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Jannat Al-Baqi is one of the largest cemeteries in the Muslim world, containing more than 7000 bodies, located across the mosque of the Prophet in the city of Medina, Saudi Arabia. The graveyard today contains the bodies of many of the companions of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and other members of his family, including four Shi'a Imams.
Some of the earliest descriptions of how the architecture and tombs looked like are by a traveler named Ibn Jubayr who explored the Middle East extensively in the eleventh and twelfth century, and took detailed accounts of his travels - including those in Medina. He describes the traditions of who is buried there, the shrines that existed, and the architecture, including things like the white domes and elevations involved. The grave of the second Imam of the Shi'ites, Hasan ibn Ali, has been described as follows:
“Close by are the graves of 'Abbas ibn Abdu'l Muttalib and of Hasan ibn 'Ali. The latter has a dome which stands high in the air. It is near the Baki’ Gate which we have mentioned, on the right, as one would go out. The head of al-Hasan lies towards the feet of al-'Abbas. Their two graves are broad and elevated from the ground, are faced with slabs of beautiful stone, are ornamented with plates of nickel, and are bound with star-headed nails, all of which gives a most pleasing effect. The grave of Ibrahim, the son of the Prophet, is of the same kind.
Jannat ul-Baqi serves as a historical piece of destroyed architecture as it shows and epitomizes the influence of the Wahhabi doctrine on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Wahhabis first attempted to take over Medina in 1806 and it was then when many sites of historical importance were destroyed, except for the Prophet’s tomb. Jannat ul-Baqi was then rebuilt by the Ottoman Empire under the rule of the sultans Abd al-Majid I, ‘Abd al-Hamid II and Mahmud II.
“From 1848 to 1860, the buildings were renovated and the Ottomans built the domes and mosques in splendid aesthetic style. They also rebuilt the Baqi’ with a large dome over the graves” of several important figures.
In the early 1920s, Wahhabis entered Saudi Arabia once again, and Ibn Saud, King Abdul Aziz, founded what is now known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It was then that the mausoleum of Baqi was destroyed by its members in April of 1925 and remains in that condition today ever since.
There are many notable personalities buried in the graveyard. Some of them include:
Imam Hasan ibn Ali, grandson of Prophet Muhammad, son of Fatima and Ali; the second Imam
Imam Ali ibn Husayn, commonly referred to as Zayn al-Abidin, the fourth Imam
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir, son of Ali ibn Husayn, the fifth Imam
Imam Jafar al-Sadiq, son of Muhammad al-Baqir, the sixth Imam
Most of the wives of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
Ibrahim, son of Prophet Muhammad through Maria al-Qibtiyya who died in infancy
Fatima bint Asad, aunt of Prophet Muhammad and mother of Imam Ali
Other aunts of Prophet Muhammad including Safiya and Aatika
Fatima Zahra, Muhammad's daughter by his first wife Khadijah bint Khuwaylid; her actual grave location is unknown or disputed since she did not want the people who hurt her to know where she was buried
Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib, uncle of Muhammad
Fatima bint Hizam, known as Umm ul-Banin, who married Imam Ali; mother of four children who died defending Imam Hussain ibn Ali in the Battle in Karbala
Uthman ibn Affan, a companion of Prophet Muhammad and third Caliph. He was originally buried outside of Jannat ul-Baqi, but the cemetery was later expanded to include his grave
Malik ibn Anas, also known as Imam Malik; a Sunni Muslim jurist based on who the present day Maliki school of thought exists