by the Islamic Supreme Council
Makkah and Madinah are two sanctuaries of Islam. These cities are the most holy cities for all Muslims. Unfortunately, due to ignorance or just plain carelessness, many Muslims visiting the sacred cities do not observe proper manners.Excellent manners are an essential part of the Islamic Faith. This etiquette is universal and must be exhibited by every Muslim everywhere at all times. However, in Makkah and Madinah they must be extra diligent in showing respect and dignity in their behaviour.
A great number of books and booklets exist, in nearly all languages of the world, about the rituals to be performed in Makkah and Madinah. Some of these books describe in detail the various tasks and activities of Hajj and Umrah. Many others outline countless Du’a (supplications) and Qur’anic verses suitable during Tawaf (circumambulation) of Ka’ba. People have spent a great deal of time and effort compiling du’a for each and every small act of worship. Du’a has been outlined for someone entering in Masjid-e-Haram or while performing Sa’ee (walk between Safa and Marwah hills). People have also written books on the rituals of Madinah outlining the number and manner of prayers to be conducted in Masjid Al Nabawi Sharif even telling which part of the mosque to pray in. Other books explain how to act upon entering in graveyard of Baqee’ and other places to visit while in Madinah.
Even though such wealth of information exists about the rituals, sadly, very few books stress decorum while in the holy cities of Islam. In addition, pilgrim escorts and guide also focus primarily on rituals. Many media outlets such as television and radio programs provide information for pilgrims but again the focus is on the acts that must be performed and the readings to accompany them. Very little is said about the etiquette required in Makkah and Madinah. There is a great need for educating Muslims visiting Makkah and Medina to behave in a respectful manner. Furthermore, the unfortunate truth is that an overwhelming majority of Muslim countries are under developed. The literacy rate in most of the Muslim countries is very low. The civic propriety in poor Muslim countries is often non existent. Therefore, when pilgrims come to Makkah and Madinah, they bring with them the same unrefined manner of behaviour so common in such countries.
Regrettably, our pilgrims have missed the teachings of our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as well. The Prophet has said very clearly, “Cleanliness (hygiene) is half of all Faith” He has also said, “Cleanliness (hygiene) is a part of Faith”. In another place, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has said, “The best among you is the one who is best in manners”. For prayers to be accepted by Allah, it is Islam’s requirement that the body, the dress and the place must be clean (TAHARAH).
Similarly, good behaviour is an essential requirement if our prayers are to be accepted. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) forbade pushing or jumping over people in order to make room for another person to pray. He also forbade praying in pathways or walkways in order to avoid inconvenience for people.
To be well behaved is a key requirement of the Islamic Faith. This condition must be met for the prayers to be accepted by Allah. As narrated by Abu Shuraih (May Allah be pleased with him), The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, “By Allah, he does not believe! By Allah, he does not believe! By Allah, he does not believe!” It was said, “Who is that, O Allah’s Apostle?” He said, “That person whose neighbour does not feel safe from his evil.” (Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73, Number 4). This Hadith clearly describes the civic responsibility of a believer. In the holy cities of Makkah or Madinah we have temporary neighbours and these temporary neighbours have greater rights on us (the pilgrims) than do our regular neighbours at home. In short, in the true values of Islam, treating people with respect is a prerequisite to Allah’s acceptance of our good deeds. However, many Muslims ignore this critical aspect of the religion.
Good Intentions but Bad Behaviour
If a Haji (pilgrim) believes that kissing Hajr-e-Aswad (or the black stone mounted on one of the corners of Ka’ba) will bring him/her the blessings of Allah but s/he does not care how much pain and inconvenience they cause to other people in order to get to the Hajr-e-Aswad on a crowded day, then this person must reconsider seriously. What use does Allah have for his good deeds if his creation is harmed unnecessarily by his seemingly “good” actions? Instead of receiving blessings from Allah for his/her deed, there may only be the displeasure and wrath of Allah waiting for those who misbehave in the most holy places on Earth.
Similarly, in Madinah many people seek to pray in Riyadh-ul-Jannah (an area between the grave and the pulpit of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and they push and jump over the other people in order to make room for themselves. Some people wish to remain in this area for as long as they can thinking that the longer they sit, the greater the reward. These pilgrims selfishly forget that other pilgrims too have the desire to spend a few minutes in this special place. Such behaviour may not bring blessings but anger of Allah for not observing the honours of Masjid Al Nabawi Al Sharif and not being courteous to fellow Muslim brothers and sisters.
It is heartbreaking for me to call your attention to a very disrespectful act of Muslims when in the mosque of our beloved Prophet. Many ill-mannered people talk very loudly in front of the Muwajeh Sharif (the grave of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)) This a severe violation of the standards of honour set out for being in the presence of the Holy Prophet. The etiquette (ADAAB) regarding Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that Qur’an has prescribed for Muslims must be fully observed by Muslims when they are in Masjid Al Nabawi Sharif. Muslims of today seem to regard Makkah and Madinah as casual tourist places OR their focus is to complete certain tasks and rituals as quickly as possible to achieve the most reward in the shortest period of time……
Don’ts of Makkah and Madinah
As pilgrims are now aware of these important honours and virtues of Makkah and Madinah; they must now be extra careful in the City of Makkah and Madinah particularly in the vicinity of Masjid Al Haram and Masjid Al Nabawi Sharif. If they do not take care in these sacred places, then they risk loosing the benefit of their good deeds and prospect the reward from Allah. The following principles of honourable behaviour should be followed by every Muslim at all times when in Makkah or Madinah.
Spitting: Pilgrims should not spit on the streets and pathways of Makkah and Madinah. If anyone needs to spit, they should spit in sinks or garbage containers (available everywhere). If they are unable to find a washroom or a garbage container, then they must keep tissue papers in their pockets and use them and later dispose of them in the garbage containers. Spitting on the streets of Makkah and Madinah is clearly a disrespectful act and insulting for the holy cities. Allah may destroy all the good deeds that the pilgrim has done, if the pilgrim spits on the streets of Makkah and Madinah knowingly that it is disrespectful and unhygienic and may spread diseases.
Cleaning up and disposing garbage: Some pilgrims after eating or drinking leave bottles, boxes, containers and plastic bags behind in the places where they ate their meals. They do not dispose off their garbage properly. This makes the street and the roads of Makkah and Madinah dirty. It creates environmental pollution in holy cities. It creates hazards for pedestrians and for vehicles. It causes inconvenience to the other pilgrims. Therefore, anyone who does not properly dispose off garbage in Makkah and Madinah will be subjected to the wrath of Allah for insulting and disrespecting Makkah and Madinah.
Prophet Muhammad Peace be upon him) said, “Cleanliness is half of Faith”. When someone destroys the cleanliness of the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah then this person may be loosing more than half of his / her faith.
Kissing the Hajre-Aswad: Kissing the Hajr-e-Aswad is a very desirable and honourable action. However, pushing, bullying, fighting and quarrelling with people in order to jump the line represent the worst actions a pilgrim can do in the Masjid Al Haram. Sometimes people in IHRAAM fight with other pilgrims, which destroys the spirit of their Umrah OR Hajj. In the state of IHRAAM, fighting, quarrelling, pushing, bullying, hurting people, yelling and screaming is HARAM (forbidden). How do people figure that their Umrah or Hajj will provide them with any benefit when they fight and use vulgar language while in the state of IHRAAM? In fact, this person is simply increases his stock of sins by fighting and yelling in the state of IHRAAM.
It is important to remember that Islam is about the essence of the act, not simply the act alone. One does not have to physically touch the stone in order to gain its benefits. Therefore, if a person is unable to reach the Hajr-e-Aswad due to the large crowds, then this person can symbolically kiss the Hajr-e-Aswad from a distance and his kiss will still be as good as someone really kisses the Haj-e-Aswad. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) himself did this symbolic kiss many times. He wanted other people to get the chance. Why do pilgrims not look to the Holy Prophet’s (peace be upon him) example? Remember, in Islam the reward of all actions is based upon the intention, not on the actual action. But when you know that you may cause unintentional harm to someone then stay away from that action. Allah will reward you, Insha-Allah, for being careful and being considerate of others.
A person who causes harm to himself or other pilgrims while trying to kiss Hajr-e-Aswad will gain no benefits from his/her kiss. Instead, the person will be committing a sin in Masjid Al Haram – the worst thing a pilgrim could do.
Similarly, standing in HATEEM OR near MULTAZAM is good but it must not be sought at the cost of causing harm or inconvenience to others. There is no reward from Allah for those who push and shove and make room for themselves at these honoured places. They are utterly selfish. People often excuse these actions saying they did not have the intention to harm or cause inconvenience for others but surely they must understand that their actions do cause harm and inconvenience for others. Therefore, they need to recognize that their apparent good deed may put them in trouble with Allah because of their intentional carelessness in recognizing the harm they cause to others.
Allah has ordered to pray at Maqam-e-Ibraheem, however, now the entire Masjid Al Haram is considered Maqam-e-Ibraheem. Therefore, if someone still insists on praying at the actual Maqam-e-Ibrahim and ignore the difficulty this causes for the pilgrims who trying to make Tawaf will gain no benefit from his / her prayer at Maqam-e-Ibrahim. Do these pilgrims truly hope for reward from Allah when they insist on creating a hazard for other pilgrims? Allah likes a prayer conducted with concentration and in a relaxed manner. A pilgrim praying anywhere else in Masjid al-Haram is more likely to perform such a prayer compared to a pilgrim who rushes his / her prayer and cannot concentrate because he is praying where people are making Tawaf.
Sa’ee in Safa and Marwa: Most of the pilgrims prefer to make Sa’ee on the ground level which overcrowds the area. Now Safa and Marwa hills have three floors. The reward for doing Sa’ee on any of the three floors is the same. Therefore, if the ground level gets crowded, pilgrims should go on to the above floors. Let us assume that someone started Sa’ee on the ground level and he / she completed two or three rounds of Safa and Marwa. As the more and more people join and the person realizes that it is getting very crowded on the ground level then this person should move to the upper level for Sa’ee and complete the remaining rounds on the upper levels. (There are stairs and escalators on the Marwa side for upper levels)
Raml during Tawaf: During the first three rounds of Ka’ba Muslim men perform what is known as RAML. Raml is to walk at a slightly increased pace with your chest “puffed up” as if you are flexing your chest muscles. Although, Raml is not a requirement but pilgrims follow it as a Sunnah of the Holy Prophet. However, some pilgrims misunderstand the idea of Raml and they start running and pushing people. This hurts women, children and the elderly. In the largest routine gathering of humans with limited space, it is inappropriate to run or walk fast during Tawaf. Raml does not mean that pilgrims have to run or push people. Raml means that the men should broaden their chests in order to express that they are healthy and strong. Therefore, those who try to run or push people during Tawaf, may be the recipients of Allah’s wrath. Sometimes people come in groups and they create a type of fort around themselves by holding hands or cloths causing great inconvenience to other individuals. This is completely inappropriate and should not be done in Masjid Al Haram.
Elderly: One has to be very careful with the elderly people. The elderly people must be protected by others. The elderly walk slowly and must not be pushed. If by mistake someone causes any inconvenience to anyone then that person should seek immediate forgiveness of that person. Many people do not care when they have elbowed someone and just continue on, which is against Islamic teachings and moral values. We must be extra courteous and kind to one another especially in the House of Allah; the merciful and the most kind.
Non Mahram: Although, it is logistically impossible to keep a reasonable distance among individuals but each individual, man or woman, must try his/her best to keep a reasonable distance between themselves and other non-Mahram people. The key is showing Allah a reasonable effort to avoid contact with non Mahram individuals if one is to safeguard their Hajj or Umrah.
Sleeping and resting in Masjid Al Haram and Masjid Al Nabawi: First of all people should not be sleeping in Masjid Al Haram and Masjid Al Nabawi except during the period of I’tikaf. They should have arrangements for their stay such as hotels, etc. However, people do get tired after Tawaf and Sa’ee and they want to sit and rest for few minutes. Many pilgrims treat Masjid Al Haram and Masjid Al Nabawi as casual places when they take their rest. Some men and even women lay down in any position they like and show no HAYA (modesty). This is certainly a greatly negligent act of the pilgrims in the holy mosques. Masjid Al Haram and Masjid Al Nabawi and their surroundings are always filled with millions of people. While people sleep among these great number of people walking around them at all times, they sometimes, accidentally and of course, unknowingly, have their AWRAH (parts of body that must be covered in public) exposed to other people, especially for men in IHRAAM (its only two sheets). Therefore, it’s not a good idea to sleep in Masjid Al Haram or outside Masjid Al Haram on a side walk or pathways OR in Masjid Al Nabawi. If someone is in need of rest for a few minutes, then they must ensure that they are properly covered at all times.
Quarreling, using inappropriate language in Makkah: Many pilgrims quarrel and use very inappropriate language with other Muslims. Sometimes they are in IHRAMM and they still fight with others OR use inappropriate language (vulgarity and vanity) when they speak. If a pilgrim quarrels or uses inappropriate language in IHRAAM, he/she must pay a penalty (KAFFARAH) by sacrificing an animal. Their Umrah or Hajj will not be accepted unless they offer the KAFFAARAH (penalty). If someone is not in the state of Ihraam but is still present in the city of Makkah, this person must still not fight or use inappropriate language with anyone. It is a sin against his soul and destroys his good deed.
Anger: No doubt, pilgrims are under enormous stress and greatly fatigued because performing Hajj or Umrah is not easy for everyone. Umrah and Hajj require physical work to a considerable extent. Hajj requires far more physical movements than Umrah. Therefore, people get tired and cranky and loose patience. In case of a dispute or disagreement, some pilgrims become very angry. This is what exactly Shaitan (Satan) looks for. Pilgrims go to Makkah to please Allah, which makes Shaitan unhappy. However, when a pilgrim gives himself up to anger and quarrels with another pilgrim, Shaitan is certainly pleased while Allah is surely displeased with this pilgrim’s act.
Parents and Children: Some parents when they get angry at their children they curse at them. They forget that they are in Makkah where supplications and Du’a are accepted very fast. Therefore, parents should control themselves and never curse at their children in the city of Makkah and Madinah. They should be making du’a for their children. Similarly, children must obey their parents and serve them to their best, which will be rewarded by Allah.
Speaking Loud and listening or participating in useless talks: Some pilgrims talk very loudly inside Masjid Al Nabawi Sharif. This destroys all good deeds of a person. Some pilgrims laugh, make jokes and tell stories in Masjid Al Haram / Masjid Al Nabawi. I have seen so called scholars and those who claim that they love Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him) more involved in jokes and worldly discussions in side both mosques than ordinary Muslims. This must be avoided inside both the Holy Mosques. Allah says in the Holy Qur’an:
“O ye who believe! Raise not your voices above the voice of the Prophet, nor speak loud to him in talk, as ye may speak aloud to one another, Lest your deeds become vain and ye perceive not. (Surah Al Hujurat (49): 2)
The respect and honour of Masjid Al Nabawi remains the same as exemplified by the companions’ behaviour in the presence of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Professional Beggars: For the past few years many professional beggars have started coming to Makkah and Madinah. They come to Makkah / Madinah in order to make money through begging. Some of them lie and fabricate stories. These liars and thieves lie and steal in the house of Allah and the city of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). They are subject to the severest punishment from Allah. There are individuals and companies in a few Muslim countries, who export beggars to Makkah and Madinah during Hajj and Umrah season and make tons of illegitimate money. These people are brought into Saudi Arabia on Umrah OR Hajj visa. Saudi government cannot do much. It is the duty of each pilgrim to identify such culprits. However, we must be careful because there are genuine, needy people who deserve our charity and help. But we must be vigilant about the professional beggars. There are also people who pick pockets and steal people’s wallets in and around Masjid Al Haram and Masjid Al Nabawi. These people will get the most severe punishment from Allah.
Politicians and Government Officials
Many politicians perform Umrah and Hajj for public relations. When these government officials (presidents, prime ministers, etc..) arrive inside the HARAM, many pilgrims loose their concentration and start paying attention to these leaders. In both the Holy Mosques, Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him) deserve our attention, not political leaders. For the past five years, during Ramadan, Pakistani politicians visits Masjid Al Nabawi sharif and as soon as he arrives with his servants and body guards several Pakistanis stop their rituals and start looking at him and talking about him. This politician also chooses a place in Masjid Al Nabawi where he is likely to receive maximum exposure. Pilgrims must try to avoid such worldly matters with strong resolve and develop their soul’s spirituality while in such sacred places.
If the reward for doing good deeds in Masjid Al Haraam and Masjid Al Nabawi is the highest and the second highest compared to other places in the world then the punishment for doing bad deeds in Masjid Al Haraam and Masjid Al Nabawi will be the worst as well.
Let us learn the best manners and behaviour to conduct ourselves with great dignity in Makkah and Madinah. We must look to the Holy Prophet for true guidance, outlining excellent etiquette for Allah’s and the Prophet’s own city. In addition, we must try to bring these refined manners back home with us. We should reflect in our lives how the visit to the Makkah and Madinah has changed us. We should become the model citizens of our communities.
May Allah accept our Hajj and Umrah and visit to Madinah Al Munawwarah. Ameen