Visiting the Grave of the Prophet (s)

Position of Ahl as-Sunnah wal-Jama’at (al-’Ashaira) on Visiting the Blessed Grave of the Apostle of Allah (s)

by Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani

Excerpt from the book Encyclopedia of Islamic Doctrine by Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani al-Ash`ari al-Naqshbandi on the belief and practice of Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jama`at.

Hadith: “Man zara qabri wajabat lahu shafa`ati.” “Whoever visits my grave, it is incumbent upon me to intercede for him.” Narrated by al-Daraqutni, al-Dulabi, al-Bayhaqi, Khatib al-Baghdadi, al-`Uqayli, Ibn `Adiyy, Tabarani, and Ibn Khuzaymah. All through various chains going back to Musa ibn Hilal al-`Abdiyy from Ubayd Allah Ibn Umar, both from Nafi`, from Ibn `Umar.

- Dhahabi declared this chain hasan (fair) as narrated. – al-Sakhawi has confirmed him in the Maqasid al-hasana. – al-Subki declared it sahih according to Samhudi in Sa`adat al-Darayn 1:77.

This is one of the proof-texts adduced by the ‘ulama of Islam to derive the obligation or recommendation of visiting the Prophet’s grave and seeking him as “wasilat” (intermediary/means). See the chapter on visiting the Prophet’s grave in Nawawi’s book al-Adhkar and in Qadi Iyad’s book al-Shifa.

This is the text of Imam Nawawi in the Book of Pilgrimage which is part of his larger book Kitab al-Adhkar [Book of Invocations and Prayers], according to the original manuscript, published editions (cf. Dar al-fikr in Damascus p. 306), and Ibn ‘Allan’s commentary on the Adhkar:

“Concerning the Visit to the Grave [qabr] of the Prophet (s) and the Invocations Pertaining Thereto:

Know that it is incumbent upon every pilgrim [yanbaghi] to go and visit the Prophet, whether this visit is on his way or not. Indeed, the visit of the Prophet (s) is among the most important of the acts that draw one near to God [qurubat] and of the most gainful of errands and of the most excellent of quests. Once one turns his steps to visit the Prophet (s), let him invoke abundant blessings on him while on the way. As soon as his sight reaches the trees of Madina [he invokes even more blessings]…”

[from a booklet by Hassan ibn Ali al-Saqqaf al-Husayni al-Shafi'i entitled: "al-Ighatha bi adillat al-istighatha" [Help With the Proof-Texts of Seeking Help] (Amman: Maktabat al-Imam Nawawi, 1410/1990) p. 17.)]

Nawawi relates this story of al-`Utbiyy in his book al-Adhkaar:

“Al-`Utbiyy said:

“As I was sitting by the grave of the Prophet (s), a Beduin Arab came and said: Peace be upon you, O Messenger of God! I have heard God saying: If they had only, when they were unjust to themselves, come unto thee and asked Allah’s forgiveness, and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah indeed Oft-returning, Most Merciful, (4:64), so I have come to you asking forgiveness (of God) for my sin, seeking your intercession with my Lord [mustashfi`an bika ila rabbi]. “Then he began to recite (poetry):

‘O best of those whose bones are buried in the deep earth, And from whose fragrance the depth and the height have become sweet, May I be sacrificed for a grave which thou inhabit, And in which are found purity and bounty and munificence!.’”

  • “Then he left, and I dozed and saw the Prophet (s) in my sleep. He said to me: ‘O `Utbiyy, run after the Beduin and give him glad tidings that God has forgiven him.’” And God Almighty knows best.”

[From al-Nawawi, Kitab al-Adhkar (Mecca: al-Maktaba al-Tijariyya, 1412/1992) p. 253-254.]

In the Sunni belief the Prophet is certainly alive in his grave. Ibn al- Qayyim uses the words ratibun matirun (“moist and fresh” i.e. as alive as can be) in his book al-Ruh. His grave is better than paradise. He is returning our greetings of peace and interceding for the Community, and his grave is more blessed than the Kaaba. Ibn `Aqeel al-Hanbali said, according to Ibn al-Qayyim in his Bada’i` al-fu’ad:

“Nothing is like the Hujra [Prophet's room] by Allah! not the Kaaba, not the Throne and the Throne-Bearers, not the Sixth Paradise [Jannat `Aden], and not the Revolving Universes, for in that Hujra there is a BODY more precious in the balance than this world and the next.”

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