Makkah Sanctury Past And Present

- Published in Saudi Gazette On
 Mecca sanctuary past and present

  Mecca sanctuary past and present  Part 1


THE earth, when separated from the sun, was a gaseous mass. This gaseous mass along with other mat­ters in it was full of oxygen and hydrogen. These gases turned into water. So, there was a time when the entire earth was sub­merged into water and God's throne was upon the water. (11/7))

The very first part which emerged out of water was Makkah. (Mother of the towns(6/92) Al-Bidaya wa-al-Nihaya)

The parents of mankind, Adam and Eve, when sent down on earth were separated with each other. Do you know where they met? It was on the sacred land of Makkah which joined them at Arafat. They   sat and had a lovely chat after years of separation at Muzdalifa. The Prophet (pbuh) informed, Adam is buried under Khayf Mosque at Mina. Eve at Eve graveyard in Jeddah. (Al-Bidaya wa-al-Nihaya)

God revealed. Adam this Ennobled Sanctuary having Ka'aba which was in the shape of a red hill. Adam was first to circumambulate it. (Al-Bidaya wa-al-Nihaya)

As time passed the barren hilly track remained uninhabited. Abraham, the father of the Muslim nation, was blessed with a son, Ishmael, at 86 from Hagar. Sara, Abraham's first wife, and Hagar could not remain, as usual with two wives, on fair terms. God told Abraham to migrate with Hagar and his only son to this holy land.

Sun-hot boulders, rocks emitting heat, no water, no life form, but Abraham, a prophet of firm belief, left his only son and Hagar with some water and food and turned back, Hagar ran back asking, "Are you leaving us here?" Twice she asked. No answer. Are you leaving us by Allah's leave? He shook his head. She said God won't destroy us.

The water and food with her exhausted. (A famous historical event reported By Ibn Kathir  Al-Bidaya wa-al-Nihaya)  



Hunger and thirst over took her. Her breast dried up. Ishmael wept, their throats choked. In her agony she came to Safa hill jutting from the base of Mount Qubays. She looked around but could find nothing, then she ran to

Marwa hill. She hastened seven times between these hills but could find nothing to survive. While at Marwa she heard a voice. (Al-Bidaya wa-al-Nihaya)

She saw an angel by her son. She rushed back to find water springing out beside the heels of his son. She said, "Zamzam." Its appearance in the bone-dry land is a fundamental wonder. Makkah would not exist without it, the only source of water for the inhabitants for thousands of years.

The angel said: "Fear not. Your son and his father will make Ka'aba here." (Quran confirms it, (2/127,128)

Zamzam was food and water for them. Later a tribe from Jurham joined them. Ishmael learned Arabic from them. When Ishmael grew up, Abraham came and they both built Ka'aba known as `Baitallah.

When they built it up. Allah directed Abraham to call the people for Haj and said: "And proclaim unto mankind the pil­grimage. They will come unto thee on foot and on every lean camel; they will come frOm every deep ravine." (22/27)

Five thousand years ago Abraham called people for Haj. Isn't it a miracle of the Qur'an? Its prophecy came true, in millions rushing from`every corner of the world to'this Haram, a great Sanctuary.

Seventy prophets came with their com­panions for Haj to this sanctuary. They are buried in Mutaf area round Ka'aba. (Al-Bidaya wa-al-Nihaya). This Islam's most sacred shrine was further ennobled by the birth, of the Prophet Muhammad in the progeny of Ishmael — peace be upon them. It is he who revived Haj, its rituals, abolishing each tradition of the age of ignorance.

With the spread-of Islam far and wide, Makkah and Madina both developed.  Even till the first quarter of 20th centu­ry, the only communication from the land routes was camel caravans and sea route on minor scale. Usually two pilgrims could ride on each camel. Each camel has two string beds, one hanging on each side of the ani­mal with his hump running up between them: The long camel train ran snake-like, tied tail to nose, maybe 30 or 40 to a string. The drivers walk alongside with sharply pointed sticks. The caravans came from North African countries, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Turkey, etc.

Waleed Zakir Eskander, a graduate of Umm-el-Qura University who belongs to a respectable Mutawwaf family, said his great-grandfather Abdul Qadir served the pilgrims from Egypt in the second half of the 19th century. The caravans were sub­ject to looting and plundering. No caravan could reach Makkah safely. He himself undertook the journey in 1922 and in his way back to Makkah, he contacted the Bedouins and their chiefs and agreed to pay them a ran­som each year before the Haj season. Soon it became famous that Abdul Qadir's caravan reach safely to Makkah. Jeddah and Makkah had to be covered on camel back. The journey took about three days. The journey on camel back is very hard.

King Addul Aziz took over Makkah in 1925. He undertook to protect the pilgrims from Bedouins who used to plunder the caravans coming to Makkah from eastern region, and in their journey to Madina, etc. They used to come down from the hills preying upon the pilgrims. King Abdul Aziz successfully managed to stop the plundering of the pilgrims. A great work for which he achieved a high admi­ration.


The houses were built in stone masonry with lime mortar or mud mortar. The wooden beams of the palm trees supported the roofs. The Holy Shrine Ka'aba stood the same way.

The picture of old Makkah on Page 14 shows the old city and the Holy Shrine, cube shaped, built in rough granite and clad in black pure silk embroidered veil standing in all its grandeur with an open plaza having striped sun shade around it. Zamzam well could be seen housed in a large pavilion, and the Makkah houses can be seen in the back ground.

The little houses, surrounded by hills, no glazed windows, a few of them with oriel windows, little shops open to the wind and sun where primitive unmanufac­tured products were sold. Gaslight flick­ered, making weird shadows in the streets. The people faced the scarcity of water. It was carried on donkeys by means of four petrol tins, two to each side of the beast or men carrying two tins- on their shoulders hanging on a bamboo, in his front or back. The latrines and the bathrooms con­nected to a big hole. Small pedestrian lanes. The mud houses kept cool during the scorching heat of the day. This was Makkah. Yet it held a great esteem in to the heart of tile Muslims who undertook all the dangers of the holy journey, know­ing loot and plundering, putting their lives on stake, they came un-desisted to visit the holy land to perform pilgrimage.


The pilgrimage in the past

ONE hundred twenty-four thousand peo­ple performed Haj with the Prophet (pbuh) in his last Haj. Ever since, the Muslims converge at Makkah in increas­ing number. The city had never been a picnic spot. The hilly, rocky, track known for its scorching heat. The monotheists with their strong love to God the Unique come to this Islam's devotional center. Barefoot on the burning stone slab floor, they shuffled counterclockwise around Ka'aba. With their shroud on they took three laps on a trot and four walking. Few could have blisters on their foot or

foot sore. But circumambulation never came to a halt except at the time of five daily congregational prayers.

Five days on holy sites, Mina, Muzdalifa, Arafat

ON 8th of Dhul Hijja, the pilgrims form­ing the committee of the nations irrespec­tive of color —black, white, yellow, brown — all in two shrouds which covers the body or conceals like a garment  (i.e. Ihram) move to Mina, mostly on foot or on camel's back, chanting "Labbayak" about six kilometers from Makkah. Mina valley between two hills dotted over with white tents looks like an army encampment well organized. With drinking water, individual tented latrines. Divided into lanes each Mutawwif has his own encampment.

The pilgrims offer mid-day, mid-after­noon, after sunset, early night and dawn prayers. After dawn prayers the whole entourage moves on foot and on camel back to Arafat.

Arafat a vast plateau ringed by low hills having multitude of tents of every descrip­tion. The gigantic encampment accommo­dating more than half a million had always been well organized. Thousands of pilgrims who arrived on foot go from tent to tent in search of their camp. The great encampment resounds with religious invo­cations, the joyous cries of "Labbayak" together with jangling cries of men and strolling merchant, all these cries, accom­panied by the snarling of more than 60,000 camels made for a concert from the heaven. They offer here mid-day and after mid-day prayers together.

Arafat enjoys a day's stay till the dawn of the 10th. The `Mutawafeen' traditional­ly play host for the mid-day meal to their pilgrims. It is usually pot of lamb and rice.

The pilgrims break the throng after sun­set, rushing pell-mell for the road to Muzdalifa. They pass the night. Shafai school has allowed to leave Muzdalifa after midnight. Hanafi school held to leave after the dawn prayers as done by the Prophet (pbuh).

The pilgrims rush back to Mina. Their foremost duty on 10th is to reject Satan and pelt him at Jamara Al-Aqba, the place where Abraham encountered the devil three times, first at Aqba. Gabriel said: "Pelt him saying God is great. So did Abraham. Then he left that place and stood at Jamra Al-Wusta (=the middle Satan). Gabriel again told him to say: God is great and hit him. For the third time he came again at Jamrra Al-Quswa (=the small Satan). Speaking the greatness of Allah, Abraham hit him again. In another report Gabriel gave him seven pebbles to hit him. Gabriel said: He wanted to inter­vene in the rituals of Haj.

The three places are surrounded by a low circular parapet and a pillar in between them. The very wrong belief is to think pillar to be Satan. The pilgrim is required to throw seven pebbles within the parapet. It is a reminder to him not to obey the devil and indulge in evil in his daily life.

Thereafter the hajis making haj-e- ifrad shave their heads or get their haircut, but those who come for haj-tamatto or haj­-qiran go for the sacrifice a goat or share seven persons in a camel or cow.

The hajis come out of Ihram, they take a bath, they get themselves clad in their best clothes and prepare to come to Makkah for their obligatory Tawaf Al-­Ifadha. After this Tawaf they go for Sai, i.e, to hasten between As-Safa and Al­Marwa seven times as done by Hagar. Then they go back to Mina to stay there for two days and pelt the devil. The pelt­ing starts after mid-day. On the 12th Dhul Hija the Haj is over. The pilgrims come back to Makkah and the last ritual is Tawaf Al-Wida, i.e., the circumambulation of the Ka'aba before returning to their homes.





  Pelting Jamarh In the Past          


Makkah Sanctuary Present       Part 2


THE Muslim rulers whole-heartedly devoted to the service and extension of the Holy Mosque in Makkah. During the .Caliphate of Uthman Bin Affan, the cov­ered area of the mosque was 2,040 sq m and total area was 4390 sq m. Waleed Bin Abdul Malik, an Omayyad Caliph's exten­sion, covered an area of 6,350 sq m and it had a total area of 10,740 sq m. Al­Muqtadar Billah, an Abbaside caliph, added to its extension and the total area of the mosque reached 27,850 sq m.

First Saudi expansion'

AFTER the unification of the Kingdom, King Abdul Aziz devoted to its planning, building and renovation. He provided sun­shades around the courtyard, and ordered tiling of Safa, Marawa area and provided it with covered roof. Its completion was achieved in 1366 H. (please add 579 in Hijra date to get the Christian Era). The first Saudi extension was very noticeable having a total area of 160,168 sq m. This provided to accommodate 313,000 pil­grims in congregation.

Among King Khalid's achievements were the removal of the gravel from the oval courtyard around Ka'aba 250 paces long and 200 paces broad in

1398 H and its tiling with cold marble tiles imported from Greece. The work was so great that even the scorching heat of the sun could­n't warm up this marbling. He extended Mataf and brought Zamzam well under­neath the pavement dividing it in two parts: one for ladies and the other for gen­tlemen accessible through a broad stair­way. He built the door of the Most Sacred Shrine with 280 kilograms of pure gold costing SR13,420,000.

Expansion by King Fahad

THE Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahad Bin Abdul Aziz's services to the Two Holy Mosques have been record­ed in golden letters which shall ever emit their beams in the history of Makkah and Madina.

He not only concentrated to the Two Holy Mosques but devoted to extend com­prehensive services inclusive of all possi­ble comforts to the pilgrims.

With the development of air, sea and land routes under a compact planning, the King Abdul Aziz Airport in Jeddah was extended and modernized, having a plane every minute in peak Haj season. The highways connecting airport, seaport to Makkah and all land routes leading to Yemen, Gulf countries, Egypt, Syria and Turkey were paved under international specifications.

The Jeddah seaport is connected to Makkah through a 12.5-kilometer long bridge and a highway having double track, with each track having four lanes leading to Makkah.


Makkah and Madina, which once had a camel caravan route that took 12 to 15 days, now have Hijra Highway. It takes less than four hours to reach Madina from Makkah and Madina to Jeddah.

Makkah is full of hilly tracks, and the Holy Mosque is in a valley. To facilitate an easy movement around Makkah and the holy sites had been a great problem for a long time. Till before 1956, the rituals were performed either on foot or on camel back. Makkah to Mina and onward to the holy sites was only one road. The traffic took hours from Mina to Arafat and back. King Fahad did wonders. He ordered to build tunnels to ease down Haj traffic. Fifty-six tunnels had been built in Makkah and Mina cutting hard rock strata with a total length 30 kilometers.

Working like a devotee to serve the pil­grims, King Failed provided nine broad routes connecting Mina, Arafat, Muzdalifa. Modern air-conditioned buses run the highways and in the holy sites, enjoying a cool journey and laughing on the dust devil and the scorching heat of the sun.

Mina is a valley with hard rock moun­tains in its west and east. It had a level space of about 4 million sq m. The expan­sion of Mina was a great task but it did not deter the civil authorities to carry out the directions of the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques. Modern machines were used in cutting and leveling the mountains. Mina was expanded by 600,000 sq m to accommodate about two million pil­grims.

Mutawwaffin offered old tents which could not provide any protection against heat. And they easily caught fire when pil­grims cooked near the tents, taking many casualties quite a number of times. This too was not left unattended. The entire Mina has been replaced by fiberglass tents with air cooling system. A comfort which could not be dreamt during the days of the Khayf Mosque where the Prophet (pbuh) stayed in his last Haj.

The Haj ritual included Haj sacrifice. There were only one or two butcheries of old. Pilgrims cut the animals, pile them over each other and left. The scene used to be very pitiable and unhygienic. The Orientalists objected even to the ritual, calling it a waste. Our answer to them:

Our Lord, the Creator wants it.

Ours not to reason why,

Ours not to make reply,

Ours but to do and comply.

King Fahad's development plan changed the situation. Five butcheries, one of them is the largest in the world, at Mina route 9 controlled which was once dubbed a waste. They feature the most hygienic cutting of animals which even modern countries don't haveThese butcheries have the capacity of processing 1,500,000 animals. With the meat being supplied to various countries for distribution.

To perform Haj on foot carries great virtue. Each step has 700 virtues. Each virtue stands at par with the virtue of Haram (=sanctuary), i.e., equal to 100,000 virtues. Thus pilgrim gets 70,000,000 virtues on foot Haj. The authorities to facilitate the pilgrims built a covered route from Makkah to Muzdalifa.

ONE of the mandatory ritual is to pelt the devil, known as Jamarah in Arabic. This pelting is only to remind that the Muslims are to reject him when he entices to evil by whispering into their breasts.

On 10th right after midnight for the whole day pilgrims coming from Muzdalifa pelt the big Jamarah only and on 11th and 12th the pilgrims pelt after midday all the three places marked for Jamarah till before dawn. There has always been a very heavy crowd. The siuation becomes tense and stampeding did occur quite a few times with people losing their lives. Saudi authorities did take a severe notice and under a project to expand the site, all the houses were demolished and a bridge about a kilo­meter long had been built with 3 stories above to avert the crowd pelting the devil from stories over the bridge. This has eliminated the possibility of any stampeding. See the picture showing old way of pelting the Jamarah (devil)

The Holy Mosque in Makkah

Makkah has been a sanctuary since time immemorial with bare hills, treeless ridges, rocky hard strata with boulders emitting heat of the sun even in midnight, and a valley with stony soil. God chose this land for His House to unite the Muslim nation and bring them together irrespective of their caste, creed and color. Abraham laid the foundation of the Holy House praying to incline people's heart yearning to this holy land.

So did we find believers converging from Arabian peninsula and its adjoining countries, not to enjoy a natural beauty, not for a summer resort, not for a good pastime but their faith and love for Allah. It brought them undeterred by the perils of the journey, unafraid by the heat telling upon their limbs, claiming fatigue and loss of energy.

As times passed the idolatry replaced monotheism, even inside Ka'aba 360 idols were placed, idol worship was right on top, yet Haj continued.

The birth of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), his proclamation of the unity of God amidst the exhaustion of fabulous theogonies was in itself such a miracle that upon its utterance from his lips, it destroyed all the ancient temples of idols.

His life, his boldness in defying the furies of idolatory, his firmness in enduring them for 13 years in Makkah, his acceptance of the role of public scorn, his wars against odds, his faith in his success, his forbearance in his victory, his undaunted character enabled Islam to spread by leaps and bounds. A son in the progeny of Abraham who revived monotheism preached by the father of the Muslim nation, Abraham. He annulled all the rituals of the age of ignorance bring­ing Haj to its monotheistic dogma. The pilgrim, while coming, calls:

I am here to serve you, Allah. Here I am! I am here because nothing compares to you. Here I am! Praise, blessings and the kingdom are yours. Nothing compares to you.                   


The Holy Mosque began to take its shape around the Holy House. The first Saudi expansion has given it a beautiful shape. Spacious glowing at the bottom of the valley like a largest open air temple in the world.

Yet there was something most gracious to be seen. On Safar 2, 1409 King Fahad, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, laid the foundation of an annex to the Holy mosque having a covered area of 57,000 square meters. The open surface was fur­ther extended to 61,000 sq m. The total area, including open plazas, ranged to    366,168 sq m, accommodating a million worshippers in congregation.

The proportion of this eccentric struc­ture were staggering. In additon the shaft of a two-story concourse ran on another quarter mile. The Holy Mosque encapsu­lates a much older Ottoman courtyard. Galleries lit up the second story. Parapets ran right around the roof. From the crest of the hill the nine Minarets looked cant­ed. Its outer walls are faced in polished slabs of blue-gray marble, and the minarets' shade differ stone to stone. The veins shooting through them looked like ruffled surf. The minarets were spotlight­ed. On every side, the valley glowed.


One could never see such a beguiling complex. The Grand Mosque's second floor has a coliseum-like curve to the upper galleries. The pillared curving halls and its surrounding naves lit by beautiful chandeliers emitting white rays of light, the icy white marble pillars reflecting the beams as the entire hall has a moonlit glow, giving most soothing effect to the eyes.

The annex is substantiated with a big air conditioning unit of 13,000 tons built in a building next to Ajyad Hospital. The pillars having openings are connected to air` ducts emitting cool air. The pilgrims enjoy a cooling sensation so essentially required in a hot summer.

All the other mosques in the world are arranged in the figures of four sides. The core of the Holy Mosque is on the round. An open roofless forum overlooked by tiered arcades. The marble floor is 560 feet on the long sides, 350 feet wide and polished to the whiteness of an ice rink. At the center of this hub stands Ka'aba pouring Allah's awe in the heart of the believers.

The annex consists of a basement, ground and first floor. Each floor has 492 circular colonnades with icy white marble tiles finishing around. It has 24 engraved brass gates.

Some two million pilgrims rushed in great crowds particularly during Ramadan and Haj. The 112 gates of the Holy Mosque were not enough for their entry into the Holy Mosque. Nine electric esca­lators around the Holy Mosque have been built connected with first floor and ter­race. They have provided comfort to the thousands in ascending to the first floor and the terrace.

The Prophet's Mosque in Madina

King Fahad's love for Islamic monuments deserves very high appreciation. He did not leave any stone unturned in extending his grand services to the Two Holy Mosques. Implementing a great project for the expansion of the Prophet's Mosque, he laid the foundation stone in Safar 1405 H (1984). For the extension of the Prophet's Mosque 100,000 sq m land was bought giving generous compensation to the land owners.

After the first Saudi expansion, the cov­ered area comprised of 16,327 sq m. The king Fahad's expansion added further to 82,000 sq m. The total covered reached to 98,500 sq m. The courtyards around the Mosque were carpeted with marble tiles raising the toal area for congregation to 333,500 sq m providing space for 1,000,000 worshipers in congregation. This area covered the entire old city dur­ing the then known as Tayba.

The total number of gates are 85, out of which there are seven big gates, each of them having five separate entrances. The teak wood gates are engraved in ornamen­tal work in brass with gold polish with white and black striped arches supported on columns with icy white marble finish. Their beauty attracts the onlookers at first sight. The new expansion has six minarets of 104 meters height. Every minaret has a crescent over a six-meter pier of bronze with artistic work with 24-carat gold polish.

The colonnades in the new expansion resemble the first Saudi expansion ordered by King Abdul Aziz supporting striped arches with best marble finish reflecting the rays of light, adding to their mar­velous beauty. These colonnades have been enveloped by brass engravings on top beautifully designed in gold polish.

The big chandeliers in golden engraved metal ejecting the beams of light add to the grandeur of the mosque.

Special 27 domes with architectural beauty, 80 tons in weight, recede electri­cally, making an opening for fresh air and natural light. These are so essential for human health because half a million wor­shipers inside the mosque may suffocate for lack of oxygen, particularly in weather not suitable for air conditioning.

The Prophet's Mosque has in its limit each and every amenity required for the health, welfare and comfort of the visitors. An air conditioning system has been built seven kilometers beyond the Prophet's Mosque. It has six cooling units, each with a capacity of 3,500 tons, along with seven water pumps of 250 horse power. A tunnel 4 feet tall and 6 feet wide and 7 kilometers long provides cool air to the Mosque. A great comfort enjoyed by the worshipers.

A daily supply of 80 tons of Zamzam water is supplied from Makkah on water tankers. During the peak season the sup­ply reaches 200 tons.

The ablution is essential before the prayers. For this purpose 5,750 water taps and 1,900 toilets are provided in four sto­ries of the basement connected with esca­lators.

For the citizens  the car parks provided under the courtyards in a double story basement. These car parks have a covered area of 292,000 sq. m. accommodating 4, 200 cars. Each hour is charged one riyal only. Few remain open for 24 hours. This is superb arrangement for the comfort of the visitors. Would that arrangement have been in Makkah too.

The services of King Fahd did not remain limited to the Two Holy Mosques but he is known all over the world for his generous contributions to the developing countries. His services to the Two Holy Mosques were admired throughout the Islamic world. These services attracted the Muslims and they converged to this birth­place of Islam in millions for Haj and Umrah.




This is the picture of new Annex of King Fahad with Hundreds of Chandeliers and internal 3 domes fully airconditioned.    

I am thankful to Dr Osama Fadhl Al-Bar the Mayor of Makkah for his cooperation in arranging this article.



- By Ahmad Wahaj Al-Siddiqui