The Hijr (Enclosure) of Isma`il, peace and blessings be upon him, encompasses the place between the northern and the western corners of the Ka`bah. Its floor is covered with marble and it covers about 17 cubits. It has two doors one to the eastern side of 5 cubits; and another to the western side of 7 cubits. There is an outlet for water beneath the stones of the Enclosure.
There are many Hadiths showing the excellence of the Enclosure. `Urwah reported that `A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said: “I really do not care whether to pray in the Enclosure or inside the Ka`bah.” It is a part of the Ka`bah as shown by `A’ishah.
Ibn Abu `Alqamah reported from his father that `A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said: “I used to enter the Ka`bah to pray therein. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, once took my hand and entered the Enclosure and said: ‘Pray in it if you want to pray in the Ka`bah, for it is part of the Ka`bah but your people did not build it when they rebuilt the Ka`bah.’”
`Abdullah Ibn Safwan reported that the grave of Isma`il is in the Enclosure. He reported that Ibn Az-Zubair dug the ground of the Enclosure and found some green stones therein. When he asked Quraish about them, no one gave him a satisfying answer. He asked Ibn Safwan who said to him: “This is the grave of Isma`il, peace and blessings be upon him, and do not you ever move it. So, he let it as it is.”
The Enclosure was just made of stones but when the Commander of the Faithful then saw it, he said: “I will never sleep until the Enclosure is covered with marble.” Later, Caliph Al-Mahdi renewed its marble and covered it with white, green and red marbles. Afterwards, it was broken and the emir of Makkah, `Abdullah Ibn Dawud Ibn `Isa renewed it.
The Enclosure has been a focus of interest and care of the successive kings, emirs and commanders of the Faithful. The Abbaside Caliph An-Nasir renewed it in 576, the Abbaside Caliph Al-Mustansir in 631, King Muzaffar of Yemen in 659, King Muhammad Ibn Qalawun in 720, King `Ali Ibn Al-Ashraf in 781, King Az-Zahir Barquq in 801, King Qansouh Al-Ghuri in 916, Sultan Qaitbay in 888 and Sultan `Abdul-Majid Khan in 1260.
Sitting Inside The Enclosure
Ibn Juraij reported that he used to sit with Ibn `Abbas inside the Enclosure. `Abdul Muttalib, the Prophet’s grandfather, had a rug that was stretched in the Enclosure and no one could ever sit on it except the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. As the Prophet tried, while still young, to sit in his grandfather’s place, the people tried to prevent him but `Abdul Muttalib said: “Leave my son, for he is honored. I hope he will achieve as honor and dignity as no one from among the Arabs has ever achieved.”
`A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, reported the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, as having said: “If I had money, I would have extended the Ka`bah and included the Enclosure in it and made another door for people.”
Also, Sa`id Ibn Jubair reported that `A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, asked the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, to open the door of Ka`bah for her during night and thus `Uthman Ibn Talha brought the key to the Messenger of Allah and said: “O Messenger of Allah! It (The Ka`bah) has never been opened during night so do not open it.” The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, turned to `A’ishah and said: “When your people rebuilt the Ka`bah, they ran short of money and thus left some of it (un-built); that is the Enclosure. So, go and pray therein.”