From every corner of the world, Arabs and Africans… Caucasians and Asians… Europeans and mixed race Whole convoys cross stretches of land to reach this destination in a long journey that unravels man’s eagerness to go through the most exhausting of challenges in order to quench the thirst of the soul.
In the past, they used to spend months on the way, discouraged by neither the sizzling heat of the summer nor the freezing cold of the winter. They came from all parts of the world: from Persia and India and beyond, from the borders of West Africa and Europe, from the boundaries of France and Russia, all striving to drink from that pure spring and hoping to go through the spiritual deliverance they are after.
Now, the journey has become much easier and would not probably exceed a few hours.
Before reaching their destination, the pilgrims need to start their journey at specific times. This is called al-Jahfa for the people of Egypt, the Levant, and the Maghreb and is currently identified by the city of Rabegh.
For the residents of Medina, it is called Tha al-Halifa or Abar Ali and for Iraq and beyond it is That Erq. For Kuwait and the eastern and central areas of Saudi Arabia, pilgrimage starts at Qaran al-Manazel, currently known as al-Sayl while for Yemen, India, and beyond, it is Yolamlam.
For all those as well as for others, Mecca has become the spiritual homeland or the dream of their hearts in case they are unable to reach it. There you can see all sorts and colors of people in the same place and all on equal footing, for all of them are heading for the same destination and share the same inner peace. They all pray and plead to one God to whom they direct all their supplications.
They also bring to Mecca an infinite array of cultures, traditions, foods, and costumes, all merging together at the heart of the sacred valley to produce a magnificently hybrid entity. Why not so? Mecca is the core of holiness that brings prosperity to all mankind on the cultural, social, ethnic, and commercial levels. Owing to all this, Mecca is the city of peace in both form and content. This is what is said about it and this is what it really is.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)
Voice: Nadia Idriss Mayen