"Is there any baraka in eating the sand of Medinah?"
Hajj G.F. Haddad
There is shifa or cure in using the soil of Madina to treat an illness, as stated by the Holy Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, in the hadith:
"The dust of Madina is a cure from leprosy." Narrated by al-Zubayr ibn Bakkar in Akhbar al-Madina, Abu Nu`aym in al-Tibb al-Nabawi, Ibn al-Sunni, and al-Rafi`i in Akhbar Qazwin.
Hafiz al-Halabi mentions the above in his Sira and adds the fact that the `ajwa dates of Madina are also a cure against disease.
Hence, among the many blessed names of Madina is the name al-Shafiya, the Healer, as stated by the Hafiz al-Salihi (d. 942) in his book Fada'il al-Madina.
These characteristics all stem from the presence of the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, in that place, since he is "the wellspring of mercies and the wellspring of bestowals" (33:56), as Imam al-Sawi said in his Hashiya on the Jalalayn. Because of him, "the Plaguer," Yathrib, became "the Healer," al-Shafiya - another name for Madina.
In the Sahihayn and Muwatta from our Mother `A'isha, Allah be well-pleased with her:
After their emigration, Abu Bakr and Bilal suffered painful bouts of high fever (wa`k) during which Bilal would chant:
"Will I ever sleep again in the valley fragrant with idhkhir and jalil? Will I ever drink again from the spring of Majanna? Will I ever see again Shama and Tafil? O Allah, curse [those] who *expelled us from our lands to the land of plague!*"
`A'isha said: "We came to al-Madina when it was the most plague-infested land of Allah. But-han was covered with stagnant water."
Then the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, pronounced his famous supplication: "O Allah, make al-Madina as beloved to us as Makka, and *even more beloved!* O Allah, bless us in our sa` and our mudd (food measurements), make it wholesome for us, and take away its fever to al-Juhfa!"
After this du`a, that land became the most blessed land on earth and was named Tayba, Shafiya, Gharra', `Asima, all names that indicate healing, purity, goodness, lustrousness, and protection from evil.
During the celebration of the Mawlid of our liege-lord al-Husayn in Egypt a few years ago, al-Habib `Ali al-Jufri built on the hadith "The dust of Madina is a cure from leprosy" a landmark lesson on the obligation to love and respect anything connected to the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, especially his Companions, since even the soil of a city famous for plague became a cure for plague because of its connection with its dweller, upon him blessings and peace!
Indeed, love of Madina is a mark of faith and benefits here and hereafter! The Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, said Dajjal could not enter it, nor the plague; and he recommended to die in Madina.
Other than the above reason of istishfa' it is impermissible to remove anything from Madina because the Holy Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, made it a sanctuary (haram) as stated in the two Sahihs. Furthermore, he stated that whoever takes anything from it or from its mountain, any Muslim is commanded to take it away from the person who took it, as narrated by al-Janadi (d. 308) from several Companions in his book also entitled Fada'il al-Madina, with only three exceptions:
- The odoriferous idhkhir plant (from the mastic-tree) which is used in burials and around the house;
- Grazing one's mount;
- Istishfa' or seeking a cure as already mentioned.
There is another reason for the impermissibility of eating the soil of Madina, namely, the prohibition of eating soil in general. Mulla `Ali al-Qari said in al-Asrar al-Marfu`a, in his entry on the report "Eating soil is forbidden for every Muslim" :
"Al-Bayhaqi said that many hadiths are narrated on this prohibition, none of them sound. Others said the same and it is indeed the case according to al-Sakhawi. Al-Zarkashi said: 'The hadith on eating soil and its prohibition is the subject of a monograph but its reports are not sound.'(1)
"I [al-Qari] say, the fact that a report is not sound does not mean it is not fair or [merely] weak. Al-Suyuti in his Jami` al-Saghir cited al-Tabarani's narration from Abu Hurayra, Allah be well-pleased
with him, that the Prophet said, upon him blessings and peace:
'Whoever eats soil is like one who has facilitated his suicide.'"(2)
(1) Al-Suyuti in the La'ali' (2:249) mentions that both Ibn Mandah and al-Turaythithi compiled hadith monographs on soil-eating.
(2) On the rare eating disorder of "geophagy" (eating soil or mud) see www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/3/soileaters.php and www.emedicine.com/ped/topic1798.htm.
And Allah knows best.