Al-Baqi Cemetery

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Al-Baqi Cemetery
Maqbara al-Baqī
Jannatul-Baqi before Demolition.jpg
Al-Baqi Cemetery before the historic mausoleums were demolished.
EstablishedC.E. 622
CountryPresent-day Saudi Arabia
CoordinatesCoordinates: 24°28′02″N 39°36′58″E / 24.4672°N 39.616°E / 24.4672; 39.616

Al-Baqi Cemetery (Arabic: مَـقْـبَـرَة ٱلْبَقِيْع, romanizedMaqbara al-Baqī)[a] is an Islamic cemetery in Medina, Saudi Arabia, located to the southeast of the Prophet's Mosque. It was the first Medinian Islamic cemetery, containing graves of many of the Islamic prophet Muhammad's family and companions.[1][2]

The grounds hold much significance for Muslims, being the resting place of many of Muhammad's relatives and companions, thus marking it as one of the two holiest cemeteries in Islamic tradition, along with the al-Mualla cemetery in Mecca. Many narrations relate Muhammad issuing a prayer every time he passed it.


When Muhammad arrived at Medina from Mecca in September 622, Al-Baqi was a land covered with Lycium shawii boxthorn trees. According to historical records, after the arrival of Muhammad, the houses of Medina developed near Al-Baqi, which was therefore considered as the public tomb. The bramble-growth was cleared and the place consecrated to be the future cemetery of the Muslims who died at Medina.[1] Also Al-Baqi was introduced as somewhere whose east side is Nakhl and west side contains houses. In fact, before demolition Al-Baqi was located behind the houses in the city.[3]

During the construction of the Prophet's Mosque, on the site he purchased from two orphan children when he arrived after his migration from Mecca to Medina, As'ad ibn Zurarah, one of Muhammad's companions died. Muhammad chose the spot to be a cemetery and As'ad was the first individual to be buried in al-Baqi' among the Ansar. While Muhammad was outside Medina for the Battle of Badr, his daughter Ruqayyah fell sick and died in 624. She was the first person from his household to be buried in this cemetery. Shortly after Muhammad arrived from Badr, Uthman bin Maz'oon died in 5/626-7 and was buried in al-Baqi'.[1] He was considered the first companion of Muhammad from the Muhajirun to be buried in this cemetery. He was also called by Muhammad to be the first 'among us to go to the hereafter', and he also called the place where he is buried Rawhā.

When his youngest son Ibrahim died, he commanded that he be buried there also; he watered the grave and called this place Zawrā.[4] As per his command two of his daughters Zainab and Umm Kulthum also buried near the grave of Uthman bin Maz'oon.[5]

After the third Rashidun caliph Uthman (r. 644–656) was assassinated, his opponents didn't allow the caliph to be buried at al-Baqi. Instead, Uthman's body was buried in the neighboring Jewish graveyard called Kawkab.[6] The first enlargement of al-Baqi was made by the first Umayyad caliph Mu'awiya I (r. 661–680), who merged Kawkab into al-Baqi to include his kinsman Uthman's grave.[6] The Umayyad Caliphate built the first dome in al-Baqi over his grave. During different times of history, many domes and structures were built or rebuilt over many famous graves in al-Baqi.


First demolition[edit]

The cemetery before the 1926 demolition
The Cemetery after the 1926 demolition. The Prophet's Mosque in far background, view towards west.
Panorama showing the cemetery, with the Qiblah being behind the photographer, view towards north.

In 1806, a few of Saudi Wahhabist forces demolished many of Medina's religious buildings including tombs and mosques, whether inside or outside the al-Baqi, in accordance with their doctrines.[1][7] These were razed to the ground, and plundered for their decorations and goods.[1][8][9][10]

Second demolition[edit]

In 1924, as the clan of Saud regained control of the Hejaz.[1][10] The following year King Ibn Saud granted permission to destroy the site with religious authorization provided by Qadi Abd Allah ibn Bulayhid. In 1925 or 1926, the state-sponsored Wahhabi militia Ikhwan (lit.'Brothers') began the demolition process.[b][11] The demolition included destroying "even the simplest of the gravestones".[1] British convert Eldon Rutter compared the demolition to an earthquake: "All over the cemetery nothing was to be seen but little indefinite mounds of earth and stones, pieces of timber, iron bars, blocks of stone, and a broken rubble of cement and bricks, strewn about."[10]

The second demolition was discussed in Majles-e Shora-ye Melli (The National Consultative Assembly of Iran) and a group of representatives was sent to Hijaz to investigate. In recent years[when?], efforts were made by Iranian religious scholars and political figures to restore the cemetery and its shrines.[10] Both Sunni and Shia protested against the destruction,[1][12] and rallies are held annually.[1][14] The day is regarded as Yaum-e Gham ("Day of Sorrow").[12] Prominent Sunni theologians and intellectuals have condemned the "unfit" situation of the Baqi cemetery, but the Saudi authorities have so far ignored all criticism, and rejected any requests for the restoration of the tombs and mausoleums.[10]


Family of Muhammad[edit]



  • Ruqayya (601–624), second eldest daughter of Muhammad and also wife of caliph Uthman (r. 644–656)
  • Umm Kulthum (603–630), second youngest daughter of Muhammad and also a wife of Uthman
  • Zaynab (598/599—629), eldest daughter of Muhammad and wife of Abu al-As
  • Fatimah (605–632), youngest daughter of Muhammad and wife of caliph Ali (r. 656–661); some Shia dispute her grave.[15]
  • Ibrahim (630–632), youngest son of Muhammad

Relatives and other[edit]

Companions of Muhammad[edit]

Ali's family and descendents[edit]

Early Islamic scholars[edit]

Modern Islamic leaders[edit]



  1. ^ also known as Baqi al-Gharqad (Arabic: بَقِيْع الْغَرْقَد lit.'Baqiʿ of the Boxthorn'); and Jannat al-Baqīʿ.[1]
  2. ^ Saudi sources dispute as whether the demolition process began in 1925, or 1926.[11] or 21 April 1926[10][1][11][12][13] The demolition included destroying "even the simplest of the gravestones".[1] British convert Eldon Rutter compared the demolition to an earthquake: "All over the cemetery nothing was to be seen but little indefinite mounds of earth and stones, pieces of timber, iron bars, blocks of stone, and a broken rubble of cement and bricks, strewn about."[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Werner, Ende (2010). "Baqīʿ al-Gharqad". In Fleet, Kate; Krämer, Gudrun; Matringe, Denis; Nawas, John; Rowson, Everett (eds.). Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE. Brill Online. ISSN 1873-9830.
  2. ^ Hopkins, Daniel J.; 편집부 (2001). Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary. p. 479. ISBN 0-87779-546-0. Archived from the original on 23 June 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  3. ^ Muhammad Sadiq Najmi. history of tombs of Imam in Baqi and other monuments (in Persian). Mashar. pp. 67–68.
  4. ^ "Encyclopedia of Islam by the Turkish government".
  5. ^ Sunan Abu Dawood. pp.
  6. ^ a b Humphreys 1990, p. 248.
  7. ^ Ahmed, Irfan. "The Destruction Of The Holy Sites in Mecca and Medina". Islamica Magazine. No. 15. Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  8. ^ Bahramian, Ali. "Baqi". The Great Islamic Encyclopedia (in Persian). Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  9. ^ "History of the Cemetery Of Jannat Al-Baqi". 23 December 2013. Archived from the original on 10 April 2019. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Bahramian, Ali; Gholami, Rahim (2013). "al-Baqīʿ". In Madelung, Wilfred; Daftary, Farhad (eds.). Encyclopaedia Islamica (Third ed.). Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  11. ^ a b c Mohammadi, Adeel (2014–2015). "The destruction of Jannat al-Baqi': A case of Wahhabi Iconoclasm" (PDF). Undergraduate Journal of Middle East Studies. Canada (8): 47–56. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2 August 2019. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  12. ^ a b c Shahi, Afshin (4 December 2013). The Politics of Truth Management in Saudi Arabia. Routledge. ISBN 9781134653195. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  13. ^ "The Destruction Heritage in Saudi Arabia" (PDF). The Center for Academic Shi'a Studies. August 2015. Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 April 2019. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  14. ^ Hassan, Sara (27 July 2015). "Protests at Saudi Embassy in Washington". American al-Jazeera. Archived from the original on 25 June 2018. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  15. ^ Lady Fatima Archived 11 September 2017 at the Wayback Machine, Islamic Insight, Accessed 1 September 2012.


External links[edit]