Dikkat al-Aghwat

By the Editors of the Madain Project

The Dikkat al-Aghwat (دكة الأغوات), literally meaning the the bench of the Aghas, is a raised platform situated inside the Ottoman Prayer Hall of Masjid an-Nabawi. It is located north of the Prophet's tomb enclosure, west of the Jibreel Gate and Nisa Gate, next to the chamber of the Aghas. This raised platform is often confused with the al-Suffah platform, which was located along the southern wall inside the Prophet's Mosque, and later moved along the northern wall after the Qibla change.


It is located directly inside the Bab Jibreel and Bab an-Nisa, north of the Prophet's burial chamber. The platform measures some 12 meters in length and 8 meters in width. The bench of Aghwat is surrounded by low fence on three sides, punctuated by passages. During the Turk/Ottoman era soldiers used to sit.

Later on the servants and custodians of the Prophet's Mosque (Masjid Nabawi), known as the Aghas (the eunachs of the Prophet) used to sit here; hence the name Dikkat ul-Aghwat.

Brief History

circa 1100 CE

A historic photograph of the Dikkat ul-Aghwat as seen from the north-west, the Mihrab Tahajjud is also visible near the right edge.

Exactly when the institute of Aghwat was set up at the Prophet's Mosque, is not known. The most likely founder of the institution of Aghwat was Salah al-Din Ayyubi and a Waqf (Islamic charity) was setup to support it. The source of funds for this Waqf was most likely two villages in Egypt. At the time Medina was a desirable recourse for the retiring eunachs from the Mamluk courts.

Beyond their rather static ritual function as a human barrier keeping order in the prophet's Mosque and maintaining an appropriate distance between visitors and the tomb, the ritual activities of the Aghas seem to have been rather small; consisting mostly of lamp-lighting every evening, a nightly sweep of themosque to expel any lingerers, washed the mataf (the circumambulation area around the Kaaba), cleaned the Haram and lit the lanterns. Today their service is limited to receiving the king and serving state guests visiting the holy cities.

The final abolition of slavery in Saudi Arabia in 1962 CE spelled, ultimately, the end for the Prophet's eunuchs. Marmon notes that in 1990 CE only seventeen of them remain. In 2015 only five of them were alive,

Identification with as-Suffah

circa 1100 CE

Sometimes the Dikkat al-Aghwat has been identified or confused with the the Suffah platform, which is incorrect. This confusion arises due to the close proximity and general structure of the two platforms. Although the Suffah platform, which was originally situated a little to the south-west of the Aghas' platform, has changed its location a number of times over the centuries, it always remained part of the mosque's interior. On the other hand the Dikkat al-Aghwat was constructed outside and adjacent to the Prophet era mosque.

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