Jabal al-Thawr (Arabic: جبل ثور) is the mountain containing the cave in which the Prophet (ﷺ) and Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) sought refuge for three days and nights from the Quraysh. This occurred when they secretly left Makkah to emigrate to Madinah.
Arriving at the cave of al-Thawr
- When the Prophet (ﷺ) and Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) arrived at the cave in Jabal al-Thawr (Ghar al-Thawr), Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) entered first to clear away anything that might injure the Prophet (ﷺ). He found a few holes and stuffed them with pieces of cloth. The Prophet (ﷺ) then entered and went to sleep on Abu Bakr’s (رضي الله عنه) lap.
- Suddenly, something stung Abu Bakr’s (رضي الله عنه) foot, but he did not twitch, fearing he would wake the Prophet (ﷺ). The pain was so intense that tears began to run down his cheeks and onto the Prophet’s (ﷺ) face. The Prophet (ﷺ) woke up and saw that Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) was in pain. He applied his spittle on the injury and the pain disappeared.
Staying in the cave
- For three consecutive nights the Prophet (ﷺ) and Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) remained hidden in the cave. During this period, Abu Bakr’s (رضي الله عنه) son, Abdullah, would pass his nights nearby. The young man would return to Makkah very early in the morning so that the Quraysh had no idea that he had slept elsewhere. Each day in Makkah he collected information about the activities of the Quraysh, and each night went back to Jabal al-Thawr to inform the Prophet (ﷺ) and his father Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه).
- Abu Bakr’s (رضي الله عنه) slave, Amir bin Fuhayra (رضي الله عنه), would graze Abu Bakr’s (رضي الله عنه) goats near the cave so that both men could drink fresh milk. Early the next morning Amir would drive the goats back to Makkah along the same route that Abu Bakr’s (رضي الله عنه) son took, to obscure his footprints.
Allah’s help and protection
- When they were inside Allah (ﷻ) sent a spider to spin a web from a bush across the entrance to the cave. Allah (ﷻ) also commanded two doves to fly down between the spider and the tree, make a nest and lay eggs. Meanwhile the Quraysh search party scoured the area south of Makkah where the Prophet (ﷺ) and Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) where hiding. They came upon the mouth of the cave, and had they looked down while standing at the edge of the cave, they would have surely found the men they were hunting.
- With the Quraysh so close to discovering their hiding place, Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) became very tense about the Prophet’s (ﷺ) safety. The Prophet (ﷺ) reassured him, “How can you be apprehensive about two with whom is a third, especially when the third one is Allah?”
- On seeing the spider’s web and dove nest, the Quraysh concluded that no one could have entered the cave and left. Describing this scene the Quran mentions in Surah Taubah: “If ye help not (your leader), (it is no matter): for Allah did indeed help him, when the Unbelievers drove him out: he had no more than one companion; they two were in the cave, and he said to his companion, “Have no fear, for Allah is with us”: then Allah sent down His peace upon him, and strengthened him with forces which ye saw not, and humbled to the depths the word of the Unbelievers. But the word of Allah is exalted to the heights: for Allah is Exalted in might, Wise.“ [9:40]
Heading out to Madinah
- After three days when they learnt that the search by the Quraysh had petered out they left the cave and headed towards Yathrib (Madinah). Asma (رضي الله عنها), the daughter of Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) came to them bringing food for the journey. When they were about to start she could find nothing to tie it to their saddles and so she undid her waistband, tore it in two, wore half and tied the food with the other half. This ready solution won her praise from the Prophet (ﷺ) who also named her ‘She of the two waistband’. And after that the Muslims knew her by that name.
- The entrance to the cave is wider than it was in the past. In approximately 800 AH (1858 CE) a man got stuck in it, and the opening had to be enlarged in order to free him.
- Jabal al-Thawr is located about 4km south of Makkah.
References: When the Moon Split – Shaikh Safiur-Rahman Mubarakpuri, The Life of Muhammad (ﷺ) – Tahia Al-Ismail