Ḥijr Ismaʿīl (Arabic: حجر اسماعيل) is the area between Ka'ba and a semicircle which extends from the north angle of Ka'ba (al-Rukn al-Iraqi) to its western angle (al-Rukn al-Shami). Its other name is al-Ḥaṭīm (Arabic: الحَطیم) and some also call it al-Ḥaẓīra (Arabic: الحَظیره). After Prophet Ibrahim (a), Hajar, and their baby, Isma'il (Ishmael) arrived in Mecca, settled in the current place of Hijr with the guidance of angel Gabriel. Hajar (Hagar) and Isma'il, with their sheep, settled in this place and built a shade using the branches of a tree. Hajar and Isma'il both were buried there after they passed away.
Hijr Isma'il was revered and respected since before Islam. The Holy Prophet (s), after beginning his mission, used to sit in Hijr Isma'il and in addition to worshiping and reciting the Holy Qur'an answered the questions of people.
- 1 Cause of Naming
- 2 History
- 3 Size
- 4 Sacredness and Reverence
- 5 In the Holy Qur'an
- 6 In Fiqh
- 7 Recommended Actions in Hijr Isma'il
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
Cause of Naming
Hijr means "prohibiting, keeping and supporting, etc." From this root, Hajr and Hujr are also used in most of these meanings. The area between the semicircle wall and Ka'ba between al-Rukn al-Iraqi and al-Rukn al-Shami is called Hijr because this wall is a barrier between those who circumambulate and the Ka'ba.
In hadiths, Hijr Isma'il has usually been referred to as Hijr, but also sometimes as al-Jadr (wall) and al-Hatim. Some have also called it al-Hazira (fence, area).
Residence of Hajar and Isma'il
According to some sources, after Ibrahim (a), Hajar and their baby, Isma'il, arrived in Mecca, settled in the current place of Hijr with the guidance of angel Gabriel. Then, Hajar and Isma'il stayed in this place with their sheep under a shade they made with branches of a tree, therefore, in some hadiths, this place has been referred to as "Bayt Isma'il" (house of Isma'il).
Grave of Prophets (a)
According to hadiths and historical sources, Hajar was buried in this place after she passed away. Isma'il brought the grave of his mother higher and made a fence around it so that people would not walk on it. He (a) was also buried here after he passed away. According to narrations, some of his daughters and some prophets are also buried in this place.
Reconstruction Before Islam
According to some sources, five years before the beginning of the Prophet's (s) mission, after the destruction of Ka'ba, upon reconstruction of Ka'ba, Quraysh promised to only use legal money for it; but due to financial problem in full reconstruction, they decreased from the dimensions of Ka'ba and decreased about three meters from the ground of Ka'ba on the side of Hijr and added it to Hijr Isma'il. They also made a revetment around Hijr, so that those people circumambulated Ka'ba from behind it.
Changes After Islam
In 64/683-84, 'Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr, upon the reconstruction of Ka'ba, which was destructed by the army of Yazid after their siege of Mecca, referred to a hadith narrated by Aisha from the Holy Prophet (s) and attached the area added to Hijr Isma'il back to the Ka'ba. After taking Mecca from 'Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr, al-Hajjaj b. Yusuf al-Thaqafi changed the building of the Ka'ba and Hijr Isma'il to their previous status in 74/693-94, following the order of the Umayyad caliph 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan and reconstructed them the way they were built by Quraysh. Later, after learning about the hadith from the Prophet (s) narrated by Aisha, 'Abd al-Malik regretted his order. The changes made to the building of the Ka'ba and Hijr Isma'il caused some disagreements among faqihs on some rulings such as the question, if all the Hijr Isma'il is a part of the Ka'ba or a part of Hijr belongs to Ka'ba.
Until the caliphate of al-Mansur al-'Abbasi (r. 136/753-54 – 158/774-75), the wall of Hijr Isma'il was made of ordinary desert stones. In 140/757-58, at the time of performing hajj rituals, al-Mansur ordered the ruler of Mecca to cover the wall with marble stones. Since then, Hijr Isma'il has been reconstructed after erosion or flood and its marble stones and its floor have been repaired or changed.
The distance between the northern wall of the Ka'ba and middle point of Hijr wall is about 8.44 meters and the approximate height of the wall is 1.31 meters. The approximate distance between the two east and west entrances of Hijr is 8 meters. The distance between the east entrance of Hijr Isma'il and Shadharwan (projection around the walls of the Ka'ba) is about 2.3 meters and the distance between the west entrance of Hijr Isma'il and Shadharwan is about 2.23 meters. Perhaps, the disagreement between authors about the distances and sizes of Hijr Isma'il is due to changes made to it during history. The downspout of the Ka'ba is toward Hijr and the rainwater pours down in Hijr Isma'il.
Sacredness and Reverence
Hijr Isma'il was revered since before Islam. 'Abd al-Muttalib, the chief of Mecca and grandfather of the Holy Prophet (s) had a special place in Hijr which was furnished only for him and no one else sat there. It is said that he saw some of his true dreams (necessity of digging the well of Zamzam, birth of the Prophet (s) and his worldwide prophethood) in Hijr Isma'il. According to reports, also Abu Talib saw his dream about the birth of Imam 'Ali (a) and his bright future in Hijr Isma'il.
Also, the Holy Prophet (s) sat in Hijr after beginning of his mission and in addition to worshipping and reciting the Holy Qur'an, answered people's questions. It was there that some people from Quraysh asked the Prophet (s) for Shaqq al-Qamar (splitting the moon). According to some narrations, the departure of the Prophets' (s) ascent (Mi'raj) from al-Masjid al-Haram was Hijr Isma'il. Also, Imams (a) worshiped and made prayer in Hijr Isma'il, sat there and answered people's questions.
In the Holy Qur'an
The name "Hijr Isma'il" has not been mentioned in the Holy Qur'an, but al-'Ayyashi referred to a narration from Imam al-Sadiq (a) and mentioned that an instance of "ayat bayyinat" (clear evidences), which is in al-Masjid al-Haram according to verse 97 of Sura Al 'Imran (3) is Hijr Isma'il[Note 1].
Adjunction or Disjunction to Ka'ba
One of the important issues in fiqh regarding Hijr Isma'il has been if Hijr Isma'il is a part of Ka'ba or not. Some Sunnis have considered all of Hijr Isma'il a part of Ka'ba and in the opposite, some others have only considered a section of Hijr Isma'il to be a part of the Ka'ba.
The famous opinion of Twelver Shia scholars in fiqh, according to authentic hadiths, is that Hijr Isma'il is not a part of Ka'ba. Another evidence for this opinion is that Hajar, Isma'il and some prophets are thought to be buried there, because with regards to the sanctity of Ka'ba, it would be deemed impossible that someone would be buried inside it. However, some Shia scholars in fiqh have considered Hijr Isma'il a part of Ka'ba. Even al-Shahid al-Awwal has mentioned this idea as the famous opinion. The evidence for it might have been narrations which consider circumambulation obligatory outside Hijr and the hadith narrated from the Holy Prophet (s) about adjunction of a part of Ka'ba to Hijr Isma'il.
Necessity of Circumambulation Outside Hijr
The common opinion in Twelver Shia fiqh (and also in Sunni fiqh) is that those circumambulate Ka'ba need to do it out of Hijr, otherwise, his circumambulation (even if he has walked on the wall) will be void and need to be repeated.
Correctness of Prayer toward Hijr
One of the rulings discussed about Hijr Isma'il is the correctness of prayer made in al-Masjid al-Haram toward Hijr Isma'il, in a way that it would not be toward the Ka'ba.
Some Twelver Shia scholars in fiqh have considered it correct, but some others regarded it incorrect, because according to narrations which have rejected Hijr as a part of the Ka'ba, and also according to the opinion of most Twelver Shia scholars, it cannot be considered a part of the Ka'ba with certainty and neither can that conjecture be preferred over the certainty of the obligation for praying toward the Ka'ba.
Recommended Actions in Hijr Isma'il
Some actions which are recommended in Hijr Isma'il are mentioned as below:
- Prayer and supplication: according to narrations and the conduct of the Prophet (s) and Imams (a), the best place for making prayer and supplication in Hijr is under the downspout.
- فِيهِ آيَاتٌ بَيِّنَاتٌ مَقَامُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمَنْ دَخَلَهُ كَانَ آمِنًا ...: In it are manifest signs [and] Abraham's Station, and whoever enters it shall be secure ... (Qur'an 3:97)
- The material for this article is mainly taken from حجر اسماعیل in Farsi WikiShia.