Mecca Travel Guide
Mecca Local History
Mecca,(Arabic, Makkah; ancient Macoraba), the birthplace of Muhammed, is the most holy site in the world for the those of the Islamic faith. Makkah and its surrounds are strictly off-limits to non-Muslims, with checkpoints on the roads leading into the city.
According to the Islamic faith, Abraham founded a temple on the site of the Grand Mosque on Mount Arafat and each Muslim is require to make a holy pilgrimage or "hajj" to Mecca at least once in their lifetime. Due to its location on several trade routes the area has been commercially important since ancient times and was known to be a religious centre prior to the birth of Muhammad. There are holy sites within the perametres of the great mosque which were of religious importance before the Islam existed. It is interesting to note that the worlds three major monotheistic religions (Islam, Judaism and Christianity) all share the same "father" of origin- Abraham. During the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijja, almost 2 million Muslims from around the world make a pilgrimage (or hajj) to Mecca.
Al-Haram Mosque - This great mosque is open to Muslims from all over the world and all Muslims are expected to visit Mecca and the holy shrine at least once in their lifetime. There are several holy sites within the sacred precincts of the great mosque. The holiest shrine of Islam, the Kaaba, is housed here. The Kaaba is a windowless square building within the courtyard and is believed to have been built by Abraham himself. Within the Kaaba is the Black Stone which according to tradition was given to Abraham by the angel Gabriel. Also within the area of the mosque is a sacred well, known as the Zam Zam, which was used by Hagar, the mother of Abraham's son Ishmael.
Mount Arafat - A holy site to which pilgrims travel during the Haj, Mount Arafat is the mountain of prayer where pilgrims stay to pray for forgivness of sins. Once the day of prayer is over it is believed that their sins are forgiven.
Taif - This town situated in the mountain area above Mecca has a milder climate than either Jidda and Mecca and has therefore developed into a popular residential area. The town is of political significance as well, being the seat of Kuwait's exiled goverment during the Iraqi occupation. The Shubra Palace houses a museum that is open only on Thursday from 9am to 7pm. On a sweeter note, mention must be made that area is well known for producing high quality attar-of-roses, especially sought-after for its distinctively sweet scent.
Ka'ba The Ka'ba is the place that Muslims visit first and last for Hajj. It is very important because it was the first place that the Muslim God, Allah was worshipped. Every year, in the twelfth month of the Islamic calender, the Ka'ba is covered with a black cloth that is decorated with scripts from the Qur'an - the holy book of Islam. But when it is not Hajj, it is quite dull on the outside - grey stone, but on the inside it is always covered with texts and pictures from the Qur'an. But hardly anyon is allowed inside. But it is a very important place in Mecca. It is very holy to Muslims.
submitted by Flop, 22/03/06
Visit one of The Kingdoms many souq's, or bazaar, the interesting ones are often found in the older quarters of the city, housed in one of the ancient buildings and hemmed in by the narrow alleyways. You will be enticed into bargaining- which is an expected part of buying- as this is part of the Arabian culture and is seen as a social pastime. There is plenty of time for bargaining, as most souq's stay open until 10pm. Carpets, jewellery and pottery abound, keep a sharp eye open for a hidden treasure, such as a magic carpet or just a nice piece of Bedouin jewellery. Bedouin jewellery is traditionally made of silver, usually studded with precious or semi-precious stones such as turquoise, amber, coral, agate, cornelian or pearls.Pieces are usually large and dramatic.Word of warning when shopping- that sparkling jewel in the Bedouin necklace may not be the precious stone you think it to be.
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