The Importance of Mecca (Makkah) to Muslims
Mecca, a city in Western Saudi Arabia is considered a Holy City for Muslims. This is because every Hajj period, many Muslims visit the city for pilgrimage (Campo 985). Believed to be the birth city of Prophet Muhammad, Mecca attracts many visitors during the Hajj period, raising the population of the city from an average of 2 million people to 16 people in the pilgrimage season. The city thus plays an important role in the accomplishment of the five Islamic pillars, one of which is Hajj.
The five pillars of Islam were created by Prophet Muhammad to guide Islamic faithful. The Hajj, one of the pillars involves a visit to Mecca by able bodied men. For those whose visit may constitute and inconvenience to families, the Islamic faith allows representatives to be sent. This visit occurs during the tenth month of the Islamic calendar. The history of the city was begun with the building of the Kaaba by Ishmael and Abraham in 2000BC. Visiting Mecca allows Islamic faithful to worship five times each day while facing Kaaba.
The birth of Prophet Muhammad occurred in 570 AD in the city of Mecca. He was born into the ruling tribe at that time. Eventually, Muhammad took control of Mecca in 630Ad and cleansed the city of all forms of idolatry in the Kaaba and devoted the structure to the worship of Allah. This led to the initiation of the Islamic faith. During his reign, the prophet ordained the city as the place of Muslim pilgrimage and set aside features such as the ZamZam well as important cites for Islamic worship. Despite the expansion of the city, minimum changes have occurred with regards to the features made by Prophet Muhammad (Makkii 270).
In the religious aspect, the city of Mecca is set apart by the Quran as the point of purification and pilgrimage for Islamic faithful. The key location in Mecca is the Kaaba, which is described by Muslims as the house of God. In this central place, the Muslims go to worship God while bending and kissing the ground seven times. The actions of Muslims at the Kaaba are in line with their beliefs that the Kaaba presents the point where the Power and blessings of God touch the ground directly.
While the Muslims are obliged to visit Mecca during the lifetime, visiting Mecca or Medina or even participating in the Hajj celebrations is forbidden for non-Muslims (Mubarakpuri 359). During the Hajj celebrations, the key rituals include walking around the Kaaba seven times, kissing the black stone and a walk referred to as the Sayee. The importance of the city of Mecca to Muslims extends to the rituals carried out therein such as the Qibla which refers to special prayers conducted at specific times.
Apart from the major rituals, Muslims who visit the holy city also engage in purification rituals before entry into the city. In addition to this, the Muslims also have to walk the distance between Safa and Marwa hills in a bid to relive the moments of Hagar’s search for water in the desert for her son Ishmael. The conclusion of the Hajj ceremony involves walking to Mina where the devil is exemplified through a mounted stone at which the Muslims throw stones. In conclusion, the city of Mecca plays a very crucial role in the accomplishment of the pillars of Islamic faith.
Campo, Juan E. Encyclopaedia of Islam. New York, NY: New York Press, 2009. Print.
Makkii, Ghaazii. Mecca, the Pilgrimage City: A Study of Pilgrimage. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2005. Print.
Mubarakpuri, Safiur. History of Makkah. Riyadh: Darussalam, 2002. Print.
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