• Ghar-e-Hira (Cave of Hira)

    Ghar-e-Hira (Arabic: غار حراء, “The Cave of Hira”), located near the summit of Jabal al-Nour (Arabic: جبل النور), is where the Prophet ﷺ received the first Quranic revelation. Prior to the revelation, he would often retreat to the cave to find peace, solitude and an opportunity to reflect and meditate. Since the revelation, the Cave of Hira has become one of the most frequented sites of Ziyarah, attracting pilgrims and visitors from around the world.

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    Ghar-e-Hira Location

    Ghare-Hira is located 3.2 kilometres north of Makkah, towards Arafat. Once a distinct open area from the city, the cave is now integrated into the greater metropolis of Makkah, with no clear demarcation between it and the Haram of Makkah.

    It is situated about 8-9 kilometres away from Masjid al-Haram by car.

    Ghar-e-Hira Height

    The cave measures 2 metres in height (6.5 feet) and 3.5 metres (11.5 feet) in length and the width at its widest point is 1.3 metres (4.3 feet). This provides enough height for two average-sized men to stand in and pray. Jabal al-Nour, the mountain on which the cave sits, is 634 metres (2,080 feet) in height.

    Inside Ghar-e-Hira

    Inside the Cave of Hira, facing the Qibla direction, there is a crevice through which Masjid al-Haram could once be seen, though now it is obscured by surrounding buildings.

    History of Ghar-e-Hira

    The Cave of Hira was introduced to the Prophet ﷺ by his grandfather, Abdul Muttalib I, as a child.

    Upon reaching the age of 40, the Prophet ﷺ felt a strong inclination in his blessed heart towards seclusion. He began to prioritize solitude to devote himself to the worship of Allah. He spent much time immersed in the gnosis of Allah (ma’rifah), day and night, through spiritual striving (mujahadah), and he contemplated how to better the affairs of his community. At times, the Prophet ﷺ would carry food and water with him and retreat into seclusion for days. When his provisions ran out, he would either return home to replenish them or his wife, Khadijah J would bring them to him.

    It was during this period that he began experiencing meaningful dreams, the interpretations of which would later become clear and true.

    First Revelation

    One day, while engrossed in worship inside Ghar-e-Hira, the Prophet ﷺ was visited by Jibril S, the angel responsible for conveying revelation (wahy) to the Prophets. Jibril urged him, “Iqra” (Recite!). The Messenger of Allah ﷺ responded, “I am not going to recite.” Upon saying this, he was firmly embraced by Jibril. After being released, Jibril again urged, “Iqra,” and once more, the Prophet gave the same reply. Jibril embraced him for a third time, then released him and recited:

    اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ ❁ خَلَقَ الْإِنسَانَ مِنْ عَلَقٍ ❁ اقْرَأْ وَرَبُّكَ الْأَكْرَمُ ❁ الَّذِي عَلَّمَ بِالْقَلَمِ ❁ عَلَّمَ الْإِنسَانَ مَا لَمْ يَعْلَمْ
    Read! In the name of your Lord Who has created you. He has created man from a congealed clot of blood. Read, in [the name of] your Lord, the most Honourable. He who taught by the pen; and taught man that which he knew not.
    [Surah al-Alaq, 96:1-5]

    The Prophet ﷺ recited these verses, and Jibril departed. This marked the first revelation (wahy) that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ received. Having memorized these verses, he left the Cave of Hira and returned home. Overwhelmed by this initial experience, he was shaken and said to Khadijah, “Cover me! Cover me!”

    Aisha J, the wife of the Prophet ﷺ  relates the entire experience in a Hadith related in Bukhari and Muslim:

    We have related on the authority of az-Zuhri I who said; Urwah bin az-Zubayr I informed me; Aisha, the wife of the Prophet ﷺ informed him, saying, ‘True dreams, whilst asleep, were the first experience the Messenger of God had of revelation. He never used to dream anything save that it would occur just like the breaking of the dawn. Thus seclusion was made beloved to him, and he used to seclude himself in the Cave of Hira for the purpose of purification, meaning to worship for several nights in succession, before returning to his family and taking the necessary provisions (to seclude himself once again).

    Thereafter, he would once again return to Khadijah and immediately take the necessary provisions for the like. This continued until the Real took him by surprise whilst he was in the Cave of Hira, when the Angel came unto him and said, ‘Recite!’ He asked, ‘What shall I recite? He said, ‘He immediately took hold of me and squeezed me until he exerted his utmost strength upon me, then he released me. He then said, ‘Recite!’ I asked, ‘What shall I recite? So he took hold of me and squeezed me a second time, until he exerted his utmost strength upon me, then he released me. He then said, ‘Recite! I asked, ‘What shall I recite?’ So, he took hold of me and squeezed me a third time, until he exerted his utmost strength upon me, then he released me. At this point he said,

    ‘Recite in the Name of your Lord Who created: created man from clotted blood. Recite and your Lord is the Most Generous. The One Who taught by the pen; taught man that which he did not know.’

    The Messenger of God ﷺ immediately returned to Khadijah, with the mid-part of his shoulders trembling, entering upon her and saying, ‘Cover me! Cover me!’ So, she covered him until the fear had subsided. After that, he said to Khadijah, ‘O Khadijah, what is wrong with me?’ He then told her what had occurred. He said, ‘Indeed, I was overcome with fear for myself!’ Khadijah said to him, ‘No indeed, glad tidings, for by God, God would never humiliate you! Indeed, you maintain bonds of kinship, you speak truthfully, you carry the burden of the weak, you reap tremendous profit, you treat guests well, and you assist in adverse times, in truth.

    Khadijah then took him to Waraqah ibn Nawfal ibn Asad ibn Abdul Uzza, the son of the paternal uncle and brother of the father of Khadijah. He was an individual who had converted to Christianity in the Age of Ignorance. He was able to write the Bible in Arabic, as well as write from the Gospel in Arabic whatever God willed for him to write. He was a very old man who had now gone blind. So Khadijah said to him, ‘O cousin, listen to your nephew.’ Waraqah said, ‘O nephew, what have you seen?’ So the Prophet ﷺ informed him of exactly what he had seen. Waraqah then said to him, ‘This is the Divine Confidant who came down to Moses. Would that I had the virility of youth! Would that I live to see the day when your people cast you out!’ The Prophet ﷺ immediately asked, ‘Will they force me to leave?’ Waraqah replied, ‘Yes. Never has a man come with the like of what you have brought save that he was opposed out of enmity. If I live to see this day of yours, then I will most certainly help you.’
    [Narrated in Sahih Muslim]

    The precise date of the first revelation has been determined as the 17th of Ramadan, corresponding to August 610 CE. At that time, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ would have been 40 years and 6 months old.

    After the initial revelation, there was a period of time during which the Prophet ﷺ did not receive further revelation. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ became anxious to receive wahy. One day, as he left his house to attend to a matter, he heard a voice calling out, “O Muhammad!” He looked up to the sky and beheld Jibril seated on a throne that spanned the expanse between heaven and earth.

    Jabir ibn Abdullah I narrated that he heard Allah’s Messenger ﷺ saying:

    Then there was a pause in the revelation of the Divine Inspiration to me. Then while I was walking all of a sudden I heard a voice from the sky, and I raised my sight towards the sky and saw the same angel who had visited me in the Cave of Hira, sitting on a chair between the sky and the earth.
    [Narrated in Sahih Bukhari]

    Ghar-e-Hira Climb

    The distance from the foot of the mountain to the cave is approximately 600 meters, with the cave situated roughly 50 meters below the summit.

    The ascent to the cave is characterized by a gradual incline, starting at around 35° near the base and progressively steepening to about 70° at its steepest point.

    It takes about an hour to reach the Cave of Hira from the foot of Jabal al-Nour, but it can take twice as long or longer during busy periods and warmer weather, requiring more stops.

    Tips for the Climb to Ghar-e-Hira

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    Start Early

    The climb to Ghar-e-Hira is the busiest during the daytime, typically peaking after Dhuhr time. It is advisable to start the climb at around Fajr time or just before Maghrib time when there are fewer people and cooler weather. This can help make the ascent more comfortable and reduce the risk of heat exhaustion. Please remember that if you choose to climb the mountain before Maghrib, you will be descending the mountain in the dark. There is no lighting on the mountain, so you will have to use your phone’s torch for visibility.

    Drop off-Point

    Make sure your taxi driver brings you directly to the foot of Jabal al-Nour instead of leaving you at a distance. Occasionally, taxi drivers leave pilgrims far from the base, leading to an avoidable uphill trek. Look out for the beginning of the ascent, distinguished by a red sign and a pathway with steps.

    Stay Hydrated

    Bring an ample supply of water to stay hydrated throughout the climb. There are shops at the mountain’s base where you can purchase drinks and snacks. Two bottles of water should be enough. You will also come across vendors selling drinks on the trail and another shop at the top of Jabal al-Nour.

    Bring Snacks

    Pack or buy light, energy-boosting snacks such as nuts, dates or energy bars for the climb. These snacks can provide a quick source of energy to keep you going during the ascent.

    Bring Money

    Following on from above, remember to bring some money with you to buy snacks and drinks. You may also encounter beggars on the route who will ask you for money. If you do want to give them money, it is generally a good idea to keep coins with you.

    Wear Appropriate Footwear

    To navigate the climb safely, choose comfortable footwear with a good grip. The steps can be slippery. Trainers/sneakers are ideal.

    Dress for the Conditions

    Wear lightweight, breathable clothing that provides protection from the sun. While you may notice individuals on the climb wearing thobes and shalwar kameez, it’s not necessarily the most practical choice due to the risk of tripping.

    Take Breaks as Needed

    Pace yourself and take breaks as necessary, especially if you find the climb challenging. There are plenty of places you can take a rest with seating available.

    Be Mindful of the Environment

    Respect the sanctity of the mountain and avoid littering. Carry any rubbish with you and dispose of it properly when you reach designated waste bins. Despite the spiritual importance of Jabal al-Nour and the Cave of Hira, you will observe littering and debris on the ground, as it’s not adequately maintained by authorities. Keep in mind that this site holds great spiritual significance, being the site where the Prophet ﷺ received revelation and spent much time, and therefore deserves to be treated with utmost love and honour.

    Be Careful

    There have been incidents where people have fallen off the mountain and died, so exercise due caution. Don’t stray near the edges of the path and hold on to the railing wherever it’s available.

    Stay on the Path

    For your safety, stick to the trail and avoid venturing off the designated path, even if you observe others going up the mountain from different routes.

    Safeguard Your Belongings:

    Keep your belongings safe, not only from others but from monkeys that live near the summit of the mountain. These monkeys are known to steal bags and other items from visitors. In 2015, a man died after falling from the mountain while chasing a monkey who stole his bag.

    Plan for Prayer

    If you intend to pray at the summit of Jabal al-Nour, you may bring a prayer mat, tasbih, or other items. There is a designated prayer area at the top of the mountain, as well as prayer mats in the Cave of Hira itself. Be mindful and respect the space of others.

    Make the Most of the Experience

    Take time to appreciate the journey and the spiritual significance of the Cave of Hira. Keep in mind the steps you take during the climb are the very steps that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ would take. Embrace the opportunity for reflection and contemplation as you ascend.

    How to Get to Ghar-e-Hira from the Summit

    Once you’re at the summit of Jabal al-Nour, you will have to descend some steps and navigate through a narrow passage to reach the cave, which can be fairly tricky as it is often crowded. Note that there will be a lot of people in this area during busy periods, so please be patient when attempting to reach Ghar-e-Hira.

    What to do in the Cave of Hira

    When it’s your turn to pray inside Ghar-e-Hira, it’s recommended to perform two raka’ahs of nafl. The intention behind this act can be one of shukr (gratitude), expressing thanks to Allah for the incredible blessing of praying where the Prophet ﷺ once received revelation and spent much time in devotion to Allah. Make sincere du’a and send Salawat upon the Prophet ﷺ.

    Note that it’s unlikely you’ll be able to spend much time inside the cave due to the presence of many people waiting their turns to pray inside this sacred space, so make the most of this opportunity.

    Once you’ve finished, make way for the next person to pray and return to the summit of Jabal al-Nour. Here, it is a good idea to pray some extra nafl salah, recite the Quran and send Salawat upon the Prophet ﷺ. You’ll also be able to take in and admire the breathtaking view of the city of Makkah.

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