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Old 2009-03-25, 22:50   Link #1
Shay
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Mecca

Has anyone on this forum ever been there? If so I would love to here about your experience.

For people who don't know. Mecca is a holy city in Saudi Arabia.

In fact it is the holiest city in Islam, and rightly so as it holds claims to such wonders like the birth and resting place of Muhammad, the building of the Kabaa by Abraham, in which lies the Black Stone which is the original sacrificial altar used by none other than Adam and Eve, etc... I understand the many reasons why Mecca is so sacred, but what I don't understand is why it is so restricted.

You see, Mecca is a city restricted to Muslims only. If you are not a practicing Muslim you will not step foot into this very interesting historical city.

Now I can completely sympothise with the fact that if anyone was allowed into Mecca it would beomce clogged with tourists and would maybe even defile the sacrilege of such events as the Hajj where millions of Muslims come on their sacred pillgrimage. And I also know of the scriptures not permitting idolaters and so on. But if you take everything written to heart we'd all be dead for working on Sundays lol. For one as my self who is interested in all things religious, open to all faiths, and basically a sponge for anything ancient and intriguing I find it a tad unfair.

I know many places have their secrets and restrictions, take the Vatican for example 90% of that place is off limits along with most of the worlds priceless artifacts, but at least they let us visit St Paul's...

Any thoughts?
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Old 2009-03-25, 22:56   Link #2
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Islam, like Judaism, is preoccupied with the notion of cleanliness, and this may be why Mecca is considered off-limits.

I myself would love to visit and see the Black Stone, but am not too worried about not being allowed to visit.
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Old 2009-03-25, 23:07   Link #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cut-Tongue View Post
Islam, like Judaism, is preoccupied with the notion of cleanliness, and this may be why Mecca is considered off-limits.

I myself would love to visit and see the Black Stone, but am not too worried about not being allowed to visit.
I'm not too worried either, Not right now anyways, but maybe one day.

However I know that there are some Muslims on this forum and would like to here their views and also their experiences of this holiest of city's.

I have visited many interesting places in my time including Rome, Egypt and Peru, all amazed me with their ancient relics, story's and religions.

I'm just curious is all, and would like talk on the subject.
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Old 2009-03-25, 23:08   Link #4
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I think one of the problem is that Mecca is already crowded as it is. It is mandatory for a muslim to visit the city at least once in life and there's 1 billion of them. Religious matter apart it would be probably unpractical to let tourists in.
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Old 2009-03-25, 23:23   Link #5
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Originally Posted by Jan-Poo View Post
I think one of the problem is that Mecca is already crowded as it is. It is mandatory for a muslim to visit the city at least once in life and there's 1 billion of them. Religious matter apart it would be probably unpractical to let tourists in.
Coddswallop! Almost every city in the world is overpopulated, Beijing, New York, London, Paris, Rome, they're all jam-packed, with or without tourists.

The religious matter is a massive factor, however I also find it a bit contradicting when they have the likes of KFC, and McDonalds restaurants floating about. Two very non-Muslim corporations...

Maybe open the city to tourism for just a few months of the year?
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Old 2009-03-25, 23:36   Link #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shay View Post
However I know that there are some Muslims on this forum and would like to here their views and also their experiences of this holiest of city's.
If the thread gets buried quickly with few replies, you can always ask them directly:

http://forums.animesuki.com/group.php?groupid=25
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Old 2009-03-25, 23:39   Link #7
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If the thread gets buried quickly with few replies, you can always ask them directly:

http://forums.animesuki.com/group.php?groupid=25
Ahh, thanks. I didn't know KiNa was a Muslim, maybe he can give me some info.
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Old 2009-03-25, 23:47   Link #8
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I've posted your thread link in there as well... Its quite hard for me to explain myself in English, sorry.

Hopefully, someone more fluently in english then me can explain better >.<
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Old 2009-03-26, 04:32   Link #9
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Heh.. this is going to involve a history lesson of sorts, so bear with me. So prior to 610 AD the people of Mecca (and most of Arabia for that matter), worshipped idols. The Kabba (the cube-like building clothed in black) was filled with about 300 or so idols. In 610 AD, Muhammad (PBUH) began to preach monotheism, which didn't go down too well with the people of Mecca. He managed to gather a number of converts, but this upset everyone else (as they viewed Islam as an affront fo the ways of their forefathers). Eventually the people of Mecca turned to violent means to prevent any spread of Islam; they would beat any followers, kill them if the chance presented itself, and eventually they drove them out of the city for a couple of years to live in the desert.

During this time, Muslims had been sent to other towns (near and far). The people of Yathrib (later renamed Medina, after the prophet) invited the Muslims to settle there. So in 622 AD the Muslims migrated to Medina (incidentally 622 AD is when the Islamic calendar started). That didn't settle the matter though, and several battles were fought between the two sides. Eventually in 628 AD a peace treaty was established between the two sides. However, two years later the Meccans had broken the treaty, and by this time the Muslims had spread Islam far and wide enough that when they called together an army, they had enough soldiers to take Mecca. Ironically, their army of 10,000 or thereabouts was mostly unneeded, as with the exception of one skirmish, the Meccans surrendered peacefully.

By this time a fair portion of the people of Mecca had converted to Islam. The others were basically given a choice, convert to Islam or leave the city within the next number of days (I forget the number it was). Essentially the Muslims at the time were afraid that if there were ever a non-Muslim majority in Mecca again, they'd be made to go through another decade or more of persecution. So anyone who wasn't a Muslim was barred from visiting Mecca.

Anyway that's the historical background behind it. These days it's probably to stop tourists from getting in the way of pilgrims, as lets face it, every tourist is going to head straight for the mosque .


Quote:
Originally Posted by Shay View Post
The religious matter is a massive factor, however I also find it a bit contradicting when they have the likes of KFC, and McDonalds restaurants floating about. Two very non-Muslim corporations...
McDonalds & KFC in Mecca weren't serving any hamburgers when I checked them out .
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Old 2009-03-26, 05:41   Link #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shay View Post
Coddswallop! Almost every city in the world is overpopulated, Beijing, New York, London, Paris, Rome, they're all jam-packed, with or without tourists.

The religious matter is a massive factor, however I also find it a bit contradicting when they have the likes of KFC, and McDonalds restaurants floating about. Two very non-Muslim corporations...

Maybe open the city to tourism for just a few months of the year?
Well unlike Vatican city, all male Muslims must go on a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lives if they're faithful.

The city is really that crowded the last time I saw it on National Geographic. They even need commandos to do traffic control.
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Old 2009-03-26, 06:14   Link #11
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Actually.. ALL muslim.. not just males have to go at least once in their life.
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Old 2009-03-26, 06:26   Link #12
Shay
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fahd View Post
Heh.. this is going to involve a history lesson of sorts, so bear with me. So prior to 610 AD the people of Mecca (and most of Arabia for that matter), worshipped idols. The Kabba (the cube-like building clothed in black) was filled with about 300 or so idols. In 610 AD, Muhammad (PBUH) began to preach monotheism, which didn't go down too well with the people of Mecca. He managed to gather a number of converts, but this upset everyone else (as they viewed Islam as an affront fo the ways of their forefathers). Eventually the people of Mecca turned to violent means to prevent any spread of Islam; they would beat any followers, kill them if the chance presented itself, and eventually they drove them out of the city for a couple of years to live in the desert.

During this time, Muslims had been sent to other towns (near and far). The people of Yathrib (later renamed Medina, after the prophet) invited the Muslims to settle there. So in 622 AD the Muslims migrated to Medina (incidentally 622 AD is when the Islamic calendar started). That didn't settle the matter though, and several battles were fought between the two sides. Eventually in 628 AD a peace treaty was established between the two sides. However, two years later the Meccans had broken the treaty, and by this time the Muslims had spread Islam far and wide enough that when they called together an army, they had enough soldiers to take Mecca. Ironically, their army of 10,000 or thereabouts was mostly unneeded, as with the exception of one skirmish, the Meccans surrendered peacefully.

By this time a fair portion of the people of Mecca had converted to Islam. The others were basically given a choice, convert to Islam or leave the city within the next number of days (I forget the number it was). Essentially the Muslims at the time were afraid that if there were ever a non-Muslim majority in Mecca again, they'd be made to go through another decade or more of persecution. So anyone who wasn't a Muslim was barred from visiting Mecca.

Anyway that's the historical background behind it. These days it's probably to stop tourists from getting in the way of pilgrims, as lets face it, every tourist is going to head straight for the mosque .




McDonalds & KFC in Mecca weren't serving any hamburgers when I checked them out .
Awesome answer. Thank you.

The non-Muslim majority theory seems very logical and I can see now how the rule has never changed and probably actually become stronger over time.
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Old 2009-03-26, 06:35   Link #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KiNA View Post
Actually.. ALL muslim.. not just males have to go at least once in their life.
That is true. I have got distant relatives who are Muslim (due to my mixed blood) who told me that during family gatherings (in which I decided to be the odd one out by choosing Haruhiism ). It is further supplemented by my Muslim friends and neighbours, "at least once" has become more compulsory than traditional.

The American chains are there to generate income for the city, since the city is highly dependent on the Haj for income. It is a pity the city is not meant to be entered by non-muslims, but then that is a good thing since it helps to preserve the Muslim culture which might be defiled by globalisation and radical terrorists.
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Old 2009-03-26, 07:01   Link #14
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A question: As a non-Muslim, how close can I get to the city?
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Old 2009-03-26, 08:21   Link #15
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Anyway since there are many muslims in this forum, maybe someone who has been to Mecca can describe his/her experience.
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Old 2009-03-26, 10:55   Link #16
Shay
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Originally Posted by Jan-Poo View Post
Anyway since there are many muslims in this forum, maybe someone who has been to Mecca can describe his/her experience.
Yes, indeed.

Like did you get to touch or even kiss the Black Stone?

Did you stay in Tent city? (I think that is what it is called)

Did you encounter the Mutaween (Religious Police whom enforce Sharia Law) and are they as notoriously strict as I've heard?

How long did you stay there?

And so on...
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Old 2009-03-26, 11:24   Link #17
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erm.. its quite hard for young peoples to go by themselves.

For one, the rule is for one to go on the pilgrimage.. one must capable of supporting his own, that means he need to be able to pay everything on his own (the expenses to go there, cost of living while staying there ~40 days). For married peoples with children that leaving them out at their respective home.. if they go, they need to ensure that their family that left is well taken care off .. Take, for example, us Malaysian.. we need to at least have 15K (the last I checked when my parents go in 2007) to register for pilgrimage.. And our government pays around 40% more IIRC..

I dunno if Anima willing (or surf outside claymore subforum ) to share his experience.. he is from Mecca itself.
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Old 2009-03-26, 14:11   Link #18
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Wow, 40 days! i didn't know that, it's a lot!
Anyway i guess i should have realized that even if there are many muslims here they are probably all too young to have been there already ^^;
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Old 2009-03-26, 14:33   Link #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yezhanquan View Post
A question: As a non-Muslim, how close can I get to the city?
Most people visiting Mecca fly into the airport at Jeddah (a city on the coast of the Red Sea), and then get a taxi or bus to Mecca. However there's a checkpoint some distance from the city. I can't quite remember where that checkpoint is, but I believe it's a little way before this highway monument:



^That structure marks the municipal boundary of Mecca, and everything beyond that is considered 'holy'. From Google Maps, you can see it's still another five or so miles till you get to the city itself.


A quick note before I answer your questions Shay. You may already know this but for those who don't there are two types of pilgrimage for Muslims. There's the first (called the Umrah), which is a cut-down version of the second (called the Hajj). The Umrah can be performed by children and at any time of the year, but the Hajj can only be performed by adults and at one specific time in the year.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shay View Post
Like did you get to touch or even kiss the Black Stone?
The first time I visited (for the Umrah), when I was 8, my Dad held me up so I could touch it. The few times I visited after that were during the summer (again for the Umrah each time), and even at midday (when it's 40°C+) it was still somewhat busy. The last time when I went to perform the Hajj, there was basically no chance of getting anywhere near .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shay View Post
Did you stay in Tent city? (I think that is what it is called)
Yeah, it's at a place called Mina.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shay View Post
Did you encounter the Mutaween (Religious Police whom enforce Sharia Law) and are they as notoriously strict as I've heard?
I have no idea what uniform they wear, so if I saw them I wouldn't have known .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shay View Post
How long did you stay there?
For the Hajj? A month maybe? The other times, were two weeks I think.
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Old 2009-03-26, 15:13   Link #20
Shay
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!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fahd View Post
Most people visiting Mecca fly into the airport at Jeddah (a city on the coast of the Red Sea), and then get a taxi or bus to Mecca. However there's a checkpoint some distance from the city. I can't quite remember where that checkpoint is, but I believe it's a little way before this highway monument:



^That structure marks the municipal boundary of Mecca, and everything beyond that is considered 'holy'. From Google Maps, you can see it's still another five or so miles till you get to the city itself.


A quick note before I answer your questions Shay. You may already know this but for those who don't there are two types of pilgrimage for Muslims. There's the first (called the Umrah), which is a cut-down version of the second (called the Hajj). The Umrah can be performed by children and at any time of the year, but the Hajj can only be performed by adults and at one specific time in the year.



The first time I visited (for the Umrah), when I was 8, my Dad held me up so I could touch it. The few times I visited after that were during the summer (again for the Umrah each time), and even at midday (when it's 40°C+) it was still somewhat busy. The last time when I went to perform the Hajj, there was basically no chance of getting anywhere near .



Yeah, it's at a place called Mina.



I have no idea what uniform they wear, so if I saw them I wouldn't have known .



For the Hajj? A month maybe? The other times, were two weeks I think.
Wow, thanks for the response.

What was it like at Mina? Is it crowded and uncomfortable or is it ok?

Oh I just read that the Mutaween are on force and very strict during the Hajj, enforcing dress code ushering peoples the right way and well just basically being extra cautious during that time. But it is not important.

Thanks.

Edit: The more I research the more I'm starting to respect the restrictions. However, the more I research the more jealous I am! Some of the buildings and projects currently being constructed there such as The Abraj Al Bait Towersare are going to be some of the best the world has ever seen!
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Last edited by Shay; 2009-03-26 at 15:33.
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