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Summary of question
What is the Maqam Ibrahim? What is its purpose?
question
What is the Maqam Ibrahim? What is its purpose?
Concise answer

One of the clear signs in Makkah (as a verse in the Quran tells us) is the Maqam Ibrahim where Prophet Ibrahim stood.

Regarding the meaning and interpretation of “Maqam Ibrahim”, some believe that it is equal to all of Hajj. Others

believe it to be ‘Arafah’, ‘Mash’arul-Haram’ and the three ‘Jamarats’ (pillars) while a third group believe it to

encompass all of the Haram of Makkah. Nevertheless, considering the different reasons and the apparent

meaning of the related verse, it seems that what is meant by the term is the famous standing place of Prophet

Ibrahim which is a point near the Ka’bah where a stone bearing his footprint lies. Pilgrims pray the tawaf prayer

behind this very place after performing the tawaf.

It has been narrated that when Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail were building the Ka’bah, he couldn’t reach

the top so he put a rock under his feet, and as a result of the pressure exerted from his feet on the stone, an

 imprint of his foot was left on it. There is also another narration that says that when Prophet Ibrahim visited his

son Ismail, Ismail’s wife asked him to bend down so she could shake off the dust from his head and face and

 wash his feet. He put his right foot on a rock for her to do so, leaving a footprint there.

Detailed Answer

In Makkah and around the Masjidul-Haram, clear signs of the worship of Allah (swt) can be seen. The

continuation and preservation of these signs throughout history against strong enemies who had the thought of

destroying them in mind, is one of Allah's (swt) miracles. Signs of the great Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) have

 remained there such as the spring of Zamzam, Safa, Marwa, the Rukn, Hatim, the Hajarul-Aswad and the Hijr of

Ismail, which are all embodiments of history and past eras.

Amongst these clear signs is the Maqam or ‘Standing Place’ of Ibrahim. It is said that in Arabic, ‘maqam’ refers

to where the two feet of a person are situated when standing.[1] Since it is said that it is the place that Prophet

 Ibrahim stood when building the Ka’bah or when performing the Hajj rituals, or when inviting the people to the

straight path, it is called the “Maqam Ibrahim” (standing place of Ibrahim).[2]

There is no one opinion regarding its tafsir and interpretation. There are several in which we will point to some

of:

a) Some believe that all of Hajj’s rituals from the beginning to the end are the “Maqam Ibrahim”.

b) Some say that it isn't all of the rituals, but some of them, such as: “Arafah”, “Mash’arul-Haram” and the three “Jamarat” (Pillars).

c) Some say it is all of the haram of Makkah

d) Although all of the above all remind us of the courage and sacrifices of Prophet Ibrahim, nevertheless, considering the reasons we will list and the apparent meaning of the verse that contains the term, it seems that it is only referring to the famous standing place of the prophet, which is the point next to the Kabah. There is a special rock there with the footprint of Prophet Ibrahim on it. Pilgrims pray the tawaf prayer close to the Maqam after performing the tawaf (circumbulance) around the Kabah.[3]

Hadiths have been narrated from reliable sources that corroborate this last opinion, here are a few:

In the book of Kafi, Imam Sadiq (as) has explained the phrase “فیه آیات بینات” like such: “One of them (the clear signs) is Maqam Ibrahim in which Ibrahim stood upon, leaving a footprint in the stone, the other being the Hajarul-Aswad and the third being the Hijr of Ismail.”[4]

Ibrahim Teymi says: “Imam Sadiq (as) leaned against me and said: “O Ibrahim! Do you want to know the rewards of your tawaf? I said: May I be your ransom, yes! He said: “Whosoever visits the house of God and circulates around it seven times and prays two rak’ats at the Maqam Ibrahim, will be rewarded ten thousand blessings and his rank will be raised by ten thousand levels…”.[5]

By focusing on these two hadiths, one can conclude that what is meant by Maqam Ibrahim is the famous standing place of Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) in which pilgrims pray two rak’ats behind after finishing the tawaf of the Ka’bah.

Fakhr Razi has also argued for this same claim (that the term refers to the famous standing place only) through different reasons, namely:

1- It has been narrated that when Jaber finished his tawaf, he went towards the Maqam and recited the verse

و اتخذوا من مقام ابراهیم مصلی”. This shows that what is meant by the Maqam, is the famous place.[6]

2- The term is used for the famous place amongst the Makkans themselves, because if you ever ask them to show you the Maqam, they will show you the famous place.

3- (As was pointed to before the verse speaks of it being one of the clear signs and) Prophet Ibrahim leaving a footprint in stone is a clear sign for the oneness of Allah (swt) and is a miracle of the prophet. Therefore, if we call this area the Maqam and standing place of Ibrahim, it is better than to call another place by it [because this area contains a miracle and is a sign, making the verse that says it is a sign apply to it, as opposed to other places that don’t contain a clear sign and miracle].

4- Allah (swt) orders us (in the verse) to take the Maqam as a place of prayer. At the same time, no other part of the Haram of Makkah (except for the famous place known as the Maqam) is specifically associated with worship, therefore only this place must be the Maqam.

5- The Maqam of Ibrahim is where he would stand up and it has been proven through hadiths that (according to one narration) this stone is where he stood while washing his feet, while it hasn’t been proven that he stood anywhere else (In other words, the only place hadiths speak of him standing is this place, so it must be the Maqam of Ibrahim).[7]

Therefore, the Maqam of Ibrahim is a stone in which bears the footprint of Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh). There are many hadiths that the original stone in which he would stand on to erect the walls of the Ka’bah is located underground, at the same point and area in which is called the Maqam today and that the standing place of Ibrahim is next to the area in which the tawaf takes place, across from the Multazim side of the Ka’bah.[8]



[1] Ibn Mandhur, Lisanul-Arab, vol. 12, pg. 498.

[2] Naser Makarem Shirazi, Tafsir Nemouneh, vol. 3, pg. 15 (with some alteration).

[3] Abu Abdillah Fakhruddin Muhammad ibn Umar Razi, Mafatihul-Gheib, vol. 4, pg. 44; Naser Makarem Shirazi, Tafsir Nemouneh, vol. 1, pg. 448 (with alteration).

[4] Kuleini, Kafi, vol. 4, pg. 223.

[5] Ibn Fahd Hilli, Uddatul-Da’i, pg. 192.

[6] Muhammad Baqir Majlisi, Biharul-Anwar, vol. 21, pg. 403; Sahih uslim (chapter of Hajj, Hadith 147) quoted by Ibn Kathir Dameshqi; Ismail ibn Amr, Tafsirul-Quranil-Adhim, vol. 1, pg. 293.

[7] Abu Abdillah Fakhruddin Muhammad ibn Umar Razi, Mafatihul-Gheib, vol. 4, pg. 44.

[8] Muhammad Husein Tabatabai, Al-Mizan (Farsi translation), vol. 3, pg. 546, translator:Seyyid Muhammad Baqir Musawi Hamedani.

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