The earth retains the footsteps of whoever walks on it. In this manner, it retains the effects of the actions of those who have stayed on it. Allah Ta’ala has stated: “On that Day she will declare her tidings” (Surah 99 Verse 4). You see, good deeds attract blessings, create a good environment and bring about welfare in life forever. But acts of disobedience incur divine wrath and punishment. If there has been no repentance, then the harmful and polluting effects of our deeds linger, even after the punishment. The harmful effects of reprehensible acts committed by the peoples of Sodom and Gomorrha are well-known. Allah Ta’ala has stated:” So when Our Commandment came, We turned (the town) upside down, and rained on them stones of baked clay, piled up; marked from your Lord, and they are not ever far from evildoers” (Surah 11 Verse 82-83). In this case, Allah Ta’ala has explicitly shown His wrath not only in overturning the whole town, but also in hurling stones over the people who practiced sodomy. One can imagine, in the light of that punishment, what divine revulsion and wrath this type of unnatural deed can bring about! May Allah Ta’ala forgive and protect us! Ameen!
Even after these curses and punishments, the Shariah warns us about the site of that city or even about the use of its earth and water, even centuries after the existence of that people. A narration by Bukhari informs us that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) once passed near the ruins of the Thamood people. “As for Thamood, they were destroyed by the awful cry” (Surah 69 Verse 5). It has been reported, according to Ibn Umar (RA), during the Tabuk campaign, when Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) came down to Hijr (where the ruins of the Thamood people are), he forbade his men from drinking or using water from their well. The companions exclaimed that they had kneaded dough and had even built up a reserve of water. The Prophet (PBUH) ordered them to throw away the dough and let the water flow away. Thus, we find that the earth preserves the effects of deeds performed by those who have lived on it.
Just as the earth retains the negative effects, likewise it also preserves the good effects of pious people or of deeds of piety. Allah Ta’ala has stated about Mecca and its symbols: “Within it are manifest signs, (for example) the place where Abraham (AS) stood.” (Surah 3 Verse 97). According to a hadith narrated by Bukhari, the places must liked by Allah are the mosques. Whereas the spots must disliked by Him are the marketplace. It has been reported that Ibn Umar (RA), a sahabi, used to depart from the place where the Prophet (PBUH) sat. Mujahid (RA) has reported that he had once travelled with Ibn Umar (RA) on a journey, when suddenly the latter left the road to change direction. He asked him why he had done so. The latter replied that the Prophet (PBUH) had done that. It was known that he followed in the footsteps of the Prophet (PBUH) everywhere. And it was not in vain that he was doing that. Because the Sahabah (RA) were the key figures who were the most intelligent and most devout in matters of religions. Once, there was a drainpipe from the house of Abbas (RA) which opened on the way leading to the mosque. But it happened that Umar (RA) passed by that way and the dirty water from the drainpipe soiled his clothes. He ordered that the drainpipe be removed. However, later, Abbas (RA) informed him that the Prophet (PBUH) had himself put it there with his own hands. Hazrat Umar (RA) then told him: “Climb on my back and put it back where the Prophet (PBUH) had placed it.” (Musnad Ahmad). We see therefore the importance which the Sahabah (RA) gave to the places and buildings which the Prophet (PBUH) had known. By the way, Hajj rites recall the trail followed by Ibrahim (AS). The track between Safa and Marwa, including the hurried walk between the green lights, was the way followed by Hajrah (AS) at that time.
All the footsteps of the Prophet (PBUH) are considered as ziyarats.
By the way, the places where the Prophet (PBUH)’s footsteps have passed are all ziyarats. Once, Ibn Umar (RA) made his riding animal turn in several directions. He explained that he wanted his animal to walk in the track followed by the Prophet’s (PBUH) animal. The Prophet (PBUH) used to say: “Ibn Umar (RA) is a man with a big potential. “ (Bukhari). Hazrat Ayesha (RA) has stated that, among the Sabhaba (RA), Ibn Umar (RA) was the one who has by far copied the actions of the Prophet (PBUH). (Hayaatus Sahabah (RA) of Al-Khandlawi). Hazrat Ibn Umar (RA) used to rest under a tree on the way leading to Mecca. He then used to water the tree to keep it alive. He thus wanted to always rest under that tree because the Prophet (PBUH) had rested there. Hence, the meaning conveyed to us by these accounts is that not only must we follow the example of the Prophet (PBUH) but we must also ensure that we continue to follow it, hence the need to preserve it. It is therefore advisable to those proceeding to Mecca and Madinah to seek the places where the Prophet (PBUH) had been or where he had left a trace. One must go there to gather spiritual benefits by performing two rakaats of prayer or Allah’s zikr or by sending dourouds on the Prophet (PBUH).
After these places, one can proceed to other ziyarats. Places like Uhud, Badr, Khaibar, Khandaq, Baqee, etc are recommended for ziyarats. Are also recommended the Mosque of Quba, Jum’uah, Ghamamah, Souqya, Fatah, Qiblatain, Fadeeh, Banu Quraizah, Bani Zafar, Jinn (in Mecca), Zubaab, etc. It is a matter for regret that such symbols and such sources of spirituality have been expressly removed. They are nevertheless an asset and an international heritage for every Muslim. On what ground have such blessed localities been obliterated? May Allah grant us an understanding thereof! Ameen!
Let us avoid acts of an extreme nature (such as taking samples of earth or introducing innovations) and let us perform good deeds such as reading of the Koran, the performance of Nafil Salaats, the recitation of dourouds, etc in order to preserve these ziyarat places for posterity.