Makkah is regarded the holiest city in the religion of Islam and the annual pilgrimage to Makkah is known as Hajj. This is obligatory for all able Muslims at least one in their lifetime. Makkah is where the house of Allah (the Kaaba) is located. Today, more than 17 million Muslims visit Makkah annually, and 3 million during the days of Hajj. As a result, Makkah has become one of the most diverse cities in the Muslim world, despite the fact that non-Muslims are prohibited from entering the city.
Mina is a valley 6 km towards East of Makkah. During Hajj, the pilgrims stay in this valley on 8th of Dhoul Hijja and then on 10th to 13th of Dhoul Hijja.
Mina is very known for the role it plays during the annual Hajj pilgrimage also known as the “Tent City”. More than 145,000 air-conditioned tents provide temporary accommodation to visiting pilgrims. Mina is the place where pilgrims throw the stones, commemorating the occasion that the Prophet Ibrahim stoned the shaitan that came between him and the command Allah had set him. In the valley of Mina, is the Jamarate Bridge, the location of the ritual of the Stoning of the shaitan, performed between sunrise and sunset on the last day of the Hajj.
Arafat is a valley about 18 km outside Makkah. On the 9th of Dhoul Hijjah, it is mandatory for all the pilgrims to reach and stay in the valley of Arafat and spend the day making doua, (lot of dhikr and forgiveness) for all their sins from Allah, failing to do so may invalidate the hajj.
Arafat is known as the mountain of Mercy (Rahmah, forgiveness). Our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) stayed in this mountain and made wouqoof.
Masjid Namirah is a beautiful masjid in which two thirds of it lies in the valley of Arafat while one third of it is located in the valley of Namirah. Nowadays, the Sermon of Hajj is delivered in Masjid Namirah. Our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) delivered the Sermon of Hajj while sitting on his camel (Quasswa) in the valley of Ourana.It is mandatory for the pilgrims to do Qasr and combined prayers of Dhur and Asr.
Arafat is the best place to make doua, on the 9th of Dhul-Hijjah is the best time to make doua and the best doua to make according to one hadith is:
It is better to make doua in the valley of Arafat while facing Qibla and raising your hands.
If a person is late in reaching the valley of Arafat, but manages to spend some time wouqoof during the night between 9th and 10th of Dhul-Hijjah before Fajr, his Hajj is validated.
It is Sunnah not to fast on the 9th of Dhul-Hijjah if you are a pilgrim. However, if you are not a pilgrim, then fasting on 9th of Dhul-Hijjah is Moustahab and expiates all the sins of the previous year for the next year, according to one hadith.
Muzdalifah is situated in the province of Makkah. It is mostly a flat land and lies between Mina and Arafat. The pilgrims travel from Mina to Arafat on the 9th of Dhul-Hijjah. They spend the whole day at Arafat and after sunset, they leave for Muzdalifah without offering the Maghrib prayer, all the while reciting the talbiyah.
When pilgrims reach Muzdalifah, than they pray Magrib & Isha Qasr they can stay there for all night. At Muzdalifah, the pilgrims sleep in open air and wake up early for Fajr prayer Soon after Fajr prayer, the pilgrims leave for Mina. For the very old, sick or children, it is allowed to leave Muzdalifah after the moon sets down, before the time of Fajr prayer starts.
Usually the pilgrims collect pebbles for stoning the Jamarate at Muzdalifah. However, the pebbles for Our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) were collected by Ibn Abbas (RA) from Mina.
There is a valley between Mina and Muzdalifah, called Wadi al Mouhassir. It was here that the army of Abraha and his elephants met the Wrath of Allah (SWT), the incident which is mentioned in the Surah Feel of Quran.
The Jamarate or stoning the Shaitan (DEVIL) is an important part of Hajj. Jamarate were at first three tall pillars in Mina, but since 2004, they have been replaced by high walls to avoid accidents. Moreover, a (one way) bridge has been made to make it easy for the Houjaj (pilgrims) to pelt the Jamarate either from the bridge or from the ground. The three walls or Jamarate are named, Jamarate-al- Soughra (meaning the first or the small Jamarah), Jamarate-al-Wousta (meaning the middle Jamarah) and Jamarah-al-Aqabah or al Kubra (meaning the last or the largest Jamarah).
Haj is an Ibadah that is a collection of rituals that commemorate the Sunnah’s of Ibrahim (AS) and his family. Pelting the Jamarate represents the steadfastness of Ibrahim (AS) and Ismail (AS).
When Ibrahim (AS) saw a dream for three consecutive nights that he was sacrificing his only son at the time, he knew that a Prophet, his dreams were true and a form of Wahye (revelation). So, he took his son, Ismail (AS) along him. On their way, he told his son about the dream. The son readily agreed to be sacrificed to please Allah.
Ibrahim (AS) and Ismail (AS) were walking towards Mina, they were approached by Shaitan (Devil). It tried to persuade Ibrahim (AS) not to sacrifice Ismail (AS). Shaitan appeared before Ibrahim(AS) three times at the points the Jamarate stand now. All three times he was pelted with stones by Ibrahim (AS)to ward him off and he remain steadfast on his decision to sacrifice his son. When Ibrahim tried to sacrifice Ismail (AS), Allah was mightily pleased with him. Ibrahim (AS) was sent a Ram from heaven to be sacrificed instead of Ismail (AS). So, the Pilgrims(Houjaj) pelt stones at Jamarate to commemorate the Sunnah of Ibrahim (AS).
Ideally, the Houjaj should be standing in such a way that on their left there is Makkah and on their right, there is Mina. But if it is impossible, stoning can be done in any position. Stoning of Jamarate starts on the 10th of Dhoul -Hijja. On the first day, only Jamarate-al-Aqabah is pelted with seven pebbles (usually collected at Muzdalifah). Each pebble is thrown by saying Allah Ou Akbar.
On the 11th, 12th and 13th of Dhoul -Hijja all three Jamarate in the sequence, Jamarate-al-Soughra, Jamarate-al-Wousta and Jamarate-al-Aqabah are pelted with seven pebbles each. After stoning each Jamrah, making doua after pelting Jamarate Al Soughra and Wousta not on the last Jamarah(al-Koubra).
Al-Madinah Al-Mounawarah is the second holy city to Muslims after Makkah Al-Mukkaramah. It has also got many other names such as Taibah, Yathrib, the City of the Messenger, and Dar Al-Hijri (i.e. Home of Immigration). It is the city whose people supported Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) when he immigrated to it from Makkah. It comprises the Mosque of the Prophet, his grave, the Islamic University, King Fahd Madinah (Al Madinah Al-Munawara) the light city is the city of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) and also his burial place. It was the first Islamic City to support the Prophet Muhammad, and it joined him in fighting decisive battles which were instrumental in the victory of Islam and its subsequent spread. This is the city of the “AL Ansar” (Supporters) and their brothers the “Muhajireen” (Emigrants), who together formed the first Islamic army which entered Makkah in triumph eight years after the Prophet’s “Hijra” (Migration). It was a city which loved the Prophet, and which he in turn loved. On its soil he built his sacred mosque, and it was here that he was buried.
Madinah was also the city of the “Khulafa Al Rashidun” (Orthodox Caliphs of Islam), who shouldered the responsibility of Jihad, or holy struggle, fighting against renegades and propagating Islam in the countries surrounding the Arabian Peninsula. It was the seat of the first Islamic state, and witnessed the Prophet’s companions administering the affairs of the Moslem community, compiling the Holy Koran, and dispatching armies to Persia, Syria and Egypt.
To visit Madinah is not a Hajj or Umrah rite, but the unique merits of the Prophet’s city, his Mosque and his sacred tomb attract every pilgrim to visit it. There is neither Ihram nor talbiyah for the visit to Madinah or the Prophet’s Mosque.
The Prophet had great love for this city. He once said that “There is a cure for every disease in the dust of Madinah”
The Prophet himself participated in the construction of this mosque, called it “My Mosque” and led prayers in it for years. He has also said that a prayer performed in the Prophet’s Mosque is better than a thousand prayers in any other place except Masjid Al-Haram in Makkah. It was also reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) has also said: “The person who offers 40 prayers consecutively in my Mosque, without missing a prayer in between, will secure immunity from the fire of Hell and other torments and also from hypocrisy.”
Many geographical sights were scenes of important historic events. The mountains in the area of Al-Madinah Al-Munawara witnessed significant events in Islamic history. Among these mountains is Mount Uhud, which was the scene of the famous Battle of Uhud.
Mount Uhud is located 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) north of Madinah. Uhud has an attractive look. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) felt relieved on seeing it, and the people of Madinah also loved it very much.
Mount Uhud extends from east to west with a slight slope towards the north. It is 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) in length and from 2 to 3 kilometers (1.2 to 1.9 miles) in breadth. Most of its stones are of red granite, and some parts of it are almost dark green and black. It contains some natural cavities (called maharis) where rain water is collected. The rain water remains throughout the year, for these cavities are not exposed to the rays of the sun.
In 3 A.H. Mount Uhud was the scene of the famous Battle of Uhud. The battlefield was the space between the southwestern base of Mount of Uhud and Mount `Aynayne Mount, a distance of about 1 kilometer (0.6 miles).
Mount Uhud is also called the Archers’ Mount because it was the field where the steadfast archers in the Battle of Uhud were killed. The people of the Quraysh, upset at their defeat in the Battle of Badre in 2 A.H., wanted to avenge their dead. In coalition with some other tribes, they gathered a large force to attack the Muslims in Madinah. They positioned themselves near the hills of Uhud.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) marched out with the Muslims to confront them. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) took up his position below the hill. He (peace and blessings be upon him) arrayed the army in fighting formations, and fifty archers were posted on Mount `Aynayne under the leadership of `Abdullah ibn Jubayre to guard the army from any attack from the rear. They had strict orders not to leave their post, whatever the outcome of the battle.
The two armies engaged in fighting. The Muslims seemed to have won victory over the Makkans, who fell back in disorder after paying a heavy toll. The Muslims started gathering the booty. Thinking that the fight was over, the majority of the Muslim archers left their posts to gather the spoils, disregarding the orders of their leader to stay in their positions.
On seeing the archers leaving their posts, Khalid ibn Al-Walid, who had not yet embraced Islam, seized the opportunity and gathered a group of the Quraysh fighters, killed the rest of the archers, and launched a furious attack from the rear. The Muslims were taken so much by surprise that they did not know what to do. In the general melee their ranks got disorganized. Seventy of the Prophet’s Companions, including Hamza ibn `Abdul Moutalib, the Prophet’s uncle (may Allah be pleased with them), were killed.
After the battle was over, the martyrs were buried in the field of the battle. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would visit their graves and pray for them.
The Muslims have followed in the footsteps of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in that regard.
Mount Uhud had a special place in the heart of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). There were many hadiths reported regarding that.
Qatadah reported from Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Uhud is a mountain which loves us and which we love.”
Qouba is the place on the outskirts of Madinah where the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him), accompanied by Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) arrived and first stayed after emigrating from Makkah. They arrived on Monday 12th Rabie al-Awale, fourteen years after Prophethood and this date marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar (Hijra), (16th July 622 CE). A masjid was established here by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him), the first to be built in Islam.
Masjid Dhoul-Qiblatayne is historically important to Muslims as this is where in Rajab 2 AH the revelation of the Holy Quran came to change the direction of the qibla from Bait-al-Maqdiss in Palestine to the Kaabah in Makkah.
During his time in Makkah, the Prophet Muhammed (saw) used to pray towards Bait-al-Maqdiss, with the Kaabah in front of him. When he migrated to Madinah, he prayed towards Jerusalem direction for 16 months, but he hoped it would be changed to the Kaabah.
During Dhouhr prayer or it was said that it was Asr, the Prophet (saw) had led his Companions in praying two rakaah, when he was commanded to face towards the Kaabah by the following revelation in the Quran in Sourate al-Baqarah:
“Verily, we have seen the turning of your (Muhammed’s) face towards the heaven. Surely, we shall turn you to a Qibla (prayer direction) that shall please you, so turn your face in the direction of Al-Masjid Al-Haram (at Makkah). And where so ever you people are, turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction.” [Noble Quran 2:144]
The Prophet (peace be upon him) turned around towards the Kaabah and the Sahabah copied out of obedience. Thus, the Kaabah became the new qibla of the Muslims for all time to come.
Masjid Qiblatayne used to uniquely contains two mihrabs, one in the direction of Bait-al-Maqdiss and the other towards Makkah. However, the old mihrab has now been covered.
O Muslims! Pursue good fortune but do not lag behind in rights of Allah. He taught you His Book and guided you on the path that the righteous and the false may be distinguished. O People! Allah has been good to you and you should be like that to others. Keep away from His enemies and strive in His cause with determination. He has chosen you and named you Muslims so that he who perishes, does so for worthy cause and he who lives, follows a worthy cause. And every piety is done with His help.
It is the place where pilgrims coming from Madinah wishing to perform Umrah or Hajj enter ihram before they set for Makkah.
It was first built during the time of Umar bin Abdul Aziz as governor of Al-Madinah (87-93 A.H./706-712 A.D.) and renovated several times afterwards, the last of which was during the time of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz, who ordered its area to be increased several times and to be provided with necessary facilities.
The mosque was built in the shape of a square on an area of 6500 m². It consists of two sets of galleries separated by a wide yard of 1000 m². The galleries are shaped as arches ending with long domes. The mosque has a distinct minaret, square at the bottom but round at the top in a diagonal shape. It rises to a Hight of 65 m.
Attached to the mosque are the washing, ablution and ihram clothes waring facilities. It also has a large parking lot.
The Miqate Mosque, also called Abyar Ali, is one of the most noticeable spots in Madinah. It is the station for pilgrims from the Prophet’s city and pilgrims passing through it. At this place, they wear their ihram, the two pieces of white cloth that each male pilgrim must wear prior to performing Haj or Umrah, and make Niyah, the intention of performing Haj or Umrah in Makkah.
The mosque is located within the blessed Aqeeq Valley and is 14 kilometres away from the Prophet’s Mosque.