The most fruitful way to understand the history is to visit the places where it happened albeit the changes brought in by the developments, and to fall in love with the plot and characters who lived a life of accomplishment.
A ten-day road-trip to know the Islamic history and to understand how the religion evolved over time was taken up by some thirty people of different ages comprising 7 children who were keen to learn the hardships their forefathers endured in establishing the religion in Arabia and to fulfill the Umrah rituals and to live in the two historic cities, Makkah and Madinah recently.
After a long trail of nearly 30 hours which would have otherwise been a tedious and monotonous one if not for the inspiring insights in to the Islamic history by Shaikh Abdurahiman, a scholar and Islamic trainer in Muscat, the group reached the city of Makkah after a short break in Riyadh.
Makkah is one of the holiest cities in western Saudi Arabia as it's Prophet Muhammed's birthplace while Madinah is the place where the prophet migrated to and passed away later.
Every year, devotees from all over the world visit these spiritually rich and famous places in Saudi Arabia, and seek blessings from their almighty. The city of Makkah is home to grand mosques and lives on Islamic beliefs.
After two days and a night, by around 6pm the bus reached some tens of kilometres from the city of Makkah where the pilgrims were expected to do the 'Ihram' which means, enter a sacred state in which a Muslim must be in order to perform the major pilgrimage Hajj, or the minor pilgrimage, Umrah. A pilgrim is expected to enter this state before crossing the pilgrimage boundary, known as Mīqāt, by performing the cleansing rituals and wearing the prescribed attire. Following, the 30 -member team entered the holy Ka'aba for the prescribed rounds of Tawaf (going around the holy shape seven times).
This was followed by the journey between the mountains of Safa and Marwa where Bibi Hajar's (AS) went in between in search of some water for her hungry child Prophet Ismail (AS). This action demonstrates her commitment to her son and walking between the Mount Safa and Marwa is an integral part of the religious acts of Hajj and Umrah and to commemorate Bibi Hajar's (AS) experience in such harsh circumstances and her unwavering devotion to the command of Allah SWT.
After a long, hectic journey and a midnight Umrah, the team headed to visit the Islamic historic places that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is home to and their visits varied from the battles that were fought some 1,400 years ago to the present day preservation of the Islamic rituals in the holy land.
Great Mosque of Makkah
Masjid al Haram, also known as the Grand Mosque or the Great Mosque of Makkah, is one of the oldest mosques built in the history of Islam and is a mosque enclosing the vicinity of the Kaaba in Makkah, in the Makkah Province of Saudi Arabia. It is the mosque that is so precious to the Muslims across the world and can accommodate up to four million people in both its outdoor and indoor praying areas.
The Ka’aba, also known as Al Ka'ba al Musharrafa, is a stone building at the center of Islam's most important mosque and holiest site, the Masjid al Haram in Makkah. As far as Muslims are concerned, it is Islam's most sacred site because it represents the metaphorical house of God and the oneness of God in Islam.
The visit to the holy sites continued on the day 3 as well.
Built in the lifetime of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the 7th century, the Quba Mosque is a mosque located in Madinah’s Hejazi region of and is the first mosque in the world. This mosque was built on the first day of Muhammad's emigration to Madina whose first stone was laid by the prophet, and the structure completed by his companions (sahabas).
Masjid Al Qiblatayn
The Masjid al-Qiblatayn, is a mosque in Madinah believed by Muslims to be the place where the beloved Islamic prophet, Muhammad, received the command to change the Qibla from Jerusalem to Makkah. Bait al Muqddis, also known as Masjid Al Aqsa, has a very special place in the hearts of the Muslim beleivers as it was the first ever Qibla in Islam from the period of Prophet Adam (AS) to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
The day began with a visit to the Masjid Taneem:
Located about 5 miles away from the Ka’aba, in the neighbourhood of At-Tan'im in Makkah, western Saudi Arabia,Masjid al Taneem is a mosque in the area of Al Hil that helps pilgrims of Hajj and Umrah to put on Iḥram as it is a boundary of the Haram.
Al Rahma Mosque
Built in 1985, Al Rahma Floating Mosque, also known as Fatima Al Zahra Mosque is located on the edge of the Corniche Road in Jeddah and lies on the northern tip of Jeddah’s waterfront across the Red Sea. It is attached to the shore by a walkway surrounded by low walls and is one of most visited mosques in Jeddah.
It is known as the ‘floating mosque’ because at high tide, the mosque appears to hover over the waves of the Red Sea below and also because of the stilts that suspend it above the edge of the water.
Al Rajhi Grand Mosque
Al-Rajhi Mosque is one of the most famous and largest mosques in the city of Riyadh. It was inaugurated by King Salman bin Abdulaziz when he was Prince of Riyadh and the brilliant scale complemented with a beautiful and intricate design stands elegant and calming. Its huge centerpiece chandelier, carefully woven carpets, colours and paneling enhance the design and patterns throughout.
Tomb of Hawa (AS)
Hawa is also known as Eve, the first woman created and the wife of Adam (AS) and this cemetery in Jeddah is believed to house the grave of Hawa (AS). This elongated tomb, said to house her body, used to exist in the cemetery and was levelled in 1928 and concreted over in 1975.
Mada’in Saleh (city of Saleh) is a pre-Islamic archaeological site located in the Al-Ula sector approximately 400km north-west of Madinah. The tribe of Thamud was supposed to have lived here and is famed for their ability to carve out homes in the mountains. The prophet Saleh was sent by Allah to guide them but they rejected his teachings and were destroyed by an earthquake.
Masjid al Ji’rranah
Masjid al-Ji’rranah is situated approximately 24km north-east of Masjid al Haram and is one of the Miqat places where pilgrims enter into the state of Ihram for the performance of Umrah. Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) was said to have camped in this location for a few days after the Battle of Hunayn, and entered into the state of Ihram and then proceeded to Makkah for Umrah.
Grave of Maymoonah
Maymoonah is one of the wives of the Prophet Mohammed and this grave is where she sleeps for the rest of her life. his is the grave of. The tomb is located on Hijrah Road, 20 km from Makkah, in an area called Sarif. Incidentally, this is the same place where they were married in.
Maymoonah is called Ummulmominin (mother of the Believers) and she had been recently widowed when the Prophet married her at Sarif, a place lying on his journey to Makkah when he was on his way for Umrah.
Masjid Abdullah bin Abbas
Masjid Abdullah bin Abbas, in Taif, is built close to the grave of the great sahabi Abdullah bin Abbas, the paternal cousin of the Prophet and is revered by Muslims for his knowledge. He was an expert in Tafsir (exegesis of the holy Qur’an) and an authority on the Islamic Sunnah, the practice of the Prophet.
House of Haleemah
Haleemah (RA) was a wetnurse who fostered the Prophet here in the early years of his life. What we can see here today at the ruins of the house of Haleemah Sa’diya in the Banu Sa’d region in the desert of Hudaibiyah. Each year, thousands do pay visit to this site.
Masjid al Hudaybiah
The place Hudaybiah is a place of Miqat for pilgrims to enter into the state of Ihram. But what makes this place more important is that it is the place where Masjid al Hudaybiah is located and it is the same place where a peace treaty was made between the Prophet and the Quraysh in 6 AH. This treaty is known as the ‘Treaty of Hudaybiah’. There exists a historic mosque and a new one next to it where pilgrims visit and pray.
Al Masjid an Nabawi
Al Masjid an Nabawi is the second mosque built by the prophet Muhammad in Madinah, after that of Quba. Al Masjid an Nabawī, known in English as the ‘Prophet's Mosque’, is also the second largest mosque and holiest site in Islam after Masjid al-Haram in Makkah. Hundreds of thousands of people make it a point to offer prayers and visit Rawda Shariff where the prophet Mohammed is buried.
Jannat al-Baqi is located to the southeast of the Prophet's Mosque and is the oldest and the first Islamic cemetery of Madinah in the Hejazi region. This large graveyard contains the graves of some of the Islamic prophet Muhammad's family and friends, sahaba, daughters and other relatives. It is also known as Baqi al Gharqad.
The city of Khaybar lies about 150 km north-west of Madinah and was inhabited by a tribe of Jews who incited hostilities towards the Muslims. The Prophet, along with 1,400 companions mounted an expedition and conquered their territory in Muharram 7 AH and Muslims across the world still praise the achievements at Khayber.
Site of the Battle of Badr
History has it that on Friday Ramadhan 17 in 2 AH, a Muslim army comprising around 313 sahabas faced an army of 1,000 of the Quraysh. With the abundant blessings of Almighty Allah, the Muslims emerged victorious. The battle of Badr was the most important and the first major battle the Muslims fought.
Memorial for the martyrs of Battle of Badr:
This memorial which is located outside the site of the Battle of Badr is a historic place visited by people from across the world. The monument here lists the names of the Sahabah (companions of the Prophet who were martyred that day. They were the first Muslims to die in battle for Islam.
Saudi Arabia's two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah are visited by millions of people every year and is transforming on a daily basis. Growth and development to this cities, along with the country is a continuous process. As home to the world's most important Islamic sites which includes the Masjid Al Haram, which houses the Kaaba the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah are at the centre of religious life for the world's Muslim population.