9 Things You Didn’t Know About The Prophet’s Mosque

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Seeing a scene of impeccable beauty, we often hear the term “Heaven on Earth!” But there is only one place that literally has the right to p...

Seeing a scene of impeccable beauty, we often hear the term “Heaven on Earth!” But there is only one place that literally has the right to proclaim itself as such. There, deep in the mosque of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) (masjid Nabawi), covered by green carpets and the tears of millions, lies a “garden from the gardens of paradise.” [1] It is a place known to every Muslim who has ever lived, yet there's still much we don't know about it. Here are just some of the interesting facts and mysteries of the Prophet's ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) Mosque:
9. The first place in the Arabian Peninsula to have electricity
When the Ottomans introduced electricity to the Arabian Peninsula, the first place to be lit up was the mosque of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). [2] By some accounts, it would be a few more years before the Sultan himself had full electricity in his own palace in Istanbul. [3]
first place to get electricity in arabia
8. The current mosque is larger than the old city
The current mosque is more than 100 times the size of the original building. [4] [5] This means that the current mosque covers almost the entire area of the old city itself. [6] [7] This is evident from the fact that whereas Jannat Al-Baqi cemetery was on the outskirts of the city during the time of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), [8] it now borders the precincts of the current mosque grounds.
current mosque is larger than the entire city
ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)
7. There's an empty grave in the Prophet's  room
It has long been the stuff of legend that there is an “empty grave” next to where the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) and Umar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) are buried. [9] [10] [11] This was confirmed, however, when the individuals who went in to change the coverings in the hujrah* in the 1970s noted the presence of an empty space. [12] Whether or not it is meant for Isa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) when he returns is a matter of debate. [13]
*Note from author: What is meant by “hujrah” in this case is not the actual burial chamber / original room of Aisha (Ra.) This is enclosed in a pentagonal structure with no doors or windows and has not been visible for centuries. The area meant is the entire grilled area encompassing the chamber and area of other rooms.
6. It was destroyed by fire
The majority of the old mosque, including the original mimbar of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), was destroyed in a fire that swept through the mosque centuries after the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) died. The fire was so extensive that the roof and even some of the walls of the room of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) collapsed, revealing his resting place for the first time in 600 years. [14]
5. There was no dome before, now there are two!
For more than 650 years after the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) passed away, there was no dome over his ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) grave. [15] The first one was built in 1279 by a Mamluk sultan and was made of wood. [16] The green dome that we see today is actually the outer dome over the room of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). There is an inner dome that is much smaller and has the name of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) and Umar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) inscribed on the inside. [17]
4. The dome used to be purple!
Yup – purple. It turns out that the dome has been through various colors and renovations before it reached its current form and colour about 150 years ago. [18]  At one point it used to be white and for the longest period it was a purple-blue colour that the Arabs of Hijaz were particularly fond of. [19] [20]
Purple Dome
3. It has 3 mihrabs
Most mosques only have one mihrab, but the Prophet's ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) mosque has three. The current mihrab is the one used nowadays for the imam to lead prayers. The next mihrab is set back and is called the Suleymaniye or Ahnaf mihrab. [21] It was made on the orders of the Sultan Suleyman the magnificent for the Hanafi imam to lead prayers whilst the Maliki imam lead prayers from the Prophetic mihrab. The Prophetic mihrab completely covers the area that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) used to lead prayers from except where he placed his feet. [22]
2. What lies in the room of Fatima raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her)?
Items belonging to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) were housed in his room or the room of Fatima raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) which was incorporated into his room after a major expansion. [23] When Madinah was under siege during World War I, the Ottoman commander had many priceless artifacts evacuated to Istanbul, hidden in the clothes of women and children. [24] [25] They can now be seen in the Topkapi Palace. However, intriguingly, some items still remain but are undocumented. [26]
1. It is FULL of secret signs
Yes, the mosque of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is covered with so many subtle signs and secrets that it makes the DaVinci Code look like a cheap puzzle for pre-schoolers. Each pillar, each dome, each window carries a story and indicates the location of events that carry historical and spiritual significance. The people who constructed the Prophet's Mosque realized that it would be impossible to put up signs everywhere as it would distract from the main purpose of prayers. Therefore, they came up with an ingenious way of indicating a location of importance through minor changes in the design of surrounding objects. What are the secrets? Well, that is a story for another day insha'Allah.
secret signs in the mosque
The mosque of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was never just a mosque. It was the center of the first Islamic community and nation. It was the scene of our greatest triumphs and tragedies. It was a community center, homeless refuge, university and mosque all rolled into one.
Like the Muslim community, it has grown over the years and become more modern with each passing generation. But despite the exponential growth and changes from the simple Hijazi date palm trunk interior to the marble and gold clad structure we have today – the inner core remains the same. Perhaps there's a lesson in there for us all.
References
1. Sahih Bukhari – Book 30, Hadith 112
2. The holy cities, the pilgrimage and the world of Islam. Sultan Ghalib Al Quaiti, Page 439
4. History of Al Madinah Al Munawarah. Safiur Rahman Mubarakpuri. Pg 68 
7. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and the urbanization of Madinah. Assoc Prof Dr Spahic Omer. Research paper. Pages 89-90 
8. Sabiq Al-Sayyid. Fiqh al Sunnah (Kitab Al-'Ibadat) volume 2. Page 148. 
9. Sahih Bukhari. Chapter 23, Hadith 474
11. Sultan Ghalib Al Quaiti, Op Cit. Page 144
14. Sultan Ghalib Al Quaiti, Op Cit. Pages 124-125
15. Ibid Pages 125-127
16. Wafa Al-Wafa, Al Samhudi Pages 608-609
17. Ibid Pages 633 – 636
18. Fusul Min Tarikh Al-Madinah Al Munawarrah. Ali Hafiz. Pg 127 
19. Diaries of Rifat Pasha, Vol 1, Page 464- 465 
20. Sultan Ghalib Al Quaiti, Op Cit. Page 148
21. Ibid Page 144
22. Ibid Page 146 
23. Ibid Page 125 
24. Ibid Page 497
25. The Sacred Trusts: Topkapi Palace Museum. Hilmi Aydin

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