Safa and Marwa, also known as the “Mountains of Al-Safa” and “Al-Marwa,” hold great significance in Islamic history and are an integral part of the religious pilgrimage known as Hajj and Umrah.
This article explores the rich history of Safa and Marwa, the reasons why millions of Muslims visit them annually, their location and route, the best time to visit, and the notable sights to explore during this sacred journey.
Safa and Marwa are renowned hills located within the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. These hills played a significant role in the story of Hajar (Hagar) and her son, Isma’il (Ishmael), who were left in the barren desert by the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) at God’s command.
According to Islamic tradition, Hajar, desperate for water for her son, ran back and forth between the hills seven times until the miracle of Zamzam, a divine spring, erupted beneath Isma’il’s feet. This event symbolizes patience, faith, and the rewards of perseverance.
Purpose and Significance of the Visit
Muslims visit Safa and Marwa as part of their pilgrimage rituals during Umrah or Hajj. Umrah refers to the lesser pilgrimage, which can be performed at any time of the year, while Hajj is the major pilgrimage that takes place during specific Islamic months.
Pilgrims reenact Hajar’s actions by walking or running between Safa and Marwa seven times, known as Sa’i. This act is a reminder of Hajar’s devotion, trust in God, and the importance of seeking blessings and mercy.
Location and Route
Safa and Marwa are located within the boundaries of the Grand Mosque, Masjid al-Haram, in Mecca. The Grand Mosque is situated in the heart of Mecca’s city center, making it easily accessible for pilgrims. Safa is positioned closer to the Kaaba’s side, while Marwa is opposite Safa, making them approximately 350 meters apart.
The distance between the two hills constitutes one round of Sa’i, and pilgrims complete seven rounds, totaling a distance of approximately three kilometers.
When to Visit
Both Umrah and Hajj offer opportunities to visit Safa and Marwa. Umrah can be performed at any time of the year, while Hajj has specific dates according to the Islamic lunar calendar. The best time to visit Safa and Marwa is during non-peak seasons to avoid large crowds. It is advisable to check with the Saudi Arabian authorities, as they regulate the entry and timings for pilgrims.
Notable Sights to See
1. The Kaaba
Located within the Masjid al-Haram, the Kaaba is the holiest site in Islam. It is the direction towards which Muslims pray and serves as the focal point of the pilgrimage. Pilgrims begin and end their Sa’i at the Kaaba.
2. Multilingual Information Panels
As you walk between Safa and Marwa, you will find informative panels in multiple languages describing the historical significance of the hills and their connection to Islamic traditions.
3. Zamzam Well
After completing Sa’i, visitors have the opportunity to drink from the Zamzam Well, which originated miraculously during Hajar’s search for water. The well continues to provide fresh, blessed water to millions of pilgrims each year.
4. Al-Safa Gate and Al-Marwa Gate
These gates mark the entry and exit points of the area between Safa and Marwa. Pilgrims enter through Al-Safa Gate and exit through Al-Marwa Gate, signifying the completion of the ritual.
Safa and Marwa hold immense historical and spiritual significance for Muslims around the world. This sacred journey provides an opportunity for pilgrims to connect with the story of Hajar and Isma’il, and to reflect on the virtues of faith, perseverance, and trust in God.
A visit to Safa and Marwa, combined with the exploration of the surrounding areas, is an unforgettable experience that enables Muslims to strengthen their religious devotion and draw closer to their faith.