Holy sites of Islam draw the attention of Muslim people from all around the world every year. Islamic countries are welcoming a different and colorful rhythm during the holy month of Ramadan. People often call Ramadan as the “sultan of the months,” but due to the coronavirus outbreak, Muslims are unable to visit holy sites of Islam this year. However, with the help of technology, it is possible to dive into a virtual journey to these places.
Options are quite variable: from the Kaaba, the holiest place for Muslims at the center of Islam’s most important mosque, to Al-Masjid an-Nabawi. There is more, a mosque established and built by the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and from Al-Aqsa Mosque, located in the Old City of Jerusalem and regarded as the third holiest site in Islam. Moreover, Balıklıgöl appears as another option. Most people believe that it is the place where Nimrod threw the Prophet Abraham into a fire in Şanlıurfa.
One can visit the Kaaba and the Great Mosque of Mecca, commonly known as al-Masjid al-Haram, that surrounds the Kaaba in Mecca, with a virtual tour. In this tour, you can enjoy all the details of the Kaaba. Muslim people from all around the world visit the place during the ritual pilgrimages of the Ḥajj and umrah. So during this visit, they circumambulate around seven times. Then, they walk between Safa and Marwa, two small hills now located in the Great Mosque of Mecca. They are definitely available to take you on a spiritual journey with the help of technology. So, this is one of the most important holy sites of Islam.
2- Al-Masjid an-Nabawi
Al-Masjid an-Nabawi is the second holiest Muslim mosque after Masjid al-Ḥaram. It takes place in Medina. This sacred structure was built by the Prophet Muhammad and his companions. They settled in Medina after the Hegira, their migration from Mecca in 622. Its name means “Prophet’s Mosque” in Arabic. To make your own journey to Medina, also part of the ritual pilgrimage of the Ḥajj, one must only sit back and enjoy the virtual odyssey.
3- Al-Aqsa Mosque
The common belief is that it is the first qibla (the direction Muslims face for prayer). Al-Aqsa Mosque was built near the Dome of the Rock (Qubbat al-Sakhra in Arabic). It is located in an area called al-Haram al-Sharif (The Noble Sanctuary). It is the Old City area of Jerusalem. You can perform your prayers during your virtual visit to the temple, where Muslims prayed for about 16 months after Isra and Miraj. It is the two parts of the physical and spiritual night journey the Prophet Muhammad undertook. So, it happened when Archangel Gabriel took him from Mecca to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem before he went to heaven where he spoke to God.
4- Cave of Hira
You can take on a virtual journey from your home to Jabal an-Nour, which houses the Cave of Hira. Muslim people believe that the cave is the place where Prophet Muhammad received his first revelation from the Angel Gabriel.
5- Balıklıgöl (Pool of Abraham)
According to Islamic legends, King Nimrod ordered that his adopted son, Prophet Abraham, be thrown into the fire on the grounds that he broke idols. It is believed that they set a huge blaze in the place where the lake takes place today. So, the soldiers threw down Prophet Abraham down from Şanlıurfa Castle. At that moment, the fire turned into a lake and the woods into fish. For thousands of years, this lake and its fish are considered sacred in southeastern Turkey’s Şanlıurfa province. A magical journey to this legend is just a click away.
6- Mevlana Museum
Mevlana Jalaladdin Rumi, one of Islam’s most important thinkers, spoke from Konya to the world with poems full of love and respect. His approach is still admirable today, and his works have been translated into dozens of languages. You can take a virtual journey to Mevlana’s eternal resting place in central Turkey’s Konya province. It now serves as a museum.
In the last week of Ramadan, you can pay a virtual visit to many sacred places. It offers a different experience for Muslims this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
7- Shrine of Imam Ali
The Shrine of Imam Ali is in Najaf, Iraq, which houses the burial site of Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, the son of his uncle, and the fourth caliph. You can visit this holy site, which also hosts the tombs of the Prophet Adam, Eve, and the Prophet Noah.
8- Eyüp Sultan Mosque
You can also visit the Eyüp Sultan Mosque, one of the holiest places in Istanbul, in a virtual environment. In the garden of the mosque, there is the tomb of Abu Ayyub al-Ansari. He is the first Muslim who hosted the Prophet Muhammad at his home and fought by his side. It is a common knowledge that the Ottoman sultans used to visit and gird on this holy shrine before setting out on a military campaign.
9- Selimiye Mosque
A virtual visit to Selimiye Mosque is a must-do thing in your life. It is quite a unique work that the imperial architect Mimar Sinan called his “masterpiece,”. It takes place in the Turkish border city of Edirne and is now possible during the month of Ramadan. You can see the courtyard, the tiles, and all the details in the mosque as if you were really there. In fact, while going on a virtual journey to Edirne, you can also visit the Complex of Sultan Bayezid II Health Museum.
10- Sultanahmet Mosque
The first mosque in Turkey with six minarets, the Sultanahmet Mosque, is one of the landmarks of Istanbul. It is also famous as the Blue Mosque worldwide due to over 20,000 Iznik tiles used in its construction. You can see both the outer courtyard of the mosque and all the indoor details on its virtual tour.
11- Süleymaniye Mosque
Suleiman the Magnificent commissioned the mosque and Sinan designed it in the most majestic years of the Ottoman Empire. So, it took only seven years to complete the construction. Its tiles, acoustics, and lighting enabled by its 32 windows are the most important details that make this historical building special. It also has four minarets since Suleiman the Magnificent was the fourth Sultan after the conquest of Istanbul. Moreover, 10 balconies (şerefe) since he was the 10th Ottoman sultan. You must take a virtual journey toward the mystical world of this historical structure.
Holy sites of Islam that we listed above are not only holy religious landmarks for the Muslim people, but they are also the common heritage of humankind. For this reason, you should benefit from the opportunity of a virtual tour and enjoy during these quarantine days as much as you can.
(Resource: Daily Sabah)