Makkah - The Haram
Entering the Haram
As with any masjid enter the Haram with your right foot and it is sunnah to say:
بِسْمِ اللهِ وَ الصَّلاةُ وَ السَّلامُ عَلَى رَسُولِ الله، أَعُوذُ بِاللهِ العَظِيمِ، وَ بِوَجْهِهِ الكَرِيمِ، وَ سُلْطَانِهِ القَدِيمِ مِنَ الشَيطَانِ الرَجِيمِ، الّلهُمَّ اِفْتَحْ لِي أَبْوابَ رَحْمَتِكَ
"Bismillah wassalatu wassalamu ala Rasoolillah”
(Muslim, Abu Dawud, Nisai, Ibn Majah, Tirmidhi)
“A'outhu billahil-A’dtheem, wa be waj'hihi Al-Kareem, wa sultanihi al-qadeem, minashaytan irrajeem. Allahumma iftahly abwaaba rahmatik."
"In the name of Allah and blessings and peace be upon the Messenger of Allah. I seek refuge in Allah the Great, and His Honourable face and His ancient authority from the accursed shaytaan. Oh Allah open for me the doors of Your mercy."
There are guards at all the entrances to the Haram. All bags including ladies handbags will be searched. You will not be able to take any food or dangerous items inside with you. A simple pocketknife will be confiscated.
Large (1 litre) water bottles to fill with zamzam are not allowed inside the mosque. You will not be allowed to take any shopping bags inside with you. So if you did lots of expensive shopping, make sure you have enough time to take it back to your accommodation prior to salah. Sometimes you may not be able to take even your umbrella inside with you.
Access to the Haram
It is neither a fardh nor a sunnah requirement to enter from Baab as-Salaam. There are in excess of 150 doors around the Haram. All the doors are numbered. The numbers are inscribed near the door, on the wall tiles on the inside and on the outside of the Haram.
The door numbers go in an anti-clockwise direction. Most of the doors also have a name, in addition to the number. The names and numbers are written in Arabic and in English.
For salah there are 4 floor levels inside the mosque:
- Basement level
- Ground floor level
- Middle floor level
- Roof level
Tawaaf and sa’ee can also be performed on the middle floor as well as the roof. The roof area is normally only for males. During the very busy days of Hajj the roof is also open for females for salah, tawaaf and sa'ee. The middle floor and basement are for both males and females. There is a huge basement area in the Haram which is not very well known to all.
There are escalators and stairs at various locations around the Haram, which can either be accessed from outside, the middle floor or from the basement inside the Haram. The roof is accessible via the escalators. There is also stair access to the roof area, but it is not always open.
Try the roof area in the evening and for Salatul-Fajr. It is very comfortable and peaceful. If you get the chance, try to view the Haram from the roof. In my opinion the view of the Haram and the Ka'bah is spectacular from up there. It also gives you the opportunity to see, how NOT to behave during tawaaf.
There are various doors around the Haram that provide access for wheelchairs. It is important that you are familiar with them as most of the other doors have plenty of stairs. You can obtain a wheelchair from inside the Haram. If you wish to push it yourself, they are free of charge. You need to leave some form of identification. If you require a chair and somebody to push it, it will cost you about 100 Saudi riyals (if not more). During the busy Hajj days, it can cost SR600 or more.
During the busy periods they may not allow wheelchairs in the tawaaf area on the ground level. For sa'ee the wheelchairs are allowed on the ground floor (there is a designated area) and also on the middle floor and roof. The roof has no designated walking areas for the wheelchairs, so do watch the heels of the pilgrims in front of you, as it is extremely painful to knock someone with the wheelchair.
Inside the Haram
Inside the Haram the names of the main doors are indicated by big signs placed across the pillars leading towards these doors.
If you are entering the Haram for the first time, we suggest you spend a few moments to orientate yourself with the surroundings and landmarks. As you should be performing tawaaf as your first rite, you need to proceed directly towards the Ka'bah. (Do not sit down unless you perform tawaaf or two rak'at Tahiyatul-Masjid salah first.)
Make a mental note of the name and number (and colour, if applicable) of the door from which you entered. Also observe from which side of the Ka'bah you entered. These signs should help you in finding your way out. (I have heard stories of older people being lost inside the Haram for many hours, even days.)
The sides of the Ka'bah are:
1. The side of Maqaam Ibraheem
2. The side of the Hijr (and water spout)
3. The side where the Rukn-al-Yamani corner is to the right and the Hijr is to your left (facing the Ka'bah).
4. The side where you start your tawaaf (Hajr-al-Aswad) is to your right, and the Rukn-al-Yamani corner is to your left (facing the Ka'bah).
Remove or turn your photo badge around so that the picture is not visible while you are in the Haram.
The Hajr-al-Aswad (Black Stone) corner is where the tawaaf starts and ends.
The Rukn-Al-Yamani corner is also referred to as the South corner. It is between this corner and the next one (Hajr-al-Aswad) that one recites: "Rabbanaa aatina fidunya..."
As-Safaa is where you start your sa'ee finishing at Al-Marwah.
There are only three places at the Ka'bah that you can and should touch, if at all possible:
1. The Hajr-al-Aswad (Black Stone) -
Kiss it if possible, otherwise touch or gesture.
2. The Rukn-al-Yamani (South corner) -
Touch it, but do not kiss or rub it.
3. The area from the Black Stone corner to the end of the Ka’bah door (Multazam) - The pilgrims normally hang on to this area as the companions did, but it is not to be kissed.
There is absolutely no reward and it is contrary to the sunnah to touch, rub or hang on to the Maqaam Ibraheem, the doors, the Ka'bah cloth, etc. Furthermore, refrain from kissing it.
ü Lower your gaze...! We are instructed in the Qur'an and sunnah to do so:
"Tell the believing men to lower their gaze..."
Surah An-Nur (24:30)
"And tell the believing women to lower their gaze..."
Surah An-Nur (24: part of ayah 31)
Jarir (may Allah be pleased with him) says: "I asked the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) as to what should be done when our glance accidentally falls (upon somebody forbidden) to look at.’ He said: ‘Turn your eyes’." (Muslim)
When you arrive early at the Haram for prayer you may find lots of space to sit and perform salah comfortably. Within no time you will find that this “space of yours” gets eroded bit by bit as the Haram starts filling up. Now you can do one of two things. You can “fight” with every person that tries to sit too close to you, or you can try and accommodate them. From experience, we can guarantee you that you will not be able to hold on to “your territory” for very long. So avoid stress and adopt an attitude of: “This mosque does not belong to me; we are all guests of Allah, therefore we are all entitled to be in it.” This is especially true for the Jumuah prayer.
However, when you are late, try not to push in and walk over the top of people. Your rightful place for being late is at the back. You may ask, but why should I adhere to the rules when nobody else does? Simple, Allah knows!
"... nor commit sin,
nor dispute unjustly during Hajj.
And whatever good you do,
(be sure) Allah knows it..."
Surah Al-Baqarah (2: part of ayah 197)
If you lose your shoes, or if someone “takes” them, do not take somebody else's shoes. Rather make dua and believe that the person who took them may need them more than you. Buy yourself another pair. They sell for as little as five Saudi riyals.
Some people rush violently in order to touch and kiss the Black Stone. Such behaviour is wrong. Besides exerting effort to the level of fatigue, rushing and pushing in a mixed crowd of males and females may cause harm to someone. It is lawful (sunnah) to touch and kiss the Black Stone when possible. It is sufficient for a pilgrim to merely point at it, whereas causing others harm or inconvenience is sinful.
It is natural that with so many people in one place some confusion, impatience, pushing, etc. will occur, especially with people from such varied backgrounds. Try your best to perform your activities and movements in a calm and quite way. Do not push, harm or rush anybody, especially in the crowded areas such as during tawaaf, sa'ee, at the Maqaam Ibraheem, at the jamrah, etc.
You must expect that many people may come from very primitive areas, where there are possibly no escalators, proper toilets, technology, etc. Respect their backgrounds and do not look down upon them or make fun of them. Avoid walking in the opposing direction of the tawaaf. Rather walk all the way around to the starting point.
Do not perform salah close to the Maqaam Ibraheem if it's crowded. If you insist, be forewarned that you may get trampled on and somebody may step on your head. Do not even think of standing in front of your wife as protection for her to make salah in this area. You are asking for trouble! It is acceptable to perform your two rak'at salah after tawaaf anywhere in the mosque.
Where to meet
It is important that you agree beforehand with your partner or group where to meet after salah or in the event of you losing each other. If your accommodation is not far from the Haram then it may be better to meet back in the room.
If you plan to meet somewhere inside the Haram, avoid the green light area as this is a very common meeting place and is therefore always very crowded. There are really no good meeting places (other than your hotel). It all depends on your routine and location. Once you have established a good place, stick to it and try not to change it from day to day.
If you are lost
If you are lost, try to find the lost & found section where you will be provided with assistance. If you hire a wheelchair for one of the pilgrims in your company, make arrangements where to meet again, as the people pushing the wheelchairs will finish the tawaaf long before you. If you have a card of your accommodation, ask any of the policemen for directions. Sometimes the best way is to ask at the reception of another hotel for directions to your accommodation.
If you come out from the “wrong” door, do not walk around the Haram to try and find your way, instead go back inside the Haram and try to find the “right” door from inside. This method has some distinct advantages:
- You may find someone you know inside.
- It is much cooler inside the Haram.
- Find the side of the Ka'bah you entered from.
- Look for the colour-coordinated doors (the colours are addressed later in this chapter).
If all else fails, stay inside the Haram until the next salah instead of wandering around outside in the heat or darkness. Move towards the area where you normally perform your salah as you may find some fellow pilgrims there.
If you cannot remember the door numbers or names and you are lost, try to remember at least the following one. If you cannot remember the number, think of the name of the author of this book: Ismail door (Baab Ismail, No. 10)
The Prophet (saw) said:
"Zamzam water is for whatever (purpose) it is drunk for." (Ahmad)
"It satisfies as food and cures illness." ((At-Tayalisi)
There is no particular supplication established in the sunnah when drinking zamzam. However, Abdullah ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them) used to recite the following after drinking zamzam water:
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ عِلْمًا نَافِعًا وَ رِزْقًا وَاسِعًا وَ شِفَاءً مِنْ كُلِّ دَاءٍ
“Allahumma innee asaluka ‘ilman naafi’an wa rizqan waasi’an wa shifaa ‘an min-kulli daa’in”
Oh Allah, I ask of You beneficial knowledge, abundant provision, and a cure from all disease.
The zamzam well entrance used to be located diagonally behind the Maqaam Ibraheem towards Safaa. Since 2004, the entrance has been closed to make more places for salah. Zamzam taps are now located against the wall (near the same area)
There are sufficient taps and drums (beige in colour) all around the Haram, with cold zamzam for your enjoyment. Facing the drum the cups in the holder on the right side of the drum are the clean cups and the used ones are in the left cup holder. During the busy periods of Hajj the drums are removed in order to provide the much-needed space.
Most of the time the water is cold. However, there are a few drums with room temperature water, marked with writing "Zamzam water not cold". If you wish to fill your own bottles, there are some taps available inside the Haram. The guards will normally allow you to enter the mosque with small bottles. If you wish to fill larger containers, there are taps outside door number 45. It is located under the ramp leading to the street.
Sometimes there are people selling containers of zamzam outside the Haram area. They charge about 5-10 Saudi riyals for about ten litres. Alternatively you may take a small water bottle or flask inside the Haram with you and fill it up at the taps or drums.
First Aid: Emergency and medical facilities
At various locations inside the Haram there are emergency medical facilities. They are located close to certain doors. Ask the guards or cleaners for locations and directions.
Where to sit
During the very busy periods of Hajj, it is important to choose a good place to sit. The best is to be early. Avoid sitting near the doors or walkways. When the mosque gets very crowded people will trample all over you in these areas. Try to sit in the middle or front areas. Directly in front of the Qur'an stands is also a good place.
Sitting near the zamzam drums or taps is not such a good idea as this is always busy with people drinking water and the area can sometimes get very wet. However, this might be the only available place, especially when you are on the roof. If you are sitting in the tawaaf area, move immediately after salah has completed to allow people to perform tawaaf comfortably.
· If you are early, try to keep a small space where at least one more person can squeeze in. When the mosque starts to get full you will find people arguing and fighting over small spaces. What you do with this small space is to offer it to somebody who's been looking for a space for a while. He will be very grateful and from that point onwards you will not need to fend off people from sitting in front of you, as your new-found “friend” will be so grateful to you and he will be doing all the “protection” of the spaces. Sneaky, but it works.
· Avoid keeping a place for friends. This will be difficult and you will spend your time protecting this space, instead of making Ibadah.
· If you are forced to sit near a walkway or door, move immediately after the salah is complete. If you attempt to perform your sunnah salah here, you may get hurt as people will be walking over you.
· Beware of the ones offering water. As soon as you accept, you are now obliged to make some space. If you are thirsty, you may not have a choice. If you get up to get water, your place may be gone when you return.
· Please keep in mind, that everybody has the right to be inside the mosque, so try to accommodate your fellow pilgrims wherever possible. Do not try to keep a big and comfortable space for yourself. You will not be able to do so for very long and you will be stressed and creating unnecessary arguments.
Even after taking all precautions, don't be surprised when you find somebody coming to sit directly in front of you, leaving you no space to make salah properly.
As with everything else, your behaviour inside the Haram is of the utmost importance.
Do not walk backwards out of the Haram. This is dangerous, as you could fall and hurt somebody or even yourself. Many people believe that it is showing disrespect to the Ka'bah to turn one's back towards it. The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) was the best of teachers and he did not do this (walk backwards) nor instruct us to do so.
Avoid shouting and walking in big groups during tawaaf and sa'ee. Do not push your hands or fingers into the back of the person in front of you while in crowds or during tawaaf. If somebody else does this to you, politely move their hands from your back.
Try not to push when the doors are congested. Keep in mind that there are many elderly people and that you could push somebody down the stairs.
Do not stop or perform salah on the brown starting line. If you need to determine the starting place, look at the people (3 or so levels) in front of you. This way you can tell where the line is as they will be raising their hands.
You will notice that there are always people going in the opposite direction, no matter where and what time it is. Avoid as best as you can going against the flow of the general traffic.
One of the more amazing behaviours of certain pilgrims is when they are late, they persist in moving towards the front (even though there is no place), and when the salah is finished they are the first to rush back out again. If you are late, your rightful place is at the back!
Leaving the Haram
There is no special supplication upon leaving al-Masjid al-Haram. However, the one offered upon leaving any mosque should be recited:
بِسمِ اللهِ وَ الصَّلاةُ وَ السَّلامُ عَلَى رَسُولِ اللهِ. اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ مِنْ فَضْلِكَ
"Bismillahi wassalaatu wa salaamu alaa rasullillahi; Allahumma innee asaluka min fadhlika."
“In the name of Allah. Blessings and peace be upon the Messenger of Allah. Oh Allah, I ask of You Your favour.”
(Muslim, Abu Dawud, Nisa'i & Ibn Majah)
Do not walk backwards out of the Haram. There is no evidence for this practice in the sunnah. As a matter of fact, it is dangerous, as you may trip and fall over somebody.
* As the Haram is currently going through extensive expansion works, we will update the content as developments progress.