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The Islamic tradition has held that whenever the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ stepped upon a stone or rock, his blessed foot left an imprint. This miracle is one amongst many that the Messenger of God displayed. Others included his hair not burning, his body never casting a shadow, flies never settling on his clothes, his sandal never leaving an imprint on sand and his blessed sweat smelling like musk.
Throughout history, shrines, known as Qadam Sharif or Qadam Rasul Allah, have been built to honor the footprints of the Prophet ﷺ. The most famous of these shrines is the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem where the Prophet set off to the heavens on Baraq, and then to the Presence of the Divine, during the Night Journey (Miraj). Before setting off, the Beloved's Prophets' footprint left an imprint on the rock. The rock is separated from the main area and is located in the southwest corner behind an iron and silver grille ordered by the Ottoman Sultan Ahmet in 1609. Other authentic footprints exist in Syria, Egypt and India.
A relic replica is a copy of the original Blessed Footprint. As an example, Rumi's Garden has been honoured to receive an exact mold taken from an original Footprint of Allah’s Messenger ﷺ located in the Ayup Sultan mosque and the Topkapi Museum in Turkey. From that mold, we proceeded to create casts. In some cases, we have to make small adjustments. An example of this is that the material we use to create the replica is from resin mixed with bronze, while the original footprint is set on stone. There is also an approximate 2mm difference in size between the original and replica due to the mold space.
Variations of the Footprints are due to countless factors that include the pressure our Beloved Prophet's ﷺ Foot applied to the surface where the print was left, the position our Beloved Prophet ﷺ set his Foot when leaving the print, the material on which the Footprint was made, the wearing with age of the Footprint, the way the prints were preserved for 1400 years and so on.
It is only natural for people to get hung up on the issue of adab (manners & etiquette) towards the Blessed Footprint since it is sacred and gives us a perfume of the barakah from where it came. However, this can become greatly exaggerated and common sense should be involved. It is suggested that since the Blessed Footprint is an extremely powerful object, that it may be best to keep it in a box in a high place. It should not constantly be in sight. The reason for this is that psychologically, when a person always sees something on a regular basis, she/ he begins to not notice it and take it for granted.
That said, a relic is meant to be loved and enjoyed. It should be seen, touched and smelled. Most importantly it should remind one of God and His Beloved Prophet ﷺ. When you see the relic you are a caretaker of, involve ritual! Make it a point for your household to read the Fatiha or salawat. Gather the family around it and tell stories of our Beloved Prophet ﷺ. Give it the respect it deserves. Make it a point to clean the Footprint with water (even Zamzam) and put some perfume oil on it. Furthermore, clean and polish its box.
Remember God judges us by our intentions first and foremost.
We always have to keep in sight that there is no god but God and that the aim of any spiritual seeker, essentially, is to put the ego to sleep and to awaken the immortal soul. We must withdraw our hearts and minds from the surface movement of images and tendencies which we constantly find ourselves in; restlessness, capriciousness, whimsicalness; fancifulness; inconsistency, confusion, indecisiveness, uncontrollability.
With the sleeping of our ego, the depths of our being must be awakened in the consciousness of God. Like a mirror, to whatever capacity God allows, we must reflect something of God's Divine attributes.
This awakening can only happen on the condition that we remember God much. Through this remembrance, the ego sleeps turning it into a ‘nothingness’. This is how we can comprehend a more in-depth meaning of the Shahada, not simply with our minds, but with our hearts.
So what supports can we have to remember God much? As Muslims, it is a major assistance to our faith to create an environment in our homes that allows us to remember God and His Beloved Prophet ﷺ wherever we look; a Holy Quran, a prayer mat, a calligraphy piece, a taweez. When our eyes gaze at these items, our minds are often transported, even for a moment without realizing it, to the remembrance of Him.
The case of the Blessed Footprint can be such an effective support. Not only does it serve as a simple reminder, but it can existentially transport our hearts and minds into the presence of God since it is such a powerful symbol that contains so much barakah (Blessings placed into it by God).
From 2016-2018 Rumi’s Garden donated one Blessed Footprint for every one that was bought. We managed to spread the Footprint to mosques, durgahs, schools, orphanages, and mashayakh in all six continents. The countries we donated to include the United Kingdom, USA, India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Lebanon, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, Brazil, Netherlands, Egypt, Canada, France, Turkey, Morocco and many others. Imams had reported that their congregations had grown thanks to the Blessed Footprint and peoples interests had peaked. We were told by one Imam that this project is important since it had attracted large crowds that may have otherwise been in mosques that have extremist leanings.
With God’s Grace, another result of the Blessed Footprint donation project has been the dissemination of information to allow people to understand relics, their importance and our shared history as Muslims. In the age we live in, learning about our rich heritage and reclaiming it as part of who we are as Muslims is an invaluable gift to be able share with the men, women and children of our Ummah. As an example, for someone who lives in the impoverished neighbourhood of Awzai in Beirut, and who has no chance of going to Medina, seeing the donated Blessed Footprint of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ at his local mosque is a godsend. Not only is he able to connect with the Prophet ﷺ and receive the baraka, but he is also able to learn a little more about the history of the Blessed Footprint and to realize that Turkey and Lebanon share a history - a history that shows us all that we are one Ummah under the banner of our Beloved ﷺ.
For a partial list of our donations, click here.
In 2016, the former manager of Rumi’s Garden wrote a beautiful article to answer the above question.
Recently, Rumi’s Garden has released a replica of the Blessed Footprint of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) that is located in the Abu Ayyub al-Ansari Mosque in Turkey. Upon first receiving the Blessed Footprint, for three days, I could not let it go from my hands. Each crevice, the arch, the perfect imprints of the toes; indeed, I had encountered something that was perfect of one who deserved perfect love. It was such an intimate and magical encounter; on the one hand, I knew I loved our Beloved Prophet ﷺ much, and on the other, I knew my love was not enough. A question kept gnawing at me: why would I, someone who is so often spiritually broken, receive the gift of this experience? Why would I receive this beautiful replica?
Through a process of introspection, many questions began to arise and my curiosity for Mawlana Abu Ayyub al-Ansari (RAA) grew.
Abu Ayyub al-Ansari was one of the closest friends to Prophet Muhammed ﷺ and is amongst the Ansar (helpers or patrons). He hailed from a well-known family in Medina, and ever since he fed Prophet Muhammed ﷺ his first dinner after the completed Hijra, until his own passing at the walls of Constantinople - where he was laid to rest at around 672 AD, he served our Prophet ﷺ with love and devotion. He is attributed with having recorded the following hadith: "It is not permissible for a Muslim to have estranged relations with his brother beyond three nights, the one turning one way and the other turning the other way when they meet; the better of the two is one who is the first to give a greeting." (Sahih Muslim)
The dinner parable, although quite famous, is often overlooked by many of us. Upon the arrival of our Beloved Prophet ﷺ to Medina, all it’s residents came out to adopt him into their homes. In order to respect the gentle hearts of all those who wished to accommodate him, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ announced that wherever his camel would stop, this would be the place of his residence. The camel made its decision and sat by the home of Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari. This brought Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari great joy and he took our Beloved's ﷺ belongings in his arms and felt as if he was carrying the most precious treasure in the world.
After this occurrence, Abu Ayub Al Ansari had prepared meals for Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and Abu Bakr (RAA). However, our Beloved ﷺ requested that everyone in the neighborhood be invited to join in the meal. To everyone's surprise, all of the approximately 180 people who came, were able to eat to their satisfaction. This has been deemed a miracle attributed to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.
The parable above is one of love and giving and it was with this story that I realized why the replica of the Blessed Footprint came into my life: it is in order to tap into the miracle of giving lovingly; to remember to love the Prophet ﷺ as he loves us; to remember to keep our tongues moist and hearts open to the salawat; to remember that to love the Prophet ﷺ is to love God and ultimately, to realize, that there in nothing but God; la ilaha ila Allah.
It was with this that Rumi’s Garden decided to make the Blessed Footprint available to as many people as possible so they too may benefit from this kind of intimacy when seeing and touching something of the Prophet ﷺ. So far the project has been a success!