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Mount Thawr

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Early Islam
Hira cave-entrance.jpg

Mount Thawr (Arabic: جبل ثور) is a famous mountain in Mecca. The fame of this mountain is because of the cave where the prophet (s) at the beginning of Hijra (the Immigration) in Laylat al-Mabit sought shelter there from the polytheists. Polytheists went to the door of the cave, but thanks to the divine assistance, they could not find the Prophet (s).

Geographical Location

Mount Thawr is located south of Mecca and Masjid al-Haram,[1] on road to Yemen.[2] Some have recorded the name of this mountain as Athal or Thawr Athal. Further, some historians have recorded it as Abu Thawr which does not look to be a correct name.[3] It is not unlikely that this naming, meaning "cow" has been because it is like a cow heading towards south of Mecca![4]

In the past, people climbed Thawr from two main passes, one of which was difficult but short and the other was easier to climb but longer. The distance of mount Thawr depended on the way people chose; thus, this distance has been mentioned one parasang[5] [about 5.6 km], 2-3 miles[6] and two hour walk from Mecca.[7] Currently , the distance of mount Thawr to Masjid al-Haram is 3 to 4 kilometres.[8]

Cave of Thawr

The cave of Thawr where the Prophet (s) took shelter for three days at the beginning of Hijra.

Cave of Thawr is located on top of mount Thawr with a view over surrounding mountains. It is in the form of a rock or a hallowed rock and looks like an upside-down boat. Its altitude from the ground is a little more than 500 meters. Climbing up to the cave is very difficult and requires making a lot of efforts.[9]

Cave of Thawr has two entrances, one in the west which is very narrow and almost at the bottom of the cave, entering from which is very difficult, and another is on the east which is somehow wider and it is believed that it has been made by a miracle from God after the Prophet (s) entered the cave.[10]

Length of the cave is about 18 hand spans [about 4 meters] and its width in the middle is 11 hand spans [near to 2.5 meters].[11] The height inside the cave is about the height of a man and its area is 2.5 cubic meters.[12]

Some historians have mistaken the cave of Thawr, where the Prophet (s) took refuge, with the cave of Hira where the first revelations appeared for him.[13]

Presence of the Prophet (s) in the Cave

Main article: Laylat al-Mabit

After God informed the Prophet (s) of the plot of the polytheists for killing him, Imam Ali (a) stayed in the bed of the Prophet (s) while he (s) left Mecca for Yathrib at night. To escape the polytheists who were searching for him, the Prophet (s) took refuge in the cave of Thawr together with Abu Bakr and remained in there for three days and nights. The holy Qur'an has mentioned the story of polytheists' plot, the Prophet's (s) leave from his house in Mecca and his stay in the cave of mount Thawr.[14]

Divine Miracles

For the blessing of the Prophet's (s) stay in this cave, several miracles happened such as spinning of a spider's net in the front of the cave, nestling of two wild pigeons and in a report growing of a tree.

Polytheists who were searching for the Prophet (s) came up to the opening of the cave of Thawr, but God stopped them from entering it. This way, Quraysh who saw the spider's net and the eggs of the pigeons, assumed that the cave must have been an isolated one. Because, had anyone entered it before, the spider’s net would have been cut apart, the eggs of the pigeons would have been broken and the pigeons would have not been sitting there with ease.[15]

People's Seeking Blessings from the Cave

Pilgrims at Mount Thawr.

Mount of Thawr has been regarded as blessed by Muslims after the three days staying of the Prophet (s) there[16] and has always been a place of visiting for hajj pilgrims.[17]


Around the year 800/1397-8 or according to another report 810/1407-8, the ruler of that time ordered to extend the range of the entrance of the cave so that people would have less troubles there.[18] In later times, the ruler of Mecca, widened the entrance of the cave once again.[19] Today, the height of the opening and the width of the cave is about half a meter.[20]


Notes

  1. Azraqī, Akhbār Makka, vol. 2, p. 294; Ḥimyarī, al-Rawḍ al-miʿṭār fī khabar al-aqṭār, p. 151; Bilādī, Maʿālim Makka, p. 27, 57.
  2. Ibn Jubayr, al-Raḥla Ibn Jubayr, p. 93.
  3. Ibn Jubayr, al-Raḥla Ibn Jubayr, p. 93; Fāsī al-Makkī, Shifāʾ al-gharām, vol. 1, p. 450; Asadī Makkī, Akhbār al-kirām, p. 212.
  4. Bilādī, Maʿālim Makka, p. 27.
  5. Ibn Jubayr, al-Raḥla Ibn Jubayr, p. 93.
  6. Fāsī al-Makkī, Shifāʾ al-gharām, vol. 1, p. 450; Ibn Zahīra, al-Jāmiʿ al-laṭīf, p. 300.
  7. Batanūnī, al-Raḥla al-ḥijaziyya, p. 128.
  8. Kurdī, al-Tārīkh al-qawīm, vol. 1, part 2, p. 384.
  9. Ibn Jubayr, al-Raḥla Ibn Jubayr, p. 139; ʿAyyāshī, al-Raḥlat al-ʿAyyāshiyya, vol. 2, p. 102-103; Ibrāhīm Rafʿat Pāshā, Mirʾāt al-ḥaramayn, vol. 1, p. 61-63.
  10. Ibn Jubayr, al-Raḥla Ibn Jubayr, p. 94, 139, 140; ʿAyyāshī, al-Raḥlat al-ʿAyyāshiyya, vol. 2, p. 103; Ibrāhīm Rafʿat Pāshā, Mirʾāt al-ḥaramayn, vol. 1, p. 62; Asadī Makkī, Akhbār al-kirām, p. 213.
  11. Ibn Jubayr, al-Raḥla Ibn Jubayr, p. 140.
  12. ʿAyyāshī, al-Raḥlat al-ʿAyyāshiyya, vol. 2, p. 103; Batanūnī, al-Raḥla al-ḥijaziyya, p. 131.
  13. Azraqī, Akhbār Makka, vol. 2, p. 288; Fāsī al-Makkī, Shifāʾ al-gharām, vol. 1, p. 448; Ibn Zahīra, al-Jāmiʿ al-laṭīf, p. 299; Nahrwālī, Kitāb al-aʿlām bi aʿlām Bayt Allah al-ḥarām, p. 447-448.
  14. Quran 9:40; Nasfī, Tafsīr al-Qurʾān al-jalīl and Ṭabarī, Jāmiʿ al-bayān, under this verse.
  15. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, part 1, p. 154; Ibn Jubayr, al-Raḥla Ibn Jubayr, p. 93; Ibn Kathīr, al-Sīra al-nabawīyya, vol. 2, p. 239-241; Nahrwālī, Kitāb al-aʿlām, 448-449.
  16. Nahrwālī, Kitāb al-aʿlām, 448; Kurdī, al-Tārīkh al-qawīm, vol. 1, part 2, p. 293; Bilādī, Maʿālim Makka, p. 57.
  17. Ibn Jubayr, al-Raḥla Ibn Jubayr, p. 93; Fāsī al-Makkī, Shifāʾ al-gharām, vol. 1, p. 449.
  18. Fāsī al-Makkī, Shifāʾ al-gharām, vol. 1, p. 449-450; Kurdī, al-Tārīkh al-qawīm, vol. 1, part 2, p. 395; Ibn Zahīra, al-Jāmiʿ al-laṭīf, p. 300.
  19. Batanūnī, al-Raḥla al-ḥijaziyya, p. 131.
  20. Batanūnī, al-Raḥla al-ḥijaziyya, p. 131.

References

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  • Asadī Makkī, Muḥammad b. Aḥmad. Akhbār al-kirām bi akhbār al-Masjid al-ḥarām. Edited by Ḥāfiz Ghulām Muṣṭafā. Varanasi: 1976.
  • ʿAyyāshī, ʿAbd Allāh b. Muḥammad. Al-Raḥlat al-ʿAyyāshiyya. Fas: 1316 AH. Rabat: Offset, 1337 AH.
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  • Ibn Kathīr, Ismāʿīl b. ʿUmar. Al-Sīra al-nabawīyya. Edited by Muṣṭafā ʿAbd al-Wāḥid. Cairo: 1383-1386 AH.
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