Makkah Al Mukarramah (also translated in English as Mecca) is one of the two holiest places or cities of Islam, situated in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Makkah is the capital of Makkah Province in Saudi Arabia, a birth place of Muhammad (peace be upon him) the last prophet of Allah, the all mighty. The city is located 70 km (43 miles) inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of 277 m (909 ft) above sea level. Its resident population is roughly 2 million, (2012 data), although visitors more than triple this number every year during Hajj period held in the twelfth Muslim lunar month of Zul Hijjah.
As the birthplace of prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and a site of Muhammad's (peace be upon him) first revelation of the Holy Quran (the site in specificity being a cave called Hira, 3.2 km (2 mi) from Makkah), Makkah is regarded as the holiest city in Islam and a pilgrimage to it known as the Hajj is obligatory for all able Muslims. Makkah is home to the Kaaba, by majority description Islam's holiest site, as well as being the direction of Muslim prayer (Salaat). Makkah was long ruled by Muhammad's (peace be upon him) descendants, acting either as independent rulers or as vassals to larger polities. It was became Saudi Arabia in 1925. In its modern period, Makkah 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. Due to this expansion, Makkaha has lost some historical structures and archaeological sites, such as the Ajyad Fortress. Today, more than 15 million Muslims visit Makkah annually, including several million during the few days of the Hajj. As a result, Makkah has become one of the most cosmopolitan and diverse cities in the Muslim world. In Makkah, non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the city as this is one of the holiest cities of Islam.
In its long history Makkah has also been known as Bakkah. In ancient times, Makkah was chiefly notable as a staging post on the trade route linking the spice producers of the east with Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean. Makkah lay about midway between Marib, one of the main cities, perhaps the capital, of the kingdom of Sheba (Yemen) and Petra (in Jordan), a city founded by Nabatean Arabs around the 6th century CE and which became a thriving center with commercial interests spreading into Syria. The religious significance of Makkah was established long before Islamic times. It was in Makkah that Allah commanded Ibrahim to leave Haajar and his young son Ishmael; it was in Makkah that Allah brought forth water from the Well of Zamzam which saved the life of Ismael and his mother and then allowed Makkah to develop as a habitable place. It was in Makkah that Allah instructed Ibrahim to build "the House of God" (the Holy Kaaba). As a result, from earliest times, Makkah became a place of pilgrimage and, although as centuries passed the pure faith of the Prophet Ibrahim became corrupted by idolatry and paganism, Makkah retained its hold on the minds of men as a place where men should worship. When Makkah came under the control of the Quraysh tribe, it was a noted trading center, a place for pilgrimage and the site of festivals chiefly remarkable for intensely fought poetry competitions and the excessive behavior of the idolators.
The Prophet Muhammad(peace be upon him) was born in Makkah in 570 CE. When, following revelations, Muhammad The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) opposed the paganism of the Makkan establishment and began to spread the word of Islam, he was forced by the Makkans to leave the city. He went to Madinah which proved more receptive to his understanding of the will of God. In 630 CE, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) returned to Makkah, taking the city without resistance and purging it of all elements of idolatry. He cleared the Kaaba of the 360 "gods" within, dedicating the Kaaba once more to the pure worship of the one and only God, and establishing Makkah as a place of pilgrimage for all Muslims. From that time, the Holy City of Makkah has been the heart of the Muslim world. It grew in importance as Islam spread and, for the most part, retained a large degree of independence. When the seat of Muslim power moved to Damascus and then later to Iraq under the Abassid Caliphate, Makkah acknowledged each in turn. In 1269 CE, the Mamluk Sultans from Egypt asserted their power over Makkah. And in 1517 CE, the Turks under the Ottomans in Constantinople held sway over the Holy City. Nevertheless, throughout these great shifts in power in the region, the descendants of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) remained the local rulers of Makkah. When the Ottoman Empire collapsed at the end of the First World War, Abdul Aziz Al Saud (Ibn Saud) came out of central Arabia, the Najd, and, armed with a deep commitment to the pure form of Islam, took control of Makkah, accepting guardianship of the Holy Sites as a prime responsibility of the Kingdom he founded, the modern state of Saudi Arabia.
The rites of the Hajj were laid down by Allah to mark historic events in the life of Prophet Ibrahim, which show his absolute and total submission to the will of Allah. Allah commanded the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham), on one of his visits to see Haajar and Ishmael, to build the House of God (the Holy Kaaba). With the help of his son Ishmael, Ibrahim built the House of God on the ground where the Kaaba stands to this day.
The Archangel Gabriel brought from Paradise a stone, known as the Black Stone (Al-Hajar Al-Aswad), which was set into one corner of the Kaaba.
The birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is located in Suq al-Layl Street. If you leave al Masjid al Haram near Safa, the site of the Prophet's birthplace is a little less than half a kilometer away. Today, the site is a school and library.
Makkah is the blessed city which is the most beloved land in the sight of Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) and the chosen location of His House. It was here that the final prophet and guide of the whole of mankind, Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him), was born and commenced his Prophethood. The city has been transformed to a modern and facilitated place where millions of Muslims perform Hajj and Umrah every year. The number of visiting Muslims has growing every year. Makkah city expansion plan is underway and after completion the number of visitor to this holy city may double within five to ten years of period.
*Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) has called Makkah by five names in the Quran: Makkah, Bakkah, Al-Balad, Al-Qaryah and Ummul-Qura.
In Surah Al-Imran, Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) states:“Verily, the first House (of worship) appointed for mankind was that at Bakkah (Makkah), full of blessing, and a guidance for Al-Alamin (mankind and jinn).” [3:96]
*When the Muslims conquered Makkah, The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said,“Allah had made this city sacred the day He created the heavens and the earth and it’s sanctity shall remain until the Day of Qiyaamah (Day of Judgement). Its thorns cannot be broken, its animals cannot be harmed and things fallen on its ground cannot be picked up unless with the intention of returning it to its owner or making public announcements (to locate the owner). It is also forbidden to cut the grass that (naturally) grows here.” [Al Muslim]
*The reward of prayer offered in Masjid al-Haram is multiplied many times. Jabir bin Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said:
“A prayer in in this mosque of mine is better than one thousand prayers anywhere else, except for Al-Masjid Al- Haram. A prayer in Al-Masjid Al-Haram is better than one hundred thousand prayers (anywhere else).” [Ahmad]
*The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him), sitting on his camel in the Al-Hazwarah market, addressed Makkah saying, “By Allah, you are the best land of Allah, the most beloved land of Allah to Allah. Had I not been driven out of you, I would not have left you.” [Zaadul Ma’aad]
*The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) once remarked: “There is no city in which Dajjal will be unable to enter besides Makkah and Madinah. Every street will be lined with angels standing in rows to protect them.” [Bukhari]
*In the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him), camel caravans were a major part of Makkah’s bustling economy. Alliances were struck between the merchants in Makkah and the local nomadic tribes, who would bring goods – leather, livestock, and metals mined in the local mountains – to Makkah to be loaded on the caravans and carried to cities in Syria and Iraq. Historical accounts also provide some indication that goods from other continents may also have flowed through Makkah.
The Ka’bah, also known as Baytullah (The House of Allah) is the first house built for humanity to worship Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He). The small, cubed building may not rival other famous buildings in terms of size but its impact on history and human beings is unmatched. It functions as the Qibla, the direction to which all Muslims pray five times a day.
*Regarding the Ka’bah, Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) mentions in the Quran in Surah Al-Ma’idah: “Allah has made the Ka’bah, the Sacred House, an asylum of security and benefits (e.g., Hajj and Umrah) for mankind.” [5:97]
*The Ka’bah has been built or adjusted on several occasions throughout history. The most famous builders are; the angels who originally constructed it; the first man and prophet, Adam (upon him be peace); Ebrahim (upon him be peace) with the help of his son Ismail (upon him be peace); by the Quraysh during the Jahiliyyah period (this was witnessed by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) when he was 25 years old) and by Abdullah bin Zubair (may Allah be pleased with him) in 65 AH who rebuilt it according to the wish of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him).
*Directly above the Ka’bah, at its zenith, there is a corresponding place in the heavens called the Baytul Ma’moor which holds the same status there as the Ka’bah does here on earth. Each day seventy thousand angels engage in worship there and none of them get a second opportunity to present themselves there again. The Baytul Ma’moor is such a sacred and honoured place that Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) takes an oath on it in the Holy Quran in Surah Toor:“And I swear by the Baytul Ma’moor.” [4:52]
*Hadhrat Abdullah bin Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said: “One hundred and twenty mercies descend upon the Ka’bah every day and night; sixty for those performing tawaf, forty for those engaged in Salah and twenty for those who are merely looking at the Ka’bah.” [Bayhaqi]
*During the Night of Ascension (mi’raj) when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) reached the seventh level of heaven, he met the Prophet Ebrahim (upon him be peace) resting against the Baytul Ma’moor. Ebrahim (upon him be peace) returned the greeting of his descendant and testified that Muhammed (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was the Prophet of Allah.
*The noblest shade on earth is that of the Holy Ka’bah. Khabbab (may Allah be pleased with him) reports, “We once approached the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) with a difficulty and found him sitting in the shade of the Ka’bah, leaning on his shawl.”
*The north corner of the Ka’bah faces towards Syria, Jordan and Palestine; the east corner (where the Hajar al-Aswad is) faces towards Oman, India and Malaysia; the south corner (Rukun Yamani) faces towards Yemen, Mauritius and Kenya; and the west corner faces towards Egypt, Morocco and Spain.
*The covering of the Ka’bah is known as the Kiswah and was first placed by the prophet Ismail (upon him be peace).
*During the era of Abdullah-bin-Zubair (may Allah be pleased with him) the Ka’bah was damaged by catapult fire in 64 AH when the army of Yazeed-bin-Muawaiya laid siege to Makkah. One of Abdullah-bin-Zubair’s companions lit a fire, a spark flew off and set alight the kiswah (covering) of the Holy Ka’bah. The wooden portions of the Ka’bah were burned which necessitated its demolition and reconstruction. Abdullah-bin-Zubair (may Allah be pleased with him) reconstructed it on the foundations of Ebrahim (upon him be peace), thus fulfilling what the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) had wished for, as the construction made by the Quraysh was about three meters short because they had run out of lawful earnings to finance the build.
The area between the Hajar al-Aswad and the Door of the Ka’bah is called the Multazam. It is approximately two metres wide and is a place where duas (supplications) are accepted.
*The Multazam is an area where du’aas are accepted, in sha Allah. It is Sunnah to hold on to the wall of the Ka’bah in such a manner that a cheek, chest and hands are against the wall. It is reported that Abdullah bin Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) once completed the Tawaf, performed the Salat and then kissed the Hajar al-Aswad. Thereafter, he stood between the Hajar al-Aswad and the door of the Ka’bah in such a manner that the cheek, chest and hands were against the wall. He then said, “This is how I saw Rasulullaah (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) do.”
*Abdullah bin Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) says, “The signs of acceptance for any dua made between the Hajar al-Aswad and the door of the Ka’bah will certainly be seen.”
*Mujaahid (may Allah be pleased with him) says, “The area between the Hajar al-Aswad and the door is called the Multazam. Allah will grant a person whatever he asks for there and save him from whatever he seeks refuge from there.”
This is entrance of the Ka’bah on its eastern side. Originally it was at ground level but was raised when the Quraysh rebuilt the Ka’bah.
*When Ebrahim (upon him be peace) built the Ka’bah, the entrances of the Ka’bah were on ground level. People entered from the eastern entrance and exited through the western entrance.
*Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) once asked the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) what reason the Quraysh had for raising the door above the ground. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) replied, “Your people did it so that they could permit into the Ka’bah only those people whom they approved of and could prevent those whom they pleased. Had your people not been recently removed from ignorance and had I not feared that they would be averse to change, I would have included the Hateem within the Ka’bah and brought the door level with the ground.”
*At the top of each door is inscribed: “Allah Jal jalaalah Muhammad sallallaahu alaihi wasallam”. Beneath all of this is inscribed: “In the name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful.” “Enter with peace and safety” [Surah Hijr, verse 46]” Allah has made the Ka’bah the sacred house, as well as the sacred months a means by which (the physical and spiritual safety and well-being of) mankind is maintained.” [Surah Maa’idah, verse 97]Say, “O my Rabb! Allow me to enter a pleasant place, allow me to leave pleasantly and grant me such authority from Yourself that is coupled with (Your) assistance.” [Surah Israa, verse 80]
“Your Rabb has made mercy (towards you) compulsory upon himself.” [Surah An’aam, verse 5]
Your Rabb says, “Supplicate to Me and I shall respond.” [Surah Mu’min, verse 60]
Beneath all of this is inscribed: Say, “O My bondsmen who have wronged their souls (by committing kufr or other sins)! Never lose hope of Allah’s mercy.” [Surah Zumar, verse 53]
The words “Allahu Akbar” is inscribed on the two rings and Surah Faatiha has been engraved beneath the lock.
The Hateem is the crescent shaped area immediately adjacent to the Ka’bah. Part of it is also known as the “Hijr Ismail” as this was the place where Ebrahim (upon him be peace) constructed a shelter for Ismail (upon him be peace) and his mother Hajrah (upon her be peace).
*The grandfather of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him), Abdul Muttalib, loved to be near the Ka’bah and he would sometimes order a couch to be spread for him in this space. One night, when he was sleeping there a shadowy figure came to him in a vision and instructed him where he would find the Zamzam well, which had laid buried from the time of the Jurhum tribe.
*When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was 35 years old, a devastating flood damaged the Ka’bah and, as it had already been weakened by an earlier fire, was in danger of collapse. Seeing that their house of worship was under threat, the Quraysh decided to rebuild the Ka’bah. They resolved not to taint the project with resources gained through usury (interest), prostitution, or thieving. They came to know of a Roman ship that had become wrecked at a nearby port and a contingent went to purchase the wood of the ship. They also contracted a carpenter, named Baqoom and who had been one of the passengers on the ship to come and reconstruct the walls. The construction started with each tribe being allocated specific duties. The nobles among them carried pieces of stone and piled them up in one place. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and his uncle Abbas were among those carrying stones. However, the tribes were unable to collect enough money to rebuilt the Ka’bah completely so a small wall was built showing the boundaries of the original foundation laid by Ebrahim (upon him be peace). This small walled enclosed an area on the northern side of the Ka’bah and is called Hijr Ismail.
*Some scholars have mentioned that the graves of Ismail (upon him be peace) and his mother Hajra (upon her be peace) lie buried beneath the Hijr Ismail. However, others have dismissed the narrations as being Da’eef (weak).
*Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) reports that when she asked the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) whether the Hateem was part of the Ka’bah, he replied that it was. When she further asked why it was then not included in the walls of the Ka’bah, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) replied, “Because your people (the Quraysh) did not have sufficient funds.” [Bukhari]
*Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) says, “When I expressed the wish to perform Salah within the Ka’bah, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) took me by the hand and led me into the Hijr (Hateem) where he said, ‘Perform Salah here if you wish to enter the Ka’bah because this is part of the Baytullah.”
*It must be noted here that an area of approximately 3 meters adjacent to the wall on the side of the Hateem actually constitutes as being part of the Ka’bah, the rest falls outside the Ka’bah. It is however clear that Tawaf must be performed outside the complete area of the Hateem.
*Another narration states that Rasulullah (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said, “O Aisha! Had your people not very recently been in the Period of Ignorance, I would have had the Ka’bah demolished and included the left-out portion within its walls. I would have also brought the inside of the Ka’bah to ground level and added two doors, with one on the eastern wall and the other on the western wall. In this manner, it would be according to the building and foundation of Ebrahim (upon him be peace).” In the year 65 AH, Abdullah bin Zubair (r.a) had the Ka’bah constructed according to this wish of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him).
*There is a water outlet that channels water from the roof of the Ka’bah down to the Hateem area. This was first constructed by the Quraysh and is known as the ‘Mizaab Rahmah’ (the water outlet of mercy).
The main picture above shows Jabal Hira (the mountain of Hira), which lies about two miles from the Ka’bah. Near the top is a small cave, a little less than 4 meters in length and a little more than one and a half meters in width. It was here that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) received the first revelations of the Holy Quran during the month of Ramadhan in 610 CE. The mountain is also known as Jabal Noor (the mountain of light).
*The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) first began to have revelations in the form of good dreams which came true. Then he began to like solitude. He would go to the cave of Hira and meditate there in solitude for a number of days and nights. He would take provisions with him to stay for an extended period, and when he returned to Khadeejah (may Allah be pleased with him), he would stock up again and go back to the cave. This was his practice until Truth was revealed to him by an angel while he was in the cave of Hira.
*During Tahajjud time one night, when he was alone in the cave, there came to him an angel in the form of a man. The angel said to him, “Recite!”. “I cannot read”, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) replied. The angel took hold of him a second time and pressed him until he could not endure it any longer. After letting him go, the angel again said, “Recite!”. Again the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) replied “I cannot read”. The angel further embraced him again until he had reached the limit of endurance and said “Recite!” for the third time the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said “I cannot read”. The angel released him and said: “Read in the name of your Lord, the Creator. He Who created man from aclot. Read! And your Lord is the Most Bounteous. Who taught by the Pen, taught man what he knew not.” [96:1-5]
*This was the first day of his Prophethood and these were the first verses of the Quran revealed to him. He recited these words after the angel, who thereupon left him; and he said; “It was as though the words were written on my heart.” He was very alarmed by the experience and feared that he had become possessed.
*The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) fled from the cave, and when he was halfway down the slope of the mountain he heard a voice above him saying: “O Muhammad, thou art the Messenger of God, and I am Jibraeel (Gabriel)”. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) stood gazing at the angel; then he turned away from him, but whichever way he looked the angel was always there on the horizon, whether it was to the north, east, south or west. Finally the angel turned away. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was terrified and his heart was pounding hard. He returned home to Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) and said, “Cover me!” Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) covered him and helped him calm down.
*The Quran tells us that the first revelation descended in Ramadan on the ‘Night of Power’. “The month of Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was revealed.” [2:185]
“We have indeed revealed this message during the Night of Power.” [97:1]
Birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him)
This library, in She’eb Banu Hashim in Makkah is sited on the place where the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was. His ancestry can be traced back to the Prophet Ebrahim (upon him be peace).
*The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him)’s father Abdullah died about six months before his birth. He had gone on a trading expedition to Gaza and Syria in the north and on the way back he had lodged with his grandmother’s family in Madinah. He became ill, died and was buried there. Thus, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was born an orphan.
*While his mother Aminah was pregnant, she had a dream that a light was emitted from her lower body that illuminated the palaces of Syria. When she went into labour, Shifa bint Amr, the mother of Abdul Rahman bin Auf (may Allah be pleased with her) served as midwife. Abdul Muttalib received the news of his grandson’s birth with joy. He took the newborn to the Ka’bah and invoked Allah’s blessings and thanks. Believing his grandson would grow up to be highly praised, Abdul Muttalib named him Muhammad, which means “he who is praised.” In keeping with Arab tradition, he then shaved the baby’s head and circumcised him on the seventh day. Afterwards, he invited his fellow Makkans to a feast.
*According to the report of Abul-Fida, when the people asked Abdul Muttalib as to why he called his grandson Muhammad, preferring it to the names of his forefathers, he replied, “It is because I have a longing that my grandson should be praised and commended by one and all in the world.”
*Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was first nursed by his mother, and then by Umm Ayman, his father’s slave. An Abyssinian whose real name was Barakah, she embraced Islam and migrated to Madinah, where she died six months after the Prophet’s death. Barakah (may Allah be pleased with her) thus had the distinction of being the person who knew the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) for the longest period of time.
*Thuwaybah, the slave of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him)’s uncle Abu Lahab, also nursed the infant. At that time, Thuwaybah was also nursing her own child, Masrooh, as well as Hamzah bin Abdul Muttalib and Abu Salamah bin Abdul Makhzoomi. Hence, these three men became foster brothers because they were nursed at the same breast. Thuwaybah suckled the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) for seven days and on the eighth day he was entrusted to Haleemah of the Banu Sa’d clan to bring him up in the desert.