The Kabah

Medina and Mecca – Saudi Arabia


When Mohammed was not yet a prophet in the 7th century CE, he lived in Mecca as a trader.  The village was not quite a city and resided in a dry, sandy, impossible valley.  In the center of the city was the well of Zamzam.  Central to the city’s prominence was the Kabah, a box-shaped shrine holding a sacred stone.  Mohammed eventually became the prophet, establishing the new Islamic religion based in Mecca.  A large, Grand Mosque (Muslim temple) rose to glory in the center of the city and today encompasses the Kabah. 

Madina Haram

flickr image by abu usamah

 

Muslims from all over the world now revere Mecca as the site of the revelations given to Mohammed, thus making it one of the holiest cities in the world.  The Kabah within the Grand Mosque exists as the Muslim Holy of Holies, a spot reserved for only those Muslims devout enough to make the phenomenal pilgrimage to Mecca.  One billion or more Muslims from ever corner of the world pray towards Mecca five times daily, making this the primary testament to Mecca’s enduring legacy as host of the Holy of Holies.

The Kabah

flickr image by jasim bajlan

While Mecca is the spot of the beginning of Mohammed’s revelations – a space surely inhabited by a divine presence – nearby Medina is the location where Mohammed’s ministry became catalyzed.  Medina served as the base of operations for Mohammed’s proselytizing machinations.  Spreading swiftly over the entire Arabian Peninsula, Medina was essentially the administrative center for a religious empire spanning from Europe to India to even what is now known as Russia.  Those who go on pilgrimage today cannot escape the intrinsically sacred center called Medina where the Prophet Mohammed is buried.

Arafa, Macca Hajj-2013

flickr image by mohamadi767

Muslims who go on pilgrimage, called Hajj, gather for nearly a week circulating between Mecca and Medina.  Although a visitor may not want to go to Mecca or Medina during the Hajj, visiting at any other point during the year can be a wondrous event as well.  It is said that within the boundaries of these two cities there is no rich or poor as everyone together asks forgiveness from God while wearing the same long white robes.  Going during the Hajj or not, the typical circuit for a pilgrim is: circle the Kabah, drink from Zamzam well, pray in the tents of Mina, and then return to the Kabah for more prayer.  Circling the Kabah and worshipping in Mecca is not strictly a Muslim antic as the tradition dates back to Abraham.

When planning to visit Mecca and Medina, a visitor will have to plan perhaps as far as a year in advance.  Traveling to anywhere in the Saudi Kingdom is difficult because there is no tourist visa.  A person’s Muslim faith must be verified through complicated means.  If one does manage to visit the Saudi Kingdom and enter Mecca and Medina, a newfound appreciation of Abraham’s holy land may be found.  Of particular interest may be throwing stones at three pillars on the Plains of Arafat.  The three pillars symbolize the three devils that tempted Abraham.  Reenacting the path of Abraham is surely an illuminating experience for anyone.

Date posted: 5th February, 2014

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