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10 Historical Examples of How Relics were Used and Venerated in Early Islam

Rumi's Garden Donates Replica Footprint of Prophet Muhammad to Shaykh Salih al-Ja'fari Mosque

Rumi's Garden Donates a Replica Footprint of Prophet Muhammad's  to Shaykh Salih al-Ja'fari Mosque where it it displayed amongst the great Shaykh's relics.

Replica of the Blessed Footprint is available at www.RumisGarden.co.uk

 

A Rumi’s Garden initiative - called The Islamic Relics Hub - has been established for the preservation of Islamic relics belonging to Islamic holy sites, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, his companions and the awliya (Friend’s of God) of Islam. It aims to spread the dying historic tradition of placing beautiful relics in mosques, zawiyas, universities and schools, where various communities may reconnect to Islam existentially through the graces - placed by God - into these sacred objects.
 
Furthermore, The Islamic Relics Hub aspires to find a home for certain relics that were traditionally accessible to the public in the hope that caretakers can give them the respect they deserve, while benefiting their direct community. For this to happen, the spread of information is key.

 
What is an Islamic Relic?

 
Traditionally, Islam has had a rich history for the reverence of relics stretching from Andalusia, North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa to Historic Syria, Iraq, Persia, and India. This is especially true for relics attributed to our Beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and then his Companions and the awliya of Islam.

Looking at both traditional Sunni and Shia Islamic literature, including ahadith and their commentaries, many examples exist of how relics were used and venerated. This practice of veneration is not an innovation - as some scholars have claimed - but rather, has concrete historical roots tracing back to the Prophet ﷺ himself, his companions and many of the awliya from the earliest days of Islam. In fact, the veneration of relics continued to remain popular in many parts of the Sunni world until the emergence of the puritanical Wahabi movement from the Najd (currently the central region of Saudi Arabia) in the eighteenth-century. Unfortunately, the Wahabi approach to relics has penetrated much of mainstream urban Islam. 
 
Islamic Relics partially donated by Rumi's Garden to The Virtues Tour in the UK
Islamic Relics partially donated by Rumi's Garden to The Virtues Tour in the UK.

Kiswah, qandeels, Samadiyas and Ka'aba belts as well as the Kiswah al-Saadat from the Holy Chamber of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ are available at www.RumisGarden.co.uk 

Broadly speaking, several categories of Islamic relics exist although all stem from three main sources; 1) Pilgrimage sites and objects designated by Heaven 2) The blessed bodies of Prophets and 3) The blessed bodies of the awliya.

Category

Examples

Relics sent directly from Heaven, pilgrimage sites and the blessed bodies of Prophets and Awliya

  • The Black Stone of the Holy Ka’aba
  • The blessed body of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in Masjid an-Nabawi
  • The blessed bodies of Sayidna Abu Bakr as-Siddiq and Sayidna Umar ibn al-Khattab buried beside the Prophet ﷺ in Masjid an-Nabawi

Segments of the blessed bodies of Prophets and Awliya

The hair, sweat, teeth, cupping blood, footprint, handprint of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ

Objects which havebeen touched by Prophets and Awliya

  • The sandals, shoes, turban, miswak, mantle, letters, staff, seal, armour and swords of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.
  • The Utman Codex which is the Quran attributed to Sayidna Uthman ibn Affan

Objects which have touched any of the above; this category is extremely broad

Replicas or imitations of existing relics

  • Images of Prophet Muhammad's ﷺ sandal
  • Replicas of Prophet Muhammad's ﷺ Footprint
10 Historical Examples of How Relics were used and Venerated in Early Islam

 

1) Abu Musa reported that the Prophet ﷺ asked for a drinking glass containing water and washed both his hands and face. He then threw a mouthful of water back into the drinking glass and said to both Abu Musa and Bilal, "Drink from the drinking glass and pour some of its water on your faces and chests." (Sahih Bukhari)
 
2) Anas ibn Malik reported that after the Prophet ﷺ had thrown pebbles at the Jamra and had sacrificed an animal, he turned the right side of his head towards the barber, and had him shave it. He then called Abu Talha al-Ansari and gave him his hair. He then turned his left side and asked the barber to shave it. He then gave his hair to Abu Talha and told him to distribute it amongst the people. (Jami' al-Tirmidhi)
 
3) Once the Prophet ﷺ visited the house of Umm Sulaim and slept in her bed while she was away from her home. When she arrived back, she was told that God’s Messenger ﷺ was resting in her room. The devout Umm Sulaim passed by the Prophet ﷺ and found that his sweat fell on her leather cloth bedspread. She opened her scent-bag and began to fill the bottles with his blessed sweat. The Prophet ﷺ was startled and woke up and said: “Umm Sulaim, what are you doing?” She replied: “O Prophet of God, we seek blessings for our children through it”. Thereupon our Beloved ﷺ responded: “You have done something right”. (Sahih Muslim). Umm Sulaim would collect the Prophet’s sweat and hair placing them in a bottle mixed with perfume (sukk).
 

    Available at Rumi's Garden: The Ashtiname of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ Containing His Blessed Handprint

    The Ashtiname of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, is a covenant made by the Prophet with the Christians of Egypt. It is signed with his blessed handprint.

    Available at www.RumisGarden.co.uk

    4) On the deathbed of Anas ibn Malik, he asked Thumama to put some of the blessed perfumed sweat of the Prophet ﷺ in his embalming scent (Hanut) when preparing his body for burial. (Sahih Bukhari)
     
    5) It has been narrated that Ibn Sirin once mentioned to Ubida as-Salmani that he had some of the hair of the Prophet ﷺ which he received from Anas or Anas’s family. Ubida as-Salmani replied, ‘If I had a single one of those hairs, it would be dearer to me than this world and everything in it.' (Sahih Bukhari)
     
    6) Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani has commented that Uthman b. Abdullah b. Mawhab would send vessels containing water to Umm Salama and she would dip the Prophet’s ﷺ hair into it. She would then give  the vessel to its owner. The owner would then either drink the water or wash himself with it seeking a cure, from God, through it and its barakah (blessings or grace). 
     
    7) The Umayyad caliph Muawiya (r. 41/661–60/680) acquired the Prophet’s ﷺ nail clippings and it is narrated that he said: ‘The Prophet once clothed me with a shirt, which I put away, and one day when he pared his nails I took the parings and placed them in a bottle. When I die, clothe me in that shirt, and chop up and pulverize the parings; sprinkle them over my eyes and into my mouth, on the chance that God may have mercy on me through their barakah. (Al-Tabari)

      Rumi's Garden: Kiswah pendant from Prophet Muhammad's Holy Chamber in Masjid an-Nabawi
      Rumi's Garden is offering large pendants with the blessed kiswah from the Holy Chamber of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

      Available at www.RumisGarden.co.uk

       

      8) Khalid bin al-Walid, who was buried in Hims, is reported to have conquered Damascus while wearing a tall hat containing the hairs of our Beloved Prophet ﷺ. It is reported that he sought victory through the hairs and their barakah
       
      9) Abu Jafar Ahmad b. Abd al-Majid had once cut the pattern of the Prophet’s     ﷺ sandal for one of his students. His student, on a visit to his teacher, said: ‘Yesterday I saw a wonder from the baraka of this sandal. My wife was suffering from a pain which almost took her life. I placed the [image of the] sandal on the spot of her pain and said: O God, show me the barakah of the owner of this sandal. God cured her instantly.’" (Ibn Asakir)
       
      10) The historian Sibt Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 654/1256) mentions, in regards to the Uthmani Codex (The Quran on Sayidna Uthman), that devotees derive barakah through simply seeing it and not necessarily through coming into contact with it physically. Yet, he says that the full efficacy of the barakah is realized when it is touched, held, or taken out in procession. Another historian, also named Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 597/1200), mentions that the Uthman Codex was shown publicly in a procession meant to avert a Crusader invasion of Damascus in 543/1148. He reports: “The whole land was weeping and wailing and spreading ashes on themselves for days. The Uthmani codex was brought out into the courtyard of the Congregational Mosque and men, women and children congregated around it, baring their heads and supplicated. God responded to them.” 
       
        Rumi's Garden: Pendant with Blessed Kiswah from the Holy Ka'aba
        Rumi's Garden is offering large pendants with the blessed kiswah from the Holy Ka'aba.

        Available at www.RumisGarden.co.uk

        Conclusion

        The examples given above, of respecting relics, are simply a few of many that exist in traditional Islamic literature. One can simply mention that the whole of Cairo was built around the veneration and barakah of the blessed head of Sayidna Hussain after his martyrdom, and this in itself should be enough to rid one of any doubts. As a Muslim, to love God, is to love his Beloved Prophet ﷺ; and to love the Prophet ﷺ, is to love all that he is and all that represents him. As one scholar put it, even ‘Wahhabi iconoclasm stopped short before the tomb of the Prophet in Medina, which is the supreme relic in the Muslim universe, summarizing for Islam the presence on earth of celestial humanity.’

        Bibliography

        1. Meri,Josef W. Relics of Piety and Power in Medieval Islam: Past & Present, Volume 206, Issue suppl_5, 1 January 2010, Pages 97–120
        2. Ibn Asakir, Juz Timthal Naalal-Nabi,ed. Husayn Shukri, 25
        3. Patrizi, Luca, Relics of the Prophet, in Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Prophet of God (2 vols.), Edited by C. Fitzpatrick and A. Walker, Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO, 2014
        4. TabariTarekh Alwaraq.net edn,Year193 H.,2062; The Historyo fal-Tabari (TheWar between Brothers), trans. M. Fishbein (Albany, 1992), 11, 195, 196, 199.

         

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        To visit Rumi's Garden online Islamic store click here.
         
        We sell replicas of the Prophet Muhammads' (PBUH) blessed footprint, Kaaba kiswahs, kiswahs from the Prophet Muhammed's holy chamber in Medina, carpets from Riad al Jannah, bakhoor, incense burners, Muslim prayer beads and much more! 

         

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