Al-Safa and Al-Marwah

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Mount Safa inside the Great Mosque of Mecca, Hijaz, Saudi Arabia.
Mount Marwah

Safa (Arabic: الصّفا‎‎, Aṣ-Ṣafā) and Marwah (Arabic: المروة‎‎, Al-Marwah) are two small hills now located in Al-Masjid Al-Ḥarām (Arabic: الـمَـسـجِـد الـحَـرَام‎‎, The Sacred Mosque) in Mecca, Hijaz, Saudi Arabia. Muslims travel back and forth between them seven times, during the ritual pilgrimages of Ḥajj (Arabic: حَـجّ‎‎) and Umrah (Arabic: عُـمـرَة‎‎).


The Great Mosque houses the Ka‘bah (Arabic: كَـعـبَـة‎‎, 'Cube'), the focal point of prayer for all Muslims. Safa — from which the ritual walking (Arabic: سعي‎‎ saʿy) begins — is located approximately 100 m (330 ft) from the Kaaba. Marwah is located about 350 m (1,150 ft) from the Kaaba. The distance between Safa and Marwah is approximately 450 m (1,480 ft), so that seven trips amount to roughly 3.15 km (1.96 mi). The two points and the path between them are now inside a long gallery that forms part of the Mosque.

The Sa'i[edit]

Performing the Sa‘ī[1] (Arabic: سعي‎‎, "seeking", "search" or "ritual walking"), serves to commemorate Hagar's search for water for her son and God's mercy in answering prayers.


Movement path between Safa and Marwa, next to the Kaaba



In Islamic tradition, Ibrāhīm (Arabic: إِبـرَاهِـيـم‎‎, Abraham) was commanded by Allāh (Arabic: الله‎‎, God) to leave his wife Hajar (Arabic: هَـاجَـر‎‎, Hagar) and their infant son, Ismā‘īl (Arabic: إِسـمَـاعِـيـل‎‎, Ishmael), alone in the desert between Safa and Marwah. When their provisions were exhausted, Hagar went in search of help or water. To make her search easier and faster, she went alone, leaving the infant on the ground. She first climbed the nearest hill, Safa, to look over the surrounding area. When she saw nothing, she then went to the other hill, Marwah, to look around. While Hagar was on either hillside, she was able to see Ishmael and know he was safe. However, when she was in the valley between the hills she was unable to see her son, and would thus run whilst in the valley and walk at a normal pace when on the hillsides. Hagar traveled back and forth between the hills seven times in the scorching heat before returning to her son. When she arrived, she found that a spring had broken forth from where the Archangel Jibrā’īl (Arabic: جِـبـرَائِـيـل‎‎, Gabriel) hit the ground with his wing. This spring is now known as the Zamzam Well, and was revealed by the angel of God as both sustenance and a reward for Hagar's patience.

Safa and Marwah are mentioned in the following Quranic verse:

Behold! Safa and Marwa are among the Symbols of Allah. So if those who visit the House in the Season or at other times, should compass them round, it is no sin in them. And if any one obeyeth his own impulse to good,- be sure that Allah is He Who recogniseth and knoweth.

— Surah 2, Al-Baqarah, Ayah 158[2]

Western world[edit]

Mount Safa is allegedly the mountain referred to in the European proverb "If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to the mountain",[3] sometimes incorrectly quoted the opposite way around. English language sources trace the first written English use of the saying to Francis Bacon.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mohamed, Mamdouh N. (1996). Hajj to Umrah: From A to Z. Amana Publications. ISBN 0-915957-54-X. 
  2. ^ Quran 2:158 (Translated by Yusuf Ali)
  3. ^ Wilkinson, Peter Richard (2002). Thesaurus of traditional English metaphors. p. 812. ISBN 9780203219850. 
  4. ^ Bacon, Francis (1625). Essays. 

Coordinates: 21°25′25″N 39°49′38″E / 21.42361°N 39.82722°E / 21.42361; 39.82722