In pictures: How the Great Mosque of Mecca has evolved over 300 years.
The Hajj is an annual pilgrimage to Mecca where Muslims from around the world would converge at the centre of Islam's most sacred mosque, the Masjid al-Haram. Muslims would observe the pilgrimage by practicing the tawaf - the circling of the Kaaba - and praying at Mount Arafat. The end of the Hajj pilgrimage is marked with a celebration known as Eid Adha or Aidiladha, where livestock like cattle and lamb are sacrificed. Then, the meat is distributed to the community, especially to the needy.
Over the years, since the time of Caliph Umar, the second caliph, the area around the Kaaba has been expanded to accommodate the growing number of pilgrims. The third caliph, Caliph Uthman, built colonnades around the Kaaba and from there the mosque enclosing it was renovated, until it became the modern marvel that it is today.
At full capacity, the Great Mosque is a breathtaking sight - millions filling up the mosque’s compound and its surroundings, a congregation moving in faith and reverence. The mosque itself is quite majestic - during the day, its white stone floors, marble arches and domes glimmer in sunlight; at night, its lights illuminate the minarets that stand guard at each gate. A little further away, the Abraj Al-Bait towers over it like a lighthouse looking out.
In conjunction with Eid Adha this year, take a look at this short photo trail of the magnificent building, depicting its evolution through time with highlights on some major moments in the last 100 years.
During more recent times, the Saudi Arabia government has extended the Masjid al-Haram to accommodate the growing number of pilgrims. In 2019, 2.5 million pilgrims performed the Hajj. The photos below show the gradual changes that have been done until how it is like today.
The world’s largest mosque never sleeps. At all hours of the day and night, pilgrims and visitors can be seen circling the Kaaba and praying while some rest in the tranquility that the Great Mosque affords. The Kaaba and Masjid al-Haram is a historical, cultural and spiritual landmark; a symbol of faith, perseverance and hope that should be preserved and protected not just for Muslims but also for mankind.