The first House to be established for mankind was the one at Bakkah. It is a blessed place; a source of guidance for all people; there are clear signs in it; it is the place where Ibrahim stood; whoever enters it is safe. (3:96-97)
Some say Bakkah refers to the Ka’abah and the immediate area around it, while the rest of the city is referred to as Makkah. Bakkah means to annihilate or completely crush, specifically pride and arrogance.
While Makkah means to eradicate, either sins or the eradication or destruction of the oppressor who may be within its locality, as was the case with Abraha and his army in the Year of the Elephant. And Allah the Almighty knows best.
Allah Ta’ala assigns various names to His Baitul Ateeq, the earliest and ancient, the liberating; His Honourable House; the symbolic heart of the Ummah. The circling of the faithful never ceases, even when all are assembled in row upon row for the five Fardh Salat, the beat of the flowing Tawaf is momentarily transformed into a total unity of hearts, souls, minds and bodies bowing and prostrating as one; a constant rhythmic ripple of adoring, praising, seeking, imploring, and repenting. A concentric prayer that radiates out across the globe, while simultaneously absorbing the worship of every Mu’min as they turn to this blessed place, the source of guidance.
The faithful vie for a place as close as possible to Baitul Allah. Prayer mats and other assorted items are used to reserve places in the first Saff for each Salat, while the moment the second Salam is given brothers run to the Hajar Aswad and the Multazam and the Tawaf is resumed. SubhanAllah!
It was not my intention to take the camera into Haram, I did not want the distraction of trying to sneak shots, even though I would loved to have been able to share some of the time with you. However I did manage this photo one afternoon before Maghrib from the second floor. During this time there are many Halaqahs of Qur’an for boys, ranging in ages from five to early adults. Unlike Masjid Nabawi, where facilities are also available for girls, Haram in Makkah only accommodates boys. The entire space is filled with a gentle buzz as if in the middle of a bee hive…and the sensation is as sweet as one could imagine being dipped in a hive bursting with honey! Such a delight sitting in the gentle breeze watching and listening to the boys concentrating on the Divine Words as they are striving to commit them to their hearts. While the morning, from Fajr right through to Iqama for Zuhur huge expanses of the Masjid are occupied by the Ulema seated on large wooden throne-like chairs conducting classes for the young adult males. Each Halaqah seemed to have up to forty to fifty students, and there are dozens scattered all around the Masjid. The teaching method retains the simplicity of traditional learning circles. The boys carry a few books, some choose to strap them together, others wrap them in their prayer mat. All seat on the floor, while the teacher remains seated the entire time. I noticed that some use a white board getting one student to scribe whatever is needed. Some use microphones, and even though these Halaqahs are so close together it obviously is not a problem. The Adab was impeccable considering these lads sit attentively for more than five hours! May Allah Ta’ala guide and reward all who devote seeking His Knowledge, Ameen.
It has been some time since I subjected you to some of my coloured dots and squiggles! By using the same photo I will explain a few things to those of you who may not have been to the Honoured House. The balcony from where this was taken is the track reserved for wheelchairs for Tawaf. It follows the circumference of the Mataf, meaning it covers a much longer distance than doing it at ground level, and depending on the crowds sometimes there is no option but to use this track, or the roof during the peak seasons. This can become very congested, especially when the one pushing the wheelchair is slow, or the electric chairs create a traffic jam. There has been a suggestion that a suspended track above the Mataf be made for wheelchairs, but I have not seen or read of any further official plan for this.
You will notice the arches behind the Ka’abah, both the ground and second floor levels now have a solid cream wall behind them. This is the old Masaa area, so the walls have been constructed forming a barrier between the Masjid area and the ongoing work. Small passage ways have been left to be able to reach the new Masaa area beyond these temporary walls. The new Masaa is seen appearing higher than the existing roof of the Haram.
The pink dot to the left indicates the small fenced area reserved for sisters, which is actually on the Mataf. Given the proportionate numbers of sisters to the brothers this is so small. There have been several complaints but nothing has changed to increase the size. What they have changed is the height of the front fence. Previously it was the same height as the two side walls, but now it is lower so that sisters can at least see the Ka’abah when they are enclosed in this space.
The two pink lines indicate sisters areas that are positioned just above the steps leading from the Mataf. These steps are a popular place for sisters to sit when it is not Salat time. Come half an hour before every Salat all ’staff’ are engaged in whatever means possible to get all sisters out of the Mataf area and off the steps into the designated prayer areas. This becomes a source of amusement…or frustration depending on the perspective one is coming from. For the ’staff’, brothers who act as guides, the sisters on duty and the police, when things get heavy, it is a constant battle as the majority of sisters do not want to be shoved far away. There are large areas towards the main entry/ exits to the Masjid for sisters but one cannot see Ka’abah from these places. Some say it is not important to actually see the Ka’abah, which is so, but the elation of watching the Tawaf or the formation of the Saff, or the magnificence of simply gazing upon Baitul Allah cannot be described in words…and the magnetic pull being in such close proximity is beyond hypnotic. First the physical gaze becomes mesmerized which captivates the inner gaze until all is obliterated. One does not experience the same sensations when the eye is devoid of this connection.
The green dot is in direct line with the Black Stone, and indicates the beginning and end of each Shawt, or circuit for Tawaf. This being in the sisters area became my favourite position during my visit, and because it was a very quiet week I was able to sit there for hours and offer many Salat and have Iftar there. The ’staff’ did not move sisters who were on the marble above the steps as this was regarded as an acceptable area for sisters to pray, even though the official carpet section was behind the marble walk way.
The dark blue line is where the Mayyit are placed waiting for the Janazah Salat. I was surprised that the bodies on the stretchers would be placed on the ground there but left alone. One time I walked past four bodies in a row but nobody sitting near them. All the deceased in Madinah are covered with a green cloth, but in Makkah it was a dark blue, a dark brown, once it was a tribal striped cloth, while the tiny babies are left in the white shroud and instead of being placed on a stretcher they are lifted up, by the father I suppose. There were three tiny bundles taken back to Allah Ta’ala in the one day. Inna liLlahi wa inna ilaihi rajeoon. May Allah Ta’ala illumine their Qabr with His Nur and give the familes Sabr for all the Janazahs in Haramain, Ameen.
The light blue line is where they are covering the step area with a permanent walk way. The workmen were welding the steel supports earlier in the week and by the time I was to leave it had already been surfaced with marble and a railing constructed beside the new area, thus increasing the space for prayers. Just to the right of this is a wall of Zamzam taps, the ones facing Ka’abah for brothers, while going behind this wall is the place for sisters. This is one of the many places where it is easy to fill bottles rather than having to sit at the usual drinking containers filling the bottle the slow way cup by cup.
The lime dot on the Kiswa is Rukn Yemani, or the Yemini corner. it is Sunnah to touch this corner if possible as Rasulullah SallAllahu alaihi wasallam did so. Plus this corner is standing on the original foundation that Ibrahim Alaihis Salam built. And like Du’a made at Hajar Aswad, they are also accepted from this corner. Abdullah ibn Umar RadhiAllahu anhu reports that he heard Rasulullah SallAllahu alaihi wasallam say that touching the Black Stone and the Yemani corner atones for sins. Allahu Akbar. Due to the few in numbers up until last Thursday I was able to kiss the Black Stone, touch the Yemani Corner, offer Salat in the Hatim and gaze upon the footsteps of Ibrahim Alaihis Salam. Insha’Allah if you ever have the opportunity to come at the beginning of Safar try to do so.
The purple dot is Rukn Gharbi, which points to the west, the direction of Eritrea, Kenya, and the orange dot is Rukn Shaami, the direction of north towards Syria, Georgia.
I find this diagram fascinating as it gives the approximate location of a hundred countries in relation to the Ka’abah. Sometimes as I walked past the different sides of Ka’abah I would be thinking of you all across the world in your respective countries, and would make Du’a!
All good is from Allah Ta’ala whereas mistakes are from this humble speck. May Allah Ta’ala Bless all readers, bringing you all closer to Him and His Rasul SallAllahu alaihi wasallam. May He accept our humble efforts and grant us the capacity to be good and do good. Ameen.