Every year, barely a week after the celebration of Eid ul Fitr,
Muslims of Shia Ithna-Asheri faith all over the world gather together to
remember the tragedy of The Demolition of al-Baqi, a destruction from which
this blessed cemetery has never recovered. The commemoration of this
heartbreaking tragedy is known as “Yawme Gham”.
On a dark Wednesday 21st April, 1926 (8th Shawwal, 1344 AH) – 97 years ago, Jannat al-Baqi – the magnificent cemetery (graveyard) near Masjid an-Nabawi in Madinah al Munawara of great historical importance and filled with the graves of thousands of the companions of our Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad al Mustafa (SAWW) as well as those of his Ahlulbayt (AS) – were demolished into nothing but rubble on the order of King Ibn Saud.
Al-Baqi was established by the Holy Prophet (SAWW) when he ordered certain trees to be felled from the garden to bury his companion, Uthman ibn Madh’un. In the following years, the Holy Prophet (SAWW) also buried his infant son Ibrahim there. The area became popular for burial, because the Prophet (SAWW) used to greet those who were buried there by saying, “Peace be upon you, O abode of the faithful! God willing, we should soon join you. O’ Allah, forgive the fellows of al-Baqi”.
Eventually, the Holy Prophet (SAWW) beloved daughter Sayyeda Fatimah az-Zahra (SA) was buried there too along with Imam Hassan Ibn Ali (AS), Imam Ali Ibn al-Hussain (AS), Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (AS), and Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (AS).
Over the years, al-Baqi was maintained with splendour and respect, until the first attack on it occurred in 1806, under the rule of Saud bin Abdulaziz. However, the Ottomans gained control over the region a few years later and rebuilt the graveyard in 1818.
Sadly, just over a century later, in 1926, Wahhabis entered Hijaz for a second time and carried out another merciless plunder and massacre. Houses were razed, people were killed in the streets, women and children too were not spared, with eyewitnesses speaking of infants being beheaded while still clinging to the necks of their mothers.
Awn bin Hashim (Sharif of Makkah) writes: “Before me, the valley appeared to have been paved with corpses, dried blood staining everywhere all around. There was hardly a tree which didn’t have one or two dead bodies near its roots.”
In 1926, Ibn Saud attacked and destroyed Jannat al-Mu’alla in Makkah al Mukarramah along with other holy shrines and then moved on to demolish Jannat al-Baqi in Madinah al Munawarra and level it to the ground.
Despite worldwide protests held the following year and every year since by Muslims to denounce this massacre and destruction, there has been neither apology nor an offer of reconstruction by the powers in place.
We join our fellow Muslims from all over the world in mourning and protest the desecration of the holy graves of our Imams (AS) and of the faithful companions of the Holy Prophet of Islam, Hazrat Muhammad al Mustafa (SAWW) of what happened so many decades ago. Yawme Gham is a way of reminding ourselves of the destruction of Jannat al-Baqi and Jannat al-Mu’alla.
Please listen to this important history of Jannat al-Baqi by Marhum Mulla Asghar M M Jaffer on YouTube. https://youtu.be/_zQaiMMgsD8
We pray to Allah (SWT) by His grace that the all the Mausoleums and Tombs of the progeny of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAWW) and of his faithful companions in Saudi Arabia are restored soon and maintained with high sanctity and dignity, Ameen.
We request all our Jamaats to organize symposiums/programs to keep the spirit of Jannat al-Baqi and Jannat al-Mu’allah alive and to bring awareness amongst our community and the upcoming generations of the significance of these important and historical sites.