Jannat ul Baqi
|The graveyard today|
|Destruction||1806 CE & 1925 CE|
Once a site with beautifully constructed mausoleums, the graveyard architecture has been destroyed twice by the Wahhabis, once in 1806 and finally in 1925.
Al-Baqi literally means the “garden of trees” in Arabic. It is the largest cemetery in the old city, dating back to the sixth century. The cemetery originated from the time of the Prophet Muhammad himself and consists of several of his children, grandchildren and renowned companions. The graveyard is in particular important to Shi'ite Muslims as four of the twelve Imams, also grandsons of the Prophet, are buried here, and possibly the daughter of the Prophet, Fatima - although the exact location of her grave is disputed.
The graveyard over the past decades has also been a symbol of injustice due to the destruction of the tombs on this cemetery by members of the extreme Wahhabi school of thought. There is also a strict restriction on visitors, particularly Shi'a visitors, from going any where close to the graves, especially the graves where the four Shi'a Imams are buried. Women are strictly not allowed to visit the graveyard.
Some of the earliest descriptions of how the architecture and tombs looked like are by a traveler named Ibn Jubayr who explored the Middle East extensively in the eleventh and twelfth century, and took detailed accounts of his travels - including those in Medina. He describes the traditions of who is buried there, the shrines that existed, and the architecture, including things like the white domes and elevations involved. The grave of the second Imam of the Shi'ites, Hasan ibn Ali, has been described as follows:
“Close by are the graves of 'Abbas ibn Abdu'l Muttalib and of Hasan ibn 'Ali. The latter has a dome which stands high in the air. It is near the Baki’ Gate which we have mentioned, on the right, as one would go out. The head of al-Hasan lies towards the feet of al-'Abbas. Their two graves are broad and elevated from the ground, are faced with slabs of beautiful stone, are ornamented with plates of nickel, and are bound with star-headed nails, all of which gives a most pleasing effect. The grave of Ibrahim, the son of the Prophet, is of the same kind.”
“From 1848 to 1860, the buildings were renovated and the Ottomans built the domes and mosques in splendid aesthetic style. They also rebuilt the Baqi’ with a large dome over the graves” of several important figures.
In the early 1920s, Wahhabis entered Saudi Arabia once again, and Ibn Saud, King Abdul Aziz, founded what is now known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It was then that the mausoleum of Baqi was destroyed by its members in April of 1925 and remains in that condition today ever since.
There are many notable personalities buried in the graveyard. Some of them include:
- Imam Hasan ibn Ali, grandson of Prophet Muhammad, son of Fatima and Ali; the second Imam
- Imam Ali ibn Husayn, commonly referred to as Zayn al-Abidin, the fourth Imam
- Imam Muhammad al-Baqir, son of Ali ibn Husayn, the fifth Imam
- Imam Jafar al-Sadiq, son of Muhammad al-Baqir, the sixth Imam
- Most of the wives of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
- Ibrahim, son of Prophet Muhammad through Maria al-Qibtiyya who died in infancy
- Fatima bint Asad, aunt of Prophet Muhammad and mother of Imam Ali
- Other aunts of Prophet Muhammad including Safiya and Aatika
- Fatima Zahra, Muhammad's daughter by his first wife Khadijah bint Khuwaylid; her actual grave location is unknown or disputed since she did not want the people who hurt her to know where she was buried
- Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib, uncle of Muhammad
- Fatima bint Hizam, known as Umm ul-Banin, who married Imam Ali; mother of four children who died defending Imam Hussain ibn Ali in the Battle in Karbala
- Uthman ibn Affan, a companion of Prophet Muhammad and third Caliph. He was originally buried outside of Jannat ul-Baqi, but the cemetery was later expanded to include his grave
- Malik ibn Anas, also known as Imam Malik; a Sunni Muslim jurist based on who the present day Maliki school of thought exists
- ↑ Dwight M. Donaldson, “Ibn Jubayr's Visit to Al-Medina,” Journal of the American Oriental Society, 50 (1930): 26-42.
- ↑ Desecration of Islam's Holiest Cities and Mosques While Minarets Are Silent Media Monitors Network