Jannat ul Baqi

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Jannat ul-Baqi
Jb 4.png
The graveyard today
Country Saudi Arabia
City Medina
Destruction 1806 CE & 1925 CE
Jannat ul-Baqi (Arabic: جنة البقيع), literally meaning "Tree Garden of Heaven" is one of the largest cemeteries in the Muslim world, containing more than 7000 bodies, located across the mosque of the Prophet in the city of Medina, Saudi Arabia. The graveyard today contains the bodies of many of the companions of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and other members of his family, including four Shi'a Imams.

Once a site with beautifully constructed mausoleums, the graveyard architecture has been destroyed twice by the Wahhabis, once in 1806 and finally in 1925.

Contents

Background

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.

History

Before Destruction

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.”[1]

Destruction

See also: Demolition of Jannat ul-Baqi (8th Shawwal)

An artist's impression of Jannat ul-Baqi before destruction
Jannat ul-Baqi serves as a historical piece of destroyed architecture as it shows and epitomizes the influence of the Wahhabi doctrine on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Wahhabis first attempted to take over Medina in 1806 and it was then when many sites of historical importance were destroyed, except for the Prophet’s tomb. Jannat ul-Baqi was then rebuilt by the Ottoman Empire under the rule of the sultans Abd al-Majid I, ‘Abd al-Hamid II and Mahmud II.
“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.[2]

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.

Personalities Buried

There are many notable personalities buried in the graveyard. Some of them include:

The graves of Imam Hasan ibn Ali, Ali ibn Husayn, Muhammad al-Baqir, Ja'far as-Sadiq and Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib

External Links

٭ History of the Cemetery of Jannat al-Baqi

References

  1. Dwight M. Donaldson, “Ibn Jubayr's Visit to Al-Medina,” Journal of the American Oriental Society, 50 (1930): 26-42.
  2. Desecration of Islam's Holiest Cities and Mosques While Minarets Are Silent Media Monitors Network
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