The Excellence of Makkah, its History and its Sacredness (The Masjid al-Harām)

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In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Bestower of Mercy.

Shaikh Ibn `Uthaimeen (rahimahullāh) said: “There is not in the world a land that is sacred (haram) except these two Sacred Sites: The Haram of Makkah, and the Haram of Madeenah. As for what is said by some: “Haram of Al-Aqsā” and “Ibraaheem’s Haram”, then this is not correct and has no evidence to support it.”1See Ash-Sharh al-Mumti` (7/215)

From the places of virtue that Allaah has extolled and mentioned their excellence to the exclusion of others is the city of Makkah: the place of safety, and security, the place where revelation to the Prophet Muhammad (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) began, and from where he was appointed as the Messenger to mankind. It is the city which Allaah swears by in the Qur’an:

لَا أُقْسِمُ بِهَٰذَا الْبَلَدِ

“I swear by this city, Makkah,

وَأَنتَ حِلٌّ بِهَٰذَا الْبَلَدِ

And you, [O Muhammad], are free of restriction in this city.”2(Al-Balad: 1-2)

Ibn Katheer (rahimahullāh) said: “This is an oath of Allaah (the Most High) by Makkah, Umm al-Quraa (the mother of all towns), due to the fact that living in it puts one in a state that indicates the greatness of the city itself wherein the people are in a state of Ihraam, living in a sanctity. Allaah stated:

وَهَٰذَا الْبَلَدِ الْأَمِينِ

‘And by this city of security (Makkah).’3(At-Teen: 3)

There are many narrations that show the excellence of Makkah and its Sacredness:

1. Within Makkah is the Ancient House (Al-Bayt Al-`Ateeq) for the worship of Allaah alone. It was the first place of monotheistic worship built for mankind. Allaah stated:

إِنَّ أَوَّلَ بَيْتٍ وُضِعَ لِلنَّاسِ لَلَّذِي بِبَكَّةَ مُبَارَكًا وَهُدًى لِّلْعَالَمِينَ

“Verily, the first House of worship appointed for mankind was that at Bakkah (Makkah), full of blessing, and guidance for all of creation.”4(Aali `Imraan: 96)

Bukhaaree (3366) and Muslim (520) report in the two Saheeh collections from Abu Dharr (radiyallaahu `anhu) that he said: “I asked the Messenger (salallaahu `alaihi wasallam) regarding the first Masjid that was made in the world?” So he said: “The Masjid al-Haraam.” I asked: “Then which one after that?” He said: “Masjid al-Aqsaa.” I asked: “What was the time period between them?” He replied: “Forty years.” 

Ibnul-Qayyim (rahimahullaah) said: “This hadeeth is difficult to comprehend for those who do not know its intent, a person may say: ‘It is known that Prophet Sulaimaan Ibn Daawood (`alaihimas-salaam) was the one who built Masjid al-Aqsaa and there was between him and Ibraaheem over a thousand-year gap’ So this shows the ignorance of such a person. That is because Sulaimaan (`alaihis-salaam) merely rebuilt and renovated the Masjid al-Aqsaa – he did not establish it or build it in the first place. Rather the one who originally built it was Ya`qoob Ibn Is-haaq (salallaahu `alaihimaa wassallam), and that was after Ibraaheem (`alaihis-salaam) built the Ka`bah at Makkah.”5(See Zaad al-Ma`aad, 1/50)

2. Allaah made it a Haram (a sanctity) wherein it is not permitted to shed blood; not permitted to cut a tree; not permitted to chase or scare game animals; not permitted to cut shrubs; it is not permitted to pick up a lost item not belonging to you except with the intent of announcing that one has found it, seeking its owner. Bukhaaree (104) and Muslim (1354) reported in the two Saheehs from the Hadeeth of Abu Shuraih (radiyallaahu `anhu) that Allaah’s Messenger (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam) said:

“Allaah made Makkah a sanctity and it was not the people who did that. So it is not permitted for a person who believes in Allaah and the Last Day to spill blood therein [i.e. kill another person] or to cut down a tree. If anybody argues that fighting is allowed in Makkah as Allaah’s Messenger did fight in Makkah. Tell them that Allaah gave permission to His Messenger, but He did not give it to you. Allaah allowed it for me only for a few hours on that one day [of the conquest] – and today its sanctity is the same as it was before. So let the one who is present convey that to the one who is absent.”

3. That which is narrated concerning the virtue of praying in the Masjid al-Haraam. Imaam Ahmad reported with an authentic chain of narration in his Musnad (no. 14694) from the Hadeeth of Jaabir (radiyallaahu `anhu) that the Prophet (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam) said:

“The prayer in this Masjid of mine [in Madeenah] is more excellent than a 1000 prayers in any other place except for the Masjid al-Haraam [in Makkah], for the prayer in the Masjid al-Haraam is 100,000 times more excellent.”

The people of knowledge have looked into whether this manifold increase in virtue applies to the whole of the sacred area (al-Haram) or only the Masjid al-Haraam surrounding the Ka`bah. The first issue is: The hadeeth previously mentioned stated: “The prayer in the Masjid al-Haraam is 100,000 times more excellent.” The texts of the Qur’aan and Sunnah which mention “Al-Masjid Al-Haraam” intend by its usage the whole of the Haram area. For example the saying of Allaah (the Most High):

ذَٰلِكَ لِمَن لَّمْ يَكُنْ أَهْلُهُ حَاضِرِي الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ

“This is for him whose family is not present at Al-Masjid al-Haraam (i.e. non-resident of Makkah)…”6(Al-Baqarah 2:196)

And His saying:

سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلًا مِّنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَى

“Glorified and Exalted be He above all that they associate with Him, Who took His slave (Muhammad) for a journey by night from Al-Masjid al-Haraam (at Makkah) to the farthest mosque (in Jerusalem).7(Al-Israa: 1)

On that night he was taken from the house of the Companion Umm Haanee (radiyallaahu `anhaa), yet Allaah still referred to it as “Al-Masjid Al-Haraam”, i.e. that the term refers to the sacred area and not only to the Mosque. There are also proofs from the Sunnah: When the Messenger (salallaahu `alaihi wasallam) was at Al-Hudaibiyah (a place between Makkah and Madeenah), and it was time to pray, he entered the Haram (Sacred) area and prayed. (Reported by Ahmad in al-Musnad, no. 18910, with a good chain of narration).

The second issue is that there are narrations from the Salaf that show that the reward of all of the deeds is multiplied in the area of the Haram, acting in that regard upon the saying of Allaah (the Most High):

وَمَن يُرِدْ فِيهِ بِإِلْحَادٍ بِظُلْمٍ نُّذِقْهُ مِنْ عَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ

“And whoever inclines to evil actions therein (in the Haram area) or to do wrong, him We shall cause to taste a painful torment.”8(Al-Hajj: 25)

The tremendous nature of the sacredness of the Haram and the strong forbiddance of committing evil indicates likewise its immense virtue for the one doing righteous actions. And the affair has a detailed study connected to it.

4. Allaah has informed us that Makkah is Umm al-Quraa as occurs in His saying:

وَكَذَٰلِكَ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لِّتُنذِرَ أُمَّ الْقُرَىٰ وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا

“And thus We have inspired unto you (O Muhammad) a Quran in Arabic that you may warn the Mother of the Towns (Makkah) and all those around it.”9(Ash-Shooraa: 7)

So all the towns, villages and cities follow on from it and are branches of it.

5. It is the Qiblah (direction of prayer) for all the people of the earth, and there is no Qiblah in the world besides it. Allaah said:

وَمِنْ حَيْثُ خَرَجْتَ فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ ۚ

“And from wherever you go out [for prayer], turn your face toward al-Masjid al-Haraam.”10(Al-Baqarah 2:150)

Bukhaaree (398) and Muslim (331) reported in the two Saheehs from the Hadeeth of Usaamah Ibn Zaid and Ibn `Abbaas (radiyallaahu `anhum) that Allaah’s Messenger (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam) exited his house and offered two rak`ahs in prayer facing the Ka`bah, and then said: “This is the Qiblah.”

6. There is safety for the one who enters the Haram. Allaah said:

وَمَن دَخَلَهُ كَانَ آمِنًا ۗ

“…whosoever enters it, he attains security.”11(Aali `Imraan: 97)

So this is either informing us of the reality of the affair alongside the impossibility of there being any contradiction in the sayings of Allaah. Or it is information regarding the legislation (Sharee`ah) of Allaah and His Religion concerning its sacredness. Or it is informing us of an affair and a covenant that is continuous concerning its sacredness in the times of pre-Islamic ignorance through to Islaam, just as Allaah has said:

أَوَلَمْ يَرَوْا أَنَّا جَعَلْنَا حَرَمًا آمِنًا وَيُتَخَطَّفُ النَّاسُ مِنْ حَوْلِهِمْ ۚ أَفَبِالْبَاطِلِ يُؤْمِنُونَ وَبِنِعْمَةِ اللَّهِ يَكْفُرُونَ

“Have they not seen that We have made (Makkah) a sanctuary secure and that men are being snatched away from all around them? Then do they believe in falsehood, and deny (become ingrate for) the Graces of Allah?”12(Al-`Ankaboot 67)

وَقَالُوا إِن نَّتَّبِعِ الْهُدَىٰ مَعَكَ نُتَخَطَّفْ مِنْ أَرْضِنَا ۚ أَوَلَمْ نُمَكِّن لَّهُمْ حَرَمًا آمِنًا يُجْبَىٰ إِلَيْهِ ثَمَرَاتُ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ

“And they say: ‘If we follow the guidance with you, we would be snatched away from our land.’ Have We not established for them a secure sanctuary (Makkah), to which are brought fruits of all kinds…”13(Al-Qasas: 57, See Zaad al-Ma`aad, 3/445)

7. That it is forbidden to face it and turn one’s back to it whilst relieving oneself. Bukhaaree (394) and Muslim (264) report from the hadeeth of Abu Ayyoob al-Ansaaree (radiyallaahu `anhu) that Allaah’s Messenger (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam) said: “When you defecate, do not face the Qiblah, and do not turn your back to it – neither when defecating nor when urinating. Rather turn to the East or the West.”

8. Allaah chose it for the Rites of Hajj, and he made travelling to it an act of worship – for which a person is raised in rank and his sins are wiped away, as there occurs in Bukhaaree (1521) and Muslim (1350) from the Hadeeth of Abu Hurairah (radiyallaahu `anhu) that Allaah’s Messenger (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam) said: “Whoever performs Hajj for Allaah alone and keeps away from sexual acts and from sin, he return home like it was the day that his mother gave birth to him.”

9. Makkah is the best place on earth and the most beloved to Allaah and His Messenger (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam). At-Tirmidhee authentically reports in his Sunan (3925) from `Abdullaah Ibn `Adiyy (radiyallaahu `anhu) that Allaah’s Messenger (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam) said whilst addressing Makkah: “By Allaah! You are best of the lands of Allaah, and the best land of Allaah to Allaah! And were it not for the fact that I was expelled from you, I would never have left you.”

Tirmidhee (3926) also reports from Ibn `Abbaas (radiyallaahu anhumaa) that Allaah’s Messenger (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam) said to the land of Makkah “There is no finer place than you, no place more beloved to me! And were it not for the fact that your people expelled me from you, I would not have lived elsewhere.”

11. It is the place from where Allaah took His Prophet into the Heavens on the night of the Journey. Allaah (the Most High) said:

سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلًا مِّنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آيَاتِنَا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ

“Glorified and Exalted be He above all that they associate with Him who took His slave for a journey by night from Al-Masjid-al-Haraam (at Makkah) to the farthest mosque (in Jerusalem), the neighbourhood whereof We have blessed, in order that We might show him of Our signs. Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer.”14(Al-Israa: 1)

12. It is not permitted to embark upon a religious journey except to three Mosques, the Masjid al-Haraam being one of them. Bukhaaree (1189) and Muslim (1397) report from Abu Hurairah (radiyallaahu `anhu) that Allaah’s Messenger (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam) said:

“Do not embark upon a [religious] journey except to three Mosques: Al-Masjid Al-Haraam (Makkah), the Mosque of the Messenger (in Madinah) and the Masjid al-Aqsaa (in Jerusalem).”

13. Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, connected the Sacred House in Makkah to Himself specifically:

وَطَهِّرْ بَيْتِيَ لِلطَّائِفِينَ وَالْقَائِمِينَ وَالرُّكَّعِ السُّجُودِ

And purify My House for those who perform Tawaaf…”15(Al-Hajj: 27)

This connection is particular and specific due to the sacredness that Allaah has endowed the Ka`bah with, the honour He has given to Makkah, and His love for it. This singularly is sufficient honour for this city and the Grand Mosque.

14. Allaah has attached the hearts of people to His Sacred House, the Grand Mosque. He made it a place of constant returning for them

وَإِذْ جَعَلْنَا الْبَيْتَ مَثَابَةً لِّلنَّاسِ وَأَمْنًا

And [mention] when We made the House a place of return for the people and [a place of] security…”16(Al-Baqarah: 125)

It is such that the heart keeps desiring to return to it over and over. And as the centuries have gone by, the numbers desiring to visit it has only increased. And the more one visits it, the more one is pulled by his soul to visit it again.

Look how the people spend their halaal wealth, leave behind their businesses, their homes and families because their hearts are drawn to this blessed place. They care not what it costs, because the visitation of the House of Allaah for Hajj and `Umrah only wipes away poverty and sin just as the furnace purifies gold, silver and iron from its impurities.

May Allaah (the Most Generous, the Compassionate) continue to give us the opportunity to visit the Masjid al-Haraam for the purpose of worshipping Him alone and earning His reward.


  • 1
    See Ash-Sharh al-Mumti` (7/215)
  • 2
    (Al-Balad: 1-2)
  • 3
    (At-Teen: 3)
  • 4
    (Aali `Imraan: 96)
  • 5
    (See Zaad al-Ma`aad, 1/50)
  • 6
    (Al-Baqarah 2:196)
  • 7
    (Al-Israa: 1)
  • 8
    (Al-Hajj: 25)
  • 9
    (Ash-Shooraa: 7)
  • 10
    (Al-Baqarah 2:150)
  • 11
    (Aali `Imraan: 97)
  • 12
    (Al-`Ankaboot 67)
  • 13
    (Al-Qasas: 57, See Zaad al-Ma`aad, 3/445)
  • 14
    (Al-Israa: 1)
  • 15
    (Al-Hajj: 27)
  • 16
    (Al-Baqarah: 125)

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