The Hateem or Hijr Ismail is the crescent-shaped area located adjacent to the Kaabah. It has a great history and praying (Nafl Salah only) at Hijr holds extra rewards. This was the place where Ibrahim (AS) built a shelter for his son Ismail (AS) and wife Hajrah (AS). It has huge religious and historical significance in Islam.
Al-Hijr received the name “Hijr” long years after Ismaa‘eel (RA), it is a mistake to address it by the name “Hijr Ismaa‘eel” and instead should be called only ‘al-Hijr’, without attributing it to anyone.
Is Hateem a part of Holy Kaabah?
Aisha (RA) reports that when she asked the Prophet (PBUH) whether the Hijr was part of the Ka’bah, he replied that it was. When she further asked why it was then not included in the walls of the Ka’bah, the Prophet (PBUH) replied, “Because your people (the Quraysh) did not have sufficient funds.”
When the Prophet (PBUH) was 35 years old, Kaabah was damaged by a huge flood. It was already in danger of a collapse as the Kaabah got weakened by an earlier fire. After seeing their house of worship under threat, the Quraysh decided to reconstruct the Holy Kaabah. They decided not to use the tainted money gained through usury, prostitution or thieving for the project. A roman ship was wrecked at a nearby port and some people went there to purchase the wood of the ship. They also hired a carpenter, named Baqoom, who was one of the passengers on the ship to reconstruct the walls. When the construction started, each tribe was given specific duties to perform. The nobles including the Prophet (PBUH) and his uncle Abbas carried pieces of stone and heaped them in one place. However, the tribes were unable to collect enough untainted money to rebuild the Kaabah completely. They decided to build a small wall displaying the boundaries of the original foundation laid by Prophet Ibrahim (AS).
In the light of various hadiths, it is quite evident that Hijr is a part of Kaabah and Tawaf is performed while including Hateem in it. It is mentioned in the Quran:
“And perform Tawaf around the Ancient House” 22:29
Read Also: How often should a Muslim perform Hajj?
History and Religious Significance of Hateem
It is obligatory to include Hateem in Tawaf and if someone fails to do so then his/her Tawaf is incomplete. Hijr is the place where Prophet Ibrahim (AS) left his wife Hajrah (RA) and his son Ismail (AS) in Makkah. An area of approximately 3 meters adjacent to the wall on the side of the Hateem is the part of the Kaabah, the rest of the area falls outside the Kaabah. However, pilgrims must perform Tawaf outside the complete area of the Hateem.
When Quraysh rebuilt the Kaabah, they added some parts of Kaabah into Hijr. According to a narration, the Prophet (PBUH) said,
“O Aisha! Had your people not very recently been in the Period of Ignorance, I would have had the Ka’bah demolished and included the left-out portion within its walls. I would have also brought the inside of the Ka’bah to ground level and added two doors, with one on the eastern wall and the other on the western wall. In this manner, it would be according to the building and foundation of Ibrahim (AS).”
Abdullah bin Zubair (RA) reconstructed the Kaabah in the year 65 AH according to the wishes of the Prophet (PBUH). However, after his death, Hajaj added that part into Hijr again and that is how we see Kaabah today where a part of Hijr is inside the Baitullah and the rest is not.
Praying in Hijr Ismail
Aisha (RA) says, “When I expressed the wish to perform Salah within the Ka’bah, the Prophet (PBUH) took me by the hand and led me into the Hijr where he said, ‘Perform salah here if you wish to enter the Ka’bah because this is part of the Baytullah.’
The Hijr is part of Kaabah and whoever prays in this part has prayed inside the Kaabah but it is permissible to pray Nafil prayer only just like the Prophet (PBUH) did. It was narrated from Ibn ‘Umar and Bilaal (RA) that the Prophet (PBUH) entered the Kaabah during the year of the Makkah conquest and prayed two Rakah inside it. However, it is proven that when Ayesha (RA) wanted to pray inside the Kaabah, he told her to pray in Hijr as it is a part of the Baitullah. It is better to not offer obligatory prayer in Hijr or Hateem because the Prophet (PBUH) did not do so.
Read Also: Obligatory Duties in Umrah
Facts about Hijr Ismail or Hateem in Makkah
- It is the place where Ibrahim (AS) made a shelter for his wife Hajrah (RA) and son Ismail (AS).
- Researchers have said that graves of Ismail (AS) and Hajrah (RA lie underneath the Hijr Ismail but others have rejected those narrations as weak (Da’eef).
- Praying in Hijr is like praying inside the Kaabah.
- The Prophet once stood on Hijr Ismail. It was narrated by Jabir bin Abdullah that the messenger said “ When the people of Quraysh did not believe me (the story of his night journey), I stood up on Hijr Ismail and Allah displayed Jerusalem in front of me, and I began describing it to them while I was looking at it.’’ (Bukhari)
- The Prophet (PBUH) wanted Hijr as part of the Holy Kaabah.