Historic Jeddah is situated on the eastern shore of the Red Sea. From the 7th century AD it was established as a major port for Indian Ocean trade routes, channelling goods to Mecca. It was also the gateway for Muslim pilgrims to Mecca who arrived by sea. These twin roles saw the city develop into a thriving multicultural centre, characterized by a distinctive architectural tradition, including tower houses built in the late 19th century by the city’s mercantile elites, and combining Red Sea coastal coral building traditions with influences and crafts from along the trade routes.
Mecca (/ˈmɛkə/; Arabic: مكة), also transliterated Makkah (pronounced [ˈmæk.kæ]), is a city in the Hejaz in Saudi Arabia. It is the capital of that kingdom’s Makkah Region. The city is located 70 km (43 mi) inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of 277 m (909 ft) above sea level. Its resident population in 2012 was roughly 2 million, although visitors more than triple this number every year during the hajj (“pilgrimage”) period held in the twelfth Muslim lunar month of Dhu al-Hijjah.
As the birthplace of Muhammad and the site of Muhammad’s first revelation of the Quran (specifically, a cave 3 km (2 mi) from Mecca), Mecca is regarded as the holiest city in the religion of Islam and a pilgrimage to it known as the Hajj is obligatory for all able Muslims. Mecca is home to the Kaaba, by majority description Islam’s holiest site, as well as being the direction of Muslim prayer. Mecca was long ruled by Muhammad’s descendants, the sharifs, acting either as independent rulers or as vassals to larger polities. It was conquered by Ibn Saud in 1925. In its modern period, Mecca has seen tremendous expansion in size and infrastructure, home to structures such as the Abraj Al Bait, also known as the Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel, the world’s third tallest building and the building with the largest amount of floor area. During this expansion, Mecca has lost some historical structures and archaeological sites, such as the Ajyad Fortress. Today, more than 15 million Muslims visit Mecca annually, including several million during the few days of the Hajj. As a result, Mecca has become one of the most cosmopolitan and diverse cities in the Muslim world, despite the fact that non-Muslims are prohibited from entering the city.
The Well of Zamzam (or the Zamzam Well, or just Zamzam; Arabic: زمزم) is a well located within the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, 20 m (66 ft) east of the Kaaba, the holiest place in Islam. According to Islamic belief, it is a miraculously-generated source of water from God, which began thousands of years ago when Abraham’s (Ibrāhīm) infant son Ishmael (ʼIsmāʻīl) was thirsty and kept crying for water. Millions of pilgrims visit the well each year while performing the Hajj or Umrah pilgrimages, in order to drink its water.
Mount Arafat or Mount Arafah (Arabic: جبل عرفات transliterated Jabal ‘Arafāt) is a granite hill east of Mecca in the plain of Arafat. Arafat is a plain about 20 km Southeast of Mecca. Mount Arafat reaches about 70 m in height and also known as the Mount of Mercy (Jabal ar-Rahmah). According to Islamic tradition, the hill is the place where the Islamic prophet Muhammad stood and delivered the Farewell Sermon to the Muslims who had accompanied him for the Hajj towards the end of his life. On the 9th of the month of Dhu al-Hijjah pilgrims go to Arafat from Mina, for the most important part of the Hajj. Here the Khutbah of Hajj is narrated and Zuhr prayer and Asr prayer are prayed together. The pilgrims spend the whole day on `Arafah supplicating to Allah to forgive their sins and praying for personal strength in the future.
Safa & Marwa hills:
Al-Safa and Al-Marwah (Safa and Marwah) (Arabic: الصفا Aṣ-Ṣafā, المروة al-Marwah) are two small hills now located in the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia between which Muslims travel back and forth seven times during the ritual pilgrimages of Hajj and Umrah.
In Islamic tradition, Ibrahim (Abraham) was commanded by God to leave his wife Hajar (Hagar) and their infant son alone in the desert between Al-Safa and Al-Marwah with only basic provisions to test their faith. When their provisions were exhausted, Hagar went in search of help or water. To make her search easier and faster, she went alone, leaving the infant Ismail (Ishmael) on the ground.
She first climbed the nearest hill, Al-Safa, to look over the surrounding area. When she saw nothing, she then went to the other hill, Al-Marwah, to look around. While Hagar was on either hillside, she was able to see Ismael and know he was safe. However, when she was in the valley between the hills she was unable to see her son, and would thus run whilst in the valley and walk at a normal pace when on the hillsides. Hagar travelled back and forth between the hills seven times in the scorching heat before returning to her son. When she arrived, she found that a spring had broken forth from where the Angel Jibreel hit the ground with his wing. This spring is now known as the Zamzam Well, and was revealed by the angel of God as both sustenance and a reward for Hagar’s patience.
Hira (Arabic: حراء Ḥirāʾ ) or the Cave of Hira (غار حراء Ġār Ḥirāʾ ) is a cave about 3 kilometres (2 mi) from Mecca, on the mountain named Jabal al-Nour in the Hejaz region of present-day Saudi Arabia.
It is notable for being the location where Muslims believe Muhammad received his first revelations from God through the angel Jebril (Arabic: جِبرِيل ) (alternatively spelled Jabraeel, جبرائيل , as is pronounced in certain Quran recitation schools and some Arab tribes). To Christians, Jebril is known as Gabriel and to Jews as Gavri’el.
Taking 600 steps to reach, the cave itself is about 3.7 m (12 ft) in length and 1.60 m (5 ft 3 in) in width. The cave is situated at a height of 270 m (890 ft). During the Hajj, around 5,000 Muslims climb up to the Hira cave daily to see the place where Muhammad is believed to have received the first revelation of the Quran on the Night of Power. Muslims do not typically consider seeing the cave an integral part of the pilgrimage. Nonetheless many visit it for reasons of personal pleasure and spirituality, and though some consider it a place of worship, this view conflicts with Salafist interpretations of Islamic scripture. — while the Cave of Hira is an important place to know in the Al-sīra (prophetic biography) it is not considered as holy as other sites in Mecca (for example, the Masjid Al-Haram) and so under most interpretations of Islam, the same reward is received for praying here as any other place in Mecca.
Jabal-Al-Nour Prophet Mohammad received the first verses of Holy Quran:
The Prophet was born in Mecca in August 570 AD. He was given the name Muhammad, which means, the praised one. When the Prophet was over thirty years of age, love of God began to possess him more and more. Revolting against the polytheism and the many vices of the people of Mecca, he chose regularly to meditate in a cave two or three miles away. When he was forty years of age he received his first revelation. In these, the first verses of the Qur’an (96:2- 6), he was commanded to proclaim the name of One God Allah, Who has made man and sowed the seed of His own love and that of fellow man in his nature; and it was foretold that the world would be taught all kind of knowledge through the pen. These verses constitute an epitome of the Qur’an.
It is the mountain that contains Thour cave, in which Messenger of Allah (Peace of Allah be up on him) and his companion AI Sideeq spent three days during their flee from Makkah to AI Madinah. This mountain is in the southern direction of Makkah and its height is about 761 meters above sea level.
The Stoning of the Devil (Arabic: رمي الجمرات ramī aj-jamarāt, lit. “stoning of the jamarāt [place of pebbles]”) is part of the annual Islamic Hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Muslim pilgrims fling pebbles at three walls (formerly pillars), called jamarāt, in the city of Mina just east of Mecca. It is one of a series of ritual acts that must be performed in the Hajj.
On Eid al-Adha (the 10th day of the month of Dhu al-Hijjah), pilgrims must strike only one of the large jamrah with seven pebbles. After the stoning is completed on the day of Eid, every pilgrim must cut or shave their hair. On each of the following two days, they must hit each of the three walls with seven pebbles, going in order from east to west. Thus at least 49 pebbles are needed for the ritual, more if some throws miss. Some pilgrims stay at Mina for an additional day, in which case they must again stone each wall seven times again. The pebbles used in the stoning are traditionally gathered at Muzdalifah, a plain southeast of Mina, on the night before the first throwing, but can also be collected at Mina.
The stay at Muzdalifah is preceded by a day at Arafat, consisting of glorifying Allah, repeating the Supplication, and repentance to Allah and asking Him for forgiveness. In Arafat, one must recite the Zuhr and ‘Asr prayers in a combined and abbreviated form during the time of Zuhr. After sunset on the ninth day of the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah, pilgrims travel to Muzdalifah, sometimes arriving at night because of over-crowding.
At Muzdalifah, pilgrims collect pebbles (21, because seven are thrown at each of the three pillars) which will be thrown in the Stoning of the Devil ritual in Mina during the next three or four days. Pilgrims then spend the night at Muzdalifah, often sleeping in the open air, before leaving for Mina the next morning.
Mina’ The ‘Tent City’:
Mina (also known as the Tent City) is a neighborhood of Mecca in Makkah Province, in western Saudi Arabia. It is situated 5 kilometers to the east of the Holy city of Mecca, and stands on the road from Mecca’s city center to the Hill of Arafat. It covers an area of approximately 20 km².
Mina is best known for the role it plays during the annual Hajj pilgrimage. More than 100,000 air-conditioned tents provide temporary accommodation to visiting pilgrims. The Teflon-coated tents are constructed to withstand temperatures of up to 700 degrees Celsius. In the valley of Mina is the Jamarat Bridge, the location of the ritual of the Stoning of the Devil, performed between sunrise and sunset on the last day of the Hajj. Mina is the place where pilgrims throw stones, commemorating the occasion that the Prophet Ibrâhîm (Abraham) stoned the Devil that came between him and the command Allah had set him. Many pilgrims at Ḥajj walk around the Ka`bah seven times, then visit the Well of Zamzam. Usually, they spend their first night in the Valley of Mina. This ritual occurs from the eighth to the twelfth day of the Ḥajj. At Mina, men and women are not allowed to sleep together.
The Masjid al-Ḥarām (Arabic: المسجد الحرام, literally “the sacred mosque”), also called the Sacred Mosque, and the Grand Mosque or Great Mosque of Mecca, is the largest mosque in the world and surrounds Islam’s holiest place, the Kaaba, in the city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Muslims face in the direction of the Kaaba while performing obligatory daily prayers. One of the Five Pillars of Islam requires every Muslim to perform the Hajj pilgrimage at least once in his or her lifetime if able to do so, including circumambulation of the Kaaba.
The current structure covers an area of 356,800 square metres (88.2 acres) including the outdoor and indoor praying spaces, it is open at all times and during the Hajj period it is the site of one of the largest annual gatherings of people in the world.
The Black Stone (or Hajarul Aswad, Arabic: الحجر الأسود al-Ḥajar al-Aswad) is the eastern cornerstone of the Kaaba, the ancient stone building, located in the center of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is revered by Muslims as an Islamic relic which, according to Muslim tradition, dates back to the time of Adam and Eve.
The stone was venerated at the Kaaba in pre-Islamic pagan times. According to Islamic tradition, it was set intact into the Kaaba’s wall by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the year 605 A.D., five years before his first revelation. Since then it has been broken into a number of fragments and is now cemented into a silver frame in the side of the Kaaba. Its physical appearance is that of a fragmented dark rock, polished smooth by the hands of pilgrims. Islamic tradition holds that it fell from the heaven as a guide for Adam and Eve to build an altar, although it has often been described as a meteorite, a hypothesis, which is now uncertain.
Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba as a part of the tawaf ritual during the hajj and many try to stop and kiss the Black Stone, emulating the kiss that Islamic tradition records as it received from Muhammad
Ta’if (Arabic: الطائف; (aṭ-Ṭā’if)) is a city in Mecca Province of Saudi Arabia at an elevation of 1,879 m (6,165 ft) on the slopes of Sarawat Mountains (Al-Sarawat Mountains). It has a population of 521,273 (2004 census). Each summer the Saudi government and royal family move from the heat of Riyadh to Ta’if, the unofficial summer capital. The city is the centre of an agricultural area known for its grapes, pomegranate, figs, roses and honey.