The very first construction of the Kaaba was done by Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) and his son Ismail as a house of worship to one God.
Allah (the Glorified and Exalted) says in the Quran that this was the first house that was built for humanity to worship Allah (the Glorified and
Exalted). Soon after Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) died, people started filling the Kaaba with idols. It was not until Prophet Muhammad
(peace and blessings be upon him) defeated the idol-worshippers that the idols inside the Kaaba were destroyed.
One of the Five Pillars of Islam requires every Muslim to perform the Hajj pilgrimage at least once in his or her lifetime if able to do so. Multiple
parts of the Hajj require pilgrims to walk seven times around the Kaaba in a counter-clockwise direction. This circumambulation (Tawaf), is also
performed by pilgrims during Umrah.
Muslims around the world face the Kaaba during prayers, no matter where they are. This is called facing the Qiblah.
As mentioned in this verse in the Quran, “Verily, We have seen the turning of your (Muhammad’s) face towards the heaven. Surely, We shall turn
you to a Qiblah (prayer direction) that shall please you, so turn your face in the direction of Masjid al-Haram. And wheresoever you people are,
turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction.” [2:144 ]
The Masjid al-Haram was built around the Kaaba. It is also the largest mosque in the world. It was first built under the leadership of the Caliph Omar Ibn al-Khattab (634-644) and has been modified continuously under several Muslim rulers. Omar, the first Caliph, ordered the demolition of some houses surrounding the Kaaba in order to accommodate the growing number of pilgrims and built a 1.5 meter high wall to delineate a large prayer area. During the reign of his successor Caliph Uthman Ibn Affan (644-656), the prayer space was enlarged and was covered with a roof carried on wooden columns and arches. In 692, after Caliph Abdul Malik bin Marwan conquered Makkah from Ibn Zubayr, the guardian of the holy site, the outer walls of the mosque were raised, the ceiling was covered with teak and the column capitals were painted in gold. His son, al-Walid (705-715), contributed to the Mosque of al-Haram by replacing the wooden columns with marble ones and by decorating its arches with mosaics. Later, Abbasid Caliph Abu Ja’far al-Mansur (754-775) added mosaics to the columns. He also doubled the size of the northern and western wings of the prayer hall and erected the minaret of Bab al-Umra on the northwest corner. In 777, due to the growing number of pilgrims, Abbasid Caliph al-Mahdi (775-785) ordered the rebuilding of the mosque, demolishing more houses around the Ka’ba. The new mosque enclosure centered on the Kaaba, measured 196 meters by 142 meters. It was built on a grid plan, with marble columns from Egypt and Syria, decorated with gilt teak wooden inlay. Al-Mahdi also built three minarets crowned with crenellations and placed above Bab al-Salam, Bab Ali and Bab al-Wadi of the mosque.
Jabal al-Nour is located in the Hejaz region of Saudi Arabia, just outside of Makkah. Jabal al-Nour translates to “Mountain of Light.” Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) received his first revelation from Allah (the Glorified and Exalted) through Angel Jibreel (Gabriel) in the Hira cave which is on this mountain. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to climb this mountain often even before receiving his fist revelation from Allah (the Glorified and Exalted).
On Jabal al-Nour is Ghar Hira (Cave of Hira). It is a small cave about 3.5 meters long and a little over 1.5 meters wide. It is in this cave that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) found the solitude he needed to meditate. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would come here to find solitude In the year 610, when Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was 40 years old, he received his first divine revelation from Allah (the Glorified and Exalted) through Angel Jibreel. When Angel Jibreel, appeared to him he said, Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists), He has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood), Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous, Who has taught (the writing) by the pen. He has taught man that which he knew not. Holy Quran (Al Alaq 96: 1-5).
It is in this mountain that the houses the cave where prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) stayed for three days and nights fleeing persecution from the Quraysh during their migration to Madinah. The mountain is at the southern end of Makkah and rises about 760 meters above sea level.
This is the cave in Mountain Thawr that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) took refuge. The Quraish people almost entered the cave because they believed that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was in there. But since Allah (the Glorified and Exalted) commanded a spider to spin a web from a bush across the entrance of the cave and Allah (the Glorified and Exalted) also commanded two doves to fly down between the spider and the tree, make a nest and lay eggs. When the pursuers reached close to the cave’s entrance they thought it was impossible that someone could have entered the cave without ruining the spider web.
It is in this city of Mina near Makkah that the Hajj pilgrims perform the ritual stoning of the Devil (ramy al-jamarat) on the last day of the Hajj. In the low lying Mina valley is the Jamarat Valley. Three pillars stand here, representing Satan or the Devil, the perpetrator of all evil. The pilgrims denounce sin and stone these pillars, pledging allegiance to God and virtue. Mina is best known for the role it plays during the annual Hajj pilgrimage when its tent cities provided by the Saudi government give temporary accommodation to millions of visiting pilgrims. In the low lying Mina valley is the Jamarat Valley. Three pillars stand here, representing Satan or the Devil is where pilgrims cast stones at them which is performed between sunrise and sunset on the last day of the Hajj.
The Hill of Arafat is also known as Jabal ar-Rahmah, meaning Mountain of Mercy. On the ninth day of hajj, pilgrims leave Mina for Mount Arafat where they stand in contemplative vigil and pray and recite the Qur’an. It is here that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) gave his last sermon to the Muslims who had accompanied him for the Hajj towards the end of his life. A pilgrim’s Hajj is considered invalid if they do not spend the afternoon on Mount Arafat.
Allah (the Glorified and Exalted) created the well to provide Hajira, the wife of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) (peace be upon him), and her baby Prophet Ismail (Ishmael) (peace be upon him) with water in the hot, dry valley they were in, around the year 2000 BC. In her desperate search for water, Hajira ran seven times back and forth in the scorching heat between the two hills of Safa and Marwa to provide for her baby who was dying of thirst. The Zamzam Well is located approximately 20 m (66 ft) east of the Kaaba.
Hajar al-Aswad (The Black Stone) is situated on the south-eastern corner of the holy Kaaba which marks the starting and finishing point for circling the Kaaba (known as tawaaf). Today, only parts of the stone are present; consisting of 8 pieces of varying sizes. These are affixed to a larger stone, encased in a silver frame and attached to the corner of the Kaaba about 1.5 meters above the ground. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) informed us of three main virtues of the Stone: 1) Allah sent it down to earth from paradise whiter than milk; however the sins of mankind turned it black. 2) It will come on the Day of Judgment with two eyes with which it will see and a tongue with which it will speak and will testify for those who have touched it in truth and sincerity. 3) Touching the Stone is also one of the means by which Allah erases sins.
Nimra mosque is located next to Mount Arafat. Part of the mosque is actually within the borders of Mount Arafat.
Al-Khaif Mosque is located in Mina. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) prayed here during hajj. Pilgrims also pray in the Mosque during their stay at Mina.
Masjid Biah/Uqbah is located in Mina, near Jamarat. It is here that the Ansar of Madina who were of the Banu Khazraj and the Banu Aws tribes pledged their allegiance with Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).
The mosque is roughly 4.5 miles (7.2 km) from Masjid al-Haram. This mosque is also known as Masjid Ayesha. “When the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) performed his pilgrimage, he advised his companions to start with the Umrah and wait for the pilgrimage days to start on their major duty. However, Ayesha was on her menstrual period and was unable to perform the Umrah on her arrival. When she mentioned to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) that she would go back having performed the pilgrimage only while others did both duties, he told her brother to take her to the nearest point outside the Haram area. He took her to Taneem where she started her Ihram again and came back to perform the Umrah.” (Shakoor, Ahamed A.).