I have traveled to quite a few countries and have observed the design of the "Mimbar" in mosques. All of the "Mimbar" I come across are made of timber. I understand that during his time, 'Rasulullah' S.A.W had used a 3 stepped wooden box to stand on when he delivers his sermon or 'Qutbah' (Kindly correct me if I am wrong). This, I understand, is the origination of the Mimbar that we have today. The main question is...are there any specific rules of 'hadith' that states that a 'Mimbar' must be made of timber / wood and not some other materials? What is the significance or the hidden meaning behind this? Why can't it be built using local materials or the same materials used on the walls of the mosques?
This question have been haunting me for ages....I need some response to help me clarify this issue.
Azlaini Abdul Aziz
I think its better to check the arabic root of the word itself in Lisan al-Arab/ Ibn Manzhur to see the hidden meaning of the word in arabic. The second step is to check the Sunnah, such as Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim. Check this site: http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/muwatta/014.mmt.html#014.14.4.10, as an example or this section: Section: Taking Oaths on the Mimbar in General Book 36, Number 36.9.12:
Yahya said that Malik had said from Da'ud ibn al-Husayn that he heard Abu Ghatafan ibn Tarif al-Muriyi say, "Zayd ibn Thabit al-Ansari and Ibn Muti had a dispute about a house which they shared. They went to Marwan ibn al-Hakam who was the Amir of Madina. Marwan decided that Zayd ibn Thabit must take an oath on the mimbar. Zayd ibn Thabit said, 'I swear to it where I am.' Marwan said, 'No, by Allah! only in the place of sorting out claims (i.e. the mimbar).' Zayd ibn Thabit began to take an oath that his right was true, and he refused to take an oath near the mimbar. Marwan ibn al-Hakam began to wonder at that."
Malik said, "I do not think that anyone should be made to take an oath near the mimbar for less than a fourth of a dinar, and that is three dirhams."
http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/muwatta/036.mmt.html#036.36.8.10 I hope this will help, however, as you said, may be there is a reason of using this material in particular. I am studying the senses in architecture, and I am sure that this issue was considered by the prophet in using such a specific material, despite the fact that Arabia is not well-known in wood as an architectural material.
Salaam Alekom, my dear, i just want to comment on the wood as a material in making the mimbars, i can say that this material specifically was the commonest one all over the islamic world, but that doesn't prevent of using another materials in making such mimbars, i mean that marble was supplied for this artifacts too, such as the so-called mimbar of the madrassa of Sultan-hassan in cairo. not only that, but also the stone was applied for this artifact. in using the wood specifically, maybe this returned to a "sunna" which the prophet MUHAMMED (peace be upon him) did, and muslims follow him in each of everything, whatever it be small or big. that bases in the accounts of the historians who wrote that the prophet (pbuh) was standing at a wooden trunk of a tree, before the making of the wooden mimbar for him. that perhaps was the reason of spreading the wooden mimbars in the mosques, and as for the marble mimbars, some scholars returned this employment of such material to lest be burnt due to fires. And i have another opinion in this issue, we heard that there were transportable mimbars, which began as far as my knowledge goes when me'aweya ibn abi suffyan built one (also u can correct me if i am wrong). All these were just personal opinions and correctable.
Hi, In Iran also there are some mimbars in old mosques made of stone and contained more than 3 steps .I think it may depends on the grandiosity of the mosque in style and its social altitude. Likewise in Iranian mosque the wooden mimbar generally is the thing which be added to the main praying space and it's not a permanent or fixed element of a mosque. The place of mimbar may changes during the time.