Holiest sites in Islam
Mecca and Hajj
Mecca is considered the holiest city in Islam, as it is home to the Kaaba and Masjid al-Haram. Only Muslims are allowed to enter Mecca. As one of the Five Pillars of Islam, every adult Muslim who is capable must perform the Hajj - a pilgrimage to Mecca - at least once in their lifetime. This obligation is only fulfilled if it is done on the eighth to twelfth day of the last month of the Islamic calendar.
Hajj is one of the largest annual Muslim gatherings in the world, only second to pilgrimages to the shrine of Hussain in Karbala, with attendance reaching 3 million in 2012. If, in a given year, an adult Muslim is in good health and his life and wealth is safe, they must perform the Hajj in the same year; delaying it is considered sinful unless the delay is caused by reasons beyond his/her control.
Al Masjid Al Aqsa, the third holiest site in Islam, which is located in Jerusalem has a very special place in the hearts of the entire Muslim community due to its unique and rich history as a place of worship that is so closely intertwined with the lives of many of the Prophets of Islam, as well as for its special status. It is a special and blessed Masjid of vast size comprising 144,000 square metres in size (covering approximately 1/6th of the entire area of the Old City of Jerusalem) and with capacity to accommodate in the region of 500,000 worshippers.
Mentioned in the Quran as being “blessed” and “holy”, on numerous occasions, below is the Quranic reference from Surah Isra:
Surah Isra (17:1): “Glorified be He [Allah] Who did take His servant for a journey by night from Al Masjid Al Haram to Al Masjid Al Aqsa, whose precincts We did bless, in order that We might show him some of our Signs. Verily He is the All Hearing, All Seeing”
- Trofimov, Yaroslav (2008), The Siege of Mecca: The 1979 Uprising at Islam's Holiest Shrine, New York, p. 79, ISBN 0-307-47290-6
- Tucker & Roberts 2008, p. 673.
- Musharraf 2012, p. 195.
- Peters 1994, p. 22.
- Musharraf 2012, p. 205.
- Blatt 2015, p. 27.
- Musharraf 2012, pp. 204-205.
- "Islamic History of Masjid Al Aqsa". Retrieved 14 April 2017.
- Peters, Francis (1994). The Hajj: The Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca and the Holy Places. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691026190.
- Musharraf, Hussain (2012). The Five Pillars of Islam: Laying the Foundations of Divine Love and Service to Humanity. Leicestershire, UK: Kube Publishing. ISBN 9781847740236.
- Blatt, Amy (2015). Health, Science, and Place: A New Model. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-12003-4. ISBN 3319120026.
- Tucker, Spencer; Roberts, Priscilla (2008). The encyclopedia of the Arab-Israeli conflict : a political, social, and military history. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1851098410.
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