enter the mosque, bless the Prophet, and say, ‘O Allah, forgive me my wrong actions and open the doors of Your mercy to me.’ When you leave, bless the Prophet, and say, ‘O Allah, forgive me my wrong actions and open the doors of Your overflowing favour to me.’”8

Muhammad ibn Sirin said, “When people entered the mosque, they used to say, ‘May Allah and His angels bless Muhammad. Peace be upon you, O Prophet, and the mercy of Allah and His blessings. In the name of Allah we have entered and in the name of Allah we have gone out. We have relied on Allah.’ They said something similar when they went out.”

When the Messenger of Allah entered the mosque, he used to say, “O Allah, open the doors of Your mercy to me and make the gates of Your provision easy for me.”

Abu Hurayra said, “When one of you enters the mosque, let him pray on the Prophet and say, ‘Allah, open the way for me!’”

In al-Mabsut, Malik said, “It is not necessary for the people of Madina who enter and leave the mosque to stand at the grave. That is for strangers.”

Malik also said, “There is no harm in someone who comes from a journey or leaves on a journey standing at the grave of the Prophet and asking for blessing on him and making supplication for him and for Abu Bakr and ‘Umar.” He was told that some of the people of Madina who had neither come from a journey nor were going on a journey would do that once a day or more, sometimes once or twice on Jumu‘a or other days, giving the greeting and making supplication for an hour. Malik said, “I have not heard this mentioned by any of the people of fiqh in our city. It is permitted to abandon it. The last people of this community are only put right by the first, and I have not heard of the first people of this community or any of the Salaf doing that. It is disliked except for someone who has come from or is going on a journey.”

Ibn al-Qasim said, “When the people of Madina left or entered Madina, I saw that they used to come to the grave and give the greeting.” He said, “That is what is considered to be the correct thing to do.”

Al-Baji said, “There is a difference between the people of Madina and strangers because strangers have a specific intention for doing so whereas the Madinans live there and do not intend to go there for the sake of the grave and the greeting.”

In the Book of Ahmad ibn Sa‘id al-Hindi about people standing at the grave we find, “Do not cling to it and do not touch it and do not stand at it for a long time.”

In the ‘Utibiyya we find, “In the mosque of the Prophet begin with the prayer on the Prophet which you say before the salam.

“The best place for nafila prayers in the mosque of the Prophet is in the prayer-place of the Prophet where the post scented with khaluq perfume is located. In the obligatory prayer, it is best to go to the front rows. I prefer strangers to do the nafila prayers there rather than in their houses.”

1. Ibn Khuzayma, al-Bazzar and at-Tabarani.

2. Al-Bayhaqi and others.

3. Al-Bayhaqi.

4. Ibn Hanbal, at-Tirmidhi and Ibn Hibban from Abu Hurayra.

5. Muslim from Burayda.

6. An area of the Prophet’s Mosque between his tomb and the minbar called the Rawda.

7. One of the companions of Malik, possibly Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ash-Shaybani who was also one of the companions of Abu Hanifa.

8. In the Sunan Collections.

FURTHER READING

Grave Worship: More of Muhammad’s Duplicity Exposed

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