Al-Masjid an-Nabawi or the Prophet’s Mosque or the Prophet’s Mosque is one of the largest mosques in the world and the second holiest site in Islam (after the Grand Mosque in Mecca). It is the mosque built by the Prophet Muhammad in Medina after his migration in the year 1 AH corresponding to 622 next to his house after the construction of the Quba Mosque. The mosque has undergone several expansions throughout history, passing through the era of the Rightly Guided Caliphs, the Umayyad State, the Abbasid and the Ottoman Empire, and finally during the era of the Saudi State, where the largest expansion took place in 1994.
The first Muslims from among the Ansar before the Prophet’s migration used to gather and pray at a place in the center of Medina (and its name at that time was “Yathrib”), where Musab bin Umair (the envoy of the Prophet Muhammad in Mecca) used to pray with them and teach them the Qur’an as well, and before him Asaad bin Zurara used to pray. With them, the land on which they prayed was a place for two orphan boys, Sahel and Suhail, the sons of Amr, and they were in the lap of Asaad bin Zurara.
In the Prophet’s migration, when the Prophet Muhammad came to Medina, his she-camel was blessed in that place where the Ansar were praying, and he said: “This house, God willing.” So he called the two boys and bargained with them at the place of worship to take it as a mosque. They said: “Rather, we plunder it for you, O Messenger of God.” He refused to accept it as a gift until he bought it from them, and Abu Bakr paid for it. The Prophet Muhammad established the mosque in the month of Rabi’ al-Awwal in the year 1 AH corresponding to 622, and its length at that time was approximately 35 meters, and its width was 30 meters, so its area would be 1050 square meters, and its ceiling was approximately 2.5 meters high. The pillars of the mosque were made of palm tree trunks, its roof was made of leaves (palm twigs), its foundation was made of stones, and its walls were made of mud (raw bricks that were not burned by fire), and the center was made of a spacious (square). The Prophet Muhammad built with them himself, and carried stones and milk. The mosque had 3 gates: Bab al-Rahma and it is called Bab Atika (on the west side), Bab Othman, which is now called Bab Jibril, through which the Prophet Muhammad used to enter (on the east side), and a gate in the back (on the south side), and the qiblah of the mosque was made to Bait al-Maqdis. When the qiblah turned to the Kaaba in the year 2 AH, the door that was at the back was blocked and a door was opened facing it on the north side. He also built two houses for his two wives, Aisha bint Abi Bakr and Sawdah bint Zam'ah.
Niches of the Prophet's Mosque
These are the places of prayer at which the Prophet Muhammad and the imams after him used to pray, and during the era of the Prophet Muhammad and the Rightly Guided Caliphs there was no hollow mihrab, and it was the first to be introduced by Omar bin Abdul Aziz during its expansion in the year 91 AH.
1- The Prophet’s mihrab to Jerusalem:
At the beginning of the construction of the Prophet’s Mosque, the Prophet Muhammad used to pray with people heading to Jerusalem for a period of 16 months and several days, and the place of his prayer was in the north of the mosque so that the “Aisha cylinder” was in the back at the fifth cylinder the shoe of “Bab Jibril”.
2- The Prophet’s Mihrab:
After the order was revealed to shift the qiblah from Bait Al-Maqdis to the Kaaba, the Prophet Muhammad prayed for a few days to the “Cylinder of Aisha”, and then advanced to the place of the “Cylinder Cylinder” on the southern side of the mosque, which was erected at the location of the palm tree trunk to which the Prophet used to pray. Where Ubai bin Ka’b narrated, he said: “The Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, used to pray to the trunk of a palm tree, as the mosque was an arbor, and he was preaching to that trunk.” During the era of Omar Bin Abdul Aziz, he built a hollow mihrab to the left of the synthetic cylinder, in what was known as The Prophet’s Mihrab.” Because of the position of the mihrab, the one who prostrates in it has placed his forehead in place of the feet of the Prophet Muhammad in prayer. Whoever places this cylinder on his right, and the recess of the mihrab on his left, has hit the place where the Prophet Muhammad prayed.
The construction of the mihrab that exists today dates back to the reign of the Mamluk Sultan Qaytbay in the year 888 AH, as evidenced by the phrase engraved on the back of the mihrab, which reads: “In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Abu al-Nasr Qaytbay, may God immortalize his kingdom on the date of the sacred month of Hajj in the year eight hundred and eighty-eighth of the Prophet’s migration.” It was restored after that during the reign of King Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
3- The Ottoman Mihrab:
It is the location of the prayer hall of Othman bin Affan after the expansion that he made during his reign, and he built the maqsura over his prayer hall and used to pray in it for fear of being hit by the same thing that injured Omar bin Al-Khattab from killing and stabbing, and Omar bin Abdul Aziz created the hollow mihrab in the southern wall during his construction in the year 91 AH, and it was called the "Ottoman Mihrab".
4- Mihrab of Tahajjud:
It is the prayer hall of the Prophet Muhammad at night, where he used to put a mat every night if people went away from him, then he would perform the night prayer. It is located to the north of the Prophet's room (the cabin), and around it is currently the "Aghaat deck", behind the house of Fatima al-Zahra, and next to it is a cylinder to its right. This mihrab was renovated in the building of Sultan Qaytbay in the year 888 AH, then it was renewed during the Majid architecture. The mihrab is still present, except that it was covered with a wooden wheel in which the Qur’an is placed.
5- The mihrab of Fatima:
In front of the tahajjud mihrab, inside the maqsura, behind the Prophet Muhammad’s room, it is a hollow, marbled mihrab similar to the mihrab of the Prophet Muhammad.
6- The Sulaymani mihrab:
It is called the "Hanafi mihrab", and it is to the right of the one standing in the Prophet's mihrab at the third cylinder, west of the pulpit. The Imamate was in the mosque for the Malikis, and in the seventh century AH a Shafi’i imam was appointed, and in the second half of the ninth century AH, a Hanafi imam was appointed and Tughan Sheikh built this mihrab, after 860 AH, and for this reason it was known as the “Hanafi mihrab”, and this continued The mihrab until it was renewed by Sultan Suleiman Khan, known as Suleiman the Magnificent, and decorated with white and black marble, and wrote on it: “This mihrab was established by the blessed King, the Victorious Sultan Suleiman Shah, the son of Sultan Salim Khan bin Sultan Bayezid Khan, may God honor his supporters, the date of the month of Jumada al-Ula in the year nine hundred and eight of the Prophet’s migration. This mihrab was later known as the Sulaymani mihrab.
The doors of the Prophet's Mosque
In the era of the Prophet Muhammad, the mosque had 3 doors: a door in the back, and the door of Atika (it is called the Gate of Mercy), and the door through which he entered (it is called the Gate of Gabriel). Then when the Muslims were ordered to turn the qiblah to the Kaaba, the back door was blocked, and another door was opened on the north side. When the mosque was expanded during the era of Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, 3 doors were added: one on the eastern wall (the Women’s Gate), and one on the western wall (Bab al-Salam), and a door was added to the northern wall, bringing the total to 6 gates. When the mosque was expanded during the era of Othman bin Affan, nothing was added to it. When the mosque was expanded during the era of Omar bin Abdul Aziz, the mosque had 20 doors: 8 on the eastern side, 8 on the western side, and 4 on the northern side. After visiting the Mahdi in 165 AH, he added 4 private, non-public gates in the direction of the qiblah. All these doors were closed in the past when the walls of the mosque were renewed, and only 4 of them remained.
The mosque settled on 4 doors until a door was added on the northern side during the Majid architecture in 1277 AH, so the mosque had 5 doors: two doors on the eastern side (Gabriel’s Gate and Women’s Gate), and two doors on the western side (Bab al-Salam, Bab al-Rahma), and a door in The northern side (Bab Majidi). After the first Saudi expansion in 1375 AH corresponding to 1955, the mosque had 10 gates after the addition of Bab Al-Siddiq, Bab Saud, King Abdul Aziz Gate, Omar Gate, and Bab Othman. In 1987, Bab al-Baqi' was opened in the eastern wall, thus increasing the number of gates to 11. After the second Saudi expansion, 5 of them became inside the new expansion building, and the total number of entrances became 41, some of which consist of one door, and some of them consist of two adjacent doors, 3 doors and 5 adjacent doors, so the total number becomes 85 doors. As for the most important historical doors of the mosque, they are:
1- Bab Gabriel:
This gate is located in the eastern wall of the mosque. It was called “The Gate of the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace,” because the Prophet Muhammad used to enter through it to pray. It was called "Bab Othman", because it was located in front of the house of Othman bin Affan, and it was called Bab Jibril, when it was narrated that Gabriel came on a horse in the form of Dahiya Al-Kalbi, stood at the door of the mosque and signaled to the Prophet Muhammad to walk to Qurayzah. And when Omar bin Abdul Aziz expanded the mosque, he made the place of the door a door opposite the Prophet’s room, and the door was recently blocked when the wall was renovated, and in its place today is a window to the outside of the mosque, which is the second window to the right of the outside from the door of Jibril, and he wrote at the top of the window a verse: “Indeed, God And his angels send blessings upon the Prophet, O you who believe, pray for him and give peace to him. ( . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2- The women’s door:
This door was opened by Omar Ibn Al-Khattab in the eastern wall at the back of the mosque, where it was narrated that the Prophet Muhammad said: “If we left this door for women.” Whenever Zaid was in the mosque on his side, it was built parallel to the first.
3- The Gate of Mercy:
This door was opened by the Prophet Muhammad in the western wall of the mosque, and whenever there was an increase in the mosque on its side, it was built parallel to the first. It was called "Bab Atika", because it was located opposite the house of Atika bint Abdullah bin Yazid bin Muawiyah. It was called the Gate of Mercy because it was referred to as the “House of Judgment,” which asked some of those who entered the Prophet Muhammad for dropsy, and he did and was answered with relief and mercy.
4- The door of peace:
It is also called "the door of fear" and "the door of reverence." This door was opened by Omar Ibn Al-Khattab in the western wall of the mosque, and it was named so because it is in line with the honorable confrontation, which is the site of the visitor to greet the Prophet Muhammad.
5- Bab Abdul Majeed:
This door was opened by Sultan Abdul Majeed I on the northern side of the mosque in the year 1277 AH, and it was known as “The Majeedi Gate.” When it was added to the mosque from the northern side during the first Saudi expansion, the door was moved along its first place, and it is currently inside the second Saudi expansion along the main entrance to the mosque.