Minbar of the Prophet (Masjid al-Nabawi)

By the Editors of the Madain Project

The Minbar Nabawi (المنبر النبوي), literally meaning "The pulpit of the prohpet", is a historic minbar in the second holiest mosque of Islam; the Masjid an-Nabawi. It dates back to the reign of Ottoman Sultan Murad III, circa 1590 CE. Today it is a multi-step golden pulpit (free standing stairs like structure) placed in the Rawdah Riyadhul Jannah near the Mihrab Nabawi in the oldest part of the Prophet's Mosque.

Overview

The current Minbar Nabawi, placed in the mosque by Sultan Murad ibn Saleem in the late sixteenth century, is an exquisite piece of Ottoman architecture. It bears several distinct Ottoman architectural elements, like the green conical dome at the top.

The current door of the minbar dates back to the Saudi Era, the original was green in colour and is now displayed at the Exhibition of the Two Holy Mosques' Architecture.

A lot of disagreement exists over the identity of the person who built/carved the first minbar for the prophet Muhammad. According to some traditions it was a Roman named Baqum, another mentions that it was a Palestinian Sahabi, named Tamim al-Dari. Ibn Zabalah mentions that it was a slave of Nusaibah Makhzumi. Another tradition states that it was a slave of 'Abbas (Sabah or Kallab) the paternal uncle and Sahabi of prophet Muhammad. Some have mentioned a slave of an Ansari woman (from the tribe of either Banu Salmah or Banu Sa'adah), whose name was probably "Meena".

Pulpit (Minbar) of the Prophet Muhammad in Masjid al-Nabawi

The minbar nabawi is not only an integral part of the Riyad ul-Jannah (general view of the area with Mihrab Nabawi partially visible to the far left) it is also the largest piece of furniture in the area. According to a Hadith the Riad ul-Jannah is considered to be a part Jannah (Paradise). It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that Muhammad said, "The area between my house and my minbar is one of the gardens of Paradise, and my minbar is on my cistern (hawd)."

Brief History

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Pulpit of the Prophet, Masjid al-Nabawi

Era of Prophet Muhammad
Initially when the mosque was built there was no minbar of any sort, as no such thing was known, when people saw propeht Muhammad getting tired standing for sermons, they dug a hole in the ground and erected a part of trunk of a date tree. Prophet Muhammad used to lean against it while delivering sermons.

Several traditions (Ahadith) relate that a man (in some traditions a Roman man and in some traditions it was Tamim al-Dari) saw prophet Muhammad standing while delivering sermons and inquired if he could build something for him to sit during the activity.

The original minbar used by prophet Muhammad was a "wood block of date tree". This was replaced by him with a tamarisk (الطرفة الغابة) one [see N1], which had the diemensions of 50 centimetres (0.50 meters) x 1.25 metres (4.10 feet). Once this minbar was prepared the date-trunk was buried in the ground where it stood or near it. Gradual changes were made to the minbar over the years. Also in 629 CE a three staired ladder was added to it.

Rashidun Caliphate
After the death of prophet Muhammad; the first two caliphs Abu Bakr and Umar did not use the third step (upper most step) out of "respect for the Prophet". Later on the third caliph Uthman added decorative elements to the minbar during his reign. During the renovations a fabric dome (coptic linen was used for this purpose) was placed over the minbar and the rest of the stairs were covered with ebony.

Umayyad Era
According to Waqidi, Ameer Muawiya is believed to have intended moving the minbar to Damascus, in 50 Hijri (670 CE), only refraining after protest from prominent people. Subsequently more and more steps were added to the minbar (according to Ibn-Najjar it was during the reign of Muawiya ibn Abû Süfyan and governorship of Marwan).

Abbasid Era
As many as nine steps are known to have existed in the time of Abbasid caliph al-Mahdi (circa 775–785 CE). al-Mahdi planned on removing the six steps added to the original count; but abandoned this idea after counsel from Malik bin Anas (reverently known as al-Imām Mālik), fearing the damage to the wooden platforms on which they were built.

al-Samhoudi mentios that in 578 Hijri (circa 1182 CE) Ibn Jubayer relates that the minbar was as tall as a standing person or a bit more. It had eight steps and had a door, which was almost always locked and only opened on Fridays. Although it had been renovated/repaired several times over, this first minbar was used until 654 Hijri (1256 CE), when it was ruined by a fire; a new minbar was placed which was sent by the king of Yemen, al-Malik al-Muzaffar Shamsuddin in 656 Hijri (1258 CE).

Mamluk Era
This multitiered minbar was replaced by Rukn al-Din Baybars al-Bunduqdari during his reign. Around year 1395 CE (707 Hijri) the Mamluki Sultan Barquq also replaced the minbar with a more elaborate one. The Mamluk sultan of Egypt Shaykh al-Mahmudi also had a new minbar constructed and sent to the Prophet's Mosque in 1417 CE. The minbar of Shaykh al-Mahmudi was ruined in the fire of 1481 CE (886 Hijri). At the time locals of Medina built a new minbar out of brick plaster, which was a crude one and did not have any fancy elements to it. The Burji Mamluk Sultan of Egypt; al-Ashraf Qaitbay had a new minbar constructed and sent to the Prophet's Mosque in year 1483 CE (888 Hijri).

Ottoman Era
In 1590 CE, some hundred years later the minbar of Qaitbay was moved to the Masjid al-Quba and a new one constructed out of marble was placed by Ottoman Sultan Murad ibn Saleem in the late sixteenth century, which as of now, is still used in the mosque. Master craftsmen from the historic city of Istanbul were employed to construct it.

Calligraphic Inscriptions

Upper Inscription
The facade of the Minbar Nabawi has two calligraphic inscriptions, the top most is the Shahada (الشهادة‎) لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا ٱلله مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ ٱلله, literally meaning, "There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah". And the second stanza is the dedicatory inscription for the minbar by Sultan Murad.

Lower Inscriptions
The lower stanza of calligraphic inscriptions comprises of four parts in three rows, which read;
(1a) Secure in the continual blessing of the lands,
(1b) And endure in the highest pinnacle of His Sovereignty,
(1c) Requesting to increase his blessings of the Hereafter,
(1d) Dispatched the Sultan Murad bin Saleem,
(2a) By it guidance of the right and the truth of the heart,
(2b) The pillars of the pulpit were established,
(2c) Our lord, the Serenity of all who worship,
(2d) Around the Garden of al-Mustafa, Peace be upon him,
(3a) Preserve the pulpit of Sultan Murad,
(3b) Said fortune inspired by its history,
(3c) Mount it enduringly, the Rightly Guided Scholars,
(3d) The pulpit raises the right guidance and exalts it.

Gallery Want to use our images?

Pulpit of the Prophet, Masjid al-Nabawi
Riyad ul-Jannah, Masjid al-Nabawi

Notes

See Also

References

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