Home » Latest World News » Pakistani workers help preserve Noor Mountain outside Makkah
Oct
03

MAKKAH: Just outside the city of Makkah in Saudi Arabia lies one of Islam’s most important historical sites — a cave where Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) spent time in seclusion, contemplation and self-reflection.

It was here, inside Hira Cave located near the top of a steep hill called Jabal-i-Noor, or Noor Mountain, where Muslims believe God revealed to the Prophet (PBUH) the first verses of the Holy Quran through the angel Jibrail, or Gabriel as he is named in English.

Today, the site is among few still preserved from the Prophet’s (PBUH) time — with help from Pakistani workers in the kingdom.

A Turkish Muslim woman prays outside Hira cave, on the outskirts of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. — AP
A Turkish Muslim woman prays outside Hira cave, on the outskirts of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. — AP

Pakistani men live near Hira cave on Noor Mountain.— AP
Pakistani men live near Hira cave on Noor Mountain.— AP
Sobdar Khan, 35, a Pakistani from Karachi poses for a portrait on Noor Mountain.— AP
Sobdar Khan, 35, a Pakistani from Karachi poses for a portrait on Noor Mountain.— AP

Each year, observant Muslims deepen their prayers and supplication in the final 10 nights of Ramazan, believing that it was during this time some 1,400 years ago that the miraculous revelation took place on Noor Mountain, also known as the “Hill of Light”.

The hill itself is not part of the annual Haj pilgrimage, but its location is so close to the holy city of Makkah and its significance as a place of enlightenment draws thousands of pilgrims here every year. But present-day visitors encounter a markedly different summit from the one the Prophet (PBUH) experienced.

A Pakistan man cleans Noor Mountain.— AP
A Pakistan man cleans Noor Mountain.— AP
Pakistani man living near Hira cave on Noor Mountain.— AP
Pakistani man living near Hira cave on Noor Mountain.— AP
Hakim Ali, 30, from Karachi, poses for a portrait on Noor Mountain. — AP
Hakim Ali, 30, from Karachi, poses for a portrait on Noor Mountain. — AP

For starters, there are now more than 1,000 steps that guide pilgrims up the rocky hill to the secluded cave. Along the way, entrepreneurial Pakistanis sell bottled water, snacks and tea to pilgrims exhausted by the climb.

Unlike the quiet and seemingly endless stretch of nature the Prophet (PBUH) would have seen from the cave, massive high-rises housing five-star hotels jut into the distant skyline just steps away from the Holy Kaaba.

A Pakistani beggar who sleeps on Noor Mountain poses for a portrait.— AP
A Pakistani beggar who sleeps on Noor Mountain poses for a portrait.— AP
Nizam Din, 30, from Quetta, poses for a portrait on Noor Mountain.— AP.
Nizam Din, 30, from Quetta, poses for a portrait on Noor Mountain.— AP.

The Pakistani workers and beggars who live off the mountain’s draw say they play a key role in helping to preserve it.

Nizam Din, from Quetta, spends his days begging and fixing broken cement steps along the path up Noor Mountain. Jamal Khan, from Karachi, also earns a living by serving the pilgrims who make their way to the cave.

“Our lives here are better because we do not have jobs back home,” he said. “What is a better place to be than here where the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) received his first revelation from God?”

A Pakistani man living near Hira cave reads before sunrise on Noor Mountain.— AP
A Pakistani man living near Hira cave reads before sunrise on Noor Mountain.— AP
Noorallah, a Pakistani from Karachi poses for a portrait.— AP
Noorallah, a Pakistani from Karachi poses for a portrait.— AP

Makkah’s mayor, Osama al-Bar, says the municipality ensures the area’s cleanliness. There are also plans, he said, for the development of a visitors’ centre near the hill to explain to people its significance and history.

He said the area is watched over by the kingdom’s religious police, known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, who ensure visitors do not turn it into a place of worship that venerates anything other than God.

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