Mecca: Place and times

The heart of rituals:

Mecca comprises unmatched characteristics on the religious, historical, and cultural levels, which has earned it a special status for entire humanity.

That is what drove the British Museum in London to hold the first exhibition of its kind under the title “Journey to the Heart of Islam” to explore the holy city. The King Abdul Aziz Public Library represents the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in this exhibition. The following report tells the story of the sacred rituals.

In Mecca, sanctity can be felt at every spot, for it is here that pilgrims come to start a journey whose only guide is their thirst for spiritual cleansing and inner peace.

They start with the arrival circumambulation as soon as they reach the holy city. At this moment, they get to see the Grand Mosque, maybe for the first time, in all its glory and beauty. They touch with their hearts before their hands the sacred Black Stone and the shrine of Abraham and quench their thirst from the Zamzam well and the entire surroundings.

"God Almighty said in Sura Ali-Umran, that the first house built for people in Mecca is holy and provides guidance to people," said Dr. Ahmed al-Mawrei, professor at Umm al-Qura University.

"One ostensible evidence of God’s manifestation is the house of Prophet Abraham in Mecca where holy rituals take place in places such as Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina … God has ordered these places be glorified," he added.

Pilgrims march back and forth between the mounts of Safa and Marwah, a ritual in which all races and classes dissolve and only supplications to God remain.

Here the hardships of the ritual are abated as they become insignificant in comparison to the pilgrims’ keenness to communicate with God. Here they stand on Mount Arafat then spend the night in Muzdalifah before heading to Mina.

Here they stone the devil then head back towards the Grand Mosque to perform the farewell circumambulation.

It is hard for anyone who comes to Mecca to resist traveling to Medina. Here pilgrims flock to the tomb of Prophet Mohammed and go back in time to a long history of perseverance, love, and tolerance, a history of noble values that fill has enriched humanity and filled the hearts of human being till this very moment.

Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid
Voice: Nadia Mayen

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