al-Ghars Well

By the Editors of the Madain Project

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The al-Ghars Well, Bir al-Ghars (بئر غرس) is a historic water well in the city of Medina, Saudi Arabia. Traditionally it is believed that the prophet Muhammad drank from this well once, and also made a request that be bathed with its water after his demise.

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It is one of the few historical sites known to be connected to the life of prophet Muhammad. The ancient watering hole is located in the Bat'haan valley in the al-Awali district, approximately four kilometers south of the Masjid Nabawi, and some 1,200 meters east of the Masjid al-Jummah and Masjid al-Quba.

The Gharas denotes cultivating a plant, Bilal Ibn Rabah used to bring the water from this well to Prophet Muhammad. This, now defunct water well, is located approximately one and a half kilometer north of Masjid Quba.

According to the historical sources (most likely Moughera Ibn Shu'ba, d. 671 CE) that the well was originally dug by Malik bin al-Nahhat the grandfather of Sa'ad bin Khaythamah bin al-Haris, the latter of whom owned the well when he hosted the prophet Muhammad during the Hijrah journey from Mecca to Medina.

Ibn Najjar (circa mid thirteenth century CE) notes that the distance between the Masjid al-Quba and the Bir al-Ghars is about half a mile, and was located in a deserted area. At the time it was demaged by flood waters and was filled up. The water at the time was stagnant and had turned green, but tasted fine. It remained in the same state until the year 1300 CE, when it was again restored briefly and abandoned again.

In the time of Samhudi (circa 1470 CE) it was again bought by an influential person, restored, a garden and a small mosque was installed around it. A staircase was built to access the water during the low level season. This staircase may have survived today as well.

Origin of the name and Pronunciation

circa 620 CE

There are two traditions of pronuncing the word "Ghars", first with a fathah on the first letter ghain and the second is with a dammah. Ali ibn Ahmad al-Samhudi notes that he has heard the ahl-Madinah (residents of Medina) saying the name of the well with a fathah and a dammah also. He further notes that the term ghars is an origin word for "Gharas al-Shajar" (a tree or sapling that has been planted).

Historic Tradition

circa 620 CE

According to Fouad Al-Maghmasi, a researcher on the history of Madinah, al-Ghars Well is one of the landmarks of Madinah that has been linked to Prophet Muhammad. Ghars is one of the wells prefered by the prophet Muhammad, for its freshness and from which water was usually brought to him. Ibn Majar quoted Ali ibn Abu Talib as saying, the Prophet said: “When I die, wash me with seven water-skins from al-Ghars Well. He also used to drink from this well.”

Burton is the first person to mention the well in modern history. Richard Burton who travelled to Arabia in circa 1850s, writes in his book, Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al Madinah and Meccah, "The Bir al-Ghars, Gharas or Ghurs, so called, it is said, from the place where it was sunk, about half a mile N.W. of the Kuba Mosque, is a large well with an abundance of water." So apparently though now dried up it was still in use till mid-nineteenth century CE.


circa 620 CE

The outer retaining wall of the watering hole is lined with basalt stones, sone carved and some natural.

The Bir Ghars (also spelled Gharas) complex has been renovated recently (circa 2023). The modern tourist complex includes the outer enclosure of the wall, a small mosque to the north and a small sabil.

Previously, before the 2023 CE renovations, some debris could be seen at the dried up bottom of the Ghars well. Linning wall wall built with volcanic rock and baked bricks at the top with mortar. The watering hole structure was enclosed within a white washed circular wall and access inside was not permitted. The site is currently under management of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage.

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