Friday 24th Mar 2017
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A Tale of Two Cities

Book Review

, by SAMEEN AHMED KHAN

THE HISTORY OF MAKKAH MUKARRAMAH
Pages: 240 (including glossy pictures)
Price: 15 Saudi Riyals
ISBN: 9960-44-929-7
 
THE HISTORY OF MADINAH MUNAWWARAH
Pages: 184 pages (excluding pictures)
Price: 15 Saudi Riyals
ISBN: 9960-43-442-7
 
by Dr. Muhammad Ilyas Abdul Ghani
Al-Rasheed Printers, Madinah Munawwarah, Saudi Arabia
 
Reviewed by SAMEEN AHMED KHAN
The religious and historical significance of Makkah Mukarramah can be judged from the fact that the Creator of the universe, Allah Almighty has selected it to be the location of His most scared house, the Ka’bah. This blessed city was home to Prophet Ismael and his mother Hajirah (peace and blessings of Allah be with them). Countless Messengers and pious servants of Allah have undertaken journey to visit the House of Allah. The city houses the Masjid Haram in which the rewards of a single salaah are multiplied by a hundred thousand. The city has the location of Qiblah, a direction towards which every person performing salaah must face.
The city also had the privilege of being the birthplace of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be with him), the final Messenger and guide of the worlds. It is in Makkah where the well of Zamzam is located, whose water is better and more blessed than the waters of the universe. Besides, there is a long history predating Prophet Ibrahim (peace and blessings of Allah be with him). Prophet Adam and Hawwa (peace and blessings of Allah be with them) spent time in Makkah when they were sent to earth from the Jannah. It is this city which Allah has made obligatory to travel and fulfil the rites of Hajj. Makkah has a very long history and numerous religious places in it.
Madinah Munawwarah is the city to which Allah’s Messenger emigrated and it gave him refuge, embraced his preaching and supported his religion, and its people defended him with their lives, their wealth and their sons until Allah made him victorious. Madinah possesses virtues which are well known and an influence which none disputes. It is the city where the Holy Prophet made the first mosque (Masjid Quba). It contains the Prophet’s Mosque the Masjid Nabawi, where the rewards of each prayer are multiplied by a thousand. And there is the sacred chamber where the Prophet and the first two caliphs are buried.
Dr. Muhammad Ilyas Abdul Ghani, has successfully undertaken the task of presenting a concise history of the scared cities of Makkah Mukarramah and Madinah Munwwarah, tracking their histories from the earliest times in the light of authentic narration and books. Both the books have several maps, numerous pictures. He describes in very intricate details the extensions since the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be with him) to the large-scale construction activities in the recent decades. 
The History of Makkah Mukarramah begins with a discussion of the sacred nature of Makkah Mukarramah, the boundaries of the Haram (Sanctuary) and its sanctity. Then it discusses the superiority of Makkah and its virtues, narrating the Ahadith. Then it mentions the names of Makkah and their significance. The various boundaries of the Haram are described, which enclose an area of approximately 550 kms. The various Miquaat and their distances from Ka’bah are described in detail along with the details of the mosques at the various Miquaat. As expected, an entire chapter of the book is devoted to the Ka’bah and discusses its origins and construction/rebuilding, tracing the list of Khadimeen throughout the ages. The book naturally discusses the holy places in great detail, that are connected to Ka’bah, such as the Maqam-e-Ibrahim, Hajar-e-Aswad, Hateem/Hijr and Al-Multazam, Zamzarn and finally the hills of Safa and Marwah. The history of Ka’bah is intimately connected with Prophets Ibrahim and Ismael and Bibi Hajirah. The book records the most important historical aspects with ample references to the Qur’an and Ahadith. The Ghalaf-e-Ka’bah (with the writings), the door, lock, and other parts are sure to satisfy the curious readers. The author takes the reader through the sequence of detailed sections on Mina, Muzdalifah and Arafat; in the process describing the arkan of Hajj. Then the book touches the conquest of Makkah and its far-reaching effects on the history of Makkah, and how the House was cleansed of shirk and the mushrikeen. A chapter is devoted to the Masjidul-Haram and its expansion from the time of Khalifa-e-Rashideen to the present. The last chapter describes the numerous sites in and around Makkah, including: the Cave of Hira, various historical mosques and Qabrastan.
The History of Madinah Munawwarah begins with the virtues of Madinah Munwwarah and the prayers which Prophet Muhammad made for this city. There is a long chapter on the Prophet’s Mosque, the Masjid Nabawi and its virtues. The various parts of the original mosque (Sacred Garden, Pulpit, Colums, Mehrab and Suffah) are described with intricate detail. The next chapter is devoted to the Sacred Chamber with lot of historical detail enlightening the reader with the life of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be with him), the Khalifa-e-Rashideen and the Sahaba. There is an entire chapter on the extension of the Masjid Nabawi, starting with the first extension by the blessed hands of the Prophet in the 7th year of the Hijrah, followed by the extensions by Caliphs Umar and Usman respectively. The author traces the long chain of extensions since then to the current times. Each extension resulted in the demolition of the Hujrat of Umm-ul-Momineen and the humble dwellings of the Sahaba. Consequently an entire chapter is devoted to the Hujrat and the houses of the Sahaba, around the original mosque from the time of the Prophet. This chapter is very informative on the life of the Prophet, Umm-ul-Momineen and numerous Sahaba; it sheds light on the early years of Islam. The last chapter describes the 26 mosques (in and around Madinah) where the messenger of Allah and his companions offered prayers. Notable among these are, Masjid Quba (the first mosque) and Masjid Quiblatain (where the direction of quibla changed from Bait-ul-Muqaddas to Ka’bah). The book also describes some of the historic wells, valleys, mountains and sites of battles. There is a brief mention of a few Islamic institutes of Madinah Munawwarah and development schemes.
Both the books are not purely historical (as their names may suggest). The books shed light on the various aspects of the two holy cities, with references to the Qur’an, Ahadith. It is essential for everyone to know the most important historical events that have direct effect on the establishment and sacredness of Makkah and Madinah, as well as their religious weight. The above books provide an excellent starting point in this direction, enabling an integrated picture of each holy city. Both the books have been translated into several languages, including Urdu. May Allah Almighty increase His Grace upon the author, publisher and readers of these books; may Allah enable us to make journeys to the sacred cities and Guide us to conduct ourselves in a manner which pleases Him, Amen.
[The reviewer teaches in Engineering Department, Salalah College of Technology (SCOT) Salalah, Sultanate of Oman, and can be reached at rohelakhan@yahoo.com]


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