• Masjid al-Haram

    Masjid al-Haram (Arabic: المسجد الحرام‎‎‎‎; meaning “The Sacred Mosque”) is the largest and most important mosque in the Islamic world. Located in Makkah, it houses Islam’s holiest site, the Kaaba, and receives millions of pilgrims each year.

    Masjid al-Haram Meaning

    Masjid al-Haram refers to the area surrounding the Kaaba. Derived from the Arabic word “haram” meaning “sacred” or “sanctified,” it shares linguistic roots with “haraam,” signifying “forbidden.” This designated area is considered sacred, thus certain actions, such as hunting and fighting, are prohibited within its boundaries. Access to this area for those intending to perform Hajj or Umrah is restricted to those in a state of Ihram. Originally, the name referred to the open space surrounding the Kaaba, dating back to the time when Prophet Ibrahim S built the structure.

    Masjid al-Haram in the Quran

    Masjid al-Haram is first mentioned in the Quran in the following verse:

    قَدْ نَرَىٰ تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِى ٱلسَّمَآءِ ۖ فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبْلَةًۭ تَرْضَىٰهَا ۚ فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ ٱلْمَسْجِدِ ٱلْحَرَامِ ۚ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنتُمْ فَوَلُّوا۟ وُجُوهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُۥ ۗ وَإِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ أُوتُوا۟ ٱلْكِتَـٰبَ لَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ ٱلْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ ۗ وَمَا ٱللَّهُ بِغَـٰفِلٍ عَمَّا يَعْمَلُونَ
    Many a time We have seen you [Prophet] turn your face towards Heaven, so We are turning you towards a prayer direction that pleases you. Turn your face in the direction of the Sacred Mosque: wherever you [believers] may be, turn your faces to it. Those who were given the Scripture know with certainty that this is the Truth from their Lord: God is not unaware of what they do.
    [Surah al-Baqarah, 2:144]

    Allah makes reference to Masjid al-Haram fifteen times, with fourteen of these instances specifically referring to the area surrounding the Kaaba (Surah al-Baqarah, 2:149). The verses are as follows:

    1. Surah al-Baqarah, 2:144
    2. Surah al-Baqarah, 2:149
    3. Surah al-Baqarah, 2:150
    4. Surah al-Baqarah, 2:191
    5. Surah al-Baqarah, 2:196
    6. Surah al-Baqarah, 2:217
    7. Surah al-Ma’idah, 5:2
    8. Surah al-Anfal, 8:34
    9. Surah al-Taubah, 9:7
    10. Surah al-Taubah, 9:19
    11. Surah al-Taubah, 9:28
    12. Surah al-Isra, 17:1
    13. Surah al-Hajj, 22:25
    14. Surah al-Fath, 48:25
    15. Surah al-Fath, 48:27

    Virtues of Masjid al-Haram

    Narrated by Abu Hurayra I, the Prophet ﷺ said:

    Do not set out on a journey except for three Mosques i.e. al-Masjid al-Haram, the Mosque of Allah’s Messenger ﷺ (Masjid al-Nabawi), and the Mosque of al-Aqsa (Mosque of Jerusalem).
    [Narrated in Sahih al-Bukhari]

    This Hadith does not prohibit praying in mosques other than these three; rather, it emphasizes the special status and blessings associated with these mosques, highlighting the rewards gained by visiting them.

    Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said:

    Offering prayer in my mosque (in Madinah) is better than 1000 prayers elsewhere, save for those offered prayer in al-Masjid al-Haram (in Makkah). And prayer offered in al-Masjid al-Haram is better than prayer offered in my mosque by one hundred prayers.
    [Narrated in Ahmad]

    Jabir I stated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:

    Prayer in my masjid is more virtuous than 1000 prayers in any other masjid except Masjid al-Haram. Prayer in Masjid al-Haram is more virtuous than 100,000 prayers.
    [Narrated in Ahmad and Ibn Majah]

    Jabir also reports that the Prophet ﷺ said:

    Prayer in my masjid is more virtuous than 1000 prayers in any other masjid except Masjid al-Haram. Jumuah prayer in this masjid of mine is more virtuous than 1000 Jumuah prayers in any other masjid except Masjid al-Haram. Spending the month of Ramadan in this masjid of mine is rewarded like spending 1000 Ramadans in any other masjid except Masjid al-Haram.
    [Narrated in Bayhaqi]

    Aisha J narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:

    I am the ‘Seal of the Prophets’ and my masjid is the ‘seal of the masjids of the Prophets’. The most deserving of masjids to visit and to travel to are Masjid al-Haram and my masjid. Prayer in my masjid is more virtuous than 1,000 prayers in any other masjid except Masjid al-Haram.
    [Narrated in Bazzar]

    History of Masjid al-Haram

    Prophet Adam

    The history of Masjid al-Haram traces back to the construction of the Holy Kaaba. According to Islamic tradition, the Kaaba was initially built during the era of Prophet Adam S. Allah sent the Angel Jibril S to Adam, instructing him to erect the Kaaba and perform the ritual of Tawaf around it. Adam was informed that he was the first human, and the Kaaba was the first house established for people. This event is mentioned in the Quran as the establishment of the first place of worship for mankind in Bakkah (another name for Makkah):

    إِنَّ أَوَّلَ بَيْتٍۢ وُضِعَ لِلنَّاسِ لَلَّذِى بِبَكَّةَ مُبَارَكًۭا وَهُدًۭى لِّلْعَـٰلَمِينَ
    Surely the first House of worship established for humanity is the one at Bakkah – a blessed sanctuary and a guide for all people.
    [Surah Ali Imran, 3:96]

    Abu Dharr I said that he asked Allah’s Messenger ﷺ which mosque was set up first on the earth and was told that it was Masjid al-Haram. He asked which came next and was told that it was the Aqsa Mosque. He asked how long a space of time separated their building and the Prophet told him it was forty years, adding:

    Then the earth is a mosque for you, so pray wherever you are at the time of prayer.
    [Narrated in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim]

    Later, Prophet Sulaiman S would reconstruct Masjid al-Aqsa, but this occurred long after the reconstruction of the Kaaba by Prophets Ibrahim and Ismail Q.

    Prophet Nuh

    Years after Prophet Adam first constructed the Kaaba, the earth was engulfed by a catastrophic flood which swept away the Kaaba, leaving only its foundations intact.

    Describing this flood, which Allah sent to punish the wrongdoers during the era of Prophet Nuh S, the Quran states:

    فَفَتَحْنَآ أَبْوَٰبَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ بِمَآءٍۢ مُّنْهَمِرٍ ❁ وَفَجَّرْنَا ٱلْأَرْضَ عُيُونًۭا فَٱلْتَقَى ٱلْمَآءُ عَلَىٰٓ أَمْرٍۢ قَدْ قُدِرَ
    So We opened the gates of the sky with torrential water, burst the earth with gushing springs: the waters met for a preordained purpose.
    [Surah al-Qamar, 54:11-12]

    Prophet Ibrahim

    Many generations after this cataclysmic event that nearly eradicated humanity, except for the few believers whom Nuh S saved on the Ark (the “ship” mentioned in Quran 29:15), Prophet Ibrahim S arrived in Makkah. By that point, almost no trace of the Kaaba remained, except for a small hill that covered its foundations. Prophet Ibrahim S along with his son, Prophet Ismail S, rebuilt the Kaaba.

    Before the Prophet ﷺ

    During Ismail’s S lifetime, he held the custodianship of the Kaaba, a sacred duty passed to his son, Nabit, upon his death. Under the Khuza’ah tribe’s rule, neighbouring areas saw the rise of practices like idolatry. Amr ibn Luhayy, the first leader of the Khuza’ah in Makkah, introduced idols into the Kaaba, suggesting they could serve as intermediaries between people and Allah. Over time, pilgrims visiting the Kaaba incorporated these idols into their worship, straying from the monotheistic message preached by Prophets Ibrahim and Ismail o. Despite this, Makkah’s significance remained centered around the Kaaba.

    The Khuza’ah tribe ruled Makkah until Qusayy ibn Kilab, the fourth forefather of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, assumed leadership around 440 CE. The Quraysh continued the tradition of idol worship for generations. It wasn’t until the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ gained control over Makkah in January of 630 CE, liberating it from pagan rule, that the city’s governance shifted away from idolatry.

    Era of the Prophet ﷺ

    Over the years, damages caused by natural disasters and attacks necessitated repairs or reconstructions of the Kaaba on several occasions. However, each time, it has been rebuilt on the same foundations laid by Prophets Ibrahim and Ismail Q. One notable reconstruction occurred during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ around 605 CE, when he was 35 years old, prior to receiving the first revelation of the Quran.

    During the time of the Prophet ﷺ, there were no walls enclosing Masjid al-Haram. Instead, it was surrounded by houses on all sides, with alleys between them serving as entrances to the Kaaba. The space between the houses and the Kaaba was referred to as the Mataf.

    During the conquest of Makkah (known as al-Fath), the Prophet ﷺ entered Masjid al-Haram and removed and destroyed 360 idols that were placed in and around the Kaaba.

    After the conquest of Makkah, there were no further renovations or reconstructions undertaken on the Kaaba or Masjid al-Haram.

    During the era of the Prophet ﷺ, the area occupied by Masjid al-Haram is estimated to have been between 1490 square metres and 2000 square metres.

    After the Prophet ﷺ

    Masjid al-Haram remained unchanged during the caliphate of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq I, but significant renovations began during the reign of the second Caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab I.

    Umar ibn al-Khattab

    After Umar ibn al-Khattab travelled to Makkah to perform Umrah in 17 AH (639 CE), he encountered significant damage to the Kaaba caused by floods. The flood, known as sayl umm nakshal, swept away Maqam Ibrahim. Without delay, he issued orders for their repair. Umar’s actions included enlarging the courtyard of the Kaaba, giving it a polygonal shape, and enclosing the Zamzam well. This required the demolition of some surrounding houses, for which the owners were duly compensated.

    Furthermore, Umar constructed a wall around the Kaaba. The wall, built by Umar, stood at a height less than that of an average person and featured a gate adorned with lamps to illuminate the enclosure after dark. He also new doors into the mosque. Additionally, he took measures to mitigate future flooding by building a dam.

    This initiative by Umar ibn al-Khattab is recognized as the inaugural expansion of Masjid al-Haram in the Islamic era.

    Uthman ibn Affan

    Masjid al-Haram remained in this state until the year 26 AH (648 CE), during the reign of Caliph Uthman ibn Affan. It was during this period that the second expansion of the mosque commenced, approximately ten years after the first expansion.

    Uthman ibn Affan observed the growing population in Makkah and the increasing number of pilgrims due to the spread of Islam. Recognizing the need to accommodate this surge, he made the decision to further expand the Masjid al-Haram. The expansion project commenced with the acquisition of adjacent buildings and land.

    This expansion brought about comprehensive renovations to the mosque. Uthman introduced marble columns and covered porticoes, marking the first use of porticoes in Masjid al-Haram. These were introduced to offer shade for worshippers, as the mosque at this time lacked a roof. Additionally, the Kaaba was covered with Egyptian and Yemeni cloth during this period.

    Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr

    During the reign of Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr I, the Kaaba underwent reconstruction in 65 AH (685 CE) following damage caused by a fire ignited during Yazid ibn Mu’awiya’s siege of Makkah. The conflict arose when Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr refused allegiance to Yazid ibn Mu’awiya, leading to a revolt in Madinah. In response, Yazid dispatched an army led by Muslim ibn Uqba to Madinah and subsequently to Makkah. Although Yazid died before reaching Makkah, his successor, al-Husayn ibn Numayr, continued the siege.

    Al-Husayn, seizing strategic positions around Makkah, launched attacks on Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr and his followers who had retreated inside Masjid al-Haram, resulting in damage to the Kaaba from catapult projectiles and fire. However, after Yazid’s demise, al-Husayn withdrew from Makkah.

    Subsequently, after Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr assumed the caliphate, he faced the decision of either restoring or rebuilding the Kaaba. He chose to reconstruct it, aligning with the principles of Prophet Ibrahim S, inspired by the counsel of his maternal aunt Aisha J, the Mother of the Believers. He referenced a hadith of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ indicating the Quraysh’s limited resources constrained the initial construction.

    Abdullah expanded the Kaaba’s dimensions to match the original foundations laid by Prophet Ibrahim, adding two ground-level doors for entry and exit. The rebuilt Kaaba stood at twenty-seven cubits in height and featured walls two cubits wide.

    Additionally, Abdullah expanded the Masjid al-Haram, doubling its size to ten thousand square meters, a project completed in 65 AH (685 CE). He did this by annexing some acquired housing. This expansion extended the mosque’s reach to overlook the wadi, the area beyond al-Safa, and the vicinity of Bani Makhzum.

    Additionally, a circular pathway, 10 cubits (15 feet/4.6 metres) wide, was constructed around the Kaaba using remaining stones, which were washed with Zamzam water. The area of Masjid al-Haram was enlarged, and the existing walls were repaired. Colonnades, roofed with plane wood, were introduced as well.

    Incense burners were provided both inside and outside Masjid al-Haram. Four niches were created to hold lamps.

    The Ummayad Period

    Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan (73 AH/692 CE)

    Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, in 73 AH (692 CE), aiming to eliminate his rival Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr, mobilized a significant army to confront him in Makkah. Under the command of al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, forces amassed near Taif, awaiting reinforcement. As additional troops bolstered their ranks, they advanced towards Makkah during the Hajj season, deploying catapults strategically around the city, including on Mount Abu Qubays and Mount Qiqaan.

    Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr sought refuge within Masjid al-Haram as the onslaught began, but the relentless barrage caused the Kaaba to catch fire. In response, he and his supporters engaged in combat, resulting in their eventual defeat and his death. Following al-Hajjaj’s victory, he informed Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan of modifications made by Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr to the Kaaba, including the addition of structures and an extra door.

    Responding to this, Abd al-Malik instructed al-Hajjaj to demolish the alterations and restore the Kaaba to its original state during the Quraysh era. Al-Hajjaj carried out the orders, demolishing six structures and reinstating the original foundations laid by the Quraysh. Additionally, the western door was blocked, and the area beneath the eastern door’s threshold was filled to a height of four cubits, with two shutters installed to seal the entrance. Despite these actions, Abd al-Malik’s directive overlooked Aisha’s Hadith J, resulting in the Kaaba’s reconstruction based on historical records rather than prophetic guidance.

    In AH 75 (694 CE), Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan issued orders for several enhancements to Masjid al-Haram. The enclosing walls of the mosque were raised, and the interior ceilings were adorned with teak. Additionally, each column crown was embellished with 50 mithqals (212.5 grams) of gold.

    Furthermore, he inaugurated the lighting of lamps along the street between al-Safa and al-Marwa for the first time, improving visibility and safety for pilgrims. Additionally, he adorned the Kaaba with silk (dibaj) cloth, which he sent annually. He also donated two silk canopies and two glass vessels, which were hung from the ceiling of Masjid al-Haram.

    Al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan (91 AH/709 CE)

    During the reign of al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, the sixth Umayyad Caliph, the fourth expansion of the Masjid al-Haram was undertaken in the year 91 AH (709 CE), following a devastating flood. Known for his inclination towards enriching mosques with decoration, al-Walid expertly refurbished the previous work done by Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan.

    This expansion significantly increased the area of the mosque. Notably, he was the first to incorporate marble columns imported from Egypt and Syria, marking a significant advancement in architectural practices.

    Al-Walid introduced several new elements to the mosque’s design. He was the first to install marble columns supporting single arches and decorative teak ceilings, elevating the grandeur of the structure. The pillars were crowned with gold on copper, and a dado was created throughout the interior. Al-Walid pioneered the inlaying of mosaics on the tops of the arches, adding intricate details to the architecture. Balconies were also constructed to provide worshippers with shade from the sun’s heat.

    Moreover, geometric crenels (sharrafat) were added to the mosque’s parapet, enhancing its visual appeal. Red, green, and white marble were imported from Syria to pave the floors and adorn the dado of the interior walls. A crack that had appeared on the northern wall, constructed by al-Hajjaj, was repaired using white stone. He further embellished the mosque by decorating the guttering with gold and incorporating gold plates on the doors, pillars, and corners, elevating the opulence of the structure.

    As a result of these enhancements, the area of the mosque was estimated to increase to 2805 square metres.

    The architectural influence of the Umayyad Dynasty was immense. They introduced magnificent structures characterized by cut stone and arcades supported by marble columns. Internally, these structures were beautifully decorated with marble panelling and mosaics, some of which were utilized in the reconstruction of Masjid al-Haram. This period marked a pinnacle of architectural sophistication and artistic achievement under Umayyad rule.

    The Abbasid Period

    During the Abbasid period, there was a notable shift in architectural influences. Syrian influence waned, while Sasanian Persian influence grew, shaping architectural trends. Architecture during this period was characterized by axial planning and an emphasis on scale. Bricks were commonly used, concealed by stucco.

    A significant development during this era was the emergence of the four-centred arch, introducing a new architectural form. Additionally, lustrous tiles began to be introduced, adding to the visual richness of architectural designs.

    Abu Ja’far al-Mansur (137 AH/755 CE)

    Since the expansion carried out by al-Walid, there were no further reconstructions of Masjid al-Haram until the era of the second Abbasid Caliph, Abu Ja’far al-Mansur. In the year 137 AH (755 CE), al-Mansur initiated another expansion of Masjid al-Haram, significantly increasing its area from the north and west. This expansion was twice the size of the previous increase achieved during the expansion by al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik.

    The extension primarily focused on the Shami wing, adjacent to Dar al-Nadwah. On the western side, the extension followed a straight line, reaching beyond Bab Ibrahim, previously known as Bab al-Khayyațin. However, no extension was carried out on the southern side due to its proximity to the flood course of Wadi Ibrahim, nor to the east.

    As part of the expansion, al-Mansur ordered the construction of lighthouses in the northern and western corners of the mosque. Additionally, he instructed the paving of the Hijr Ismail with marble and the installation of a net to cover the mouth of the Zamzam Well, thereby preventing any accidental falls into the well. He also erected the minaret of Bab al-Umrah on the western corner of the northern facade of Masjid al-Haram.

    Other additions included the construction of one arch inlaid with mosaics on the facade of the mosque. Stones were utilized in building the valley (wadi) side, supported by marble pillars. He also erected a single arch and embellished the interior with a surrounding marble dado. The faces of the pillars were adorned with mosaics. Additionally, a Quranic verse was inlaid in black and gilded mosaics on the door of Masjid al-Haram.

    Seven new doors were also added to Masjid al-Haram. These included Bab Bani Sahm, composed of a single arch, and Bab Amru ibn al-As, along with two doors at Dar al-Ajalah, each consisting of an arch. Another door led to the house of Hujayr bin Ihab. Additionally, there was the door of Dar al-Nadwah, and the door at the base of the Mosque (Bab Bani Jamah), which comprised three arches.

    Al-Mahdi (160 AH – 164 AH/777 CE – 780 CE)

    The third Abbasid Caliph, Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Abdullah, better known as al-Mahdi was the next to expand Masjid al-Haram. His expansion of the Great Mosque stands out as the largest and most significant in its history up to that point. Its scale and importance are widely acknowledged. He initiated two successive extensions to the mosque.

    First Expansion by al-Mahdi (160 AH/777 CE)

    In 160 AH (777 CE), he embarked on his first pilgrimage and initiated a comprehensive rebuilding of Masjid al-Haram, aiming to increase its height. This involved the purchase of houses to create a spacious courtyard between the Mosque and the Masa’a area.

    Expansion efforts extended to the east (beyond the Masa’a), west (ending at Bab Bani Sahm), and north sides of the mosque. Additionally, on the Yemeni side, Masjid al-Haram was extended to al-Sharab dome, also known as Qubbat al-Abbas. However, no extension was made to the Wadi and al-Şafa side of the Mosque, which was retained with one arch.

    To facilitate these renovations, al-Mahdi ordered the purchase of marble, which was transported from Syria. The marble was unloaded at Jeddah and then transported on carriages to Makkah. Groundwork for the foundations of the columns was meticulously undertaken in the form of a grid pattern, ensuring the structural integrity of the mosque’s expansion.

    During the expansion led by al-Mahdi, two new covered arcades were erected within the mosque, featuring teak-covered ceilings. Additionally, five new gateways were constructed to enhance accessibility and flow within Masjid al-Haram.

    These gateways included Bab Bani Shibah al-Kabir, characterized by three arches and two columns, with a stone-paved floor. Bab Dar Shibah bin Uthman featured a single arch, while a third gateway overlooking the courtyard was built in Dar al-Qawarir, also with a single arch. Bab al-Nabi faced Zuqaq al-Attarin, distinguished by its single arch, and Bab al-Abbas bin Abdul Muttalib, marked by a green banner, boasted three arches and two columns.

    Second Expansion by al-Mahdi (164 AH/780 CE)

    During his second pilgrimage in AH 164/780 CE, al-Mahdi observed that the Kaaba was not centrally aligned with Masjid al-Haram due to the previous extensions covering only three sides, leaving the southern side unchanged.

    Determined to rectify this, he spared no expense, even emptying the treasury if necessary, to extend the Great Mosque and realign the Kaaba at its centre. To determine the central point, spears were temporarily erected along the roofs lining the Wadi, allowing measurements to be taken to allocate the appropriate area for the Mosque and the flood course of the Wadi.

    Al-Mahdi then ascended the Mount Abu Qubays to observe the mosque’s courtyard and ascertain the Kaaba’s central position, enabling him to plan the demolition of certain houses, allocate space for the Wadi, and designate the location of where Sa’i takes place.

    Additionally, he erected four small wooden buildings for prayers, each dedicated to one of the four Imams representing the Orthodox Sunni Jurisprudic schools, one for each of the Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali schools of thought.

    After overseeing the meticulous planning and execution of the Masjid al-Haram’s expansion, al-Mahdi departed for Iraq, leaving behind funds for the acquisition of houses and issuing orders for the procurement of marble columns from Egypt and Syria.

    Regrettably, al-Mahdi passed away in 170 AH/785 CE before witnessing the completion of his monumental project. His son, Musa al-Hadi, assumed the mantle and diligently oversaw the final stages of the extensions, bringing his father’s vision to fruition.

    Al-Mu’tadid Billah (281 AH/894 CE)

    Under al-Mu’tadid Billah’s command in 281 AH (894 CE), the demolition of Dar al Nadwah marked the beginning of the construction of a new mosque next to Masjid al-Haram. This mosque, characterized by its incorporation of columns, arches, and arcades, featured ceilings adorned with gilded teak decorations. Connecting to Masjid al-Haram through twelve doors, six large and six small, the mosque boasted impressive dimensions. Additionally, three doors led to the street, two of which were adorned with double arches, while the third featured a single arch. The construction also included a minaret with crenels. This construction was completed in 284 AH (897 CE).

    Al-Muqtadir Billah (306 AH/918 CE)

    During the reign of al-Muqtadir Billah, a significant extension known as Bab Ibrahim was completed. This extension involved the construction of a new mosque, strategically positioned between the residences of Zubaydah, the wife of Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid, and connected to Masjid al-Haram. The newly constructed mosque featured arcades and a spacious courtyard, with arcades positioned to the north, south, and west of the main structure. Notably, on the western side, Bab al-Ziyadah (Bab Ibrahim) served as an entrance, compensating for the loss of Bab al-Hazurah and Bäb Jamah due to the extension.

    During this period, pieces of wood, believed to originate from Noah’s Ark, were encased in silver and prominently displayed on the walls.

    Renovation and Maintenance

    The Abbasid Caliphs initiated extensive renovation work within the Masjid al-Haram following al-Mahdi’s extension. This renovation introduced stone columns sourced from Samarra’ in Iraq into the arcades, enhancing both the structural integrity and aesthetic appeal. Notable features of this renovation included the use of green and multi-coloured marble in the Hijr Ismail (Enclosure), while Maqam Ibrahim received gilded embellishments.

    Further enhancements included marble flooring at Zamzam, introduced by al-Mansur, followed by al-Mutasim Billah’s addition of a second dome over the well, complementing the existing dome at Majlis Ibn Abbas. The ceiling above Zamzam was adorned with gilded teak, while the dome itself was inlaid with mosaic designs. Twelve teak columns were erected around the basin, while the walls were adorned with marble.

    Remarkably, aside from the addition of Bab al-Ziyadah and Bab al-Ibrahim, no further expansions were made to the area for six centuries following al-Mahdi’s construction. Until the advent of the Ottoman Empire, minimal alterations occurred within the Kaaba and the Masjid al-Haram.

    During the reigns of the Fatimids, Ayyubids, and Mamluks, Masjid al-Haram did not undergo significant expansion projects. Instead, efforts during this period were focused on restoration and repair.

    The Mamluk Period

    During the Mamluk era, while there were no expansions of the Grand Mosque, significant attention was dedicated to its architectural maintenance and preservation. Notably, in 727 AH (1423 CE), Mamluk Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad ibn Qalawun allocated funds, skilled labour, and machinery to repair the deteriorating roofs of Masjid al-Haram, alongside restoration efforts aimed at several damaged walls.

    Additionally, in 1369 CE, Sultan al-Ashraf Shaaban commissioned the reconstruction of the minaret of Bab al-Hazurah, originally built by Abbasid Caliph al-Mahdi, which had collapsed due to inclement weather. The reconstruction project was completed in 772 AH (1370 CE), as commemorated in an inscription on a cylinder by the custodians of the Haram near the Umrah Gate.

    The Fire of 802 AH/1399 CE

    During the reign of Sultan Faraj ibn Barquq, significant reconstruction efforts were undertaken at Masjid al-Haram, evidenced by three inscriptions dated in the year 804 AH (1402 CE). Sultan Faraj’s contributions to the mosque are regarded as pivotal during this era, particularly following the events of 802 AH (1399 CE), known as the “Year of the Fire.”

    In 802 AH, a devastating fire started in one of the schools dedicated to religious studies, Ribat Nazar, located on the western side of Masjid al-Haram, connected to it between Bab al-Wada and Bab Ibrahim. The fire subsequently spread to the roof of the mosque, extending to the western side and affecting parts of the two porticoes leading from the northern side.

    This catastrophic event resulted in the destruction of approximately one-third of the mosque, including the loss of 130 columns and the collapse of parts of the ceiling. The fire spread to the northern side of the Great Mosque, causing damage to two sections of the porticoes. Fortunately, a subsequent flood halted the further spread of the fire, although it demolished additional sections of the porticoes.

    In response, the Sultan embarked on a comprehensive restoration effort to repair the damage caused by the fire. To replace the 130 damaged marble columns, stone columns were sourced from the mountains surrounding Makkah. However, the re-roofing of the western and northern sides had to be postponed until wood could be imported from abroad.

    Sultan al-Ashraf Barsbay (825 AH/1421 CE)

    During Sultan al-Ashraf Barsbay’s reign, particularly in 825 AH (1421 CE), significant reconstruction efforts were undertaken at Masjid al-Haram. The funeral gate was reconstructed, featuring two arches. Additionally, various other areas within the mosque underwent reconstruction.

    An inscription placed between the two arches of the Prophet’s Gate windows facilitated the dating of these renovations.

    Sayf al-Din Jaqmaq

    Subsequently, during the reign of Sultan Sayf al-Din Jaqmaq, further restoration works were conducted. The damaged minaret of Bab Ali was repaired, restoring its structural integrity. Additionally, restoration was carried out on the minarets of Bab al-Umrah and Bab al-Salam. Furthermore, repairs were undertaken on the roof of Masjid al-Haram. These extensive renovation projects were spearheaded by Sudun al-Muhammadi.

    Al-Ashraf Qaitbay (837 AH/1468 CE)

    During the reign of al-Ashraf Qaitbay, Masjid al-Haram underwent several renovations, beginning in the year 873 AH (1468 CE). Repairs were carried out on the mosque’s northern side, focusing on the restoration of the roof using wood and plaster. Additionally, the interior of the mosque, its doors, and the three domes were restored during this period.

    In 875 AH (1470 CE), al-Ashraf Qaitbay ordered the furnishing of the Grand Mosque with Batha and mandated comprehensive restoration, architectural enhancements, and repairs. This encompassed important sites within the mosque, including the Well of Zamzam, Maqam Ibrahim, Hijr Ismail, and various other locations of religious significance.

    Al-Ashraf Qansuh al-Ghuri (916 AH/1510 CE)

    During the reign of Sultan Qansuh al-Ghuri in 916 AH (1510 CE), the northern portico of Masjid al-Haram underwent reconstruction under the supervision of Amir Khayr Bay al-Ala’i, the architect. In the following year, 917 AH (1511 CE), the Hijr Ismail was restored, which involved its complete demolition and subsequent reconstruction using marble both internally and externally. Notably, Sultan Qansuh al-Ghuri’s name and the names of those who contributed to its construction were engraved on the top of the monument.

    The Ottoman Period

    Following the fall of the Mamluk Sultanate, the Ottoman Empire assumed sovereignty over the Hijaz, which included the Two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Makkah. Consequently, the Ottoman Sultan was bestowed with the title of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. Despite the Ottoman Empire’s authority in the region, Egypt, as a constituent state, remained actively involved in the construction endeavours of Masjid al-Haram. Egyptian resources, including funds, building materials, as well as skilled engineers and workers, were dedicated to the ongoing development of the mosque complex.

    Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (961 AH/1553 CE)

    During the reign of Sultan Sulayman in 961 AH/1553 CE, significant renovations were undertaken in and around Masjid al-Haram. These included alterations to the ceiling of the Kaaba, refurbishment of the roof, reconstruction of the paving in the Mataf area, the provision of a crafted marble minbar to the mosque and the reconstruction of the Bab Ali minaret following its collapse.

    In the year 959 AH/1551 CE, extensive restoration work was undertaken at the Grand Mosque. This included the restoration of the doors, renewal of columns and porticoes, and the rebuilding of Bab al-Bahri and Bab Ibrahim on the western side. Additionally, the northern portico of Bab al-Nadwa was restored, and three minarets were reconstructed: one at the northeastern corner, another being the Qaytbay minaret on the eastern side, and the third being the Bab al-Umrah minaret.

    In 966 AH/1558 CE, Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent presented a new pulpit to the mosque, crafted from bright white alabaster, replacing the previous wooden one. Subsequently, the wooden pulpit fell out of use.

    In 972 AH/1564 CE, Sultan Suleiman ordered the laying of the Mataf, utilizing tiles sealed with lead and nailed with iron nails. This method of laying the Mataf continued until the entirety of Masjid al-Haram was covered with plaster. Additionally, during this restoration phase, a new minaret was erected, famously known as The Minaret of Suleiman the Magnificent, previously recognized as the Minaret of Wisdom.

    Sultan Selim II (979 AH/1571 CE)

    In AH 979/1571 CE, Ottoman Sultan Selim II commissioned the renowned Turkish architect Sinan Pasha to undertake a comprehensive renovation project for the Masjid al-Haram. The process began in 980 AH with the dismantling of the mosque, commencing from Bab al-Salam. Subsequently, construction of the new structure commenced, with the replacement of the first 982 columns surrounding the Kaaba with marble and stone columns. These were strategically arranged to support stuccoed stone arches and domes. Approximately 500 Ottoman-style domes were installed, replacing the previous flat roof. Later, Abdullah Mufti embellished the interior of these domes with intricate gold motifs and calligraphy. The eastern and Yemeni sides of Masjid al-Haram were completed in 980 AH /1572 CE.

    Sultan Murad III (984 AH/1576 CE)

    After Sultan Selim II’s passing, his son, Sultan Murad III, assumed responsibility for the ongoing reconstruction efforts of Masjid al-Haram, overseeing the project until its completion in 984 AH /1576 CE. Materials crucial to the endeavour, including wood, iron, and gold-plated crescents, were imported from Egypt. To augment the structure, marble columns were erected, utilizing 311 remaining columns from the earlier renovations conducted during the reign of al-Mahdi. Additionally, 278 columns made of stone quarried from the nearby mountain were added, bringing the total number of columns to 589.

    The arcades on the eastern, western, northern, and southern sides of the Mosque were supported by a total of 881 arches. Additionally, smaller arches at the rear were adorned with inscriptions of the name of Allah (Al Jalalah). The roofs of the four sides of the court were now adorned with 152 small domes.

    In terms of entryways, Masjid al-Haram now boasted a total of 26 doorways: five on the eastern side, six on the western side, seven on the southern side, and eight on the northern side. Stone columns, which served as the foundation for the arcades and domes, were meticulously stuccoed and embellished with gypsum ornamentation.

    The construction process spanned four years, culminating in the expansion of the Grand Mosque under the reigns of Selim II and his son Murad III. Following this expansion, the total area of Masjid al-Haram reached 28,003 square metres.

    Sultan Murad IV (1039 AH /1629 CE)

    In 1039 AH /1629 CE, Makkah was once again struck by torrential rains, leading to the flooding of the Kaaba. This event resulted in the subsidence of the Shami wall and caused significant damage to the eastern and western walls as well as the ceilings. Subsequently, a second flood exacerbated the destruction, particularly affecting the western wall. It was decided that the remaining structure of the Kaaba should be demolished.

    During the excavation process, work ceased upon reaching the foundations of Ibrahim S. Upon these foundations, the construction of the new Kaaba commenced. Much of the surviving masonry from the time of Ibn al-Zubayr’s construction was reused in the rebuilding process. Additionally, measures were taken to strengthen the Hajar al-Aswad, including the application of a silver band.

    Sultan Mehmed IV (1072 AH/1661 CE)

    During the reign of Sultan Mehmed IV, significant restoration work was undertaken on the seven minarets. Additionally, he ordered the expansion of the courtyard area, which was furnished with intricately carved stones in the year 1072 AH/1661 CE.

    Sultan Mustafa II (1112 AH/1700 CE)

    In the year 1112 AH/1700 CE, Sultan Mustafa II initiated the reconstruction of the mosque, overseeing extensive renovations that encompassed various aspects of the structure. These renovations included refurbishing the outskirts of the mosque, enhancing the walkways, and renovating Bab al-Ziyadah and Bab al-Salam, utilizing new wood. Moreover, the minarets were restored during this period.

    Sultan Ahmed III (1134 AH/1721 CE)

    During the reign of Sultan Ahmed III, further restoration work was carried out, focusing on covering certain areas of Bab al-Salam with stones. Additionally, in the year 1134 AH/1721 CE, tiles within the mosque were removed and replaced with intricately carved stones.

    Sultan Abdul Hamid I

    Under the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid I, the restoration efforts were completed. The minaret of Bab al-Umrah underwent restoration, and pathways were constructed. These pathways, starting from the courtyard and extending to Bab al-Salam, Bab Ali, Bab Safa, Bab Ibrahim, and Bab al-Umrah, aimed to ensure that worshippers heading to the Mataf through these doors would not step on stones. Furthermore, some of the domes and column bases in certain corridors of the mosque were renewed during this period.

    Sultan Mahmud II (1129 AH/1814 CE)

    During the reign of Sultan Mahmud II, significant reconstruction and restoration efforts were undertaken at the mosque. In the year 1229 AH/1814 CE, Muhammad Ali Pasha, the governor of Egypt, provided the necessary supplies and materials for the construction of Masjid al-Haram. This initiative focused on restoring and renovating the roof of the mosque.

    Sultan Abdul Majeed I (1257 AH/1841 CE)

    In the year 1257 AH/1841 CE, Sultan Abdul Majeed I commissioned a series of repairs to the mosque. These repairs included the restoration of some columns and walkways, as well as the expansion of the Bab Safa walkway. Additionally, the entire Grand Mosque was whitened during this period.

    Further restoration work was carried out in the year 1266 AH/1850 CE, again under the directive of Sultan Abdul Majeed I. This phase of repairs included general maintenance tasks, during which the inner hall of Bab al-Salam was paved with alabaster.

    Sultan Mehmed V (1334 AH/1915 CE)

    In the year 1334 AH/1915 CE, Sultan Mehmed V issued orders for the reconstruction and repair of the Grand Mosque, which had suffered damage from the Khedive Flood. This flood, named after Khedive of Egypt, Abbas Helmy II, coincided with his Hajj pilgrimage in the year 1327 AH/1909 CE, the same year of the flood.

    However, due to the outbreak of World War I and the ensuing Great Arab Revolt, efforts to restore Masjid al-Haram were interrupted, and work on the reconstruction was halted.

    The Saudi Period

    First Saudi Extension

    King Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud (1344 AH/1916 CE)

    Following the establishment of the Saudi state under the leadership of King Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud, who assumed general guardianship over the land of the Hijaz in the year 1344 AH (1915 CE), he promptly ordered the formation of a dedicated administration known as the Board of Directors of the Holy Mosque. Tasked with managing the affairs of Masjid al-Haram, its responsibilities included overseeing maintenance and service and carrying out comprehensive renovations as swiftly as possible.

    King Abdul Aziz’s directives were promptly executed within the same year, ensuring completion before the arrival of pilgrims. By the year 1346 AH (1928 CE), significant restoration work had been undertaken. Corridors were restored, walls and columns received fresh paint, and the Dome of Zamzam was repaired. Additionally, umbrellas were installed to shield worshippers from the sun’s heat, and the area between Safa and Marwa was paved with stone.

    In the month of Shaban in 1347 AH (January 1929 CE), the lighting system within the Grand Mosque was upgraded and expanded, with approximately a thousand lamps installed. Then, on Safar 14, 1373 AH (23 October 1953), electricity was introduced to Makkah al-Mukarramah, illuminating Masjid al-Haram. Moreover, electric fans were installed within the Grand Mosque.

    This significant expansion and renovation effort came to be known as the first Saudi expansion of the Grand Mosque. Following the first expansion, the Grand Mosque’s capacity was significantly increased to accommodate more than 300,000 worshippers comfortably. In instances of high demand or crowding, the mosque had the capacity to host more than 400,000 worshippers.

    King Saud bin Abdulaziz (1375 AH/1955 CE)

    The second Saudi expansion unfolded in a renewed manner from the year 1375 AH (1955 CE) to the year 1396 AH (1976 CE), spanning four stages over three distinct periods. This ambitious project was executed by the contractor Muhammad bin Ladin, renowned for completing the first Saudi expansion of the Prophet’s Mosque. Each period of this expansion exhibited unique characteristics and implementations.

    During the era of Saud bin Abdulaziz, emphasis was placed on expropriating properties adjacent to the Haram in the areas of al-Masa’a and Ajyad. Subsequently, these properties were demolished, paving the way for the construction of al-Masa’a, a two-story structure designed to accommodate a large number of worshippers performing Sa’i. Stretching over 5,394 metres in length and 25 metres in width, al-Masa’a featured a ground floor reaching a height of 12 metres, while the upper floor stood at 9 metres. To streamline the Sa’i ritual between al-Safa and al-Marwa, a barrier was erected within al-Masa’a, dividing it into two elongated sections. Sixteen doors were strategically positioned on the eastern facade to facilitate the Sa’i ritual, with two entrances allocated to the upper floor at al-Safa and al-Marwa. Furthermore, two internal staircases were constructed—one at Bab al-Safa and the other at Bab al-Salam—to access the upper floor.

    Upon completion of this expansion, the area of the Grand Mosque expanded to 193,000 square metres, significantly increasing its capacity to accommodate approximately 400,000 worshippers. Additionally, this expansion encompassed the restoration of the Holy Kaaba and the expansion of the Mataf by renewing the Maqam Ibrahim.

    King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz (1397 AH/1967 CE)

    During the reign of Faisal bin Abdul Aziz, a significant conference took place in Makkah in the year 1387 AH (1967 CE), gathering a multitude of Muslim architects. The purpose was to explore various potential avenues for architectural development. The conference deliberated on the idea of removing a substantial portion of the Ottoman building, yet King Faisal opposed this suggestion, opting instead to preserve it. He advocated for harmonious integration of new architectural designs with the existing Ottoman structure, striving for synergy between the old and the new.

    On the fifth of Safar in the year 1389 AH (23 April 1969 CE), a new phase commenced, marked by the addition of two additional wings and the renovation of the old Haram building. Concurrently, infrastructure enhancements were made, including the construction of surrounding roads, the establishment of plazas, and the setting up of shops. The project incurred an estimated cost of approximately 800 million Saudi riyals at the time.

    Additionally, King Faisal directed the reopening of the Kiswah Factory, responsible for crafting the coverings for the Kaaba, in Makkah in the year 1382 AH (1962 CE). Under the reign of King Khalid, the corridors of the second floor were completed, while provisions were made for the watering holes of the Zamzam Well, alongside ongoing maintenance and equipment efforts. Moreover, attention was devoted to enhancing the road network leading to the Holy Mosque. This involved the implementation of a series of tunnels through the surrounding mountains and the inauguration of the cladding factory building, known as Umm al-Joud, in the year 1397 AH (1977 CE).

    Second Saudi Extension (1409 AH/1988 CE)

    On the second of the month of Safar in the year 1409 AH (September 14, 1988, CE), King Fahd laid the foundation stone for what came to be known as the third Saudi expansion of Masjid al-Haram. This expansion, the largest in fourteen centuries, involved the addition of a new section to the mosque’s structure, situated in the small market area between Bab al-Umrah and Bab al-Malik. The expanded building covers an area of 76,000 square metres across the ground floor, first floor, basement, and roof, with a capacity to accommodate approximately 152,000 worshippers.

    The project also entailed the preparation of adjacent land, including the remaining square next to the small market and the square located east of al-Masa’a, totalling 85,800 square metres and capable of accommodating 195,000 worshippers. Consequently, the total area of Masjid al-Haram, including the expanded building, roof, and all courtyards, reached approximately 356,000 square metres. On regular days, it can accommodate about 773,000 worshippers, but during Hajj, Umrah, and Ramadan, the capacity increases to over one million worshippers.

    The expansion building features a new main entrance and 18 regular entrances, along with two new minarets standing at 89 metres in height. Additionally, to facilitate the movement of worshippers, two escalator buildings were constructed—one in the north and the other in the south of the expansion building—each containing two sets of escalators with a capacity of 15,000 people per hour. Furthermore, two sets of escalators were integrated within the building near the main entrance.

    The expansion, completed in in 1414 AH (1993 CE), involved the installation of 492 marble-clad columns per floor and incurred a cost just over SAR 30 billion, equivalent to around $8 billion.

    Third Saudi Extension (Current)

    The ongoing expansion of Masjid al-Haram, initiated during the reign of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz and continued by King Salman bin Abdulaziz, is the largest in its history. The expansion focuses on three main areas:

    1. Expanding the Grand Mosque itself to accommodate up to two million worshippers.
    2. Enhancing the external courtyards with facilities such as bathrooms, corridors, tunnels, and other amenities to facilitate the movement of worshippers.
    3. Developing service areas including air conditioning, electricity stations, water stations, etc.

    The expansion area covers 750,000 square metres and involves extending the courtyards of Masjid al-Haram. This expansion also involves building plazas, with plans to construct 63 hotel towers at the end of these plazas.

    Additionally, the expansion includes removing the Ottoman expansion and restoring its parts to fit the new expansion, as well as expanding the mosque from three sides, stopping at the Masa’a area. The floors of the mosque will be expanded to four levels, like the new Masa’a, with plans for future expansion to add two more floors, bringing the total to six.

    Furthermore, the expansion involves enlarging the Haram on the Misfalah side by demolishing the Al Itlala Hotel and the Dar Al Tawheed Intercontinental Hotel.

    On Jumada al-Akhirah 25, 1437 AH (4 April 2016 CE), work commenced to remove the temporary Mataf Bridge and concluded in Shaban 7, 1437 AH (5 May 2016 CE). This removal increased the capacity of the Mataf courtyard from 19,000 worshippers per hour to 30,000 worshippers per hour, totalling 107,000 worshippers per hour across all floors of Masjid al-Haram. The renovated Mataf courtyard now offers worshippers an unobstructed view of the Kaaba.

    Features of Masjid al-Haram

    Some of the most important of Masjid al-Haram include:

    1. Kaaba: Located at the centre of the mosque, the Kaaba is the most sacred site in Islam. Muslims around the world face the Kaaba during their daily prayers.
    2. Hajar al-Aswad: Embedded in one corner of the Kaaba, the Hajar al-Aswad was placed there by Prophet Ibrahim S and his son Prophet Ismail S. Saluting, touching or kissing the Hajar al-Aswad is a significant part of Tawaf.
    3. Hijr Ismail (Hateem): A semicircular wall adjacent to the Kaaba, it is considered part of the Kaaba structure and is included in the Tawaf ritual.
    4. Mataf: The area immediately around the Kaaba where Tawaf is performed.
    5. Maqam Ibrahim: Situated near the Kaaba, Maqam Ibrahim refers to the stone block on which Prophet Ibrahim stood while he and his son Ismail built the Kaaba.
    6. Safa and Marwa: Pilgrims also perform Sa’i, walking between the hills of Safa and Marwa, as part of the Hajj and Umrah rituals. The area between Safa and Marwa is known as the Masa’a.
    7. Zamzam Well: A sacred water source within Masjid al-Haram, revered for its blessed origins and healing properties. The entrance to the well is sealed off but Zamzam water can still be consumed throughout the mosque.


    At the heart of Masjid al-Haram’s internal courtyard stands the structure of the Holy Kaaba. The Kaaba holds significance as the qibla of Muslims in their prayers and the focal point of their spiritual journey during Hajj and Umrah.


    Some of the important features of the Kaaba include:

    1. Kiswah: The Kaaba is draped in a black silk cloth adorned with gold-embroidered Quranic verses. The covering, known as the Kiswah, is replaced annually during the Hajj pilgrimage.
    2. Hajar al-Aswad (Black Stone): Embedded in the eastern corner of the Kaaba, the Black Stone is a sacred relic believed to have been given to Prophet Ibrahim S by the angel Jibril S. Pilgrims perform Istilam of it during Tawaf.
    3. Door: Positioned on the northeastern side, about 2 metres above the ground, the Kaaba has only one door. It is made of silver and is typically kept locked except for three times per year when the interior of the Kaaba is washed.
    4. Shadharwan: Remnants of the Kaaba’s foundation located on its outside.
    5. Multazam: The Multazam is the area of the Kaaba’s wall between the Black Stone and the door.
    6. Mizab al-Rahma: A rainwater spout attached to the Kaaba’s roof near the entrance.
    7. Hateem (Hijr Ismail): A semi-circular wall adjacent to the Kaaba, considered part of its structure. It is included in the Tawaf ritual and is a place where prayers are particularly favoured.
    8. Maqam Ibrahim: Although not part of the Kaaba itself, it is located next to it. Maqam Ibrahim is a stone block containing the footprint of Prophet Ibrahim S.


    The Kaaba today is almost cubic in shape, and has a semi-circular wall called the Hatim enclosing the area that was once inside the monument. The Kaaba has four corners:

    1. The Black Stone Corner: This is where the Tawaf begins, marked by the Hajar al-Aswad.
    2. The Iraqi Corner: Pilgrims encounter this corner after passing the Hateem (Hijr Ismail).
    3. The Shami Corner: Faces north towards Syria.
    4. The Yemeni Corner: Faces south towards Yemen and marks the final corner before completing the Tawaf. It is a blessed corner which pilgrims try to touch or kiss during Tawaf.

    The distances between these corners are as follows:

    • From the Black Stone to the Shami corner: 11.68 metres.
    • From the Shami to the Iraqi corner: 9.90 metres.
    • From the Iraqi to the Yemeni corner: 12.04 metres.
    • From the Yemeni to the Black Stone corners: 10.18 metres.

    A Brief History

    Over time, the Kaaba has undergone various modifications, including renovations and complete reconstructions. Historical accounts commonly cite twelve constructions of the Kaaba, with the original attributed to Prophet Adam S. Of the most significant reconstructions of the Kaaba was the one led by Prophet Ibrahim S, with his son, Prophet Ismail S. Another reconstruction of the Kaaba took place during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

    The Kaaba has a history that spans thousands of years, with several significant events and transformations. Here’s a brief overview:

    1. Pre-Islamic Era: The origins of the Kaaba date back to the time of Prophet Adam then to Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail Q, who built the structure as the first house of worship dedicated to the monotheistic worship of Allah. Initially, it was a rectangular structure without a roof.
    2. Prophetic Era: After the advent of Islam, the Kaaba continued to serve as the focal point of worship for Muslims. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ performed his first Hajj to the Kaaba in 632 CE after the conquest of Makah. During his lifetime, the Kaaba underwent various renovations and repairs.
    3. Caliphal Period: Throughout the early Islamic period, the Kaaba was periodically rebuilt and restored by various caliphs and rulers. Notable renovations include those by Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab and Caliph Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr L. Leaders from the Ummayad, Abbasid and Mamluk dynasties all contributed to its upkeep.
    4. Ottoman Empire: During the Ottoman era, the Kaaba underwent significant renovations and expansions. The Ottoman Empire contributed to the maintenance and beautification of the Kaaba and its surroundings.
    5. Modern Era: In the modern era, the Saudi Arabian government has undertaken several large-scale renovation projects to accommodate the increasing number of pilgrims visiting the Kaaba. These projects have involved the expansion of the Grand Mosque complex, the installation of modern amenities, and the reinforcement of the Kaaba’s structure.

    Hajar al-Aswad

    The Hajar al-Aswad, or the Black Stone, is a sacred artifact located in the southeastern corner of the Kaaba. Measuring approximately 30 cm in diameter, this heavy, oval-shaped stone stands elevated about a meter and a half above the ground. Encased within a frame of pure silver for preservation, its surface appears dark due to the sins committed by man, as described in narrations attributed to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. However, beneath its surface, the stone retains its original white hue, as observed by eyewitnesses like Muhammad ibn al-Khuza’i.

    Regarded as one of the stones of Paradise, the Hajar al-Aswad is mentioned in various prophetic traditions as a precious gem from heaven. It is revered as a cornerstone of the Kaaba, marking the beginning and end of Tawaf during Hajj and Umrah. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ himself kissed the Black Stone, emphasizing its sanctity and the continuity of his actions for his followers.

    During the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ a significant event occurred involving the Hajar al-Aswad. Following a flash flood in the area, the Kaaba sustained severe damage. In response, the tribe of Quraish, entrusted with the custodianship of the Kaaba, resolved to undertake its reconstruction and repair.

    The four tribes of Quraish agreed to divide the expenses to be incurred and work was initiated. However, when the time came to place the Black Stone in its place, an argument broke out among the tribes with regard to who would have the honour of inserting the stone into the Kaaba. One of the elders of Quraish resolved the argument by declaring that the next person to enter the sanctuary of the Kaaba should resolve and choose the rightful person. The next person who entered the sanctuary was none other than the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. With great wisdom, the Prophet ﷺ resolved the dilemma by suggesting that the Black Stone should be placed onto a large cloak, with members of all four tribes holding on to each corner of the cloth, lifting it into its place.

    Upon the cloak being raised near its designated spot within the Ka’bah, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ took the initiative to lift the Black Stone into its rightful position within the sacred structure.

    Historically, the Black Stone has endured several incidents, including thefts and attempts to desecrate it. Notably, the Qarmatians seized the stone and concealed it for 22 years before its eventual return to the Kaaba in 339 AH (950 CE). Over the centuries, various rulers and leaders have contributed to its preservation and adornment, including encasing it in silver and adding diamond excavations.

    Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr I was the first to encase the Black Stone in silver when it cracked during the conflict in 64 AH (683 CE). Subsequently, this act was repeated by al-Hajjaj bin Yusuf al-Thaqafi in 73 AH (692 CE), and later embellishments were made by Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid. In more recent times, Ottoman and Saudi rulers have contributed to its restoration and adornment.


    The Mataf refers to the courtyard in Masjid al-Haram surrounding the Holy Kaaba, where Tawaf takes place. The term “Mataf” is derived from the Arabic word meaning “to circle,” reflecting the act of Tawaf performed by Muslims around the Kaaba. This ritual of doing Tawaf around the Kaaba is an essential aspect of Hajj and Umrah.

    Hijr Ismail

    Hijr Ismail (the Stone of Ismail), also known as the “Hatim”, is an arc-shaped monument which serves as a visible marker of the boundary of the Kaaba. Adjacent to the northern and western corners of the Kaaba, the Hijr Ismail, stands approximately 1.3 metres high. This semicircular structure is traditionally believed to have been the dwelling place of Ismail and his mother, Hagar Q. Some historical accounts even suggest that they are buried at this site.

    Originally considered an integral part of the Kaaba, it underwent significant changes during the era of the Quraish tribe.

    Historical accounts suggest that during the construction of the Kaaba by the Quraish, they faced financial constraints and were unable to complete the structure according to the original foundations laid by the Prophet Ibrahim S. Consequently, the Quraish decided to leave a portion of the foundation exposed. To mark this boundary, they erected stones around the exposed area, including what became known as the Hatim or Hijr Ismail.

    Throughout history, various rulers and dignitaries have demonstrated interest in Hijr Ismail, undertaking numerous renovations and enhancements to these sacred sites. From the Abbasid Caliphs to regional kings and princes, efforts to preserve and adorn these structures have been ongoing for centuries.

    These renovations included covering the walls of Hijr Ismail with marble, renewing its marble cladding, and installing brass candlesticks with electric lamps around the stone.

    Zamzam Well

    According to tradition, the Zamzam Well originated from the miraculous intervention of the Archangel Jibril S in response to the prayers of Hagar, the wife of the Prophet Ibrahim, and her son Ismail Q.

    When Hagar and Ismail were left in the barren valley of Makkah, their provisions dwindled, and they found themselves desperate for water. Hagar, in her desperation, ran between the hills of Safa and al-Marwa, hoping for help. It was during this ordeal that the Angel Jibril intervened by striking the ground with his heel (or wing, according to other accounts), causing water to gush forth from the earth. This water, known as Zamzam, became a source of sustenance and salvation for Hagar and Ismail o.

    Over time, the Zamzam Well evolved from a simple stone-walled structure to a revered site within Masjid al0Haram. Various caliphs and rulers, including Abbasid Caliphs Abu Ja’far al-Mansur and Abu Abdullah Muhammad al-Mahdi, contributed to its embellishment and expansion. Abu Ja’far is credited with building the first dome over Zamzam, while al-Mahdi further adorned it with marble and mosaics.

    During the reign of Caliph al-Mu’tasim, further renovations were undertaken, including covering the well with marble and renewing its dome.

    Maqam Ibrahim

    The Maqam Ibrahim, or the Station of Ibrahim, is the ancient stone upon which the Prophet Ibrahim S stood while constructing the Holy Kaaba. As Ibrahim struggled to lift the heavy stones for the Kaaba’s construction, he used this stone as a platform to build upon. It is said that the imprints of his feet remained on the stone.

    According to Islamic sources, when Ibrahim and his son Ismail raised the foundations of the Kaaba, they prayed for acceptance, saying, “Our Lord, accept this from us. You are the All Hearing, the All Knowing” (Quran 2:127). This stone became a symbol of divine favour and acceptance, and people today pray behind it during the two rak’ahs of Tawaf.

    Over time, the footprints of Ibrahim on the stone were worn away due to people touching and wiping it.

    The Maqam Ibrahim is also associated with numerous virtues. It is considered one of the rubies of Paradise, as described in the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. Muslims are instructed to take it as a place of prayer during Hajj and Umrah, as mentioned in the Quran (2:125).

    Throughout history, various rulers and caliphs have adorned and protected the Maqam Ibrahim. Abu Ja’far al-Mansur, the Abbasid Caliph, was among the first to build a dome over it. Later caliphs, such as al-Mahdi and al-Mutawakkil, enhanced its ornamentation with gold and marble.

    In modern times, efforts have been made to preserve and beautify the Maqam Ibrahim. Crystal covers and marble bases have been constructed to protect and showcase the stone. King Fahd bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia ordered the renovation of the Maqam Ibrahim’s cover, using gold, crystals, and decorated glass to enhance its appearance.

    The current shape of the Maqam Ibrahim resembles a hemispherical dome. It weighs approximately 1.75 kg and stands at a height of 1.30 metres. The diameter at the bottom of the shrine measures 40 centimetres, with a uniform thickness of 20 centimetres on all sides. The outer diameter at the bottom expands to 80 centimetres. The circumference of the circular base is approximately 2.51 metres.

    Safa and Marwa

    Safa and Marwa are two small mountains facing each other within the precincts of Masjid al-Haram. The ritual of Sa’i, or the act of walking between Safa and Marwa, is a fundamental component of both Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages. This ritual involves traversing the distance between the two mountains, starting from Safa and concluding at Marwa, for a total of seven rounds.

    Mount Safa, situated on the southern side of the mosque, slants towards the east and stands approximately 130 metres from the Holy Kaaba. It is distinguished as the starting point of the Sa’i ritual. Positioned near Bab al-Safa, it occupies a prominent location at the base of Mount Abu Qubais.

    Mount Marwa, on the other hand, serves as the termination point of the Sa’i ritual. Referenced in the Quran (Surah al-Baqarah, verse 158), Sa’i is revered as one of the rites ordained by Allah.

    Masa’a is the corridor that links the mountains of Safa and Marwa within Masjid al-Haram. It holds significant historical and religious importance, particularly associated with the story of Hagar, the wife of the Prophet Ibrahim S.

    According to Islamic tradition, Hagar, in her quest for water for her son Ismail S ran between Safa and Marwa. She ascended Safa, descended, and then repeated this process until completing seven circuits between the two mountains.

    Upon the advent of Islam, this act of Sa’i (running or walking between Safa and Marwa) became one of the prescribed rituals of both Hajj and Umrah, honouring Hagar’s resilience and dedication. When performing Umrah, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ himself traversed the distance between Safa and Marwa, beginning at Safa and concluding at Marwa.

    The Masa’a corridor spans approximately 375 metres in length and 40 metres in width, situated in the eastern part of Masjid al-Haram. Over time, the significance of Masa’a has grown, particularly with the increasing number of pilgrims and Umrah performers. In 1925 CE, during the reign of King Abdul Aziz, the corridor was paved with flint stones to minimize dust and discomfort for pilgrims. Additionally, the roof was renovated to shield visitors from the sun’s heat, and the doors overlooking Masa’a were refurbished.

    During subsequent reigns, including that of King Saud and King Fahd, further enhancements were made to Masa’a. These included the expansion of the Safa area on the first floor, the addition of new entry and exit doors on both floors, and the construction of the first and second floors of Masa’a.



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