Visiting Makkah and Madinah, the two most sacred places in Islam, are life time desires for every Muslim.
I feel myself really blessed that I got a chance to live for several years in close proximity of these two cities.
Few years back, I got a job offer from an engineering company based in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The company was located in Jeddah; the second largest city of kingdom. The fact that Makkah was just at an hour drive (approx. 100 km) from Jeddah and Madinah was around four hours’ drive away (approx. 400 km); played a key role in my decision of accepting the offer.
During my stay there, I visited Makkah several times and I would like to share my experiences with all of you.
Perhaps it would be surprising for some to know that Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter Makkah. This ban is based on a Quranic verse and I will try to explain the reasoning in some other post. There is a split of road just before the entrance to the city. The road which leads to Makkah has a board “For Muslims Only” and the second one, which by-passes Makkah, shows a board “For Non-Muslims”. There is a check-post on the Muslims-Only road. The usual procedure at check point is: all cars slow down, standing policeman looks at the passengers and indicates to move on. However they spot-check the IDs of entering persons as well. During my several visits, I was just stopped once, when I did not slow down timely. The policeman just warned me to be careful next time and allowed me to go.
A bird eye view of Makkah city.
It is also called as “bait-ullah” meaning “The house of Allah” and is center of masjid-ul-haram. Muslims usually circumnavigate Kaaba as part of Umra or Hajj. Umra can be done any time throughout the year where as hajj is on specific dates, once every year. However circumambulating Kaaba can also be done without part of Umra or hajj to gain blessings.
Muslims walk around Kaaba 24/7 whole year. As per my experience, the best time to avoid rush hours is early morning. When only few people are there and by few I mean, few thousands.
Muslims offering prayer in vicinity of masjid-ul-haram facing Kaaba.
Saudi government does not issue Umra visa during two months right after hajj and these are the days when masjid-ul-haram is not much crowded. Best time for people in nearby cities to visit masjid by avoiding crowd.
Muslims circumambulating Kaaba.
The door of Kaaba called as “babul taubah” means “The door of repentance”.
Meezab e Rehmat, It’s an open pipe to drain out rain water from roof of kaaba.
Outside view of masjid-ul-haram.
People outside of masjid-ul-haram.
A hotel in front of Kaaba. Though a bit expensive but visitors who want to stay close to masjid-ul-haram can stay here.
Location & Coordinates
Coordinates of Masjid al Haram: 21.422933, 39.825746