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Monuments of al-Baqi'

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Biqāʿ al-Baqīʿ or Monuments of al-Baqīʿ (Arabic: بِقاع البَقيع) refers to domes, mausoleums and buildings that had been constructed on the graves of some well-known and prominent figures of Islam in al-Baqi' Cemetery before Wahhabis demolished them on Yawm al-Hadm (the Day of Demolition). The phrase, "Monuments of al-Baqi'", is particularly used by Shias to refer to the mausoleums of the four Imams (a) who are buried in al-Baqi' Cemetery (see: Imams of al-Baqi'). Before the Demolition of al-Baqi' by Wahhabis, these monuments were visited by pilgrims of hajj.

History of Constructions over Graves in Islam

Making a construction over graves, that is, to make any building (such as a dome or a mausoleum or any monument) on the graves, is an issue on which Shias and Sunni Muslims, on the one hand, and Wahhabis, on the other hand, disagree. Over the centuries, followers of Islamic sects, especially Shiism, constructed buildings over the graves of prominent Islamic figures and leaders as well as religious scholars. The construction of mausoleums and buildings on graves dates back to the early years of Islam, and no one from the Sahaba and Tabi'un objected to it. Wahhabis believe that the construction of buildings on the graves leads to worshipping them and thus it counts as polytheism with respect to worship.

Monuments of Shiite Imams

'Aqil b. Abi Talib had a big house across Imam 'Ali's (a) house, outside of al-Baqi' on its southern side. On one account, the Prophet Muhammad (s) stood in a corner of this house and asked for divine forgiveness for people who were buried in al-Baqi'. As time went by, this house turned into a burial place for some prominent figures of Banu Hashim, and was later attached to al-Baqi'. In some sources, this part of al-Baqi' came to be known as the graves of Banu Hashim. According to a hadith, the house was reconstructed by Imam al-Sajjad (a) around 65/684-85.

People who Are Buried in 'Aqil's House

It is not exactly known when 'Aqil's house was attached to al-Baqi' and monuments were built on these graves. Given that 'Abbas b. 'Abd al-Muttalib, the grandfather of the Abbasids, was buried in this house, the house should have been attached to al-Baqi' in the first decades of the 2nd century (between 718-728), when the Abbasids took over the power. This might be the reason why these graves are mentioned in reports of the second century onwards.

Ibn Zubala reported that there was a mosque on the graves of 'Abbas b. 'Abd al-Muttalib and Shiite Imams (a). And Ibn Shabba reported that there was a mosque on Fatima bt. Asad's grave in the 3rd/9th century. Since her grave is close to the graves of Shiite Imams (a) and 'Abbas, it seems that all of these graves were included in this mosque.


The dome of Imams of al-Baqi' before being demolished by Wahhabis

There are conflicting reports of the first dome constructed on the graves of 'Abbas and Shiite Imams (a). It is said that in the 5th/11th century, Majd al-Mulk al-Barawistani built a large dome on the graves of Shiite Imams (a) and 'Abbas.

Al-Mutri pointed to the construction of this large dome in the period of Nadir Ahmad b. Mustadi' al-'Abbasi. Ibn Najjar, who was contemporary with Nasir al-'Abbasi, explicitly talked about the oldness of the dome. Thus it seems that al-Mutri's account is not accurate. Ibn Jubayr's account of the dome and the graves inside it is more accurate. According to him, the dome constructed on these graves was very tall and it was located near the entrance of al-Baqi'. The graves inside the monument were large and higher than the ground. The grave had wooden darihs decorated with marble high reliefs with nailing.

According to 'Abdari, this monument and 'Uthman b. 'Affan's monument were the largest and most exquisite monuments of al-Baqi'. Ibn Najjar reported that there were two doors for the monument one of which was opened during the hajj pilgrimage.

Ibn Batuta, Khalid b. 'Isa, and al-Samhudi also talked about the monument, the dome, and the darihs over the graves of Shiite Imams (a). Muhammad Husayn Farahani, a figure in the Qajar government, reported his hajj pilgrimage in 1302/1884 pointing to the octagon mausoleum of Shiite Imams (a) and 'Abbas. According to this report, there was a large wooden box inside the mausoleum, in which there were other wooden boxes. Inside one box were the graves of the four Shiite Imams (a) and inside the other was the grave of 'Abbas.

A similar report is given in Farhad Mirza's travel book in 1292/1875-76, pointing to the construction of a new darih that was not mentioned in reports before the 10th/16th century.


The monument of 'Abbas and Imams of al-Baqi' were repaired and reconstructed during centuries. According to sources, the monument was repaired in 519/1125-26 at the command of al-Mustarshid al-'Abbasi and in the period of al-Mustansir al-'Abbasi. The claim is supported by an epigraph on the altar of the mausoleum according to which the caliph, al-Mustansir, ordered the reconstruction of the mausoleum. There are reports of the reconstruction of the monument in 1234/1818-19 at the command of Sultan Mahmud al-'Uthmani by Muhammad 'Ali Pasha, and in 1292/1875-76 in the period of 'Abd al-'Aziz Khan al-'Uthmani. It is said that after the reconstruction in 1234/1818-19, this monument as well as other monuments of al-Baqi' were annually repaired.

The Monument of 'Uthman b. Maz'un

'Uthman b. Maz'un al-Jumahi was one of the reliable sahaba, and on some accounts, he was one of the early Muhajirun who died in Medina. He was buried in the middle of al-Baqi' and the Holy Prophet (s) marked his burial place with a stone. The stone was on his grave for a while until it was removed at the command of Mu'awiya b. Abi Sufyan, and was placed instead on 'Uthman b. Affan's grave that was later attached to al-Baqi'.

Some prominent figures as well as Ibrahim, the Holy Prophet's (s) son, were buried near 'Uthman's grave. According to later sources, there was a dome and a darih over these graves, but it is not known when and by whom they were constructed. Some researchers attribute the construction of this monument to Majd al-Mulk al-Barawistani (d. 492/1099 or 493/1100-1), the Iranian minister of a Seljuk king (reign: 486/1093 - 498/1104-5), because of similarities between the darih built on these graves and the one built on the graves of Shiite Imams and 'Abbas.

The Monument of Fatima bt. Asad

Fatima bt. Asad was also among the figures who were buried in al-Baqi' and on whose grave a construction was made. Since the Holy Prophet (s) treated Fatima bt. Asad as his mother, he buried her with special manners. He covered her with his own clothes as burial shroud (al-kafan) and lied down in her grave for some moments to make her immune to the pressure of grave. According to early sources regarding Medina, her grave is near the grave of 'Abbas in the house of 'Aqil b. Abi Talib.

In the 7th/13th century, Ibn Najjar and many later historiographers and scholars of the history of Medina mistakenly took her grave to be on the northeastern side of al-Baqi' and on the north of 'Uthman b. 'Affan's mausoleum, and reported that the grave was frequently visited by pilgrims in their time. Al-Samhudi rejected this claim, taking it to be Ibn Najjar's misunderstanding of earlier sources. Al-Samhudi reported that Fatima's grave was near the graves of Ibrahim and 'Uthman b. Maz'un in Rawha'.

When 'Aqil's house was attached to al-Baqi' and constructions were made on the graves of Shiite Imams (a), Fatima's grave, which was located on the southwestern side of these graves, was included under this monument. Ibn Shabba's report of a mosque in the third century AH (9th century) in this location might refer to the first construction on this grave.

The Monument of the Holy Prophet's (s) Wives

Another monument in al-Baqi' was the one built on the graves of some of the Holy Prophet's (s) wives, located 5 meters south of 'Aqil's grave and north of the graves of Shiite Imams (a). The monument was built in 852/1448-49. The graves were already demarcated from other graves with a short stone wall. According to many sources, all of the Holy Prophet's (s) wives, except Khadija (a) and Maymuna bt. al-Harith, were buried in al-Baqi'. However, some sources disagree over the number of his wives who were buried in this part of al-Baqi' under this monument.

The Monument of 'Uthman b. 'Affan

Another monument at the outrance of al-Baqi' is that of 'Uthman b. 'Affan. After his murder in 35/656, people did not allow his corpse to be buried in al-Baqi' and so it was buried on the eastern side of al-Baqi' in a district called Hush or Hashsh Kawkab (the Grarden of Kawkab) in which the corpses of the Jews were buried. During the reign of Marwan b. al-Hakam in Medina, the wall between al-Baqi' and Hashsh al-Kawkab was removed and Muslims were buried in the space between al-Baqi' and Hashsh al-Kawkab until it was attached to al-Baqi'.

The Monument of 'Aqil and 'Abd Allah b. Ja'far

Another monument in al-Baqi' was that of 'Aqil, Imam 'Ali's (a) brother and that of 'Abd Allah b. Ja'far, 'Aqil's nephew. They were buried in 'Aqil's house in one grave. Their mausoleum is near the mausoleums of 'Abbas and Imams of al-Baqi' 4 meters away from the graves of the Holy Prophet's (s) wives. Another person who was buried in this monument was Abu Sufyan b. Harith, the Holy Prophet's (s) cousin and his foster brother.

Nothing is known about when and by whom the monument was built. According to Ibn Najjar's account, the building was built before the 7th/13th century.

The Monument of the Holy Prophet's (s) Daughters

Domes over the graves of the Holy Prophet's (s) daughters (on the left)

The monument attributed to the Holy Prophet (s) daughters, Ruqayya and Zaynab, was located on the northern side of the graves of the Imams of al-Baqi' and southwestern side of the graves of the Holy Prophet's (s) wives, adjacent to the grave of 'Uthman b. Maz'un. According to sources, Ruqayya and Zaynab were buried in al-Baqi' near the grave of 'Uthman b. Maz'un at the command of the Holy Prophet (s). However, it is not exactly known where Umm Kulthum bt. Muhammad (s) was buried. Later writers, such as Farhad Mirza and Raf'at Pasha referred to the burial of Umm Kulthum near the graves of the rest of the Holy Prophet's (s) daughters and the monument constructed on their grave. There was a brass darih on these graves.

The Monument of Halima al-Sa'diyya

On the northeastern side of al-Baqi' was a monument attributed to Halima al-Sa'diyya, the Holy Prophet's (s) wet nurse and foster mother. Early sources did not mention the location in which she was buried.

According to Ibn Batuta, Halima was buried in Basra, but there are reports in travel books in recent centuries according to which Halima was buried in al-Baqi' on the way to 'Uthman b. 'Affan's grave. There was a dome and a mausoleum on this grave, but it is not known when it was constructed. Inside the mausoleum was a wooden darih on the grave. In his travel book of hajj in 1305/1888, Na'ib al-Sadr al-Shirazi mentioned two verses of a Turkish poem on her monument.

The Monument of Safiyya, the Holy Prophet's (s) Aunt

Another grave in al-Baqi' on which a construction was made was the grave of Safiyya bt. 'Abd al-Muttalib, the Holy Prophet's (s) aunt and al-Zubayr b. al-'Awwam's mother. Until the second half of the 14th/20th century), the grave was outside of al-Baqi' in an alley on the western side of the cemetery.

The area near the grave was given to Mughira b. Shu'ba by 'Uthman b. 'Affan. Mughira built a house for himself there. Thus Safiyya's grave was adjacent to the wall of Mughira's house. Al-Mutri reported that some architects attempted to build a dome on her mausoleum, but they failed to do so.

Al-Samhudi talked about a construction over Safiyya's grave without a dome. In his travel book in 1255/1839, Sayyid Isma'il Marandi reported that there was a dome on this grave. Thus the dome must have been built between the 10th/16th and the 13th/19th centuries). In 1373/1953-54, the municipality of Medina removed the walls between al-Baqi' and the alley in which Safiyya's grave was located and thereby attached the alley and its surroundings, with an area of 3,494 square meters, to al-Baqi'.

Today this grave is located inside al-Baqi' and near the western wall. There is an anonymous grave near Safiyya's, leading some recent authors to mistakenly attribute it to 'Atika, another of the Holy Prophet's (s) aunts, but according to sources concerning the Sahaba, there are doubts about 'Atika's conversion to Islam.

The Monument of al-Hasan al-Muthanna

There is a hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari according to which Fatima bt. al-Husayn (a), built a monument on the grave of her husband, al-Hasan al-Muthanna.

The Monument of Malik b. Anas

Another construction made in al-Baqi' was a monument for Malik b. Anas, a head and imam of the Sunni Maliki sect, located in Rawha' al-Baqi' adjacent to the mausoleum of Ibrahim b. Muhammad. According to Ibn Jubayr's report, the monument had a small dome.

According to this report, the construction of this monument dates back to a time before the 7th/13th century. The monument was so small that no one else could be buried in it.

The Monument of Nafi', the servant of 'Abd Allah b. 'Umar

Another monument built in al-Baqi' is the one on the grave of Nafi', one of the seven reciters of the Holy Qur'an in Medina. This monument was adjacent to that of Malik b. Anas on the northeastern side of al-Baqi'. Since such a monument is not mentioned in al-Mutri's reports of the 8th/14th century, al-Samhudi took it be built after al-Mutri's time, but he provided no information about when and by whom it was constructed.

The Monument of Isma'il b. al-Imam al-Sadiq (a)

The grave of Isma'il, the eldest son of Imam al-Sadiq (a), was first located outside al-Baqi' on the western side of the graves of 'Abbas and Shiite Imams (a), and there was a mausoleum and a dome on it. The construction of this monument is attributed to the Fatimids.

The distance between the mausoleum and the monument of Shiite Imams (a) was about 15 meters. After the demolition of monuments outside al-Baqi' by Wahhabis, a wall was built around Isma'il's grave. In 1353/1934, when Abu Dhar Street was being substructed and expanded, Isma'il's corpse was moved at the presence of the prominent figures of Isma'iliyya to al-Baqi' and was buried on the eastern side of the graves of the martyrs of Harra near the grave of Halima al-Sa'diyya. Today the grave has faded after the construction of pedestrian ways inside al-Baqi'.

Other Monuments

  • A small monument on the grave of Ibn Abi l-Hayja', a ruler of the Fatimid government, on the western side of the monument of 'Abbas and Shiite Imams (a).
  • The monument of Amir Chupan, an Ilkhanate ruler, near the monument of Ibn Abi l-Hayja' and the grave of Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa'i, behind the monument of Shiite Imams (a). There is a report that in 1302/1884-85 according to which there was a metal darih on this grave.

The Demolition of the Monuments

Influenced by the views of Ibn Taymiyya, Wahhabis appealed to some hadiths reproaching the construction of monuments on the graves, and thus took it to be heretic and polytheistic to make constructions on the graves. In accordance with this view, Medina was blockaded by Wahhabi forces in 1220/1805-6, and when they conquered the city, Sa'ud b. 'Abd al-'Aziz ordered the confiscation of all the property inside the treasuries of the Holy Prophet's (s) Holy Shrine and the demolition of all domes in al-Baqi'.


Given the flood of objections by Muslims throughout the Islamic world to the Saudi offence of the monuments in al-Baqi', the Ottoman government, which was inclined to take Mecca and Medina back, sent a large army to conquer Medina, and in Dhu l-Hijja, 1227/December 1812, they conquered the city. Some of the monuments were reconstructed at the command of Sultan Mahmud al-Thani.

Another Demolition

Main article: Yawm al-Hadm

Wahhabis attacked Medina again in 1344/1924-25 and demolished all historical monuments of the al-Baqi' in accordance with the fatwa of Shaykh 'Abd Allah Balihad on Shawwal 8, 1344/April 21, 1926. It came to be known by Shias as Yawm al-Hadm or the Day of Demolition.

Reactions by Muslims

This demolition caused strong reactions by Muslims around the world. The Iranian government announced a public mourning for this offence on Safar 16, 1344/September 5, 1925. Sayyid Hasan Mudarris tried to organize a commission in the Iranian Majlis with respect to this event. Muslims in countries such as India, Pakistan, and Muslim communities of the former Soviet Union, held assemblies and sent messages, objecting to the demolition. In order to prevent the rage of Muslims and justify its actions, the Saudi government invited the representatives of Muslim governments to Mecca. The Iranian delegate in this meeting, consisting of Ghaffar Khan Jalal al-Saltana, the Iranian minister in Egypt and Habib Allah Khan Huwayda, entered Jeddah on Shahrivar 24, 1304 Sh/September 15, 1925, but the issue was not further pursued due to Saudi tricks and the lack of resolution on the part of the officials in the Islamic countries.

Shaykh 'Abd al-Rahim al-Ha'iri, known as Shaykh 'Abd al-Rahim al-Fusuli, a scholar in Tehran, went to the hajj pilgrimage via Syria in 1345/1927 together with a group of Iranians, and after some negotiations with Malik 'Abd al-'Aziz, he could reach an agreement with the Saudi king to reconstruct parts of the mausoleum of Shiite Imams (a) in al-Baqi'.

See Also