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Must-See Ziyarat (sacred sites) in Makkah, Saudi Arabia

  • Profile thesoloquest
  • Mar 07, 2024
  • 40 min read

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The journey to the holy city of Makkah is a profound experience for Muslims worldwide, offering a unique opportunity to connect with their faith and heritage. Among the many highlights of such a pilgrimage are the must-see Ziyarat, or sacred sites, that dot the landscapes of these revered cities. From the iconic Kaaba in Makkah to the historic Al-Masjid an-Nabawi in Madinah, each site carries deep spiritual significance and holds a special place in the hearts of believers. As a travel experience blogger passionate about sharing enriching experiences, I highly recommend visiting these sacred sites as an integral part of your Umrah pilgrimage to Makkah, allowing you to immerse yourself in Islam's profound spirituality and rich history.

 

 

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1. Masjid al-Haram (The Grand Mosque)

Masjid al-Haram, nestled in the heart of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, stands as the epicenter of Islamic worship, encapsulating centuries of religious devotion and historical significance. Home to the revered Kaaba, it symbolizes the spiritual axis of the Muslim world and serves as the focal point for millions of worshippers annually, especially during the sacred Hajj pilgrimage and the blessed month of Ramadan. Its majestic architecture, with soaring minarets and intricate Islamic designs, evokes awe and reverence, while its expansive courtyards and prayer halls accommodate the diverse Muslim ummah in communal prayer and reflection. Masjid al-Haram's inclusive ethos embraces Muslims from all corners of the globe, fostering a sense of unity and equality before Allah. It remains a sanctuary where believers find solace, inspiration, and divine connection, transcending boundaries of time and space to embody the essence of Islam's universal message of peace and submission to the Almighty.

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2. Kaaba

The Kaaba is a cuboid structure covered with a black silk cloth, located within the Masjid al-Haram. It is considered the House of Allah and the most sacred site in Islam. Muslims face towards the Kaaba while performing their prayers. According to Islamic tradition, the Kaaba was originally built by the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and his son Isma'il (Ishmael) as a house of worship dedicated to the worship of one God.

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3. Maqam Ibrahim (Station of Ibrahim)

Maqam Ibrahim is a stone structure near the Kaaba, believed to contain the footprint of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham). It holds significant religious importance, and Muslims perform prayers near it as part of the Hajj and Umrah rituals. According to Islamic tradition, the story of Maqam Ibrahim is closely linked to the construction of the Kaaba itself. It is believed that when Ibrahim and his son Isma'il (Ishmael) were building the Kaaba under the divine command of Allah, they needed a stone to serve as a platform. As Isma'il passed Ibrahim the stones, Ibrahim stood on the stone known as the Maqam Ibrahim, miraculously rising higher and higher with each stone he received until the Kaaba's walls were completed.

The Maqam Ibrahim is said to bear the footprints of Ibrahim, marking the spot where he stood during the construction of the Kaaba. It is also believed that the stone miraculously preserved Ibrahim's footprints, serving as a symbol of his unwavering faith and obedience to Allah's command.

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4. Al-Hijr (Hijr Ismail) aka Hateem

The Hateem, a crescent-shaped space adjacent to the Ka'bah in Makkah, holds deep historical and spiritual significance. Also known as 'Hijr Ismail', it is believed to be the site where the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) built a shelter for his son Ismail (Ishmael) and wife Hajrah (Hagar). The area has witnessed pivotal moments in Islamic history, including the Prophet Muhammad's grandfather, Abdul Muttalib, receiving divine guidance about the Zamzam well while resting there. Later, when the Ka'bah faced destruction, the Quraysh rebuilt it with utmost reverence, using resources sourced ethically. Despite financial constraints, they constructed a wall enclosing the original foundation laid by Ibrahim, now part of the northern side of the Kaaba. While some scholars speculate that Ismail and Hajrah may be buried beneath the Hateem, others question this claim. Hazrat Aisha, the wife of the Prophet Muhammad, confirmed the Hateem as part of the Ka'bah, although it was left out due to insufficient funds. The area holds significance for prayers, with the Prophet Muhammad leading Hazrat Aisha in salah there, affirming its connection to the Baytullah. Despite efforts to include the Hateem within the Ka'bah's walls, it remains a separate space for Tawaf, symbolizing the rich tapestry of Islamic history and tradition. Additionally, the Hateem features the 'Meezab-e-Rahmah', a water outlet of mercy constructed by the Quraysh, further enriching its spiritual aura. During Umrah, the opportunity to pray in the Hateem is rare, but for those fortunate enough, it is a cherished experience. Even during Umrah, pilgrims have the chance to witness its significance and reflect on its profound historical and spiritual importance.

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5. Well of ZamZam / Zam Zam Water

The Zamzam Well, situated within the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, holds significant importance for Muslims worldwide. It stands just 20 meters east of the Kaaba, the most sacred site in Islam. According to Islamic tradition, the well is a miraculous source of water that emerged thousands of years ago when Hajar and her son Isma'il were left in the desert. It is said to have dried up temporarily but was rediscovered by Abd al-Muttalib, the grandfather of Prophet Muhammad, in the 6th century. Each year, millions of pilgrims visit Mecca and Medina to perform the Hajj or Umrah and drink from the blessed waters of the Zamzam Well.

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6. Safa and Marwa

Safa and Marwa are two small hills located within Masjid al-Haram. Pilgrims perform Sa'i, which involves walking seven times between the two hills, commemorating Hajar's search for water for her son Isma'il, according to Islamic tradition.

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7. Jabal al-Nour (Mountain of Light)

Jabal al-Nour, meaning the Mountain of Light, is a prominent mountain in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, known for its profound significance in Islamic history. At its summit lies the Cave of Hira, a humble cavern where Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) retreated for spiritual contemplation. During the holy month of Ramadan, the Prophet Muhammad received his first revelation from Allah through the Angel Gabriel. This momentous event marked the beginning of his prophethood and the revelation of the Quran, Islam's holy scripture. The Cave of Hira holds immense importance for Muslims worldwide as the birthplace of Islam and the site where the divine message was first communicated to humanity.

The hike to the Cave of Hira typically takes around 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on the individual's fitness level and pace. It is advisable to start the hike early in the morning or in the late afternoon to avoid the intense heat of the day, particularly during the summer months. The cooler temperatures and softer light during these times enhance the spiritual experience of the journey.

During the Hajj pilgrimage, Muslims visit Jabal al-Nour and the Cave of Hira to commemorate the pivotal moments in Islamic history associated with this sacred site. As part of the pilgrimage, pilgrims may ascend the mountain to reach the Cave of Hira, where Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) received his first revelation from Allah. Upon reaching the cave, pilgrims may engage in prayers, supplications, and reflections, seeking spiritual enlightenment and connection with the divine. The visit to Jabal al-Nour serves as a profound reminder of the Prophet's mission and the foundational event of Islam's revelation. Similarly, during Ziyarat (religious visits), Muslims also journey to Jabal al-Nour and the Cave of Hira to pay homage to the Prophet Muhammad and to seek blessings from this sacred place. They may engage in acts of devotion, recite prayers, and reflect on the significance of the Prophet's spiritual experiences at this site. Overall, both during Hajj and as part of Ziyarat, visiting Jabal al-Nour and the Cave of Hira holds great spiritual significance for Muslims, serving as a symbol of faith, devotion, and connection with the prophetic tradition.

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8. Jabal Thawr (Mount Thawr)

Jabal Thawr is a mountain that contains the Cave of Thawr, where Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) sought refuge during his migration from Makkah to Madinah to escape persecution. When the Prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H and his close companion Abu Bakr R.A. were migrating from Makkah to Madinah to escape persecution, they sought refuge in the Cave of Thawr, located within the Jabal Thawr mountain.

As the Quraysh, the tribe of Makkah, pursued the Prophet and Abu Bakr, they eventually reached the cave where the Prophet and his companion were hiding. In a moment of peril, with the Quraysh dangerously close to discovering them, Abu Bakr expressed his concerns to the Prophet Muhammad. In response, the Prophet Muhammad assured Abu Bakr with unwavering faith, saying, "Do not be sad, indeed Allah is with us" (Quran 9:40).

During this critical time, a spider spun its web over the entrance of the cave, and a pigeon laid its eggs nearby, effectively concealing the presence of the Prophet and Abu Bakr from their pursuers. Witnessing these miraculous occurrences, the Quraysh passed by the cave without realizing that the Prophet and his companion were inside.

This event, known as the "Miracle of the Spider" (Karamat al-'Ankabut), holds great significance in Islamic tradition, symbolizing divine protection and the strength of faith. It highlights the trust and reliance that the Prophet Muhammad and his companion Abu Bakr had in Allah during times of adversity. The Cave of Thawr and the incident associated with it serve as a powerful reminder of the resilience and steadfastness displayed by the early Muslims in the face of persecution and adversity.

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9. Jannat al-Mu'alla (Al-Mu'alla Cemetery)

Jannat al-Mu'alla, also known as the Al-Mu'alla Cemetery, is an ancient burial ground located near the Masjid al-Haram in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. It holds profound significance in Islamic history and tradition, serving as the final resting place for several esteemed individuals, including relatives and companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Among those buried in Jannat al-Mu'alla are Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, the first wife of the Prophet Muhammad, renowned for her unwavering support and devotion to Islam; Abu Talib ibn Abd al-Muttalib, the Prophet's uncle who protected during times of persecution; Abdullah ibn Jahsh, a courageous cousin of the Prophet who fought alongside him in battles; and Amina bint Wahb, the beloved mother of the Prophet Muhammad. These gravesites stand as reminders of the early struggles and triumphs of Islam, and visiting Jannat al-Mu'alla is considered a sacred opportunity for Muslims to pay homage to these revered figures from Islamic history.

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10. Masjid al-Jinn (Mosque of the Jinn)

Masjid al-Jinn is a mosque located in the vicinity of Makkah, believed to have been built on the spot where a group of jinn (spirits) accepted Islam after hearing the Quran being recited by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). According to Islamic sources, one night, while the Prophet Muhammad was reciting the Quran in Makkah, a group of jinn happened to pass by and heard his recitation. Intrigued by the beauty and truth of the Quranic verses, the jinn stopped to listen attentively. They were so deeply moved by the message that they embraced Islam on the spot.

This incident is recorded in Surah al-Jinn (Chapter 72) of the Quran, where it mentions the jinn listening to the Prophet Muhammad's recitation and later spreading the message of Islam among their kind. The surah also emphasizes the importance of listening to the Quran and following its guidance.

In commemoration of this event, it is believed that Masjid al-Jinn was built at the location where the jinn had gathered to listen to the Prophet Muhammad's recitation. The mosque, located in Makkah, is visited by Muslims who seek blessings and spiritual fulfillment. It serves as a reminder of the inclusive nature of Islam and the universal message of the Quran, which is not limited to humans but encompasses all creation.

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11. Masjid Aisha (Masjid al-Tan'eem)

Masjid Aisha is a mosque located in Tan'eem, where pilgrims performing Umrah from Makkah enter into the state of Ihram (ritual consecration). It is recommended for those residing in Makkah to enter Ihram from here. According to historical accounts, when the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his companions would perform Umrah or Hajj, they would stop at Masjid Aisha before entering the state of Ihram. It is said that Aisha, one of the wives of the Prophet Muhammad, performed Umrah from this location, hence the name Masjid Aisha.

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12.House of Abu Bakar (R.A.) house/ Masjid Abu Bakr Sadiq (Birth House of Hazrat Ayesha R.A)

It was from this place that Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA), the closest companion of Prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H, embarked on his journey of migration towards Madinah. Due to the escalating persecution by the disbelievers of Makkah, Allah permitted Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to migrate to Madinah. 

In the 13th year after the announcement of prophethood, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) left Hazrat Khadija (R.A)'s house during the daytime and proceeded to the house of Hazrat Abu Bakr (R.A). From there, they both set out for Madinah.

Although the house of Abu Bakr (R.A) that once stood on the mountain is no longer present, it is now the site of the Makkah Hilton Tower. However, in remembrance of his dwelling, a mosque has been erected in the same area where his house once stood.

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13. Masjid al-Khayf (Al-Khayf Mosque)

Located in the southern part of Mina, Makkah, Saudi Arabia, near the smallest Jamarat, Masjid Al Khayf holds both historical and sacred significance. Regarded as one of the area's most vital mosques, it has been graced by the presence of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and approximately seventy other prophets, who have performed prayers (Salah) within its walls. This esteemed history is why it is often referred to as the "Mosque of the Prophets.

 

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14. Masjid Nimra (Nimra Mosque)

Muslims can visit Masjid Nimra, also known as Nimra Mosque, throughout the year, but its significance is particularly highlighted during the Hajj pilgrimage. The mosque is located in Arafat, where the most crucial ritual of Hajj, known as Wuquf, takes place on the 9th day of Dhul-Hijjah. During Wuquf, pilgrims gather in Arafat to stand in vigil, supplicate to Allah, and seek forgiveness for their sins. It is a momentous occasion in the Hajj pilgrimage, as it symbolizes spiritual renewal and the climax of the pilgrimage journey.

Masjid Nimra holds great importance in Islamic history due to its association with the farewell sermon delivered by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) during his final Hajj pilgrimage. The Prophet delivered his sermon from the outskirts of Masjid Nimra, addressing a vast gathering of Muslims and imparting essential teachings and guidance for the Ummah (community). This sermon, known as the Farewell Sermon, emphasizes principles of justice, equality, and unity, and serves as a cornerstone of Islamic ethics and morality.

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15. Mina

Mina, a neighborhood located near Makkah, is primarily known for its role during the Hajj pilgrimage, particularly as the site where pilgrims camp and perform specific rituals. Outside of the Hajj season, Mina does not serve the same purpose and is not typically open for pilgrimage activities year-round.

During the Hajj, pilgrims stay in Mina for several days, particularly on the 8th, 11th, 12th, and 13th days of Dhul-Hijjah, where they perform rituals such as the symbolic stoning of the Jamaraat (pillars representing Satan), prayers, and reflection. Outside of the Hajj season, Mina may not be accessible to pilgrims, and its facilities may be closed but pilgrims can drive around and see it from a distance.

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16. Mount Arafat (Jabal al-Rahmah)

Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahmah (the Mountain of Mercy), holds profound significance in Islamic tradition, particularly during the Hajj pilgrimage. Located just outside Makkah, Mount Arafat is where the most crucial ritual of Hajj, known as Wuquf, takes place on the 9th day of Dhul-Hijjah.

According to some Islamic beliefs, Mount Arafat is the site where the Prophet Adam and his wife Eve (Hawwa) were reunited after being expelled from Paradise. It is said that they met here after wandering the earth separately for many years, seeking forgiveness and repentance from Allah. Their reconciliation symbolizes the mercy and forgiveness of Allah, and Mount Arafat is regarded as a place of spiritual redemption and reconciliation.

During the Hajj pilgrimage, pilgrims gather at Mount Arafat to perform Wuquf, which involves standing in vigil, supplicating to Allah, and seeking forgiveness for their sins. This ritual is considered the pinnacle of the Hajj journey, as it symbolizes spiritual renewal and the climax of the pilgrimage experience.

On this mount, a farewell sermon was delivered by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) during his final Hajj pilgrimage. From the outskirts of Mount Arafat, the Prophet delivered his sermon, addressing a vast gathering of Muslims and imparting essential teachings and guidance for the Ummah (community). This sermon, known as the Farewell Sermon, emphasizes principles of justice, equality, and unity, and serves as a cornerstone of Islamic ethics and morality.

Mount Arafat is indeed accessible year-round for visitors and residents alike. However, during the days of Hajj, access to Mount Arafat is restricted to pilgrims performing the Hajj pilgrimage. This restriction is in place to ensure the safety and security of pilgrims during the Hajj rituals, as Mount Arafat is a crucial site for the pilgrimage.

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17.Mount Abu Qubais (Jabal Abu Qubais)

Jabal Abu Qubais, situated adjacent to Masjid al-Haram, holds significant historical and religious importance in Islamic tradition. Legend has it that from the peak of this mountain, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) once pointed to the moon, miraculously splitting it into halves. The western wall of Jabal Abu Qubais, facing the Ka’bah, was called ‘Fadih’. Moreover, it was known as 'al-Amin', signifying its role as a safe keeper, safeguarding the Hajar al-Aswad (the Black Stone of the Ka’bah) during the time of Prophet Nuh (Noah), when a flood-ravaged Makkah. Some narratives suggest it was the first mountain created by Allah and served as the stone's resting place until Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) was guided to its location for the reconstruction of the Ka’bah. 

 

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18. Prophet Muhammad's Birth House/ Bayt al-Mawlid

Bayt al-Mawlid, also known as the House of the Birth, now Makkah al-Mukarammah Library has been a focal point for pilgrims and visitors seeking to pay homage to the Prophet Muhammad and reflect on the early stages of his life. Devotees often visit the site recite blessings upon the Prophet, and seek blessings for themselves and their families. Currently, there is a library which stands on the spot.

Over time, Bayt al-Mawlid has undergone various renovations and enhancements to preserve its historical significance and accommodate the increasing number of visitors. Today, it stands as a symbol of love and reverence for the Prophet Muhammad and serves as a reminder of his humble beginnings and extraordinary journey.

While the exact historical authenticity of Bayt al-Mawlid is debated among scholars, its spiritual and symbolic importance remains unquestioned in the hearts of believers, who continue to hold it in high esteem as a sacred site associated with the life and birth of the Prophet Muhammad.

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19. Makkah Museums

Discover the rich cultural heritage of Saudi Arabia through the top museums in Makkah. Renowned for their immersive exhibits and extensive collections, these museums offer a glimpse into centuries-old artifacts, inscriptions, and drawings that illuminate the history of Makkah and Islam. Exploring these museums with family and children provides an enriching opportunity to bond while gaining a comprehensive understanding of the kingdom's past. Here are the top five museums in Makkah that promise an unforgettable journey through time and tradition.

  1. Clock Tower Museum: Nestled within the world's third tallest building and tallest clock tower, the Clock Tower Museum offers a captivating panoramic view of Makkah. Boasting observatories, science centers, and observation decks, this museum spans the first four floors of the clock tower. Visitors can marvel at the world's most accurate clock on the first floor and explore astronomical models on the following levels. The fourth floor treats guests to expansive balconies, providing breathtaking views of the Grand Mosque. Inserted Image
  2. Makkah Museum: Formerly known as Al Zahir Palace, the Makkah Museum invites visitors to delve into the past and present of the holy city. Renowned for its extensive collection of Islamic literature, art, and archaeology, this museum showcases exquisite sculptures and artifacts dating back several centuries. Islamic inscriptions adorning the walls and meticulously crafted calligraphy offer glimpses into the region's rich cultural heritage and religious significance. Inserted Image
  3. Exhibition of the Two Holy Mosques: This architectural marvel captures the transformative journey of the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah. Through seven meticulously curated halls, visitors can admire stunning architectural designs and relics from both mosques. The museum's entrance, reminiscent of the Grand Mosque, welcomes guests with profound Quranic teachings inscribed on its walls. Free copies of the Holy Quran and samples of Zamzam water further enrich the visitor experience. Inserted Image
  4. Al-Amoudi Museum: Situated in the heart of Makkah, the Al-Amoudi Museum offers a captivating journey through Saudi Arabia's royal history. Showcasing artifacts and relics from various historical periods, this themed museum provides insights into the lives of the Saudi royal family and the region's cultural heritage. From folklore to everyday life, visitors gain a deeper understanding of the past through immersive exhibits.Inserted Image
  5. Al Shareef Museum: Located in the Taif region of Makkah province, the Al Shareef Museum boasts a diverse collection of artifacts, furniture, and relics showcasing Saudi Arabia's rich history. Antique furniture, ancient tools, and rare manuscripts of the Holy Quran are just a glimpse of what this museum has to offer. Visitors can explore vintage cars, weapons, and other unique exhibits, while the museum market offers an opportunity to purchase souvenirs and antique treasures.

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20. Kiswa Factory

The Kiswa Factory is a must-see destination for visitors to Makkah, offering a fascinating glimpse into the intricate craftsmanship behind the iconic cloth that adorns the Kaaba. The Kiswa, a black silk cloth embroidered with verses from the Quran, is draped over the Kaaba, Islam's holiest site, during the Hajj pilgrimage and throughout the year. The factory, located in Makkah, provides an opportunity for visitors to witness the meticulous process of weaving, embroidering, and crafting the Kiswa.

Visitors to the Kiswa Factory can observe skilled artisans meticulously working on every step of the production process, from spinning silk threads to hand-embroidering golden calligraphy and intricate patterns onto the fabric. The factory showcases the traditional techniques passed down through generations, combined with modern technology to ensure the highest quality standards. Witnessing the creation of the Kiswa at the factory is not only a memorable experience but also offers a deeper appreciation for the rich cultural and religious heritage of Islam. Inserted Image

Prerequisites for Visiting the Kiswa Factory:

To visit the Kiswa Factory, interested parties must meet the following prerequisites and apply here:

  • Be a Governmental Agency or Certified Institution: Only governmental agencies or certified institutions are eligible to visit the Kiswa Factory.
  • Minimum Group Size: Groups must consist of no less than 20 persons to be eligible for a visit.
  • Submission of Letter: A signed and sealed letter from the visiting entity must be submitted before the visit request.

Procedure for Visit:

  1. Select the type of organization visiting the factory (institution, educational agency, official delegation).
  2. Ensure that the name of the visiting agency is correct and accurately stated.
  3. Attach the signed and sealed letter from the visiting entity, confirming the request for a visit.
  4. Appointments for visiting the factory will be available for registration one week after the date the request was created.

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