The literal meaning of jannat ul baqi is “The Garden of Heaven’. It is also known as Baqi al-Gharqad (Gharqad is the name of the thorny trees, Box thorn which were abundant in Baqi) meaning “Orchard of the Box thorn Trees”.
Located to the south-east of Masjid-e-Nabwi, Jannat-ul-baqi is the most spiritual and blessed cemetery of the Muslim world where many of relatives of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and thousand of his companions are buried. Many traditions relate Prophet Muhammad saw speaking of the position of al-baqi as a blessed place and offering a prayer whenever he passed by this graveyard, adding to its sanctity.
Prophet Muhammad saw said: “Peace be upon you, O abode of believers. What you were promised will come to pass tomorrow at a fixed time. We shall, Allah willing, soon join you. O Allah! Grant forgiveness to the people who are buried in al-Baqi’ al-Gharqad.” (Muslim)
The Islamic history of Jannat-ul-baqi goes back to the time when Prophet (SAW) migrated from Makkah to Medina. As’ad Bin Zararah (RA.), an Ansari companion who died soon after the Prophet‘s (s.a.w.) migration to Madinah, was buried in al-baqi. The Prophet (s.a.w.) chose the spot to be a cemetery which was previously a land of boxthorn trees. The first of the Muhajirun (Emigrants) to be buried there was Uthman bin Mazoun who died on the 3rd of Sha’ban in the 3rd year of Hijrah, shortly after the Prophet (s.a.w.) returned from the battle of Badr. The Prophet (s.a.w) ordered certain trees to be demolished and in its place, he buried his dear companion with two stones placed over the grave. Medina is indeed lucky to have the cemetery of Al-baqi, where thousands of sacred personalities rest in peace.
At many points in history, many domes and structures were built or rebuilt in Al-Baqi in order to identify the inhabitants. After the city of Medina was taken by the forces of Ibn Saud, many of these buildings and tombs were destroyed, in order to keep with the Wahabbi idea of not visiting graves as they considered it to be un-Islamic. Muhammad Ali Basha with the support of local tribes, managed to evade the Al-Saud clansmen for a while, allowing them to restore the shrines for a while.
However, in 1924 AD Wahhabis entered Hijaz for a second time and the mausoleums in Jannat ul Baqi were demolished by the order of King Abdul Aziz Al Saud on April 21,1925, with the objective of preventing construction over graves or people seeking help from dead in compliance with prophet (s.a.w)’s hadith. Some scholars considered it to be a conspiracy of Jews in guise of taw’heed to eradicate the Islamic heritage.
Among the famous sacred personalities buried in Al-baqi are:
All the wives of the Prophet (s.a.w.) except for Khadijah bint Khuwaylid and Maymuna bint al-Harith, the daughters of the Prophet (s.a.w.), Ebrahim (r.a), the son of the Prophet (s.a.w) by Maria al-Qibtiyya, Abbas (r.a.), the uncle of the Prophet (s.a.w.), the aunts of the Prophet (s,a,w), Safiyyah and Aatikah (r.a.), Uthman (r.a.), the third Caliph and son-in-law of the Prophet (s.a.w), Halimah Saadia, the wet-nurse of the Prophet (s.a.w.), Sa’ad bin Abi Waqqas (r.a.), Abdur-Rehman bin Auf (r.a.), Abdullah bin Mas’ood (r.a.), (r.a.), Imam Malik (r.a.) and many other close accomplice men and women of the prophet of Islam. May Allah be pleased with them all (Amen).