Religious tourism mecca

Illuminating City »Medina

Report from a trip to holy places

Each religion has its own shrines. Holy places play an important role in the life of Muslims, despite the fact that Islam interprets them differently than, say, Orthodoxy and Catholicism. The very term "holiness" is basically absent from it. The Arabic literary language, in which most of the religious concepts of Islam are expressed, offers instead the word Haram, meaning "holy, forbidden" (primarily for non-believers and non-believers). From the same root, by the way, the name of the female half in the house of a Muslim is formed (Russian harem from Arab, beit al-harim) - the holy of holies of the Muslim family, closed to prying eyes. True, there is also the word quds, which means “holy, pure,” but it goes back to the Middle Eastern Christian tradition. Therefore, they call them such Christian concepts as the Holy Spirit (Rukh al-Quds), the Bible (al-Kitab al-Quds), the sacrament (sirr al-Quds), Mass or Mass (Quddas). The same word became the definition of the holy city of the three confessions of Jerusalem, which the Arabs call al-Quds.

Different communities and sects of Muslims worship their shrines. For example, among the Shiites, such a role is played by Karbala with the mausoleum of the third Imam Hussein (died 680) killed by the Umayyads, whose memory is celebrated annually on 10 Muharrem. There are also common muslman (ummah) sanctuaries for the entire world community. These include the noble shrines (al-Haram ash-sharif) of Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem, primarily the first two, which the Arabs simply call “the two holy cities” (al-Hara-man). The reason is simple. It was here that the life of the Prophet Muhammad passed, who proclaimed the divine Revelation of Islam to people. Mecca is considered the symbolic center of the entire Islamic world (dar al-Islam). Five times a day, while performing prayer, Muslims turn towards Mecca with its main sanctuary, the Kaaba temple. Most of the rituals of Islam are focused on it. Even after death, the bodies of Muslims in the grave must be turned to face the Kaaba. Kibls of all mosques in the world also look there. Every year, millions of Muslims come to Mecca to make the pilgrimage (hajj).

For non-believers, the entire territory where rituals of pilgrimage are performed is prohibited. The closeness of the world shrine of Islam has long piqued the curiosity of Europe. Since the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, individual travelers have tried to infiltrate Mecca. The first Christian who made his way here under the guise of an orthodox Hajj was in 1503 the Italian adventurer Lodovico di Vartema. In 1814-1815, the German Johann Ludwig Burckhardt visited Mecca under the guise of Sheikh Ibrahim ash-Shami, an Arab merchant from Syria. A lot of noise was made in 1855 by a book about the Hajj by Richard Burton, an English sailor who visited Mecca and Medina in 1853 under the guise of a pilgrim. Later, he translated into English the erotic tales "A Thousand and One Nights" and "Kamasutra". In 1884-1885, the Dutch Islamic scholar Christian Snook-Hurgronje visited Jeddah and Mecca. To get to Mecca, some scholars even converted to Islam. At the beginning of the 19th century, the German scientist Ulrich Jasper Seetzen did this.

Until recently, the journey to Mecca was fraught with inconveniences and dangers: after the Hajj Seetzen was killed in 1811 in South Arabia, Burkhardt was robbed more than once by the Bedouins, Snook-Hurgronje had to flee under threat of exposure and death from Mecca. Over the past half century, times have finally arrived in Mecca (but not in the world). The comfort level has grown immeasurably. If before the camel was the greatest convenience in a caravan of pilgrims, today average-income hajjs are carried to the shrines of Islam by plane in just a few hours. Jeddah on the shores of the Red Sea has become a large modern port. Mecca is linked to the West and East by a network of highways. Mecca itself came to Europe not only in texts, but also in photographs and videos, through the press, television and the Internet. On the other hand, popular culture (not without the help of Chinese production) has reached the most remote corners of the Islamic world.

The composition of the pilgrims is also changing. Of course, the bulk of them are still ordinary believers seeking personal salvation in the Hajj and fulfilling one of the most important duties of their religion. But among Muslim intellectuals, who are accustomed to not only performing the rituals of the Hajj, but also thinking about them, new people have appeared. Since the Middle Ages, the description of pilgrimage has been the prerogative of learned scholars from among the Muslim spiritual elite, the so-called ulema. They developed a separate genre of notes on the journey to holy places (rihla), the classic examples of which can be found among Arab travelers from Muslim Spain and North Africa of the 12th – 14th centuries Ibn Jubair and Ibn Battuta. Needless to say, for the general public such works, as well as the works of their "colleagues" - Islamic scholars, remained incomprehensible. Among the pilgrims of our era were representatives of pop culture unfamiliar with this tradition - secular writers, journalists and just reporters.

Children of the 20th century, they brought a lot of skepticism, irony, and liveliness of impressions into the description of the pilgrimage. One of these pilgrims in 1949 was the Algerian writer Kateb Yassin. The book of his compatriot, written forty years after Yasin's travel notes, we present today to the judgment of the Russian reader. It was first published in French by the Parisian publishing house Hachette in 1989. Its author is Slimane Zegidour, a journalist of Algerian origin, who is well known to the French public as the host of programs on Islam and the Middle East on TV-5 Monde. Zegidur belongs to a generation that grew up during the collapse of colonial empires and the awakening of the Arab East. He was born on September 29, 1953, in a mountain village in Babor (Malaya) Kabylia, the Berber region of Algeria, a few months before the start of the bloody civil war known today as the Algerian Revolution of 1954-1962. His countrymen-Kabila often speak from the pages of his book.

Since 1974 Zegidour has been working in Paris and living in its suburb of Ville-Juif. Back in North Africa, he linked his fate with journalism, having got a job in 1970 as a photo artist in the Berber magazine "M'kidesh" in the city of Algeria. In France, he worked for the weeklies La Vie, Le Monde diplomatique, Telerama. Zegidur's polemic articles about Muslim emigration in Western Europe, the Arab-Israeli dispute over Jerusalem, the significance of Christianity for modern European culture, the recent scandal around the cartoons of Muhammad in the European press, in short, on a variety of hot topics of religious minorities in various parts of the world, from Latin America before Russia was published in France and abroad - in the Catholic press of Paris, the Spanish newspaper El Pais, the American magazine National Review, etc. He owes his popularity to the talent of a reporter and the ability to convey the pressing issues of our time in a lively and accessible language.

Zegidur published his first book in Paris in 1979. This is a photo album about Algerians in France "New Immigrants". Zegidur studied the history of the emergence of secular literature in Arabic, dedicating his second book, Arab Poetry Between Islam and the West (1982). In total, he published 6-7 books and brochures, including the 1990 essay "The Chadra and the Banner" on how French law removes headscarves from Muslim women, as well as an album of artistic photographs about Muslim youth, published in 1993 entitled "The Man Who Wanted meet in God. " In his speeches, Zegidur often (and rightly) reproaches the French for their destruction of the traditional culture of colonial Algeria. He also does not favor the authorities of independent Algeria, whose socialist experiments in the 60s ruined his family and took away its Berber name from his native village of Iserragen. However, thanks to the "accursed colonial and socialist past," he learned two or three languages ​​in childhood, speaks and writes fluently in French and literary Arabic.

Since the end of the 90s, Islam has taken an increasing place in Zegidur's work. Belonging in language, education and culture to the secular French-speaking intelligentsia of the generation of the late 1960s and 1970s, like hundreds of thousands of other Arab emigrants in France, he sees in him a connection with his forever abandoned homeland. For Zegidur, Islam is also a means of establishing his Franco-Algerian Muslim identity. In his own words, he became a Frenchman by force of circumstance - "by choice." At the same time, in his works and in the book you are holding in your hands, one cannot fail to notice the style of his generation and era - the student riots of 1968, the sexual revolution, the overthrow of authorities by intellectuals like Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu. In search of ways to return to God and find oneself, Zegidur made an individual small pilgrimage to Mecca in 1987 (what is called the Arabic word umrah in the Islamic tradition), and the next year - a full hajj.

As a result of these travels to the holy places of Islam, two more books saw the light - "Everyday Life in Mecca from Muhammad to the Present" (1989) and the beautifully illustrated "Mecca in the Heart of the Pilgrimage", which he co-published with photo artist Ali Marok in 2003. The first of them became almost a bestseller in France and was awarded the Clio Prize for the best historical publication in French. But for the Russian reader today it is more interesting as a report on the events of twenty years ago. This is precisely a reportage about a pilgrimage, sometimes with an accuracy of an hour and a minute, as can be seen from the subtitles of individual chapters. Zegidur cannot be denied erudition. From time to time, the author indulges in discussions about the events of the past and the people who acted in the same places that he visited, for one and a half, or even two and a half millennia. At the same time, he gets into such a jungle that he inevitably makes some mistakes. In fairness, it should be noted that he has few of them.

A report from a trip to holy places

After Mecca, the second most important sacred place for Muslims in Saudi Arabia is Medina. "Clean" city in all understandings. Here you will not see broken plants, hunting for birds and animals. This place is freed from cruel acts of violence and even more murder. Only a clean, light, "illuminating" area, closed from prying eyes. After all, entry to the Medina lands is possible only for Muslims.

Historical background

The city is located, like Mecca, in the Hejaz region. It existed in pre-Islamic times and was considered one of the largest centers of Jews in the Arabian Peninsula. It is believed that the first settlements were still during the war between the Amalekites and the Israelites. The population over time became more and more motley, mixed: various clans consisting of Arabs, Jews and people of Jewish-Arab origin who were adherents of Judaism.

The Jews seized power and constantly pitted the tribes living here. The incessant conflicts and civil strife significantly weakened the strength of the communities, so it was decided to ask for help from outside forces.

The settled Arab nomads turned to the preacher Muhammad in Mecca. They wanted to end the regular friction and harassment. Moreover, many Jews accepted the faith of Islam, but they deceived: they did it insincerely and rejected the religion. And some residents were generally polytheists. The Prophet visited Medina, spoke with all parties, and made an agreement with the Jews for reconciliation and non-aggression. The so-called local constitution was created, which established all relationships and took into account the interests of residents. Then most of the Arabs adopted the Islamic religion.

The city was not always called "Medina". For the Arabs, it was Yathrib. But when Muhammad visited him, all Muslims began to call this area "the city of the Prophet", which in Arabic sounds like "Myadiniatu-n-Nabi." Another variant of the name is also mentioned: "Al-Madina al-Munawwara", which means "illuminating the city." Over time, the long name was shortened and called "Medina", which translated simply as "city".

City of Three Temples

Everyone knows Medina, now located in Saudi Arabia, as a city with the central Mosque of the Prophet Masjid al-Nabi. This is the very second most important shrine that brings Muslims to Medina. After all, it was here in 632 that Muhammad died and was buried from the Mosque.

Its construction was completed during the lifetime of the Prophet, and subsequent rulers of Islam carried out expansion, improvement and restoration. The tomb of Muhammad is located under the luxurious green dome, which can be seen from afar. And next to him are buried the righteous caliphs Abu Bakr (b.) And Umar (b.). And if earlier there were only three passages to the temple (Bab-e Jabrail, Bab-ar-Rahme and Bab-e Atika), now their number is much expanded. The number of pilgrims increases every year, so more passages have been added for free access to the famous building.

But besides the temple ensemble of the Prophet's Mosque, the city keeps two more beautiful historical sites. The first is Masjid al-Quba. According to legend, this particular temple is the most ancient in Islamic culture (if you do not take into account the Protected Mosque and Al-Aqsa).

The second is Masjit Al-Qiblatayn or, as it is also called, the Two Qiblah Mosque. In this unique object, there are indeed two mihrabs and, therefore, two Qiblahs. One points to Mecca (Kaaba), and the second to Jerusalem.

If every righteous Muslim has heard about the Hajj, then not everyone knows about Umra, and even more so they do not realize its importance.

Umrah means visit in Arabic. In Islam, this concept means visiting shrines according to certain rules.

Umrah is one of the types of worship, a small pilgrimage, the so-called “small Hajj”. In the process of Umrah, rituals prescribed by the Sharia are also performed, which must be performed by Muslims in the holy lands of Mecca and Medina.

Essence of Umrah

As a form of worship of Allah, Umrah is one of the important deeds of a Muslim. Going to Umra and intending to go through it, the believer shows his love and closeness to the Almighty.

Passing the rituals of the small Hajj in a certain order, the pilgrim prays for himself and his loved ones, asks for forgiveness of past sins. Also, according to legend, Allah will save the pilgrim from poverty. For the worthy passage of this path and the fulfillment of all the conditions of Umrah, the believer will be rewarded.

Historical significance of Umrah

Umrah is not required to be performed like the Hajj. Nevertheless, the Qur'an and authentic hadith mention the importance and peculiarity of the small Hajj and emphasize its recommendatory nature.

In the surah al-Bakara (ayat 196) there is such a mention: "Perform the Hajj and Die for the sake of Allah." Umrah is placed alongside Hajj.

In the sacred Sunnah tradition, there are words about the importance of the small Hajj: A messenger came to the Prophet and told about his father, who was already aged and unable to go to the Hajj. The Prophet answered him "Perform the Hajj and Die for my father!"

A place known for its incredible spiritual strength and energy. Homeland of the Prophet Muhammad. The territory of rapprochement and unity of Muslims from all over the world. As soon as this city is not called in Saudi Arabia. For every true believer, it has its own meaning. For some - vivid memories of a completed pilgrimage. And for others it is dreams and turns into goals. Mecca city. Shrine City.

Historical background

Mecca is an ancient place that has experienced difficult turning points, keeps the secrets of the emergence of the Islamic faith and knows the stories of billions of believers. The exact time of the foundation is unknown, but religious traditions attribute the appearance of the place to the descendants of Ismail, the son of Abraham.

According to assumptions in the work "Greek Mythology" there is a mention of a temple revered by the Arabs, located on a separate land part of the Arabian Peninsula. Adherents of the Islamic faith identify it with the sacred Kaaba. The traditions of Islam prove that the history of the first man unfolded on the territory of the city after he descended from Paradise at the behest of the Almighty.

The geographical position was barren: there were only mountains and hills around, and the soil was not suitable for agriculture. Approximately 19th century BC ., according to legend, by the will of Allah, the prophet Ibrahim (a.), together with his wife Hajar (a.) and their son Ismail (a.), came to the desert Mecca. When they had nothing to drink or eat, Hajar began to pray and run in search of water. And at this time, the miraculous source Zam-Zam appeared, which saved them from thirst.

Here they rebuilt the Kaaba after the flood. The Prophet performed the Hajj. And by his order, all Muslims had to continue this tradition, also come to the first sacred house and worship the Almighty at least once in their lives.

After these events, tribes began to populate the territory. At first they were Juhrum and Khuzaa. But later they were supplanted and firmly rooted by the legendary Quraish tribe.

The city was not always called "Mecca". In the blessed Qur'an, the city is referred to as “Umm al-Qura”, “Balad al-Amin” and “Bekka”. By the way, Mecca and Becca, translated from the ancient Semitic language, very symbolically mean "home".

Trade Relations

By the 5th century A.D. ... the city has already grown and has become an important intermediate point of trade routes. Routes from Arabian, African, Indian lands passed through it. Various spices and materials (metal, ivory, leather), incense and precious stones were sent along them to the Mediterranean. And Babylonian, Iranian and Yemeni merchants crossed Mecca, heading for the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.

By the 6th century AD ... Iran and Byzantium were at war. In order to avoid danger, traders began to avoid states with strained relationships and look for new ways and platforms for trade. Now the city connected parts of Asia with the southern part of Arabia and the coast of Africa. This brought even greater profits to Mecca. The inhabitants of the city formed their own contractual system with the nearest tribes. And the climate has already allowed the Meccans to develop the city not only in a commercial direction, but also in an agricultural one.

Therefore, due to the favorable geographical location and the conflict between the Persians and the Byzantines, Mecca has become one of the main cities of the surrounding area. But at the same time, Arab nomads regularly raided, a terrible plague periodically broke out and took hundreds of lives, and the Byzantine-Persian war also affected Mecca. All these external factors prevented the city from being stable, really competing with its neighbors and preserving local traditions.

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