Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, The Prophet’s Mosque, Al Haram (Medina, March 2021)

I hope you enjoy this post. It is meant to be inspiring and a celebration of one of the holy sites in Islam. I want to show you the beauty and majesty of the mosque, and surrounding outdoor courtyard area, without compromising ideas about modesty and privacy. That said I know some friends and family will find it hard to be able to visit this mosque, perhaps not ever having the chance. Here I endeavor to bring the experience and peacefulness of worship to you in this post. I will refer to the mosque as The Haram, as it is the easiest to write. Here is a video to start out, during sunset call to prayer.

The second most important worship site in Islam, goes by various names, but the most used are Al-Masjid an-Nabawi in Arabic, The Prophet’s Mosque in English, and Al Haram in Arabic. Any of these describe the mosque in which the prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him (alayhi as-salām) lies buried. He instructed his followers that a prophet’s grave site should not be worshipped, and in this it is under the green dome of the mosque. It is a special area that you can pass through, but not rest at.

The green dome area

The main entrance areas: The Haram is surrounded on one side by a new museum, a clinic run by the Ministry of Health, and shops that carry items like prayer rugs, gold, clothing, etc. (see photos below). The museum is high tech, employing large touch screen walls that are interactive. There are moving images. The entire tour was in Arabic, and at this time the museum is only in Arabic. In the future many languages will be here. It is all about Muhammad’s (PBUH) life and the Koran. You can also find out about his family and other people in the lineage of Islam. As well you can find any Surah (chapter) and ayah (verse) and reference to subjects such as animals, etc. Worth a visit once more languages are added.

Socializing at the mosque: Most families will bring some snacks and food to picnic on The Haram grounds. It is not uncommon to see groups of folks hanging out during the night around the mosque courtyard, enjoying the cooler weather and nice ambience. We had a picnic as well before one of the prayer times. Many people choose to pray outside the mosque. For this there are designated men’s and women’s areas. Once the prayer is over, cleaners come to clean the floors.

Entering The Prophets Mosque: There are two ladies entrances and the rest are for men. I have a small video showing the closing of the dome over the open interior of the courtyard in the morning, once the sun starts coming on strong. Also there are two videos of the interior, so you who are far away and have not seen the beauty of this mosque, can feel you too have been here. It is awe inspiring to be in this beauty and tranquility. A truly momentous experience that I hope is reverent and inspiring. The first video was seen by one of the women guards, who thought I was taking photos of her. I had no problem having her view it, and she saw that I was not interested in showing anyone close up. Some ladies are very careful not to have their photos taken. Naturally in this time of cell phones, people who enter here want to show their friends and relatives what they experience. We all try to keep our lenses up, however I wanted to give the effect as if you, the viewer, were walking with me.

The beautiful and grand interior is just captivating. The open air elements mean you are always connected with natural light and the sky. During the day though the skylight areas are closed due to the heat of the sun.

To give you a good idea of what it is like to walk around The Haram, here are a progression of videos, some narrated by myself, walking through the courtyard. I hope you will enjoy them. They are currently expanding also on one side of the mosque, but I am not sure what will be there. Whatever it will be, it is sure to be grand.

Covid Adjustments: Covid has put some restrictions on what you will find. When you enter the mosque the people at the door will take your temperature and search any bags you have with you. I had brought some snacks and a kid’s toy, which needed to be stored in a box outside as they are not allowed to be brought into the mosque. When I exited I could retrieve them. There are no prayer carpets, Korans, water, or instruction inside anymore.

You must bring your own prayer rug with you, and in fact some other of the mosques won’t let you enter without one. The Prophets Mosque you can enter even if you don’t have one.

Everyone is expected to keep 6 feet apart when you find a prayer place. Places are marked out for you on the floor, so it’s easy to follow that rule.

If you wish to visit inner areas of the mosque, either the prophet’s tomb or the interior gardens, you must make online appointments. Children are not allowed to go to the prophet’s tomb. There are separate times for men and ladies. My husband could get appointments to see the tomb, however he tried many times to make an appointment to go to the interior gardens, but every time it was full. If you can get a spot, you are lucky. Better to book in advance online.

Cleaning goes on day and night. You will always find workers hand cleaning the shoe areas, and especially sweeping the floors.

One surprise that we found here, is that there are many insects that seem to reside on The Haram grounds. You can hear birds chirping and also crickets chirping. At night is when the creatures get busy, as the lights come on. We found it harder to avoid the jumping grasshoppers and crickets that fly into the lights and then land on their backs, legs flailing. My boys were quite happy having the insects to see. I think adults find them annoying, and for this there are the sweepers who have a cleaver broom made into a “V” shape to constantly comb the floor and capture the insects. I can’t imagine what the place would look like without the sweepers!

Taking photos and videos: If you don’t want to be filmed while you are there, it is kind of hard to avoid in a way. The rule for ladies wearing a niqab is to ask their permission. It’s ok to have a back view. There are plenty of folks having live video chats with their families back home, so that having others in a video is inevitable. They are showing them the view of the mosque and surroundings. If you see someone talking with their cellphone out in front of them, chances are you may be in their view. In this case just walk a different direction or turn your face. People are so excited to be there that no one is going to tell them not to show their relatives in real time, what they are experiencing. There are police and mosque guards around, so unless they are bothered, you can phone your family and friends, and of course take photos. I did my best to avoid faces and close ups of women who were covered by niqab.

Check out my related blog about traveling to Madinah:

What’s the difference between the experience here before Covid and after Covid?

To illustrate the difference between pre and post Covid visits, and conditions in and around the Masjid, take a look at this well done video below. It’s like night and day! You can see the amount of folks and the crowds usually at this mosque. It is amazing how much space is now seen in and around the mosque. This video is also excellent in giving you an understanding of the history of Islam and the Prophet’s Mosque, as well as being a great video tour.

video by Tim Blight @ UrbanDuniya

2 Replies to “Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, The Prophet’s Mosque, Al Haram (Medina, March 2021)”

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