"We have rendered the shrine a focal point for the people, and a safe sanctuary. You may use Abraham's shrine as a prayer house. We commissioned Abraham and Ishmael: 'You shall purify My house for those who visit, those who live there, and those who bow and prostrate.'" - Quran 2:125
Mecca (officially spelled Makkah) is a city in western Saudi Arabia. It is located near the Red Sea in the narrow, sandy Valley of Abraham, 909 feet above sea level. Mecca is the spiritual and geographical focal point for all Muslims. It was chosen by the Prophet Muhammad himself as the holy city of Islam and the direction (qibla) in which all Muslims should offer their prayers. Each year, during the Islamic month of Dhu'l-Hijja, thousands of Muslims from around the world join in a pilgrimage to Mecca (the Hajj), in fulfillment of one of the Five Pillars of Islam. For most Muslims, this is an event of a lifetime, full of meaning and spiritual renewal. Many also perform the minor Mecca pilgrimage, the Umrah, at various times throughout the year. Mecca is unique from other cities profiled on this website in that non-Muslims are not permitted to visit the holy city at any time. We hope, therefore, that this section on Mecca might help Muslims plan a pilgrimage to Mecca and non-Muslims experience a bit of this fascinating sacred place through photos, maps and descriptions.