- Location:To the east of Jeddah in Western Saudi Arabia
- Attraction type: Pilgrimage
- Significance: Holiest city of the Muslims
- Best time to visit: During Islamic lunar month of Dhu al-Hijjah
- How to reach: By flights to Jeddah and then by road
- Nearest International Airport: Jeddah International Airport
Mecca or Makkah, the holiest place of the Muslims, is Prophet Muhammad’s birth place and the epicenter of entire Islamic world. Muslims all over the globe face Mecca in Saudi Arabia while offering their Namaaz or prayer. Mecca during Roman and Byzantine times was an important trade route where traders from East Africa and South Asia traded their merchandise. Known as Macoraba during these times, it served as an important religious center in addition to being a commercial town.
Mecca’s sanctity is traceable to the Kabbah rebuilt by the great patriarch Ibrahim or Abraham and his son Ishmael on God’s orders. The tract on which Mecca has been developed is called Hijaz or barrier formed by the Sarat Mountains which are rugged and intensely sunny. In the ancient history of Mecca, Zamzan the sacred spring, and Marwa and Safa Hills are of considerable significance. According to legend, Ibrahim was ordered by God to leave Mecca where he stayed with his wife Hagar and son Ishmael. Before leaving, he gave dates and some water to his wife and son which soon exhausted. Dying of thirst, Ishmael started crying while Hagar ran frantically between Marwa and Safa hills searching for water. After running between the hills seven times, an angel appeared and struck the ground with his wing from which sprung the Zamzam spring. This spring, considered to be a tributary of the waters of Paradise, continues flowing even to this day.
On returning to Mecca, Ibrahim discovered that Hagar had died and he was ordered to build a temple at the location where Hagar’s house stood. The exact design and dimension in the form of cloud were revealed by God himself, and angel Gabriel showed the exact location. Ibrahim and his son Ishmael were instructed to build the temple structure exactly on the shadow of the cloud. With stones brought from the scared mountains of Hira, Olives, Senai, Al-Judi, and Lebanon, the Mecca shrine was built. After completion of the shrine, Gabriel placed the sacred stone in the middle of it.
Mecca achieved religious importance after Prophet Muhammad took control over this place. He destroyed all the idols present at that time except for the idols of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary.
Activities in Mecca
As per Prophet Muhammad’s teachings every Muslim must make a pilgrimage to Mecca, health and finances permitting. The Haj in Mecca takes place from the 8th to 13th day of Islamic lunar month Dhu al-Hijjah. All Islam believers must make this pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime. Before venturing on this journey, the pilgrim must clear all his debts, redress all his wrongs, and have enough money for his journey as well as sustenance for his family while he is away.
Staying in Mecca
While touring Mecca, you could choose your accommodation as per your needs and budget. Makkah Hilton and Towers, Inter-Continental Mekkah, Hotel Elaf Al Huda, and Dar Al Tawhid Makkah are among the noteworthy hotels in this Saudi holy city.