‘Behold, the first House established for mankind is the one at Bakkah: it is full of blessings and is a centre of guidance for the whole world.’

For the people who go to Makkah to perform Hajj or Umrah, wearing Ihram is obligatory. It is put on at specified places around Makkah, before entering the boundaries of Haram. In Islamic terminology, these places are called Miqaat. These are five in number. The Miqaat for pilgrims coming from Madina, Yemen, Egypt/Syria, Najd and Iraq are Zul-Hulefa, Yalamlam, Juhfa, Karn-ul-Manazil and Zat-ul-Irk respectively. Announcement for Pakistanis, who travel by air for this purpose, is made in plane while for those who go there by sea,  Yalamlam is the Miqaat.

Holy Kabah
The Holy Kabah is the sacred House of Allah in the middle of Al Masjid Al Haram in Makkah. It is called Kabah owing to its cubic shape. It is also called Bait-ulAtiq (the Ancient House) or Bait (House). Bait-ul-Mamoor (most frequented House) is the Kabah for the angles to circumambulate, located exactly above the Kabah on earth.

The Kabah has been built more than one occasion; the most famous of them are five. For the first time, it was built by the angels; the 2nd time it was built by Adam; the 3rd time it was rebuilt by Ibrahim on the same foundations as during the Flood, in the time of Noah (AS); the 4th time the Quraish built it during the pre-Islamic period and this was witnessed by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) when he was 25 years old. The 5th time it was built by Abdullah bin Zubair (RA).
Kabah is the 1st house of Allah Almighty on earth as declared in Verse 96 of Surah Al-e-Imran which states:

‘Behold, the first House established for mankind is the one at Bakkah: it is full of blessings and is a centre of guidance for the whole world.’

Three corners of Kabbah are known as Al Ruken Al Iraqi, al Rukne Al Shami and Al Rukne Al Yamani as these are situated towards Yemen, Syria and Iraq respectively. The 4th corner of Kabbah is known as Rukn Al Aswad because Hajr-e-Aswad (Black Stone) is placed here. The pilgrims commence Tawaf or circumambulation of Kabbah from this corner. Ibn Abbass (RA) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said:

‘The black stone came down from Paradise and it was whiter than milk, but sins of the sons of Adam turned it black’.    (al-Tirmidhi 877)

It is the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) to kiss it that is known as Istilaam or Bae in Islamic terminology. The wall of Kabbah between its door and Hajar-e-Aswad is called Multazim.

Maqam-e-Ibrahim is the stone on which Prophet Ibrahim (AS) stood while building the Kabah. His footprints remain on the Stone as a reminder to the believers. This stone is preserved in a glass and iron structure close to Kabah in Al Masjid Al Haram. The space where Tawaf is performed is known as Mutaaf. Each round of Tawaf is called Shoth. When the pilgrims, clad in Ihram, reach Makkah, the first task they perform is the Tawaf.

The Kabah is surrounded by a splendid grand mosque called Al-Masjid Al Haram. This Mosque has been expanded and renovated several times during the reigns of different Muslim rulers. The first expansion was made by 2nd Pious Caliph Hazrat Umar-e-Farooq (RA). Afterwards, the 2nd major expansion was made by 3rd Pious Caliph Hazrat Usman-e-Ghani (RA). Further expansion in the Mosque were made in subsequent ages by Abdullah bin Zubair, Abbassid rulers Abu Jafar Al-Mansur, Al-Mahdi bin Abi Jaffar Al Mansur, Al Mutadid, and Ottoman Sultan Saleem on whose orders it was roofed with domes. This work was started in 979 AH and was completed by his son Sultan Murad III in 984 A.H.

The Saudi Royal family has played a remarkable role in the expansion and development of Al-Masjid Al-Haram. The 1st great expansion during their reign was made by King Saud bin Abdul Aziz in 1956 AD and the second by the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques, King Fahad bin Abdul Aziz, in 1988 AD. After 1988, too, the Saudi government has successfully completed different development projects for expanding Al-Masji Al-Haram and for providing all possible facilities to the pilgrims. This year too the Saudi government has launched another great expansion of Masjid al Haram.

Safa, Marwah and Zamzam
Safa and Marwa are two small hills within the premises of Al Masjid Al Haram; only their tops are visible nowadays. After Tawaf, the pilgrims go and climb Safa and then walk towards Marwa, and then again return to Safa. This is known as Saee that literally means struggle. They do this seven times; going counts as one and coming back counts as one. Saee is performed in memory of Hazrat Hajira (SA) when she and her infant son Ismail (AS) were left at this place by Hazrat Ibrahim (AS), when he was directed by Allah Almighty to do so. Hazrat Ismail (AS) started crying for water, and Hazrat Hajira (SA) ran to Safa and then to Marwa in search of water. But, after not finding water, when she returned to her son, she found a spring of water gushing out from beneath the heels of Ismail (AS). She told the water ‘Zam Zam’ meaning ‘Stop, Stop’. About Safa and Marwah, Allah Almighty says in verse 158 of Surah Al Baqara:

‘Verily, As-Safa and Al-Marwa are of the symbols of Allah’.

Mina is a plain situated at a distance of about 5km from Makkah. Its literal meaning is ‘to flow’. During rains, water flows here with speed. The pilgrims also sacrifice animals here and blood of sacrificial animals also flows here. On 8th of Zul-Hajja, the pilgrims reach here clad in Ihram and pass night here in tents in worship and prayers. On the 9th of Zul-Hajja, after Fajar Prayer, they leave for Arafat. Masjid Al-Khaif is also located nearby. This is one of the mosques whose virtues are proven in sayings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and reports. According to one tradition, ‘Seventy Prophets prayed in Masjid Al-Khaif’. Another virtue of Mina is that it is the place where Allah sent ram to Ibrahim (AS) as a ransom for his son. On 10th of Zul-Hajja, the pilgrims again return to Mina from Muzdalfa and stay here till 12th of Zul-Hajja.

Arafat is another plain that is situated at a distance of about 10KM from Makkah. Arafat means the place of introduction and it is the place where Adam and Eve met for the first time after expulsion from Paradise. To reach Arafat on 9th Zul-Hajja before sunset is one of three obligations of Hajj. So on 9th of Zul-Hajja the pilgrims reach here after Fajar prayer, offer Zuhr and Asr prayers jointly and stay here till sunset. It is located near a hill from which Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) delivered his last sermon; the mountain is called Jabal Al Rahmah. Stay here is known as Wuquf. Here, the Hajj sermon is delivered by the grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia from Masjid Al Nimra.

Muzdalifah is situated between Mina and Arafat. On 9th of Zul-Hajja after sunset, the pilgrims return from Arafat and reach Muzdalifah. Here they offer Maghrib and Ishaa prayer together and pass the night under open sky in prayers and worship. They collect 49 pebbles here and after sunrise on 10th of Zul-Hajja, they return to Mina. The other name of Muzdalifah is Al-Mashar Al Haram that has been mentioned along with Arafat by Allah Almighty in verse 198 of Surah Al-Baqarah that states:
‘Then when you leave Arafat, remember Allah at the Mashar Al-Haram’

Jamraat are the three pillars in Mina. The 1st one is known as Jamraat-ul-ula, middle one as Jamrat-ul-Wusta and last one as Jamraat-ul-Aqabah. The pilgrims sacrifice animals here followed by the shaving of head (Halq) by men and the trimming the hair (Qasar) by women. With this, everything forbidden to the pilgrims while in Ihram becomes permissible except for the intercourse with spouse. Now, they can put off the Ihram. Then the pilgrims perform Tawaf-e-Ziarat’ the 3rd obligation of Hajj. Everything, including intercourse, then, is allowed.

Then the pilgrims return to Mina where they perform Rami Jamraat on 11th and 12th Zul-Hajja, which is the stoning the three pillars (Jamraat) with seven pebbles, on each day. This ritual is observed in memory of the event when Satan tried to mislead and dissuade Ibrahim (AS) from sacrificing his son in line with the Divine commandment and Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) cursed him by throwing pebbles towards him at the sites of these three Jamraat.

With the stoning of last Jamraat on 12th ZullHajja, Hajj completes. Before departing from Makkah to their homelands, the pilgrims perform Tawaf-e-Wida ‘Farewell circumambulation’ which is the last wajib of Hajj. The pilgrims also visit Madina prior to or after performing Hajj that is situated at a distance of about 400 km from Makkah.


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