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Taif once attempted to lynch Prophet Muhammed, now produces Roses to wash Holy Kaaba

The Taif Rose Festival, in its second edition, set a Guinness World Record for the biggest basket of roses. Read More

Thursday December 29, 2022 8:09 PM, Zohair M Safwan, ummid.com

Taif once attempted to lynch Prophet Muhammed, now produces Roses to wash Holy Kaaba

Those living in the Indian Subcontinent came to know more about “lynching” only after 2014 when the present dispensation came to power in New Delhi and a frequent cases of lynching and attempted lynching came to light.

Islam and Muslims however are not unfamiliar with such attacks. In fact, one of the most infamous case chronicled in the history is “attempted lynching” of Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him) in Taif - a city in western Saudi Arabia now famous as the City of Roses..

Taif Then

It was 619 AD – The Year of Grief. The Prophet had lost two of his strongest supporters and sources of comfort, his wife, Khadijah, and his uncle, Abu Talib.

Makkah remained harsh, cruel and unforgiving for him. The persecution of Muslims by the leaders of Quraysh was at its peak. The Prophet hence decided to take the message of oneness of Allah – The Almighty, and preach Islam beyond Makkah. Located 50 miles from his birthplace, Taif was the Prophet’s obvious choice.

Taif Mountains

He trekked from Makkah to Taif in hopes that people there are wise and they will indeed believe and accept the message of Islam. On reaching Taif, the Prophet met the chiefs of Banu Thaqif, the major tribe in the city, and urged them to leave idol worship and embrace Islam. They not only refused to accept the Prophet’s call but also unleashed a group that pelted stones on him with such an intensity as if to lynch him in broad day light.

The Prophet was accompanied by Zayd bin Harithah (RA) in his journey from Makkah to Taif. Both of them were wounded by the stones thrown at them. Their feet, and so the land of Taif, were covered in blood.


Bleeding and rejected, the Prophet (peace be upon him) rested on a rock and prayed to Allah. He (peace was so compassionate and merciful; he did not ask Allah to punish the people of Taif or to execute revenge against them.

Historical accounts in fact confirms that Angel Jibreel came to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) at that moment and told him if he wished, Allah could order an angel to collapse the two mountains surrounding the people of Taif and crush them.

But instead of seeking revenge against the people of Taif, what the Prophet said to Angel Jibreel has been recorded in the history in these golden words:

“I rather hope that Allah will raise from among their descendants people who will worship Allah the One, and will not ascribe partners to Him.”

Allah, The Almighty, did not disappoint his beloved Prophet. Taif today has a population of 1,200,000 people, predominantly Muslim.

Taif Now

A predominantly Muslim city, Taif is the summer capital of Saudi Arabia. It is known for its grapes, pomegranate, figs, roses, and honey. Anyone living in Saudi Arabia loves to visit Taif for its cooler weather and the beautiful scenery of its mountains.

Taif's favourable climate makes it home to nearly a thousand rose farms, with aromatic blossoms stretching from Wadi Mahram to Al-Hada. First, the rose bushes blossom in the valley of Wadi Mahram, then higher up in Al Hada, and finally at 2,500 meters in Al Shafa, the mountains to the south of the city.

Every spring roses bloom in Taif, approximately 300 million blooms every year, turning pockets of the Kingdom’s vast desert landscape a vivid and fragrant pink. This is perhaps why the city of Taif organises a number of festivals themed around roses.

Rose Petals

Also once a year, a corner of the city’s vibrant Al Rudaf Park transforms into a rose village. In this stunning setting, dances, plays and exhibitions are devoted to roses, alongside displays from rose farmers and producers, while parts of the park are carpeted in the flowers.

The Taif Rose Festival, in its second edition, set a Guinness World Record for the biggest basket of roses. The basket consisted of 84,450 assorted roses, which took more than 168 hours of work, and 190 young men and women from Taif contributed to making it.

Every spring, farmers head to the fields to harvest beautiful rose petals. Once the hand-picked blooms are gathered in baskets, they are taken to local distilleries where the flowers are sorted, weighed and distilled in giant copper alembics. The perfumed oil has become popular among the millions of Muslims who visit the Kingdom for Umrah and Hajj. The same is then also used to cleanse the walls of the sacred Kaaba in Makkah.

"The life cycle of the Taif’s roses begins in December of each year, when farmers return to care for their fields and bushes. After 55 days, their scent mixes with the fragrant lush juniper trees in the gardens’ paths. The rich colors of nature mix, announcing the season of picking rose petals in the same time early spring of every year. They are then transported in bushels to Taif’s rose oil extraction factories."

A few centuries ago Taif rose petals were not distilled in the city. Instead, they were gathered and transported by camel caravan to the Muslim Holy City of Makkah where artisanal Indian distillers were responsible for gently pressing the flowers and extracting the precious oil.

Wardh Taifi

In Taif there is a rose variant called Rosa Damascena Trigintipetala – better known as Wardh Taifi. It remains a mystery how the 30-petal Wardh Taifi arrived in Taif. With similarities to the famous Bulgarian Kazanlik rose, some say it was brought to Saudi Arabia by the Ottoman Turks, who once ruled a vast empire over much of the Arabian peninsula. Others claim that it came from the Persian rose plantations around Shiraz and Kashan, or India.

Regardless of how it arrived in the highlands of Saudi Arabia, there are few aromas as revered in the Islamic world.

Flower of Heaven

The precious essence of Taif rose is intertwined with Islamic culture, most notably in the twice-yearly ceremonial washing of the Holy Kaaba in the Grand Mosque of Makkah, which uses the highest-quality rose oil.

During the Hajj, the Kiswah is sprinkled with rose water, and also according to the belief, upon conquering Istanbul in 1453, Sultan Mehmet II had the Aya Sophia washed with rose water before converting it into a mosque.

Flower of Heaven

In Islam, the rose is known as the Flower of Heaven. Some perceive roses as symbols of the human soul so, the beautiful scent of the rose is associated with spirituality.

Revered 11th century Persian Physician Ibn Sina was one of the first scientists to emphasize the therapeutic effect of the rose scent on the heart and brain. He wrote:

“Because of its exquisite fragrance, the rose addresses the soul.”

Because Taif rose is so exceptionally rare – with anywhere between 10,000 and 15,000 hand-picked roses creating just a small vial of oil – it is the ultimate gesture to honour a guest with a dab on their wrist or bestow a newly-married couple with a vial as a wedding gift.

The countries like Morocco, Syria, India and France, grow and harvest the Damask rose in much larger quantities than Taif, growing in thousands of farms. Still, Taif’s ‘humble’ amount of roses produces the valued rose water (used in cooking, tea and coffee) and rose oil used in perfume.

Even though the city of Taif is miles away from France, the phrase 'La Vie en Rose' can express the beauty and joy that Taif roses illuminate. A joy that must be experienced at least once in a lifetime.

[With inputs from Saudi Gazette and Bayt Al Fann (@BaytAlFann)]

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