Photographs from Makkah, Part 2
Jebel al-Rahmah, or the Mountain of Mercy
This is the spot in Arafat where prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) delivered his last sermon to a congregation of Muslims gathered around him. Also, our guide informs us that the prophet Adam (alahis salaam) and his wife Eve asked for the Almighty’s forgiveness at this place (after being dismissed from heaven).
The Mountain that witnessed the ultimate sacrifice
This is where the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) offered his son, prophet Ismail (Ishmael)—may peace be upon them—as sacrifice, as commanded by Allah. At the last moment, as the prophet was about to plunge the knife into the body of his son, Allah called out to prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) to stop and not to harm his son. Instead, Allah provided an animal as a substitute sacrifice. And so, every year similar sacrifices are performed in memory of prophet Ibrahim’s submission to Allah.
The City of Tents
I am totally amazed by this place in Mina: the entire valley is covered with white tents. I’ve seen this countless times in dozens of photographs, but the real thing took my breath away. I try to imagine how this place might look like during the hajj season, when almost 3 million people come to stay in these tents! You have to see this aerial shot of the place to get an idea of the project’s vastness.
Stoning of the devil
Behind the white tents are three, 85-feet long walls that represent Jamarat, or the devil. Muslim pilgrims fling pebbles at these walls as ritual acts that must be performed during Hajj.
The first and largest jamarat represents the devil’s temptation of prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) against sacrificing prophet Ismail (Ishmael) – may peace be upon them. The second wall represents the devil tempting Hajar, prophet Ibrahim’s wife, inducing her to stop her husband from carrying out Allah’s order. And the third wall represents the devil’s temptation of prophet Ismail to avoid being sacrificed. Prophet Ibrahim (may peace be upon him) was ordered to throw stones to ward the devil away. He threw seven stones each time, and the devil was rebuked each time. The ritual of stoning symbolises these rebukes. The stoning also represents repudiation of man’s self and casting aside one’s low desires.
The cave of Hira, where the first verse of the Qur’an was revealed
By the age of forty, prophet Mohammed (may peace be upon him) was still living among an extremely backward people who were devoid of any traces of civilisation and humanity. The deplorable situation of women who were treated worse than animals, as well as the prevalence of gambling, alcoholism and murder tortured his blessed heart. He observed nothing in that society except the darkness of ignorance. When he dealt with these people as a merchant, their immoral behaviour disturbed him so much that he had to go to a lonely place where he would not be tormented by people’s inhuman behaviour. For these reasons and to find peace of mind, he would go to Mount Hira to contemplate.
And it is somewhere on this mountain, in a cave, where the first verses of the Qur’an was revealed to him by Allah through the angel Gibrail (Gabriel):
“Recite in the Name of Your Lord Who created. He created the human being from a clot. Recite and your Lord is Most Honorable, Who taught (to write) with the pen, taught the human being what he knew not…” Holy Quran (Alaq 96: 1-5)