Artist's rendering of Masjid al-Haraam
UNIQUE MERITS OF THE HARAM OF MAKKAH
The holiest and most blessed structure on the face of the earth is Ka'bah, the House of Allah, and the mosque that surrounds Ka’bah is called Masjid al-Haraam. The reward of one prayer offered in it is worth one hundred thousand prayers offered elsewhere.
The city of Makkah around the Sacred Mosque and the whole territory surrounding Makkah up to several kilometers in every direction has been declared as sacred Haram (sanctuary).
Makkah was the birth place of Prophet Muhammad ( peace be upon him). Although he was forced to move to Madinah, he had profound admiration for Makkah. He is reported to have said:
"O Makkah! Had not my people forced me out from here, I would never have liked
to settle elsewhere." (Tirmizi)
Moreover, Makkah is the heart of the world as the Holy Qur'an has called it Umm-ul-Qura (The origin of the cities). (Surah ash-Shura 42:7)
ONLY MUSLIMS CAN ENTER MAKKAH
Non-Muslims are not permitted to enter Makkah although some Europeans are known to have penetrated the sacred city in disguise, the first being Ludovico di Bartema in 1503 and the most famous visitor was Sir Richard Burton in 1853.
FORBIDDEN THINGS IN THE HARAM OF MAKKAH
- To cut or pull out from roots, trees, plants or other kinds of vegetation including thorny bushes, etc., growing in the sacred precincts of Mecca. Izkhar ( a sweet smelling grass) is an exception, which the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) allowed to be cut on the request of Hazrat Abbas.
- The trees or plants which are not included in natural growth, but have been planted or sown, may be cut.
- To hunt or kill wild animals except the following kind of animals or insects that are likely to be harmful: the wolf, attack dog, snake, scorpion, rat, lizard, crow, mosquito, bugs, flies, wasps, etc. It is permissible to kill these harmful creatures.
- To enter the precincts of Haram without Ihram, the defaulter has to offer a sacrifice.
- To clip or get one’s hair shaved outside the bounds of Haram, the defaulter has to offer a sacrifice.
- To break or roast eggs of the birds of Haram, and to kill locusts.
- To pick up lost property except for the sake of identifying it to its owner.
- It is allowed to slaughter and cook domestic animals, such as: cow, buffalo, goat, sheep, chicken, etc.
- It is also permissible to hunt water animals.
- Killing of someone was not allowed in Makkah before Islam; this prohibition was lifted for the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) for a short time on the day of the Conquest of Makkah, and after that was enforced again till the day of Judgment.
ALLAH PROTECTED KA'BAH
Abraha, the king of Yaman, was extremely envious of the most sacred position enjoyed by the holy Ka'bah, which attracted a vast majority of mankind. In 570 or 571 AD, he invaded Makkah in order to raise Ka’bah to ground. His army comprised of 60 thousand soldiers and several elephants.
Once they were within the boundaries of the Haram, flock after flock of birds (swallows) suddenly appeared who were carrying pieces of stones in their beaks and claws with which they bombarded the invaders destroying them completely, Thus, Allah protected His house from the evil designs of the enemy. By the way, this incident happened in the same year in which the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) was born. This incident is described briefly in the Qur'an (Surah al-Fil 105 : 1-5)
Makkah’s land is such that almost nothing can grow there, but all types of grains, fruits and all necessities of life are brought here in plenty. In old days, the Quraish of Makkah, among whom our Prophet (peace be upon him) was born, were the caretakers of the Ka’bah and were respected by the whole Arab peninsula. There were robberies and fighting going on in the whole country but out of respect for K a’bah, peace and tranquillity always prevailed in Makkah.
The Quraish freely traveled towards Yaman and Syria for trade which earned them respect and prosperity. There is a reference to this status of Quraish in the Qur'an (Surah Quraish 106 : 1-4).
Even in the present time, Makkah enjoys peace and prosperity and affluence of all the modern necessities. It is a part of an oil rich country, Saudi Arabia and on top of that millions of pilgrims every year spend money during their stay in this city adding to its prosperity.
MIQAT (STATIONS OF IHRAM)
Around Makkah, the Holy Prophet has fixed such places that cannot be crossed by people going to Makkah without entering the state of Ihram (The pilgrim’s robe consisting of two seamless sheets, the detail of which will come at its place). These places are called Miqats and are five in number.
- Zil-Hulaifa: This is the miqat for the residents of Madinah and for those who approach Makkah via that route. It is about 9 kilometers from Madinah and about 250 kilometers from Makkah.
- Juhfah: This is the miqat for the people who come from Syria or from that direction. This is about 180 kilometers to the west of Makkah.
- Qarn al-Manazil: This is a hilly place about 50 kilometers to the east of Makkah, and is the miqat for the people of Najd or for those coming from that side.
- Zat Irq: This is the miqat for the people of Iran, Iraq and for those coming from that direction. This is about 80 kilometers towards the north-east side of Makkah.
- Yalamlam: This is a hilly area about 60 kilometers to the south-east of Makkah and is the miqat for the people of Yaman and others coming from that direction. From example, it is the miqat for the pilgrims from India, Pakistan, China, Japan, etc., who come by ship.
PENALTY FOR IGNORING IHRAM
- If someone crosses a miqat without entering into Ihram, he has to offer an animal sacrifice if he is going for Hajj or Umrah. But if he is heading for Makkah for some other reason, Hajj or Umrah becomes imperative (Fard) for him as a penalty.
- If someone has to go to a place other than Makkah, he can pass the points of miqat without entering into Ihram.
SEPARATE REQUIREMENTS FOR PEOPLE OF AFAQ, HILL AND HARAM
- Afaq: The whole world outside the above fixed places of Ihram is called Afaq and the people living there are known as Afaqis. They are not permissible to cross the above fixed places without Ihram if they are entering the boundaries of Haram of Mecca for Hajj, Umrah or any other reason whatsoever.
The Afaqis who come to perform Hajj or Umrah by air may enter into Ihram before boarding the airplane in their home country.
- Hill: The area within the points of miqats and the boundaries of the Haram of Makkah is called Hill. The people of Hill can go to Makkah for business or for any other reason without Ihram. But if they go there to perform Hajj or Umrah, even they have to enter into Ihram. However, their miqat is Hill itself, they can enter into Ihram anywhere in their area.
- Haram: People who live within the bounds of the Haram of Makkah don’t require Ihram for their day to day activities or even for offering prayers in Masjid al-Haraam or performing Tawaf. For Hajj, their miqat is the Haram itself and they can enter into Ihram from their residence. However, if they intend to perform Umrah, they also have to go out and enter into Ihram in Hill, for instance, at Masjid Aai'sha, which is situated on Madinah Road in Tan'eem at a convenient distance from Makkah.
For Umrah topics, click at "Umrah Contents" and for Hajj topics click at "Hajj Contents".
Similarly, click at the type of visa desired, "Umrah Visa" or "Hajj Visa".
In other words:
For Umrah: Click at "Umrah Contents" and Chapters 1 to 10.
For Hajj: Click at "Hajj Contents", "Hajj Visa" and Chapters 1 & 3 to 12.
(You are already at Chapter 5)