Mecca is the center of Islam, a monotheistic religion that teaches that God is one and that man must worship him in obedience. It is the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of the religion.
Mecca is located in a narrow valley 70 km (43 mi) inland from Jeddah, 277 m (909 ft) above sea level. It is considered one of the holiest cities in the world.
The Kaaba (Arabic:
It is a cube-shaped structure that measures about 12m long, 10m wide and 15m tall. Constructed from grey granite, it is built in such a way that the corners roughly correspond to the points of the compass.
A Black Stone, whose broken pieces are surrounded by a ring of stone and held together with a heavy silver band, sits in the eastern corner. This stone is believed to have been given to Adam in order to erase his sins and allow him entrance into heaven.
In addition to being a major pilgrimage destination, the Kaaba is also a symbol of Muslim unity and devotion. All Muslims face it when praying, reciting the Quran and burying their dead. This gives them direction and helps to provide a sense of unity in their faith.
The Black Stone
The Black Stone, or Hajar al-Aswad, is the eastern cornerstone of the Kaaba (the “cube”), the ancient building towards which Muslims pray. It is situated at the start of a pilgrim’s circling of the Kaaba as part of their Hajj or Umrah rituals.
In Islam, the Black Stone is regarded as one of the most important Muslim objects of reverence. It is believed to have descended from heaven and to have been given to Adam by God.
It is believed that the Black Stone was originally white, but became black when it was exposed to human misdeeds. It is also said to have been part of an altar that Adam built in paradise, which was lost during Noah’s flood.
In the year 930 CE, the Black Stone was stolen by the Qarmatians and carried away to their base in Hajar (modern Eastern Arabia). It is now broken into pieces, which are held together by a silver frame fastened with silver nails.
The Haram Mosque
The focal point of every Muslim and the largest mosque in the world, Al Masjid al Haram is able to host a million worshippers.
The Kaaba is an important part of Islam, and it’s at the centre of Islamic pilgrimages (hajj and umrah). It’s the direction (qibla) that 1.8 billion Muslims face five times each day when they pray.
As the qibla, Mecca is also an important symbol of unity for Muslims. It is also the place where Hagar ran between the hills of Safa and Marwah looking for water for her son, Ishmael.
The Haram Mosque is surrounded by the Holy Kaaba and is built out of layers of gray blue stone from the hills surrounding Mecca. It is the focal point of a million worshippers each year during hajj and umrah.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque
The Al-Aqsa Mosque is considered one of the world’s oldest mosques and the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina. It is also believed that the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven from the Dome of the Rock, a structure located on the Temple Mount.
The Al-Aqsa mosque is part of the Noble Sanctuary, a complex of religious buildings and sites in Jerusalem. It is considered a sacred place to Muslims and Jews alike.
It is administered by the Islamic Waqf, a Palestinian civilian administration. The complex is inviolable according to Islamic law and has been guarded by Jordan and Israel since 1967.
It was first built in the seventh century, but has undergone many transformations throughout history. Several dynasties of the Islamic Caliphate rebuilt it, adding bits around it like minarets and expanding its size.