The Building of the First Mosques in Medina
وَبَرَكَاتُهُ اللهِ وَرَحْمَةُ عَلَيْكُمْ السَّلاَمُ
When the prophet arrived in Quba’, he stayed there for about a week with an old man named Kulthum ibn Hidim (RA), who would go on to become the first sahabi to die in Medina. And while the prophet was there he began to build the first masjid of Medina, and he himself laid the first brick of its foundation.
Now on that Friday the prophet left Quba’ to enter into the main centre of Medina, and on the way there Salat Al-Juma’ occurred. And so the prophet stopped half way by a small sub-tribe’s local area – and this place would also later become a masjid – to pray his first Juma’ salah, and here he gave the first khutbah. Now the khutbah is as we know divided into two parts, and in the first part the prophet encouraged the Muslims to be generous, and he reminded them of the certainty of death and that Allah would ask each and every one of them what he had been given and what he had spent in the cause of Islam. And here he said the famous and authentic phrase: ‘Whoever is able to save himself from the fire, even if with a portion of a date, let him do so. And if he doesn’t even have this then with a good word, because every deed is multiplied ten times.’
In the second part of the khutbah the prophet began with the Khutbat Al-Haajah, and this is actually contrary to what we normally do today as nowadays we usually begin the first part of the khutbah with the Khutbat Al-Haajah. And this is because on later occasions after this the prophet changed the order so that he began with the Khutbat Al-Haajah at the very start, and that is the order we follow today. And the Khutbat Al-Haajah was so eloquent that some people actually accepted Islam just hearing this:
إن الحمد لله نحمده ونستعينه ونستغفره ونعوذ بالله من شرور أنفسنا ومن سيئات أعمالنا من يهده الله فلا مضل له ومن يضلل فلا هادي له وأشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له وأشهد أن محمدا عبده ورسوله
Verily all praise is for Allah, we seek His help and His forgiveness and we seek refuge with Allah from the evil of our own souls and from our bad deeds. Whoever Allah guides will never be led astray, and whoever Allah leaves astray, no one can guide, and I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, alone and without any partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
And then the prophet continued, ‘The successful one is the one whom Allah has beautified his heart and has caused him to enter Islam after leaving kufr, and has chosen him above the rest of the people for the best of all matters. Love what Allah loves and love Allah with your entire heart, and never tire of the speech of Allah and of the zikr of Allah, and never let your heart become hard. Allah chooses what he wishes and what he blesses, and he has blessed this [the Quran and zikr] to be the best deed. So worship Allah and do not associate partners with him, and be aware of him as he said that you should, and be sincere to Allah in all that you say. Love one another with the spirit of Allah between you, and remember that Allah hates that his promise be broken.’
Now note, this khutbah (and in fact all of the prophet’s khutbas) was extremely short, no more than five minutes. And the prophet said, ‘It is from the understanding of a man that he shortens the khutbah and lengthens the salah,’ and so the prophet’s salah was actually longer than his khutbah. Nowadays we have actually done this in the opposite way, however we have good reason as for a lot of the people who come to Juma’ Salah this is the only time in the entire week that they are in the masjid, and so need a longer reminder.
Now we know that when the prophet first entered the centre of Medina he declared, ‘Let the camel be, for Allah has taken charge of it.’ And it stopped in a small plantation with few trees on which the local people would use to dry their dates, and the prophet knew that this was where Allah wanted him to build his masjid. And so he asked to whom the land belonged to, and he was told that it belonged to two young orphan brothers. And when these brothers were brought to him they tried to give the land to the prophet for free, however Muhammad ﷺ insisted on paying them for it as he did not take charity.
And so construction began, and the few date palms that were in the plantation were cut down (now note that Medina is a haram and living creatures are not normally allowed to be killed in it, however exceptions are made for necessities such as construction). And these very trees that were cut down were used as the front and back walls of the masjid, while the side walls were made of large clay bricks. And there were also two old graves in the plantation that had to be dug up and relocated elsewhere. The prophet himself helped in the construction of the building, and while he was carrying bricks to and from the quarry with the sahaba he began a worker’s chant: ‘O Allah there is no good other than the good of the akhirah, so have mercy on the Ansar and the Muhaajirah.’ And the sahaba were inspired to see their prophet work alongside them, and so the masjid was constructed with great passion.
Now Ammar ibn Yasir (RA) – remember he was the one whose parents were killed by Abu Jahal during torture and thus became the first martyrs – was also helping in the construction. And while everyone else was carrying one brick Ammar was carrying two, and so he said to the prophet as a joke, ‘O Rasulallah, they’re killing me by giving me two stones while they only take one.’
The prophet smiled and brushed the dust off of Ammar, and declared, ‘O son of Sumaya, they are not killing you. Rather, the people who shall kill you will be the group that has gone beyond the bounds. The last thing you shall drink in this world will be a glass of milk… Everyone is getting one reward when they carry their one stone while you are getting two with your two stones.’ And he called him Yabna Sumaya in order to give honour to his mother who was the first martyr, and so after this incident all of the sahaba would only call him by this name.
Now Ammar’s death became a very critical point in Islam, because some time after the prophet’s death when there grew a split between Ali and Muawiyah (RA) for the khalifa, Ammar chose to fight on the side of Ali. And he was killed in this war, and just before he went into battle he drank some milk. And so the prophecy of Muhammad ﷺ was fulfilled, and this narration was used to show that Ali was closer to the truth than Muawiyah.
It took almost two weeks to build the masjid, and it was quite a large building for the time. There were three main doors: the Baab Ar-Rahmah on the south side, the Baab Jibrael on the west side, and the Baab An-Nisa on the east side – and this was the entrance for the women. In addition to these main doors, there were also a number of smaller private entrances. And these led directly from people’s houses, as the people would build their houses directly attached to the masjid and so have their own door into it. And in fact this was the case for Muhammad ﷺ and Aisha’s (RA) house, as well as Abu Bakr (RA).
Initially only the north side of the masjid was covered with a roof, as this was the side that was facing the qibla which at the time was Jerusalem. And this area became known as As-Suffa, as anyone who wanted to spend the day in the masjid would have to spend it there under the shade. About half way through the Madani period the prophet ordered that a roof be built over the entire building, however this roof was only there for shade and did not protect from rain. And so in one of the days of Ramadan it rained, and the entire masjid become flooded and muddy. And the sahaba were wondering how they would do sajdah, when they saw the prophet prostrate directly into the mud and when he came back up it was stuck on his forehead and his nose. And this shows us the extent to which we should submit to Allah in salah, such that we have to be willing to lower our faces into mud for him as he is our lord and creator.
Now at the start the prophet would stand on a stump of a tree to give his khutbahs on Juma’, and it is said that he even prayed on this stump a few times to show the Ansar how to. Now a few years later the prophet ordered that a mimbar be made for him, and the carpenter designed one with three steps. And during the first khutbah that the prophet gave on those steps, the sahaba began to hear a wailing sound like that of a baby camel coming from the stump that the prophet used to use. And so the prophet stopped his khutbah and came down from the mimbar and hugged the tree stump, and so it sniffled and slowly stopped crying. And the prophet said, ‘If I hadn’t hugged it, it would have cried until the day of Judgement.’ He then ordered that the stump be uprooted and buried underneath his actual mimbar, so that the prophet would still technically be giving his khutbahs from on top of it.
As well as this, two more changes took place at the start of the Madani period: the raka’aat of the five salawaat were changed to what we know, and the azaan was instituted. When the five salawaat were first decreed during the Isra wal Mi’raj, every single one of them was only two raka’aat. However at some point after the prophet came to Medina the raka’aat were changed to what we know, and the two raka’aat were kept for the travellers. In addition the concept of the azaan was also instituted, as the prophet needed a way to alert the Muslims that it was salah time. And so he gathered his sahaba and asked them for ideas. One of the sahabi suggested that they ring a bell like the Christians, however the prophet did not like bells and so this was discarded. Another sahabi suggested that they use a shofar (horn) like the Jews, but this was also rejected. And so the meeting concluded without any idea being chosen. That night, two sahaba – Umar ibn Khattab and Abdullah ibn Zayd (RA) – saw the same dream. In it, they saw a man selling the horn and shofar that had previously been discussed, and so they went up to this man and asked if they could buy the items. And the man asked why, to which they explained that the prophet Muhammad ﷺ needed it in order to call the Muslims to prayer. And the man declared them that he would tell them something better than this, and he then recited the words of the azaan to them.
When Abdullah ibn Zayd awoke, he immediately rushed outside to find the prophet. And he told the dream to him, to which the prophet responded that this was indeed a true dream. And then the prophet turned to Bilal (RA), and said, ‘Stand, O Bilal, because you have the loudest voice.’ And so Bilal and Abdullah went to the top of the masjid, and Abdullah told the words to Bilal who repeated them loudly after him.
And while this took place, Umar came rushing into the masjid without even having fully tied his lower garment, and he declared, ‘O Rasulallah, I heard these phrases in a dream!’ And so this was the only piece of Islamic legislation that originated from a dream of a sahabi.
And so we see therefore the value of the mosques in Islam, such that within a week of being in Medina the prophet had already begun construction of two new houses of Allah before he had even begun the construction of his own house. And the importance of these places is such that they are not only places of worship but also places of knowledge and learning, and community centres where in fact the armies of Islam were organised and gathered and important meetings took place, and socialisation and celebration took place inside of them such that the prophet spent more time inside of the masjid than he did in his own house. And so from them knowledge spread, from them the Quran spread, from them even the armies of Islam spread, and in it those who had no houses would sleep. As soon as Muslims came to Medina they would be housed inside of the masjid, and the prophet even declared, ‘The masjid is the house of every believer.’ And so we ourselves have a duty to love the masjid and to make it an integral part of our lives once again.
Dr.Yasir Qadhi’s Seerah of The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) 030
Dr.Yasir Qadhi’s Seerah of The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) 031