The Etiquette of Visiting the Tomb ...

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The Etiquette of Visiting the Tomb of the Prophet and Standing before his Blessed Grave

The Etiquette of Visiting the Tomb of the Prophet and Standing before his Blessed Grave

Visiting the tomb of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) is one of the best acts of worship a person can do to gain the pleasure of God the Almighty and one that will likely be accepted by Him; it is one of the reasons for meriting the intercession of the Prophet and entails loyalty to him.

- It is recommended for a visitor to make the intention of visiting the Prophet, and draw close to God the Almighty by offering prayers in the Prophet's honored mosque due to the rewards earned therein.

- It is desirable for a pilgrim to invoke peace and blessings upon the Prophet in abundance on his way to al-Medina, especially when he first sees the buildings and trees on the outskirts of the city. It is likewise desirable to ask God the Almighty to benefit him by this visit and to accept it from him.

- Before entering the Prophet's mosque to greet the Prophet and commune with him, it is recommended for a pilgrim to bathe, wear his best and use perfume.

- One must feel in his heart that al-Medina is the holiest spot on earth after Mecca. This is because God made it the Prophet's sanctuary and his final resting place, and that the spot containing his honorable body is the best place in the universe. It is even better than the Ka'bah, Paradise and the Throne according to the consensus of Muslims because it contains the blessed body of the best of creation and the Chosen one, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

- After entering the city and before going inside the Prophet's mosque, it is recommended to give something away in charity, no matter how little. This is because God the Almighty says,

You who believe! When you consult the Messenger in private, spend something in charity before your private consultation. That will be best for you, and most conducive to purity (of conduct). But if ye find not (the wherewithal), God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. [Al-Mujadila, 12]

The reason for this is because the Prophet's sanctity is the same in life as in death.

- Upon entering the mosque, a pilgrim is recommended to say what is said before upon entering al-Masjid al-Haram, "A'udhib billah al-'azim wa bi waghihi al-karim wa sultanahu al-qadim min al-shaytan al-rajim. Bismillah, Allahuma salli 'ala sayiduna Muhammad wa 'ala al sayiduna Muhammad. Allahuma ighfir li dhunubi wa iftah li abwab rahmatik" i.e. "I seek refuge in God the Great, in His Noble Face and in His omnipresent sovereignty from the accursed Satan. In the name of God, O God, send peace and blessings upon our Master Muhammad and upon the family of our master Muhammad. O God! Forgive my sins and open for me the doors of Your mercy."

- He is then to offer the two rak'ahs of greeting the mosque in al-Rawda, praise God the Almighty for this blessing and ask that He accept it from him. He must then approach the honored tomb where the body of our beloved Prophet lies, stand at its head with his back to the qiblah, bow his head and stand with great humility and veneration for the Prophet, confident that he is alive in his grave, listening and replying to him. He is then to greet the Prophet saying,

"Al-salam 'alayka ya rasul Allah. Al-Salam 'alayka yanabiyu Allah. Al-salam 'alayka ya khayrat Allah. Al-salam 'alayka ya khayr khalq Allah. Al-Salam 'alayka ya habib Allah. Al-Salam 'alayka ya nadhir. Al-salam 'alayka ya bashir. Al-salam 'alayka ya tahir. Al-Salam 'alayka ya nabi al-rahma. Al-salam 'alayka ya nabi al-umma. Al-salam 'alayka ya aba al-Qasim. Al-salam 'alayka ya rasul rabb al-'alamin. Al-Salam 'alayka khayr al-khala`iq ajma'in. Al-Salam 'alayka ya qa`id al-ghur al-muhajjalin.

Al-Salam 'alayka wa 'ala al baytak wa azwajak wa dhuriyyatik wa as-habik ajma'in. Al-salam 'alayka wa 'ala sa`ir al-anbiya` wa jami' 'ibad Allah al-salihin. Jazaka Allah ya rasul Allah 'anna afdal ma jaza nabiyyan 'an ummatih. Wa sala Allah 'alayka wa salam kullama dhakarak dhakir wa ghafil 'an dhikrak ghafil afdal wa atyab wa akmal ma salla 'ala ahad min al-khalq ajma'in. Wa ash-hadu anna la illaha illa Allah wahdahu la sharika lahu wa ash-hadu anaka 'abduhu wa rasuluhu wa khayratuhu min khalquhu.

Wa ash-hadu innaka qad balaght al-risalah wa adayt al-amana wa nasaht al-umma wa jahadt fi Allah haq jihaduhu. Allahuma atihi al-wasilata wa al-fadilata wa ib'athahu maqaman mahmudan alladhi wa'adtu wa atihi nihayat ma yanbaghi an yas`aluhu al-sa`ilun. Allahuma salli 'ala sayyiduna Muhammad 'abduka wa nabiyyuka wa rasuluk al-nabi al-ummi wa 'ala al sayyiduna Muhammad wa azwajihu wa dhurriyatuhu kama salayt 'ala sayyiduna Ibrahim wa 'ala al sayyiduna Ibrahim wa barik 'ala sayyiduna Muhammad wa 'al al sayyiduna Muhammad wa azwajuhu wa dhurriyatuhu kama barakta 'ala sayyiduna Ibrahim wa 'ala al sayyiduna Ibrahim fi al-'alamin innaka hamidun majid"

i.e. "Peace be upon you, O Messenger of God! Peace be upon you, O Prophet of God! Peace be upon you, O chosen one! Peace be upon you, O the best of creation! Peace be upon you, O beloved of God! Peace be upon you, O warner! Peace be upon you, O bearer of glad tidings! Peace be upon you, O pure one! Peace be upon you, O Prophet of mercy! Peace be upon you, O Prophet of the Muslim nation! Peace be upon you, O father of Qasim! Peace be upon you, O Messenger of the Lord of the Worlds! Peace be upon you, O best of all creatures! Peace be upon you, O leader of the bright-faced ones! Peace be upon you and upon the people of your household, wives, progeny and all of your Companions! Peace be upon you and upon the rest of the Prophets and all the righteous servants of God!

May God reward you, O Messenger of God, with the best reward a Prophet ever received on behalf of his community! Peace and blessings be upon you every time one remembers you and every time one fails to remember you with the best and most perfect of peace and blessings ever bestowed upon any creature! I bear witness that there is no god save God alone, He has no partner. I bear witness that you are His servant, Messenger and the chosen one from among His creation. I bear witness that you have conveyed the Message, fulfilled the trust, advised the Community and strived for the sake of God as He deserves to be strived for. O God! Grant the Prophet intercession and the most excellent gift and raise him to the lofty station You have promised him and grant him the goal of what those who ask you must ask! O God! Send peace and blessings upon our master Muhammad, Your servant and Messenger, the unlettered Prophet and send peace and blessings upon the family of our Master Muhammad and upon his wives and progeny as You have sent upon our Master Ibrahim and upon the family of our master Ibrahim. And send blessings upon our Master Muhammad and upon the family of our Master Muhammad and upon his wives and progeny as You have sent blessings upon our Master Ibrahim and upon the family of our Master Ibrahim in the Worlds, for You are the Most Praiseworthy and Noble."

This is the recommended manner of greeting the Prophet though a person may say only what he remembers of it. It is best if he memorizes what he can and recite it without reading from paper as some people do.

- A person is then to greet the Prophet on behalf of those who asked him to do so, and say, "Peace and blessings be upon you, O Messenger of God, from so-and-so."

- After greeting the Prophet, he is to move half a meter to the right and greet Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (may God be pleased with him) and praise him as he deserves to be praised. He then moves again an arm's length to the right to greet 'Umar Ibn al-Khattab (may God be pleased with him) and praise him as he deserves to be praised.

- Next, it is recommended for him to return to his original position and stand before the Prophet's grave and supplicate God through him, seeking his intercession with God for himself, his loved ones and all Muslims. According to the scholarly consensus of the followed schools of jurisprudence, it is permissible to seek the Prophet's intercession when visiting his honored grave. On this topic, they mentioned that the best one can say when visiting the Prophet's tomb, is what was reported by al-'Utbay who said, "I was sitting by the grave of the Messenger of God when a Bedouin approached the grave and said, 'Peace be upon you O Messenger of God! I heard the verse in which God the Almighty says, 'If they had only, when they were unjust to themselves, come unto thee and asked God's forgiveness. And the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found God indeed Oft-returning, Most Merciful [An-Nisaa`, 64], so I came to you O Messenger of God, seeking forgiveness [from God] for my sins and seeking your intercession with my Lord.' He then broke down in tears and began to recite verses [in praise of the Prophet],

O you who are the best of those who are buried in the deep earth,
Whose fragrance scents all that is above and below,
I sacrifice my life for the tomb which you inhabit—
One that is full of virtue, bounty, and munificence.

He then asked [God] for forgiveness and departed. Later, I saw the Prophet in my sleep and he told me, "O 'Utbay! Follow the Bedouin and give him glad tidings that God the Almighty has forgiven him."
The above demonstrates the permissibility of renewing one's repentance when standing before the Prophet's grave, asking God the Almighty for sincerity therein and seeking the intercession of the Prophet on his behalf for its acceptance. A person is to ask God for forgiveness and beseech Him in abundance after reciting the above Qur`anic verse, such as by saying, "Nahnu wafdak ya rasul Allah wa zuwarak, ji`naka li qada` haqqaq wa al-tabbaruk bi ziyaratak wa al-istishfa' bik mima athqal dhuhuruna wa adhlama qulubuna. Fa laysa lana ya rasul Allah shafi' ghayruka nu`malu wa la raja` ghayr babika naqsuduhu. Fa istaghfir lana wa ishfa' lana 'ind rabika wa is`aluhu an yamminu 'alayna bi qada` sa`ir hawa`ijuna wa yahshuruna fi zumrat 'ibaduhu al-salihin
i.e. "We are your visitors O Messenger of God! We have come to you to give you your due, receive blessings from this visit and seek your intercession with our Lord for the heavy burdens we carry and for those which have blinded our hearts. There is no intercessor except you and none other to whom we may go. So supplicate God for our forgiveness and intercede with your Lord on our behalf and ask Him to bestow upon us the favor of granting us all our needs and of admitting us among His righteous servants on the Day of Resurrection."

- A person visiting the Prophet's tomb must feel in his heart that the Prophet is alive in his grave; he can hear a person's greeting and words and is able to answer him. It was reported in a Prophetic hadith that the prophets are alive in their graves, praying to their Lord. The hadith scholar, Ibn Hajar said, "Death will never overcome the Prophet in his grave; he will remain alive because the prophets are alive in their graves." A person visiting the Prophet's tomb must know that God the Almighty presents the Prophet with the affairs of his visitors and those of the believers, making the Prophet's supplications for forgiveness and prayers for them the grounds for amending their affairs.

This has likewise been mentioned in the hadith stating, "My life is a blessing for you; you talk to me and I answer you. My death is likewise a blessing for you, your deeds are presented to me—I praise God for your good deeds and ask Him to forgive you for your evil ones." The hadith scholar, Ibn Salah, said, "Miracles of Divine favor bestowed upon the Gnostics from among the community of Prophet Muhammad and the answering the du'a` of those who supplicate God through him in their times of distress and need, is irrefutable and manifest evidence to God's favor upon the Prophetand his exalted station. Miracles of Divine favor bestowed upon the pious Gnostics are likewise attributed to the Prophet and these are too numerous to be counted."

- The visitor must likewise remind himself of the Prophet's exalted station, his intercession on behalf of mankind on the Day of Judgment and that people seek his intercession and help. This meaning is supported by the hadith mentioned in the Sahih of Bukhari and the Sahih of Muslim which states, "Such was the help people sought from Adam, then Moses and then Muhammad." Ibn Hajar wrote in Fath al-Bari: "This hadith shows that, on the Day of Judgment, people will supplicate God through the prophets as they did during their lifetime." The hadith scholar As-Sakhawi mentioned in Al-Qawl Al-Badi', "Whoever seeks the intercession of the Prophet through his high station and supplicates God through invoking blessings upon him will attain what he asks for and achieve his purpose. Scholars authored books on this topic which is considered to be from among the eternal miracles."

- Next, it is recommended for a person visiting the Prophet to step back and face the qiblah (without giving one's back to al-Rawda) and it is preferable, if possible, to stand between the Prophet's grave and the pillar that is there, praise and glorify God the Almighty, invoke blessings upon his Prophet and supplicate for himself, his parents, his fellow-brothers and all Muslims.

- A person must endeavor to offer prayers in al-Rawda. Abu Huraira (may God be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet said, "Between my grave and pulpit lies one of the gardens of Paradise; my pulpit lies above my pool."

-Throughout his stay in Medina, a person is to offer all his prayers in the Prophet's mosque and intend to make i'tikaf [spiritual retreat] in it for which even a brief period suffices.
- After greeting the Prophet, it is recommended to go to al-Baqi' every day to visit the members of the Prophet's household, the Companions, Successors, scholars and the righteous, especially on Fridays and say, "Al-salam 'alaykum dar qawm mu`minin wa inna insha` Allahu bikum lahiqun. Allahuma ighfir li ahl Baqi' al-Gharqad. Allahuma ighfir lana wa lahum" i.e. "Peace be upon you O inhabitants of this abode from among the believers. we will join you God willing. O God! Forgive the people of Baqi' al-Gharqad. O God! Forgive us and forgive them."

- It is recommended to visit the graves of the martyrs of Uhud, beginning with the grave of Hamza, the Prophet's uncle and master of martyrs.

- It is a confirmed recommendation to visit Masjid Qiba`, preferably on a Saturday due to the words of the Prophet who said, "A prayer in the Masjid of Quba` is like a 'umrah."

- It is recommended that while a person is in the Prophet's city, to maintain reverence for it and observe the proper etiquette and conduct required in such a place. It is recommended for him to give charity to the poor of the city in abundance, not to raise his voice and refrain from quarreling when before the tomb of the Prophet. In the Qur`an, God the Almighty instructs his servants and says,

O you who believe! Raise not your voices above the voice of the Prophet, nor speak aloud to him in talk, as ye may speak aloud to one another, lest your deeds become vain and ye perceive not. Those that lower their voice in the Presence of God's Messenger, --their hearts has God tested for piety: For them is forgiveness and a great reward. [Al-Hujurat, 2-3]

It has been reported that Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (may God be pleased with him) would say, "It is not right to raise one's voice over the Prophet's, whether he is dead or alive." When 'A`isha (may God be pleased with her) would hear people in neighboring houses hammering pegs and nails, she would send [a messenger] to them and say, "Do not harm the Messenger of God." And when 'Ali Ibn Abi Talib wanted to make a door for his house, he went to a distant place (outside al-Medina) so as not to disturb the Prophet.

Therefore, a person visiting the Prophet and sitting in al-Rawda must observe the etiquette and conduct prescribed in the Qur`an to avoid undermining his good deeds. Unfavorable conduct, raising voices, quarreling and debating at this place contravene the etiquette of being in the presence of the noble blessed Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be upon him).


1- Recorded by Abu dawud (466) through 'Abdullah Ibn 'Amr. Al-Suyuti declared it fair in Al-Jami' Al-Saghir, vol. 2, p. 187.

2- This was related by scholars from different schools of jurisprudence to demonstrate the permissibility of seeking the Prophet's intercession and asking God to forgive them. For more details, see appendix (2).

3- The hadith is authentic and several scholars authored books on this topic such Al-Baihaqi in his book Hayat Al-Anbiya` fi Quburuhum and the hadith scholar as-Suyuti in his thesis "Inba` al-Adhkiya` bi Hayat al-Anbiya`" which is included in his book Al-Hawi lil Fatawa. At the beginning of his thesis, he wrote: "We have definite knowledge of the Prophet's life in his grave and that of the rest of the prophets; this was confirmed through evidences and successively transmitted reports. Imam Al-Baihaqi (may God have mercy on him) wrote about the prophets' lives in their graves."

4- The hadith scholar, As-Sakhawi, wrote about the scholarly consenus on this matter. He stated in Al-Qawl Al-Badi' fi As-Salat 'ala Al-Habib Al-Shafi' (p. 335, Ar-Rayan Foundation): "We firmly believe that the Prophet is alive and receives sustenance in his grave and that his noble body is not consumed by the earth. There is a scholarly consensus on this matter." The fact that the Prophet is praying in his grave does not contradict the fact that he replies to the greetings extended to him. This is because the ruling associated with the soul are measured by different criteria from those associated with the body. There has never been a time that was devoid of people invoking blessings upon the Prophet. On this matter, Ibn Al-Qayyim (may God have mercy on him) stated in Ar-Ruh (p. 102, Dar Al-Kutub Al-'Ilmiyya) that the soul wanders in the Heavnes as it wishes and can hear the greetings of Muslims delivered at its grave, whereupon it descends and responds to the greetings extended to it. This is because the soul is different from the body. He further mentions the instances when the Prophet saw Jibril (peace and blessings be upon him), once in his angelic form with six hundred wings, two of them covering everything between the east and west and another time in a human form when he descended from the Heavens and sat before the Prophet and put his knees against the Prophet's knees and his hands on the Prophet's thighs. The author contends that none but those who have great faith can believe that Jibril was high above the Heavens where he resides and at the same time was that close to the Prophet.

5- Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani. Fath Al-Bari (Dar Al-Ma'rifah), vol. 7, p. 29.
6- Recorded by Al-Bazzar in his Musnad, al-Harith Ibn Abu Usama in his Musnad, and al-Dailami in Musnad Al-Fardaws. It was authenticated by numerous hadith scholars such as An-Nawawi; Ibn at-Tin, al-Qurtubi; al-Qadi 'Ayyad; Ibn Hajar; as-Suyuti in his Al-Khasa`is Al-Kubra; al-Manawi in Fayd Al-Qadir, al-Mulla Aliyy al-Qari; al-Khafagi in Sharh Ash-Shifa; and al-Zurqani in Sharh Al-Mawahib. The hadith scholar Al-'Iraqi wrote in Tarh Al-Tathrib, "It has a good chain of transmission." Al-Haithami wrote in Mujma' Az-Zawa`id, "It is authentic."
7- Ibn Salah. Adab al-Mufti wa Al-Mustafti
8- Ibn Salah. Adab al-Mufti wa Al-Mustafti, p. 210.
9- Vol. 11, p. 441.
10- Muslim scholars and imams, past and present, have maintained the validity of seeking the help and intercession of the Prophet. For more details, see appendix (2).
11- Recorded by Bukhari (1138) and Muslim (3436).
12-Recorded by Muslim (974) through 'A`isha (may God be pleased with her). Muslim added: "May God give you the reward He promised you."
13- At-Tabarani. Al-Mu'jim Al-Kabeer (570) and Ibn Majah (1411). Both hadiths were narrated through Asid Ibn Dhahir al-Ansari. Al-'Iraqi said that its chain of narrators is trustworthy.
14- Al-Ajari, Kitab Al-Shari'a (1792).
15- Al-'Asqalani, Al-Mawahib Al-Ladunniyah.

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