There are three holy places in Islam—the Kaaba, the Prophet’s Mosque and Al-Aqsa Mosque. While a mosque—the place of worship for Muslims—is considered a holy place in general, these three mosques are rooted in Islamic history. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “Do not set out on a journey except for three Mosques i.e. Al-Masjid-AI-Haram, the Mosque of Allah's Messenger and the Mosque of Al-Aqsa, (Mosque of Jerusalem)." Muslims aim to travel to these mosques once in their life, where the reward for prayers is multiplied.
The Kaaba, centered in the Masjid-Al-Haram, is the most sacred and holiest place in Islam. It is located in the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. According to Islamic tradition, prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael built the Kaaba as a symbol of the house of God. At that time when God ordained the rituals of Hajj. After Abraham’s death, gradually idolatry spread through Arabia and the purity surrounding the Kaaba diminished. Pagans and acts of immorality took over and idols were placed inside the Kaaba. In 630 A.D. Prophet Muhammad spread the message of Islam and reinstated all the rites of Hajj as God established it. Performing the Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and every year millions of Muslims travel to Mecca to perform the pilgrimage. Many Muslims also pray in the direction of the Kaaba five times a day no matter where they are.
The Prophet’s Mosque
The Prophet’s mosque in Medina, called Masjid Al Nabawi, is second in sanctity in Islam. Prophet Muhammad built it by God’s command next to the house where he settled after his Hijrah to Medina. Medina is often referred to as the first capital in Islam since it's where the first Muslim community flourished. The mosque that was built by the Prophet became his final resting home with his tomb placed in the mosque. Muslims usually visit the mosque during their Hajj journey. It is believed that one prayer at the Prophet’s Mosque is equivalent to one thousand prayers.
Al-Aqsa Mosque, also referred to as the Noble Sanctuary, is located in Jerusalem and is the third holiest site in Islam. It was the second mosque built on earth and was the direction that Muslims prayed towards before it was changed to the Kaaba. It was at this mosque that Prophet Muhammad ascended to the sky for his al-Miraj Journey. At the center of the mosque is the Dome of the Rock, believed by many to be the spot where Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.
The Quran states, “…in mosques which Allah has ordered to be raised and that His name be mentioned therein; exalting Him within them in the morning and the evenings…” While the Kaaba, the Prophet’s Mosque and Al-Aqsa Mosque are the three most sacred places in Islam, a mosque in general is considered a holy place to Muslims. There are millions of mosques around the world and Muslims use them as a place to worship God in peace and tranquility.
- Abid Katib/Getty Images News/Getty Images