Al-Masjid al-Ḥarām], "The Sacred Mosque"or the Grand Mosque surrounds Islam's holiest place, the Kaaba. It is located in the city of Mecca and is the largest mosque in the World. Muslims around the world turn toward Kaaba while performing any prayer. One of the Five Pillars of Islam requires every Muslim to perform the Hajj pilgrimage, at least once in his or her lifetime if able to do so, including circumambulation of Kaaba.
The current structure covers an area of 356,800 square metres (88.2 acres) including the outdoor and indoor praying spaces and can accommodate up to four million worshipers during the Hajj period, one of the largest annual gatherings of people in the world.
Qibla: The Qibla—the direction that Muslims turn to in their prayers (salah)—is toward the Kaaba and symbolizes unity in worshiping one Allah (God). At one point the direction of the Qibla was toward Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem) (and is therefore called the First of the Two Qiblas),however, this only lasted for seventeen months, after which the Qibla became oriented towards the Kaaba in Mecca. According to accounts from Muhammad's companions, the change happened very suddenly during the noon prayer at Medina in the Masjid al-Qiblatain.
Pilgrimage: The Haram is the focal point of the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages that occur in the month of Dhu al-Hijjah in the Islamic calendar and at any time of the year, respectively. The Hajj pilgrimage is one of the Pillars of Islam, required of all able-bodied Muslims who can afford the trip. In recent times, about 3 million Muslims perform the Hajj every year.
Architecture and Structures:
Kaaba: The Kaaba (Arabic: الكعبة) is a cuboid-shaped building in the center of the Masjid al-Haram and is the most sacred site in Islam.All Muslims around the world face the Kaaba during prayers, no matter where they are. This is called facing the Qiblah.
Black Stone: The Black Stone (Arabic: الحجر الأسود al-Ḥajar al-Aswad) is the eastern cornerstone of the Kaaba.It was set intact into the Kaaba's wall by Muhammad in the year 605, five years before his first revelation. Since then it has been broken into a number of fragments and is now cemented into a silver frame in the side of the Kaaba. Its physical appearance is that of a fragmented dark rock, polished smooth by the hands of millions of pilgrims.
Maqām Ibrahim: The Maqām Ibrahim (Ibrahim's place of standing) is a rock that reportedly has an imprint of Ibraham's foot which is kept in a crystal dome next to the Kaaba. Ibraham is said to have stood on this stone during the construction of the upper parts of the Kaaba, raising Ishmail on his shoulders for the uppermost parts.
Safa and Marwa: Al-Safa and Al-Marwah (Arabic: الصفا Aṣ-Ṣafā, المروة al-Marwah) are two hills, now located in the Masjid al-Haram. In Islamic tradition, Ibrahim's wife Hagar runs between the hills of Safa and Marwah looking for water for her infant son Ishmael until God eventually reveals her the Zamzam. Muslims also travel back and forth seven times during the ritual pilgrimages of Hajj and Umrah as a remembrance her.
Zamzam Well: The Zamzam Well (Arabic: زمزم) is a well located 20 m (66 ft) east of the Kaaba. It began circa 2150 BCE when Abraham's (Ibrāhīm) infant son Ishmael (ʼIsmāʻīl) was thirsty and kept crying for water. The well has never gone dry despite the millions of liters of water consumed every year.It had been deepened several times in history during periods of severe droughts.