Why is Mecca so important to Muslims

A place of longing for Mecca

Status: 08/15/2018 4:46 p.m.

Once in a lifetime every Muslim should make a pilgrimage to Mecca, the birthplace of the Prophet Mohammed. Every year, numerous believers are out and about to celebrate the festival of sacrifice together in the city in Saudi Arabia, which is sacred to them. The five-day pilgrimage to Mecca, or Hajj in Arabic, means much more to Muslims than just a religious duty.

The Hajj pilgrims set out on their journey and many of those who stayed behind wish, like me, to be in their place next year - or as it is said by Muslims: to be invited by Allah to his house.

Nowadays, many pilgrims send impressions home via Whatsapp, and you can follow the pilgrimage on Saudi television over the Internet. The roads to Mecca, and Mecca itself, have changed a lot in 1400 years; however, the Kaaba has remained almost unchanged and the rites of the Hajj are still the same.

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A place of longing for Mecca

The pilgrimage to Mecca also has a very special meaning for our guest author Silvia Horsch. 3 min

Little time to adjust to the special atmosphere

Pilgrims from earlier times have left us their experiences in reports. But of course it's something completely different to be there yourself. Almost two years ago I made the so-called little pilgrimage, the umra. Umrah only performs part of the Hajj rites and is not tied to a specific time. Today's pilgrims can be in Saudi Arabia in a few hours by plane, as I was then. So I had little time to adjust to the very special atmosphere that characterizes the holy places.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the journey was very exhausting and full of privation. In this way, however, it prepared the pilgrims much better for the meaning of the pilgrimage. For Muhammad Asad, an Austrian journalist and diplomat, the Hajj in 1927 was the journey of his life - it was not for nothing that he called his autobiography "The Way to Mecca". He writes of his passage through the Suez Canal:

about the author

Silvia Horsch works as a research assistant at the Institute for Islamic Theology at the University of Osnabrück. She studied German and Arabic in Berlin and did her doctorate on early Islamic martyrs. Silvia Horsch has been a Muslim for 20 years. It is important to her to participate in the social discourse about Islam and Muslim women. With the website Nafisa.de, for example. "Nafisa" is also represented on Facebook and has its own YouTube channel.

"... In every corner and every nook and cranny, human beings were crammed together in agony. ... In great humility, only with the aim of driving in front of their eyes, they let all these complaints go through without contradiction. made their faces bright. The women sang songs of the Holy City in choirs, and the refrain `Labbayk, Allahumma, labbayk! '

For many Muslims, this is the religious climax of their lives

The refrain that Muhammad Asad mentions here is the beginning of the Talbiyah, the pilgrimage. It sounds as soon as the believers enter the state of consecration by putting on two white cloths. Labbayk Allahumma labbayk means: “Here we are, O God, at your service.” I also heard this call in Mecca, sometimes it swells into an overwhelming chorus. It expresses a focus on God, a willingness to make an effort, a purposefulness and a sense of purpose that I only experienced in this intensity as a pilgrim.

The longing remains

The Kaaba - in the huge courtyard of the great mosque in Mecca - is the central sanctuary of Muslims. The believers circle it seven times.

The pilgrims are always on the move. They sleep little and walk a lot, they want to go to prayer in the great mosque, they want to go around the Kaaba, they want to drink from the water of the Zamzam fountain. When they are not in motion, they are often deeply absorbed in prayer and remembrance of God. Among the pilgrims are people who can be seen to be poor, despite the pilgrim clothes, which are the same for everyone. People who have spent their whole life's savings on this trip and whose assets are sometimes only enough for the trip but no longer for the hotel and who now sleep under a bridge. To be able to perform the rites of pilgrimage, to see and to walk around the Kaaba, is the fulfillment of her long-cherished longing.

However, this longing is never completely satisfied. Because anyone who has seen the Kaaba once will want to return to it again and again. I didn't understand that until I was there. And since then I have wished every year that I were among the pilgrims.

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