Thursday, 28 April 2011

Makka Madina | Hotels In Mecca

Makka Madina | Hotels In Mecca

Makka Madina:

Mecca is a city in the Makkah province of Saudi Arabia. Islamictradition attributes the beginning of Mecca to Ishmael's descendants.In the 7th century, the Islamic prophet Muhammad proclaimed Islam in the city which was by then an important trading center. After 966,Mecca was led by local sharifs. When the authority of the Ottoman Empire in the area collapsed in 1916, the local rulers established the Hashemite Kingdom of Hejaz. The Hejaz kingdom, including Mecca, was absorbed by the Saudis in 1925. In its modern period, Mecca has seen tremendous expansion in size and infrastructure.

The modern day city is the capital of Saudi Arabia's Makkah Province,in the istoric Hejaz region. With a population of 1.7 million (2008),the city is located 73 km (45 mi) inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of 277 m (909 ft) above sea level.

Mecca is regarded as the holiest city in Islam.Every year more than 13million Muslims visit Mecca annually, including several million who perform the Hajj (pilgrimage).As a result, Mecca has become one of the most cosmopolitan and diverse cities in the Muslim world.Non-Muslims are prohibited from entering the city.

Etymology and usage of Mecca / Makkah:

Mecca is the original English transliteration of the Arabic and is still most commonly used in English dictionaries, by international organizations in their English language literature and in academic writing.

Government of Mecca:

Mecca is governed by the Municipality of Mecca, a municipal council of fourteen locally elected members headed by a mayor (called an Amir) appointed by the Saudi Government. The current mayor of the city is Osama Al-Barr.

Mecca is the capital of Makkah Province, which includes neighboring Jeddah. The provincial governor was Prince Abdul Majeed bin Abdul Aziz from 2000 until his death in 2007.On May 16, 2007, Prince Khalid al Faisal was appointed as the new governor.

Distance from Makkah to Madinah

Approximate distance as the crow flies in miles from Makkah Saudi Arabia to Madinah Saudi Arabia is 209 miles or 336.28 Kilometers.

By Car:

If you were in a car and maintained an average speed of 60mph (96 kmh) over the course of your journey it would take you around 3.5 hours to get from Makkah to Madinah

By Air:

If you were in a plane say a Boeing 707 and maintained an average cruise speed of 450 mph (724.1 kmh) over the course of your journey it would take you around 1 hours to get from Makkah to Madinah

Makka Madina History:

Early history:

Ptolemy may have called the city "Macoraba", though this identification is controversial. Archaeology found no inscriptions or mentioning of Mecca from before that time, although other cities and kingdoms in that region are well documented in historical records.

Around the 5th century CE, the Kaaba was a place of worship for the deities of Arabia's pagan tribes. Mecca's most important pagan deity was Hubal, which had been placed there by the ruling Quraysh tribe and remained until the 7th century CE.

In the 5th century, the Quraysh took control of Mecca, and became skilled merchants and traders. In the 6th century they joined the lucrative spice trade as well, since battles in other parts of the world were causing trade routes to divert from the dangerous sea routes to the more secure overland routes. The Byzantine Empire had previously controlled the Red Sea, but piracy had been on the increase. Another previous route that run through the Persian Gulf via the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, was also being threatened by exploitations from the Sassanid Empire, as well as being disrupted by the Lakhmids, the Ghassanids, and the Roman–Persian Wars. Mecca's prominence as a trading center also surpassed the cities of Petra and Palmyra. The sassanids however did not always pose a threat to Mecca as in 575 CE they actually protected the Arabian city from invasion of the Kingdom of Axum, led by its Christian leader Abraha. The tribes of the southern Arabia, asked the Persian king Khosrau I for aid, in response to which he came south to Arabia with both foot-soldiers and a fleet of ships into Mecca. The Persian intervention prevented Christianity from spreading easterward into Arabia, and Mecca and the Islamic prophet Muhammad who was at the time a six year boy in the Quraysh tribe "would not grow up under the cross."

By the middle of the 6th century, there were three major settlements in northern Arabia, all along the south-western coast that borders the Red Sea, in a habitable region between the sea and the great desert to the east. This area, known as the Hejaz, featured three settlements grown around oases, where water was available. In the center of the Hijaz was Yathrib, later renamed Medina, from "Madinatun Nabi", or "City of the Prophet." 250 mi (400 km) south of Yathrib was the mountain city Ta’if, north-west of which lay Mecca. Although the area around Mecca was completely barren, it was the wealthiest of the three settlements with abundant water via the renowned Zamzam Well and a position at the crossroads of major caravan routes.

The harsh conditions and terrain of the Arabian peninsula meant a near-constant state of conflict between the local tribes, but once a year they would declare a truce and converge upon Mecca in an annual pilgrimage. Up to the 7th century, this journey was intended for religious reasons by the pagan Arabs to pay homage to their shrine, and to drink from the Zamzam Well. However, it was also the time each year that disputes would be arbitrated, debts would be resolved, and trading would occur at Meccan fairs. These annual events gave the tribes a sense of common identity and made Mecca an important focus for the peninsula.

Camel caravans, said to have first been used by Muhammad's great-grandfather, were a major part of Mecca's bustling economy. Alliances were struck between the merchants in Mecca and the local nomadic tribes, who would bring goods – leather, livestock, and metals mined in the local mountains – to Mecca 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 Mecca. Goods from Africa and the Far East passed through on route to Syria including spices, leather, medicine, cloth, and slaves; in return Mecca received money, weapons, cereals and wine,which in turn were distributed throughout Arabia. The Meccans signed treaties with both the Byzantines and the Bedouins, and negotiated safe passages for caravans, giving them water and pasture rights. Mecca became the center of a loose confederation of client tribes, which included those of the Banu Tamim. Other regional powers such as the Abyssinian, Ghassan, and Lakhm were in decline leaving Meccan trade to be the primary binding force in Arabia in the late 6th century.

Tradition in Mecca / Makkah:

According to Islamic tradition, the history of Mecca goes back to Abraham (Ibrahim) who built the Kaaba with the help of his elder son Ishmael in around 2000 BCE when the inhabitants of what was then known as Bakkah had fallen away from the original monotheism of Abraham through the influence of the Amelkites. However, outside of Islamic tradition, little is known about the Kaaba before the 5th century CE.

Muhammad and Conquest of Mecca:

Muhammad was born in Mecca in 570, and thus Islam has been inextricably linked with the city ever since. He was born in a minor faction, the Hashemites, of the ruling Quraysh tribe. It was in Mecca, in the nearby mountain cave of Hira on Jabal al-Nour, that, according to Islamic tradition, Muhammad is said to have begun receiving divine revelations from God through the Archangel Gabriel in 610 AD, and began to preach his form of Abrahamic monotheism against Meccan paganism. After enduring persecution from the pagan tribes for 13 years, Muhammad emigrated (see Hijra) in 622 with his companions, the Muhajirun, to Yathrib (later called Medina). The conflict between the Quraysh and the Muslims, however, continued: the two fought in the Battle of Badr, where the Muslims defeated the Quraysh army outside Medina; while the Battle of Uhud ended indecisively. Overall, however, Meccan efforts to annihilate Islam failed and proved to be very costly and ultimately unsuccessful. During the Battle of the Trench in 627, the combined armies of Arabia were unable to defeat Muhammad's forces .

In 628, Muhammad and his followers marched to Mecca, attempting to enter the city for pilgrimage. Instead, however, they were blocked by the Quraysh, after which both Muslims and Meccans entered into the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, whereby the Quraysh promised to cease fighting Muslims and promised that Muslims would be allowed into the city to perform the pilgrimage the following year. Two years later, the Quraysh violated the truce by slaughtering a group of Muslims and their allies. Muhammad and his companions, now 10,000 strong, decided to march intoMecca. However, instead of continuing their fight, the city of Mecca surrendered to Muhammad and his followers who declared peace and amnesty for the inhabitants. The native pagan imagery was destroyed by Muhammad and his followers and the location Islamized and rededicated to the worship of God. Muhammad declared Mecca as the holiest site in Islam ordaining it as the center of Muslim pilgrimage, one of the faith's Five Pillars. He also declared that no non-Muslim would be allowed inside the city so as to protect it from the influence of polytheism and similar practices. Then, Muhammad returned to Medina, after assigning Akib ibn Usaid as governor of the city. His other activities in Arabia led to the unification of the peninsula.

Muhammad died in 632, but with the sense of unity that he had passed on to his Ummah (Islamic nation), Islam began a rapid expansion, and within the next few hundred years stretched from North Africa well into Asia and parts of Europe. As the Islamic Empire grew, Mecca continued to attract pilgrims not just from Arabia, but now from all across the Muslim world and beyond, as Muslims came to perform the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

Mecca also attracted a year-round population of scholars, pious Muslims who wished to live close to the Kaaba, and local inhabitants who served the pilgrims. Due to the difficulty and expense of the Hajj, pilgrims arrived by boat at Jeddah, and came overland, or joined the annual caravans from Syria or Iraq.

Medieval and pre-modern times:

Mecca was never capital of any of the Islamic states but Muslim rulers did ntribute to its upkeep. During the reigns of Umar (634-44 CE) and Uthman ibn Affan (644–56) concerns of flooding caused the caliphs to bring in Christian engineers to build barrages in the low-lying quarters and construct dykes and embankments to protect the area round the Kaaba.

Muhammad's migration to Medina shifted the focus away from Mecca, this focus moved still more when Ali, the fourth caliph took power choosing Kufa as his capital. The Abbasid Caliphate moved the capital to Baghdad, in modern-day Iraq, which remained the center of the Islamic Empire for nearly 500 years. Mecca re-entered Islamic political history briefly when it was held by Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr, an early Muslim who opposed the Umayyad caliphs and again when the caliph Yazid I besieged Mecca in 683. For some time thereafter the city figured little in politics remaining a city of devotion and scholarship governed by the Hashemite Sharifs.

In 930, Mecca was attacked and sacked by Qarmatians, a millenarian Ismaili Muslim sect led by Abu-Tahir Al-Jannabi and centered in eastern Arabia. The Black Death pandemic hit Mecca in 1349.

In 1517, the Sharif, Barakat bin Muhammed, acknowledged the supremacy of the Ottoman Caliph but retained a great degree of local autonomy.

In 1803 the city was captured by the First Saudi State, which held Mecca until 1813. This was a massive blow to the prestige of the (Turkish) Ottoman Empire, which had exercised sovereignty over the holy city since 1517. The Ottomans assigned the task of bringing Mecca back under Ottoman control to their powerful Khedive (viceroy) of Egypt, Muhammad Ali Pasha. Muhammad Ali Pasha successfully returned Mecca to Ottoman control in 1813.

In 1818, followers of the Salafi juristic school were again defeated, but some of the Al Saud clan survived and founded the Second Saudi State that lasted until 1891 and lead on to the present country of Saudi Arabia.

Mecca was regularly afflicted with cholera epidemics. 27 epidemics were recorded during pilgrimages from the 1831 to 1930. More than 20,000 pilgrims died of cholera during the 1907–08 hajj.

Revolt of Sharif e Mecca:

In World War I, the Ottoman Empire was at war with Britain and its allies, having sided with Germany. It had successfully repulsed an attack on Istanbul in the Gallipoli Campaign and on Baghdad in the Siege of Kut. The British agent T E Lawrence conspired with the Ottoman governor Syed Hussain bin Ali Sharif e Mecca. The Sharif of Mecca, Hussein bin Ali revolted against the Ottoman Empire from Mecca, and it was the first city captured by his forces in the Battle of Mecca (1916). Sharif's revolt proved a turning point of the war on the eastern front. Sharif Hussein declared a new state, the Kingdom of Hejaz, and declared Mecca as the capital of the new kingdom.

Pilgrimage to mecca Saudi Arabia:

The pilgrimage to Mecca attracts millions of Muslims from all over the world. There are two pilgrimages: the Hajj, and the Umrah.

The Hajj, the 'greater' pilgrimage is performed annually. Once a year, the Hajj, the greater pilgrimage, takes place in Mecca and nearby sites. During the Hajj, several million people of varying nationalities worship in unison. Every adult, healthy, sane Muslim who has the financial and physical capacity to travel to Mecca and can make arrangements for the care of his/her dependents during the trip, must perform the Hajj once in a lifetime.

Umrah, the lesser pilgrimage, is not obligatory, but is recommended in the Qur'an. Often, they perform the Umrah, the lesser pilgrimage, while visiting the Masjid al-Haram.

Geography of Mecca:

Mecca is at an elevation of 277 m (909 ft) above sea level, and approximately 80 km (50 mi) inland from the Red Sea. Central Mecca lies in a corridor between mountains, which is often called the "hollow of Mecca." The area contains the valley of Al Taneem, the Valley of Bakkah and the valley of Abqar. This mountainous location has defined the contemporary expansion of the city. The city centers on the Masjid al-Haram area, whose elevation is lower than most of the city. The area around the mosque comprises the old city. The main avenues are Al-Mudda'ah and Suq al-Layl to the north of the mosque, and As-Sug Assaghir to the south. As the Saudis expanded the Grand Mosque in the center of the city, where there were once hundreds of houses are now replaced with wide avenues and city squares. Traditional homes are built of local rock and are generally two to three stories. The total area of Mecca metro today stands over 1,200 km2 (460 sq mi).

Mecca Weather:

Unlike other Saudi Arabian cities, Mecca retains its warm temperature in winter, which can range from 17°C (63°F) at midnight to 25 °C (77°F) in the afternoon. Summer temperatures are considered very hot and break the 40 °C (104°F) mark in the afternoon dropping to 30 °C (86°F) in the evening. Rain usually falls in Mecca in small amounts between November and January.

Mecca houses the Masjid al-Haram, the largest mosque in the world. The mosque surrounds the Kaaba, which Muslims turn towards while offering daily prayer. This mosque is also commonly known as the Haram or Grand Mosque.

As mentioned above, because of the Wahhabist hostility to reverence being paid to historic and religious buildings, Mecca has lost much of its heritage in recent years and few buildings from the last 1500 years have survived Saudi rule.

Expansion of the city is ongoing and includes the construction of 577 m (1,893 ft) tall Abraj Al Bait Towers across the street from the Grand Mosque. The towers are set to be completed in 2010 when they will be one of the world's tallest buildings. The construction of the towers involved the demolition of the Ajyad Fortress, which in turn sparked a dispute between Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

The Zamzam Well is home to a celebrated water spring.

The Qishla of Mecca was an Ottoman castle facing the Grand Mosque and defending the city from attack. However, the Saudi government removed the structure to give space for hotels and business buildings near to the Grand Mosque. Hira is a cave near Mecca, on the mountain named Jabal Al-Nur 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 Jibreel, also known as Gabriel to Christians.In pre-modern Mecca, the city exploited a few chief sources of water.The first were local wells, such as the Zamzam Well, that produced generally brackish water. The second source was the spring of Ayn Zubayda. The sources of this spring are the mountains of J_abal Sa?d (Jabal Sa'd) and Jabal Kabkab, which lie a few kilometers east of?j_abal ?Arafa (Djabal 'Arafa) or about 20 km (12 mi) east southeast of Mecca. Water was transported from it using underground channels. A very sporadic third source was rainfall which was stored by the people in small reservoirs or cisterns. The rainfall, as scant as it is, also presents the threat of flooding and has been a danger since earliest times. According to Al-Kurdi, there had been 89 historic floods by 1965, including several in the Saudi period. In the last century the most severe one occurred in 1942. Since then, dams have been constructed to ameliorate the problem.

Economy in Mecca:

The Meccan economy has been heavily dependent on the annual pilgrimage. As one academic put it, "[Meccans] have no means of earning a living but by serving the hajjis." Economy generated from the Hajj, in fact, not only powers the Meccan economy but has historically had far reaching effects on the economy of the entire Hijaz and Najd regions. The income was generated in a number of ways. One method was taxing the pilgrims. Taxes especially increased during the Great Depression, and many of these taxes existed as late as 1972. Another way the Hajj generates income is through services to pilgrims. For example, the Saudi national airline, Saudi Arabian Airlines, generates 12% of its income from the pilgrimage. Fares paid by pilgrims to reach Mecca by land also generate income; as do the hotels and lodging companies that house them.

The city takes in more than $100 million, while the Saudi government spends about $50 million on services for the Hajj. There are some industries and factories in the city, but Mecca no longer plays a major role in Saudi Arabia's economy, which is mainly based on oil exports. The few industries operating in Mecca include textiles, furniture, and utensils. The majority of the economy is service oriented.

Nevertheless, many industries have been set up in Mecca. Various types of enterprises that have existed since 1970: corrugated iron manufacturing, copper smithies, carpentry shops, upholstering establishments, vegetable oil extraction plants, sweets manufactures, flour mills, bakeries, poultry farms, frozen food importing, photography processing, secretarial establishments, ice factories, bottling plants for soft drinks, barber shops, book shops, travel agencies and banks.

The city has grown substantially in the 20th and 21st centuries, as the convenience and affordability of jet travel has increased the number of pilgrims participating in the Hajj. Thousands of Saudis are employed year-round to oversee the Hajj and staff the hotels and shops that cater to pilgrims; these workers in turn have increased the demand for housing and services. The city is now ringed by freeways, and contains shopping malls and skyscrapers.

Health care provided by Saudi Government at Makka Madina:

Health care is provided by the Saudi government free of charge to all pilgrims. There are five major hospitals in Mecca:

  • Ajyad Hospital
  • King Abdul Aziz Hospital
  • Al Noor Hospital
  • Sheesha Hospital
  • Hira Hospital

There are also many walk-in clinics available for both residents and pilgrims.

Mecca Culture:

Mecca's culture has been affected by the large number of pilgrims that arrive annually, and thus boasts a rich cultural heritage. The locals speak Hejazi Arabic, but languages from all over the Muslim world can be found amongst the pilgrims.

As a result of the vast numbers of pilgrims coming to the city each year(many of whom remain permanently), Mecca has become by far the most diverse city in the Muslim world. In contrast to the rest of Saudi Arabia, and particularly Nejd, Mecca has, according to the New York Times, become "a striking oasis" of free thought and discussion and, also, of "unlikely liberalism" as "Meccans see themselves as a bulwark against the creeping extremism that has overtaken much Islamic debate".

The first press was brought to Mecca in 1885 by Osman Nuri Pasa, an Ottoman Wali. During the Hashemite period, it was used to print the city's official gazette, al-Qibla. The Saudi regime expanded this press into a larger operation, introducing the new Saudi official gazette Umm al-Qura. Henceforth presses and printing techniques were introduced in the city from around the Middle East, mostly via Jeddah.

Jeddah is served by one major Arabic-language newspaper, Shams. However, other Saudi and international newspapers are also provided in Mecca such as the Saudi Gazette, Medina, Okaz and Al-Bilad. The first three are Mecca's (and other Saudi cities') primary newspapers focusing mainly on issues that affect the city, with over a million readers.King Abdul Aziz Stadium hosted the opening ceremony of the 1st Islamic solidarity games in 2005.

Many television stations serving the city area include Saudi TV1, Saudi TV2, Saudi TV Sports, Al-Ekhbariya, Arab Radio and Television Network and hundreds of cable, satellite and other speciality television providers.

In pre-modern Mecca the most common sports were impromptu wrestling and foot races. Football is the most popular sport in Mecca, the city hosting some of the oldest sport clubs in Saudi Arabia such as, Al-Wahda FC (established in 1945). King Abdulaziz Stadium is the largest stadium in Mecca with capacity of 38,000.

Saudi Cuisine:

As in other Saudi cities Kabsa (a spiced dish of rice and meat) is the most traditional lunch but the Yemeni mandi (a dish of rice and tandoori cooked meat) is also popular. Grilled meat dishes such as shawarma (flat-bread meat sandwich), kofta (meatballs) and kebab are widely sold in Mecca. During Ramadan fava beans in olive oil and samosas are the most popular dishes and are eaten at dusk. These dishes are almost always found in Lebanese, Syrian, and Turkish restaurants.

The mixture of different ethnicities and nationalities amongst Meccan residents has significantly impacted Mecca's traditional cuisine.[citation needed] The city has been described as one of the most cosmopolitan Islamic cities, with an international cuisine.

Traditionally during the month of Ramadan, men (known as Saggas) provided mineral water and fruit juice for Muslims breaking their fast at dusk. Today, Saggas make money providing sweets such as baklava and basbosa along with fruit juice drinks.

In the 20th century, many fast-food chains have opened franchises in Mecca, catering to locals and pilgrims alike. Exotic foods, such as fruits from India and Japan, are often brought by the pilgrims.

Mecca Education:

Formal education started to be developed in late Ottoman period continuing slowly into and Hashimite times. The first major attempt to improve the situation was made by a Jeddah merchant, Muhammad ?Ali Zaynal Ri?a, who founded the Madrasat al-Fala? in Mecca in 1911–12 that cost £400,000.

The school system in Mecca has many public and private schools for both males and females. As of 2005, there were 532 public and private schools for males and another 681 public and private schools for female students. The medium of instruction in both public and private schools is Arabic with emphasis on English as a second language, but some private schools founded by foreign entities such as International schools use the English language for medium of instruction. They also allow the mixing between males and females while other schools do not.

For higher education, the city has only one university, Umm al-Qura University, which was established in 1949 as a college and became a public university in 1979.


Telecommunications in the city were emphasized early under the Saudi reign. King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud (Ibn Saud) pressed them forward as he saw them as a means of convenience and better governance. While in King Husayn's time there were about 20 telephones in the entire city; in 1936 the number jumped to 450, totalling about half the telephones in the country. During that time telephone lines were extended to Jeddah and Ta’if, but not to the capital Riyadh. By 1985, Mecca, like other Saudi cities, possessed the most modern telephone, telex, radio and TV communications.

Limited radio communication was established within the Hejaz region under the Hashimites. In 1929, wireless stations were set up in various towns of the region, creating a network that would become fully functional by 1932. Soon after World War II, the existing network was greatly expanded and improved. Since then, radio communication has been used extensively in directing the pilgrimage and addressing the pilgrims. This practice started in 1950, with the initiation of broadcasts the Day of Arafa, and increased until 1957, at which time Radio Makka became the most powerful station in the Middle East at 50 kW. Later, power was increased to 450 kW. Music was not immediately broadcast, but gradually introduced.

Where is Mecca:

Transportation facilities related to the Hajj or Umrah are the main services available. Mecca has only the small Mecca East Airport with no airline service, so most pilgrims access the city through the Hajj terminal of King Abdulaziz International Airport or the Jeddah Seaport, both of which are in Jeddah.

The city lacks any public transportation options for residents and visitors alike, both during and outside of the pilgrimage season. The main transportation options available for travel within and around the city are either personal vehicles or private taxis.

The 18 km (11 mi) Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro opened in November 2010. A total of 5 metro lines are planned to carry pilgrims to the religious sites.

Hajj Information:

The Hajj is the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest annual pilgrimages in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so. The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God (Allah in the Arabic language).

The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to 12th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th and last month of the Islamic calendar. Because the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, eleven days shorter than the Gregorian calendar used in the Western world, the Gregorian date of the Hajj changes from year to year. Ihram is the name given to the special state in which Muslims live while on the pilgrimage.

The Hajj is associated with the life of Islamic prophet Muhammad from the 7th century, but the ritual of pilgrimage to Mecca is considered by Muslims to stretch back thousands of years to the time of Abraham (Ibrahim). Pilgrims join processions of hundreds of thousands of people, who simultaneously converge on Mecca for the week of the Hajj, and perform a series of rituals: Each person walks counter-clockwise seven times around the Kaaba, the cube-shaped building which acts as the Muslim direction of prayer, runs back and forth between the hills of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah, drinks from the Zamzam Well, goes to the plains of Mount Arafat to stand in vigil, and throws stones in a ritual Stoning of the Devil. The pilgrims then shave their heads, perform a ritual of animal sacrifice, and celebrate the three day global festival of Eid al-Adha.

As of 2010, about three million pilgrims participate in this annual pilgrimage. Crowd-control techniques have become critical, and because of the large numbers of people, many of the rituals have become more stylized. It is not necessary to kiss the Black Stone, but merely to point at it on each circuit around the Kaaba. Throwing pebbles was done at large pillars, which for safety reasons in 2004 were changed to long walls with catch basins below to catch the stones. The slaughter of an animal can be done either personally, or by appointing someone else to do it, and so forth. But even with the crowd control techniques, there are still many incidents during the Hajj, as pilgrims are trampled in a crush, or ramps collapse under the weight of the many visitors, causing hundreds of deaths. Pilgrims can also go to Mecca to perform the rituals at other times of the year. This is sometimes called the "lesser pilgrimage", or Umrah. However, even if one chooses to perform the Umrah, they are still obligated to perform the Hajj at some other point in their lifetime if they have the means to do so.

Makka Madina History:

The Hajj is based on a pilgrimage that was ancient even in the time of Muhammad in the 7th Century. According to Hadith, elements of the Hajj trace back to the time of Abraham (Ibrahim), around 2000 BCE. It is believed that the Abraham was ordered by God to leave his wife Hagar (Hajar) and his infant son Ishmael alone in the desert. While he was gone, the child became thirsty, and Hagar ran back and forth seven times searching for water for her son. The baby cried and hit the ground with his foot (some versions of the story say that the angel Gabriel (Jibral) scraped his foot or the tip of his wing along the ground), and water miraculously sprang forth. This source of water is today called the Well of Zamzam.

Prior to Muhammad's era, each year tribes from all around the Arabian Peninsula would converge on Mecca, as part of the pilgrimage. The exact faith of the tribes was not important at that time, and Christian Arabs were as likely to make the pilgrimage as the pagans. Muslim historians refer to the time before Muhammad as jahiliyyah, the "Days of Ignorance", during which the Kaaba contained hundreds of idols – totems of each of the tribes of the Arabian Peninsula, with idols of pagan gods such as Hubal, al-Lat, Al-‘Uzzá and Manat, and also some representing Jesus (Isa), and Mary (Maryam).

Muhammad was known to regularly perform the Umrah, even before he began receiving revelations. Historically, Muslims would gather at various meeting points in other great cities, and then proceed en masse towards Mecca, in groups that could comprise tens of thousands of pilgrims. Two of the most famous meeting points were in Cairo and Damascus. In Cairo, the Sultan would stand atop a platform of the famous gate Bab Zuwayla, to officially watch the beginning of the annual pilgrimage.

In 631 CE, Muhammad led his followers from Medina to Mecca, it was the first Hajj to be performed by Muslims alone, and the only Hajj ever performed by Muhammad. He cleansed the Kaaba, destroyed all the idols, and re-ordained the building as the house of God.It was from this point that the Hajj became one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

Performing Hajj was a hazardous journey for early pilgrims; Ibn Jubayr noted the skeletons of pilgrims who had died of thirst during the journey. In the seventeenth century a group of Egyptian pilgrims lost over 1,500 people and 900 camels. In 1924 around one-fifth of a group of Syrian pilgrims died and two years later 12,000 are thought to have died during the journey.

Preparations for Hajj Makkah Madina:

Pilgrims generally travel to Hajj in groups, as an expression of unity. Some airlines have special packages for Muslims going to Mecca such as the Haj subsidy offered in India. Ships also take pilgrims to Mecca so they can perform Hajj.

During the Hajj, male pilgrims are required to dress only in the ihram, a garment consisting of two sheets of white unhemmed cloth, with the top draped over the torso and the bottom secured by a white sash; plus a pair of sandals. Women are simply required to maintain their hijab - normal modest dress, which does not cover the hands or face.The Ihram is meant to show equality of all pilgrims in the eyes of God: that there is no difference between a prince and a pauper. Ihram is also symbolic for holy virtue and pardon from all past sins. A place designated for changing into Ihram is called a miqat ( like Zu 'l-Hulafa, Juhfa, Qarnu 'l-Manazil, Yalamlam, Zat-i-'Irq, Ibrahim Mursia)

While wearing the Ihram, a pilgrim may not shave, clip their nails, wear perfume, swear or quarrel, have sexual relations, uproot or damage plants, cover the head [for men] or the face and hands [for women], marry, wear shoes over the ankles, perform any dishonest acts or carry weapons.


Upon arrival in Mecca the pilgrim, now known as a Hajji, performs a series of ritual acts symbolic of the lives of Abraham and his wife Hagar. The acts also symbolize the solidarity of Muslims worldwide.

The greater Hajj (al-hajj al-akbar) begins on the eighth day of the lunar month of Dhu al-Hijjah. If they are not already wearing it upon their arrival, pilgrims put on ihram clothing and then leave Mecca for the nearby town of Mina where they spend the rest of the day. The Saudi government has put up thousands of large white tents at Mina to provide accommodations for all the pilgrims.


On the first day of the Hajj (the 7th day of the 12th month in other words, Dhu al-Hijjah), the pilgrims perform their first Tawaf, which involves all of the pilgrims visiting the Kabah and walking seven times counter-clockwise around the Kaaba. They may also kiss the Black Stone (Al Hajar Al Aswad) on each circuit. If kissing the stone is not possible because of the crowds, they may simply point towards the Stone on each circuit with their right hand. In each complete circuit a pilgrim says "In the name of God, God is Great, God is Great, God is Great and praise be to God" (Bism Allah Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar wa lil Lahi Alhamd) with 7 circuits constituting a complete tawaf. The place where pilgrims walk is known as "Mutaaf".Only the first three shouts are compulsory, but almost all perform it seven times.

The tawaf is normally performed all at once. Eating is not permitted but the drinking of water is allowed because of the risk of dehydration. Men are encouraged to perform the first three circuits at a hurried pace, followed by four times, more closely, at a leisurely pace.

After the completion of Tawaf, all the pilgrims have to offer two Rakaat prayers at the Place of Abraham (Muqaam Ibrahim), a site inside the mosque that is near the Kaaba. However, again because of large crowds during the days of Hajj, they may instead pray anywhere in the mosque.

Although the circuits around the Kaaba are traditionally done on the ground level, Tawaf is now also performed on the first floor and roof of the mosque because of the large crowd.

After Tawaf on the same day , the pilgrims perform sa`i, running or walking seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwah. This is a re-enactment of the frantic search for water for her son Ishmael by Abraham's wife Hajra. As she searched, the Zamzam Well was revealed to her by an angel, who hit the ground with his heel (or brushed the ground with the tip of his wing), upon which the water of the Zamzam started gushing from the ground.The back and forth circuit of the pilgrims used to be in the open air, but is now entirely enclosed by the Masjid al-Haram mosque, and can be accessed via air-conditioned tunnels. Pilgrims are advised to walk the circuit, though two green pillars mark a short section of the path where they are allowed to run. There is also an internal "express lane" for the disabled. The safety procedures are in place because previous incidents in this ritual have resulted in stampedes which caused the deaths of hundreds of people.

As part of this ritual the pilgrims also drink water from the Zamzam Well, which is made available in coolers throughout the Mosque. After the visit to the mosque on this day of the Hajj, the pilgrims then return to their tents.


The next morning, on the eighth of Dhu al-Hijjah, the pilgrims proceed to Mina where they spend the night in prayer.

On the ninth day, they leave Mina for Mt. Arafat where they stand in contemplative vigil and pray and recite the Qur'an, near a hill from which Prophet Muhammad gave his last sermon, this hill is called Jabal Al Rahmah (The Hill of Forgiveness, Mount Arafat). This is known as Wuquf, considered the highlight of the Hajj. Pilgrims must spend the afternoon within a defined area on the plain of Arafat until after sunset. No specific rituals or prayers are required during the stay at Arafat, although many pilgrims spend time praying, and thinking about the course of their lives. A pilgrim's Hajj is considered invalid if they do not spend the afternoon on Arafat.


As soon as the sun sets, the pilgrims leave Arafat for Muzdalifah, an area between Arafat and Mina. Pilgrims spend the night sleeping on the ground with open sky, and in the morning they gather pebbles for the next day's ritual of the stoning of the Devil (Shaitan) after returning to Mina.

Ramy al-Jamarat:

At Mina the pilgrims perform Ramy al-Jamarat, throwing stones to signify their defiance of the Devil. This symbolizes the trials experienced by Abraham while he was going to sacrifice his son as demanded by Allah. The Devil challenged him three times, and three times Abraham refused. Each pillar marks the location of one of these refusals. On the first occasion when Ramy al-Jamarat is performed, pilgrims stone the largest pillar known as Jamrat'al'Aqabah. Pilgrims climb ramps to the multi-levelled Jamaraat Bridge, from which they can throw their pebbles at the jamarat. On the second occasion, the other pillars are stoned. The stoning consists of throwing seven pebbles. Because of the crowds, in 2004 the pillars were replaced by long walls, with catch basins below to collect the pebbles.

Eid al-Adha:

After the Stoning of the Devil, the pilgrims perform animal sacrifices, to ymbolize God having mercy on Abraham and replacing his son with a ram, which Abraham then sacrificed. Traditionally the pilgrims slaughtered the animal themselves, or oversaw the slaughtering. Today many pilgrims buy a sacrifice voucher in Mecca before the greater Hajj begins, which allows an animal to be slaughtered in their name on the 10th, without the pilgrim being physically present. Centralized butchers sacrifice a single sheep for each pilgrim, or a cow can represent the sacrifice of seven people. The meat is then packaged and given to charity and shipped to poor people around the world. At the same time as the sacrifices occur at Mecca, Muslims worldwide perform similar sacrifices, in a four day global festival called Eid al-Adha.

Tawaf az-Ziyarah:

On this or the following day the pilgrims re-visit the Masjid al-Haram mosque in Mecca for another tawaf, to walk around the Kaaba. This is called the Tawaf az-Ziyarah or Tawaf al-Ifadah, which symbolizes being in a hurry to respond to God and show love for Him, an obligatory part of the Hajj. The night of the 10th is spent back at Mina.

On the afternoon of the 11th and again the following day the pilgrims must again throw seven pebbles at each of the three jamarat in Mina.

Pilgrims must leave Mina for Mecca before sunset on the 12th. If they are unable to leave Mina before sunset, they must perform the stoning ritual again on the 13th before returning to Mecca.

Social effect of Hajj:

Malcolm X, an American human rights activist, describes the sociological atmosphere he experienced at Hajj as follows,"There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist...You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to rearrange much of my thought patterns previously held."

Due to lack of communication between more than three million pilgrims from all over the globe and the immensity of the gathering itself there have been many incidents during the Hajj that have led to the loss of hundreds of lives. The worst of these incidents have usually occurred during the Stoning of the Devil ritual. During the 2006 Hajj on 12 January, 362 pilgrims died. Tramplings have also occurred when pilgrims try to run between the two hills known as Al-Safa and Al-Marwa. In 2006 there were some 600 casualties among pilgrims performing the Hajj. After these events, the Saudi government made improvements for pilgrims such as providing separate pathways for travelling to and from Al-Safa and Al-Marwa.

A 2008 study on the longer-term effect of participating in the Islamic pilgrimage found that Muslims' communities become more open after the Hajj experience. Entitled Estimating the Impact of the Hajj: Religion and Tolerance in Islam’s Global Gathering, a study conducted in conjunction with Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government found that the Hajj experience promotes peaceful coexistence, equality, and harmony. Specifically, the report states that the Hajj "increases belief in equality and harmony among ethnic groups and Islamic community and that "Hajjis (those who have performed the Hajj) show increased belief in peace, and in equality and harmony among adherents of different religions"

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