Two blessed cities
by Shaykh Ahmed Abdul Mujeeb Qasmi Nadvi (translated by Muhammad Owais Jafrey)
The blessed city Makkah Al-Mukarramah mirrors the history of human progress through different stages. It was a branch of Sayyidina Ibrahim (AS)’s family which turned it into a center of Islamic invitation and propagation. Later Sayyidina Ismail’s kinsmen lived here in tents and hamlets. Gradually it acquired the status of a religious city in the Arab world. Still later when our beloved Prophet (SAW) was sent as a final Messenger, the city became nucleus of the Islamic world. It continues and will continue to enjoy a unique status and has no place as its rival in the world. Allah (SWT) has called it “Balad-i-Ameen”, the city of the peace and safety, also interpreted as the city of the Trustworty as mentioned in Surah Al-Balad, Aayah 1-2 in these words: “I swear by this city, and you [Prophet SAW] are an inhabitant in this city…” Swearing by the City of Makkah is to show its superiority over all other cities. Abdullah bin Addi (RA) relates that while migrating from Makkah to Madinah, Prophet (SAW) addressed the city thus: “By Allah thou is the best and most beloved (city) in the sight of Allah; I should not have left, had I not been forced to leave thee.” (Tirmidhi). Makkah is itself a respected city, and it became more so because of its association with Prophet (SAW). It is obvious that the respect and value of a house is enhanced by the status of its occupant. The prestige of Makkah doubled for being the birth place of Allah’s last and final Messenger. The Holy Qur’an in Aayah 3 of Surah Teen Allah (SWT) swears in these words: “By this safe town…”
According to the Holy Qur’an, the entire Harum, that is the earth spreading beyond for miles in all directions from the center of Makkah has been defined as a “sanctuary” as per Aayah 125 of Surah Al-Baqarah in these words: “We made the House a resort and a sanctuary for people, saying, ‘Take the spot where Ibrahim (AS) stood as your place of worship.’ We commanded Ibrahim and Isma’il: ‘Purify My House for those who walk round it, those who stay there, and those who bow and prostrate themselves in worship.”
The multitude of humanity which visits this blessed city for the performance of Umrah the year round, and for the performance of Hajj each year is not drawn from the Arabian Peninsula alone, but from every nook and corner of the world. It should be noted that this caravan of lovers, devotees and worshippers is not a story of the last few years, but its flow continues since the time of Sayyidina Ibrahim (AS). The Harum, the Kabatullah and its sanctified area has been a place of peace and safety even before the recorded history. It is a sanctuary of safety and peace, where not to speak of hurting a man, even hunting an animal is prohibited. Though it has been decreed in the Islamic Jurisprudence, yet its sanctity was observed even in the pre-Islamic times known as the days of ignorance. Criminals even in the days of polytheists used to take refuge in Kabatullah and no one could take them to accounts.
Kabah was first built by Adam (AS) and centuries after Sayyidina Ibrahim and Ismail (AS) rebuilt it on its former foundations. While raising the walls of Kabah, Sayyidina Ibrahim (AS) submitted many supplications to Allah (SWT), and one was to make it a sanctuary of peace, and the other was to provide the Makkans the provision of food like fruits and vegetables. It is a well known fact that the earth around Makkah is barren and infertile, yet Allah (SWT) turned the Harum into an abode of peace and the city is flooded with provisions from all around the globe.
Surah Al Imran, Aayah 96-97 says about Kabah: “The first House [of worship] to be established for people was the one at Makkah. It is a blessed place; a source of guidance for all people; there are clear signs in it; it is the place where Ibrahim (AS) stood to pray; whoever enters it is safe…”
Prophet (SAW) said that the Ummah will do well until the respect of Kabah if fully maintained. When people will disregard it, then they will perish. (Ibne Majah).
History records that when Abraha, the ruler of Yemen tried to destroy Kabah, his army equipped with armor and the elephants then new to Arabs were badly mauled and destroyed. Historians has named this year as “Aamul feel” the year of the elephants. Surah Al-Feel mentions what happened to the Abraha and his army.
“Do you (Rasul Allah) not see how your Lord dealt with the army of the elephant? Did He not utterly confounded their plans? He sent ranks of birds against them, pelting them with pellets of hard-baked clay: He made them [like] cropped stubble.”
Muslims from across the world visit this sacred city to perform Hajj, and they turn their face to it when they pray. Every single moment of 24 hours finds a Muslim across the world facing it in his prayers. It proves the centrality of this greatest of all cities.
The other city for which every lover craves to visit time and again is Madinah tun Nabi. Buried in its dust are pearls of tears and blood of the companions of Prophet (SAW). It is the fountain head of spirituality, the reservoir of light, knowledge and wisdom, and the resting place of that unique, last and final Prophet, whom Allah (SWT) calls as the “Mercy to the worlds.” Let me share with you some traditions about this city of lights.
“Its paths are guarded by angels. It is beyond Dajjal and afflictions like plague.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
“No other human habitation can excel its (Makka’s) blessings. [Bukhari & Muslim]
“It purifies man as the furnace purifies the iron from rust.” [Bukhari]
Whoever scares the residents of Madinah, Allah (SWT) will instill fear in him.” [Ibne Maja]
“He, who will cheat the residents of Madinah, will melt like salt in water.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
“He, who will oppress the residents of Madinah, will be gripped by fear. He will be cursed by Allah (SWT) and His angels. His Fardh and Nafil prayers wouldn’t be accepted. [Nisa’ee]
“The city was selected by Allah (SWT) for His beloved.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
“He, who will be steadfast on hardships in Madinah, Prophet (SAW) will intercede on his behalf for his salvation on the Day of Judgment.” [Muslim]
“One, who dies in Madinah, will earn Prophet (SAW)’s intercession and will be forgiven.” [Tirmidhi].
Prophet (SAW) made this supplication for Madinah:
“My Allah bless our dates, our measures of “Sa’a and Mudd”, and this city. Ya Allah verily Ibrahim is your Prophet and friend, and verily I am your bondsman and Prophet. He submitted his supplication for Makkah, and I submit a supplication for Madinah for two fold blessings.” [Muslim]
“Ya Allah endear this city to us as You have endeared Makkah to us, and even more; make its climate favorable for us, and cleanse it from diseases.” This supplication was made when Prophet (SAW) had migrated to this city which then was called Yathrib, meaning the city of unfavorable climate. Due to its association with Prophet (SAW), it became to be called Madina-tun-Nabi.
The reward of congregational prayers in Masjid-e-Nabavi is 1000 times more than other places except Masjid-e-Harum, where one prayer is rewarded 100,000 times or more.
Anas (RA) relates that Prophet (SAW) said that who performed 40 prayers in his Masjid and didn’t miss even one, he will be saved from Hell fire, and free from punishment and hypocrisy. [At-Targheeb].
One who proceeds toward these two blessed cities, he in fact proceeds towards the very purpose of life, toward the most respected and blessed places on earth. Every particle of dust of these twin cities has a gravitational pull for a Momin. May Allah (SWT) protect these cities and may enable every one of us to visit these centers of eternal guidance. Aamin!