The holy places in Mecca and Medina that Hajj pilgrims have the opportunity to experience

JEDDAH: During the pilgrimages of Hajj and Umrah, devout Muslims seek places that deepen their understanding of Islam and its rich heritage.

The historical sites and archaeological museums at Mecca Al-Mukarramah and Medina Al-Munawara provide an in-depth educational experience to millions of visitors from around the world who flock to the two holy cities every year.

After completing their religious rituals, such as Umrah and Tawaf, and paying their respects at the Haram, pilgrims long to immerse themselves in the history of Mecca and Medina.

With a history dating back thousands of years, these cities epitomize the origins of Islamic culture. They have welcomed pilgrims over the centuries and developed a distinct cultural identity in the process.

The Hira Cultural District in Makkah is one of the must-visit sights for pilgrims. (SPA)

To understand the historical importance of these cities and gain a deeper insight into their religious significance, visitors are urged to go beyond the well-known sights such as Jannat Ul Mua’lla, the Cave of Hira in Jabal Al-Nour, Mount Arafat and Masjid. -e-Ayesha.

Located next to the famous Jabal Al-Nour, the Hira Cultural District offers a distinctive mix of cultural, historical and engaging encounters. Covering 67,000 square meters, this district offers pilgrims an immersive journey through time, allowing them to forge a connection with Mecca’s vibrant history.

Near the Haram is the historic site of Hudaibiyah, where the Prophet Mohammed signed the crucial treaty of Hudaibiyah. A mosque now stands on the site, next to a weathered structure of unknown origin.

In 809, during a time of extreme water scarcity in Mecca, Queen Zubaida, wife of the Abbasid Caliph Harun Rashid, made a pilgrimage to the holy city. Witnessing the challenging conditions faced by pilgrims, she took immediate action by ordering the construction of the Zubaida Canal.

This canal, built over a thousand years ago, has continued to supply water to pilgrims visiting Mecca ever since.

Finally, Mount Abu Qubais, where a miraculous event involving the moon took place, serves as a reminder of divine intervention in the landscape of Mecca.

the Assalaamu Aleyka Ayyuhan Nabiyyu Museum in Mecca. (Delivered)

One of the must-visit attractions in Mecca is the Assalaamu Aleyka Ayyuhan Nabiyyu Museum, which teaches visitors about the life of the Prophet Muhammad through innovative displays and artifacts.

Providing a glimpse into the type of home he may have occupied and exhibiting clothing from his era, the museum provides a unique insight into his life, allowing guests to delve into the lives of his ancestors, wives, children and descendants.

The joint effort of more than 150 scholars guarantees the authenticity of the museum in religious and archaeological details, creating a comprehensive and accurate picture of the life and legacy of the Prophet Muhammad.

“I have been guiding pilgrims on deeply spiritual journeys for almost 15 years, introducing them to the lesser-known treasures of the holy city,” Ahmed Khan, a private guide, told Arab News.

“Pilgrims are always happy and grateful when we visit places where the legacy of the Prophet Mohammed and the rich heritage of Islam resonate every step of the way.”

Another private guide, Aman Javaid, stressed the importance of providing pilgrims with accurate information about the places they visit.

“It is crucial for me to ensure that I share all the correct details about these places,” he told Arab News. “Many pilgrims often mention the Cave of Hira, but I make it a point to take them to the Cave of Thawr as well.

“This revered place is where Prophet Muhammad and his companion Abu Bakr took refuge during their migration to Medina. Sharing the story of how they escaped their enemies and found solace there always arouses the interest of the pilgrims. I ensure that I have extensive knowledge about these sacred places.”

The Cave of Thawr underlines the importance of seeking refuge and divine guidance during adversity and marks a pivotal moment in Islamic history. Pilgrims honor the legacy of the Prophet and Abu Bakr by offering prayers and paying their respects at this holy site.

Located in the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad, the Makkah Al-Mukarramah Library serves as a hub for knowledge and research. With a collection of more than 350,000 rare books and manuscripts, this esteemed institution is a testament to Mecca’s cultural and intellectual heritage.

Within the King Abdulaziz Complex lies the famous Kiswa Factory, where artisans annually produce the beautiful black silk covering for the Holy Kaaba. Decorated with intricate silver and gold embroidery and Quranic inscriptions, these coverings are a symbol of reverence and tradition.

The factory, now known as the King Abdulaziz Complex for Kiswa, showcases the art of silk knitting and embroidery, preserving a centuries-old craft.

Medina, as the second holiest city in Islam, is of immense importance for Muslims undertaking Umrah and Hajj pilgrimages. Pilgrims visit famous mosques and historical sites with rich cultural and religious significance to pay their respects.

The city is home to historic mosques dating back to the time of the Prophet Mohammed, offering a spiritually enriching experience.

Masjid Al-Qiblatain is notable for its traditional design and famous double mihrabs, where the Prophet Muhammad is believed to have received a divine command to change the direction of the qibla. This mosque was rebuilt during the reign of King Fahd and remains a beautiful and important place of prayer in Medina.

Masjid Al-Qiblatain, which means ‘two directions’, was built two years after the Prophet Muhammad arrived in Medina, a city known for its rich Islamic history and a common stop for millions of Umrah and Hajj pilgrims every year. (SPA)

Another notable site is Masjid Abu Bakr, in honor of the first Caliph and close companion of the Prophet. It reflects the deep bond between Abu Bakr and the Prophet Muhammad through its modest yet serene setting and invites visitors to draw inspiration from Abu Bakr’s unwavering faith.

Among the historic mosques in Medina, Masjid Al-Ahzab occupies an important place in Islamic culture. It marks the site of a crucial battle where the Prophet’s du’a led to victory.

Meanwhile, Masjid Al-Ghamamah, although small in size, remains an important place for seeking blessings during ziyarat in Madinah. Visitors are encouraged to respect the mosque’s guidelines, including observing prayer times and maintaining modesty, in order to fully appreciate the spiritual significance of these revered sites.

Another fascinating site concerns the Battle of the Trench, also known as the Khandak Battle – a major military confrontation in 624 between the Muslims of Medina and the Meccan army, which attempted to suppress the spread of Islam.

Fought at the Badr Springs, it proved to be a decisive victory for the Muslims, highlighting their strength and the leadership of the Prophet Muhammad.

Similarly, Hazrat Salman Farsi’s garden in Medina is a historic site where Prophet Muhammad planted 300 date palms to free Salman Farsi from slavery. Located near Masjid Quba, the garden remains lush with date palms and features a date shop where visitors can enjoy tea amidst the greenery.

Meanwhile, the city’s oldest museum, Al-Madinah Museum, highlights Islamic history and the life of the Prophet Muhammad through rare artifacts and models of city landmarks.

Likewise, the As Safiyyah Museum and Park, located near the Prophet’s Mosque, offers a unique cultural experience with a focus on educational enrichment and fun.

The centerpiece is the Story of Creation Museum, which uses advanced technology to visually display the creation story.

Finally, the Hejaz Railway Museum is housed in the historic train station and provides insight into the significance of the Hejaz Railway, which was built to facilitate pilgrimages to the holy cities. The museum displays vintage locomotives, historic photographs and documents about the history of the railway.

These sites not only enhance pilgrims’ understanding of Islamic history, but also promote a greater appreciation for the rich cultural heritage of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

These visits connect pilgrims with the heritage of their faith, making their pilgrimage a truly holistic journey.