Why Do People Make Pilgrimages to Mecca?

people-make-pilgrimages-mecca Credit: Muhannad Fala'ah/Getty Images News/Getty Images

People, specifically Muslims, embark on annual pilgrimages to Mecca to show honor and respect for Allah. Muslims formally refer to the Mecca voyage as Hajj. Some Muslims make repeat trips to Mecca, but Judaic law requires all Muslims, physically and mentally able, to complete at least one journey to the holy city of Mecca during their lifetimes.

Muslims consider Mecca the holiest city of all. In fact, non-Muslims must not enter the gates to Mecca. Each year, Muslims of all races, ethnicity and socioeconomic status arrive at Mecca to honor Allah. They congregate before the Kaaba in Mecca and engage in communal worship. Uniting praises to Allah signifies Muslims recognize and respect Allah's assertion that all Muslims share equality, regardless of physical differences and social status. Muslim travelers dress in white robes while in Mecca, called Ihram, symbolizing purity.

The Muslim tradition of journeying to Mecca began in ancient times. According to religious history, Prophet Abraham completed the inaugural voyage to the holy city of Mecca. He established a well called Zam Zam with his family, which eventually sustained a large population. Growth of the human population in Mecca led to the creation of multiple religions and deviation from Muslim origins. In 628, however, Prophet Muhammad received instruction from Allah to restore Mecca's Muslim origins. Muhammad set out with nearly 1,500 followers to take Mecca back for Muslims.