Mecca Facts and History
Mecca, the capital of Arabia and the "sacred" city of the Muslims, is situated in the district of Hijaz about 21°30' N. latitude and 40°20' E. longitude, some seventy miles east of the Red Sea, at a height of 277 m (909 ft) above sea level. It lies in a sandy valley surrounded by rocky hills from two hundred to five hundred feet in height, barren and destitute of vegetation.
Its resident population in 2012 was 2 million, although visitors more than triple this number every year during Hajj period held in the twelfth Muslim lunar month of Dhu al-Hijjah.
As the birthplace of Mohammed and a site of the composition of the Quran and the seat of the famous Kaaba, Mecca is regarded as the "holiest" city in the religion of Islam, and it was celebrated even in pre-Islamic times as the chief sanctuary of the Arabs, and visited by numerous pilgrims and devotees.
All able-bodied Muslims who can afford to go are required to make a pilgrimage--called the Hajj--to Mecca at least once in their life. During a Hajj, vast camps of pilgrims spring up, and huge crowds of people from all over the world complete a series of tasks required of all pilgrims.
Hajj, Pilgrimage to Mecca
Main article: What is the Hajj?
Pilgrimage to Mecca is the fifth pillar of Islam. It is required of every able-bodied Muslim and who can afford it. No non-Muslim is allowed to visit Mecca or witness the hajj. The season begins in the 10th month, the month following Ramadan, and lasts through the middle of the 12th month. Muslims associate the origin of the Hajj and the founding of the Kaaba with Abraham, who was believed to have built the Kaaba. (There is no evidence of an historical nature in pre-Islamic records to back up the suggestion in the Quran that the Kaaba was built by Abraham or that he practiced its pilgrimage rites. Historically the shrine and its ceremonies can only be traced to the pagan worship of the pre-Islamic Arabs.)
Rituals begin 5 miles from the center of Mecca. No non-Muslims are allowed any further. Muslims prepare, bath and does a brief salat (prayer). Each man puts on two seamless white cloths, one round the waist, the other over the shoulder. He states his intention (niat): "O Allah, I purpose to make the hajj; make this service easy to me, and accept it from me."
He goes around the Kaaba 7 times, first three quickly (running), the other four walking. He performs a brief salat at a point where Muslims believe Abraham and Ishamel rebuilt the Kaaba. Outside the mosque, pilgrims run between two hills, Safa and Marwa, 400 yards apart, in memory of Hagar running to find water for Ishmael.
On the 7th day of the month (Dhu al-Hajj), he listens to a sermon in the Great Mosque at Mecca, next day he travels east to Mina to spend the night. Most continue to the plain of Arafat, 12 to 14 miles east of Mecca. According to tradition, this is where Adam and Eve met after falling from Paradise. Important thing is to stand (wuquf) on a nearby hill on the afternoon of the 9th day. This is the hajj. Failure to meditate at this particular place means failure to complete the hajj. After sundown, returns to Muzdalifa to perform evening salat, collect some pebbles and spend the night.
On the 10th day, Muslims celebrate 'Id al-Kabir (Greater Feast) or 'Id al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice). The pilgrim continues toward Mecca, stopping at Mina to throw seven small stone at certain stone pillars. This "stoning of the Devil" is in memory of Abraham whom Muslims believe chased away Satan with stones. Nearby is a hill where Muslims believe Abraham prepared to sacrifice Ishmael, and Muslims kills an animal according to his means.
Nails is cut, hair is shaved, and returns to normal clothes. Can be addressed as al-haji (or al-haja). Before leaving Arabia, he again goes round the Kaaba, drinks from the Zamzam well (which is believed by Muslims to be opened by Gabriel for Ishmael). Most pilgrims travel 250 miles to Medina to visit the tomb of Muhammad.
According to Hadith: the true pilgrim : "shall return (from Mecca) as pure from sin as the day on which he was born". Another: "The reward of a pilgrim is paradise" (Mishkat). These are satanic lies. Jesus Christ was God, and the Christian religion is the one true religion. You need to convert to it and be baptized for salvation.
"… by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God hath raised from the dead, even by him this man standeth here before you whole. … Nor is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:10;12).
"And he (Jesus) said to them: Go ye into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mark 16:15-16)