Walking the path of faith: A journey through the ancient haj routes

Convoys of pilgrims have traversed various routes and pathways toward the Grand Mosque.

19 May 2024 02:00pm
Photo for illustrative purposes only. Bernama FILE PIX
Photo for illustrative purposes only. Bernama FILE PIX

RIYADH - As Muslims endeavour to fulfil the fifth pillar of Islam by journeying to Makkah, convoys of pilgrims have traversed various routes and pathways toward the Grand Mosque.

Saudi Press Agency (SPA) identified seven ancient Haj routes, used by various groups and individuals from around the world to embark on this sacred journey of faith.

Along these ancient Hajj routes, people witnessed benefits in commerce, facilitated the exchange of cultures and knowledge, and played a significant role in shaping the societal structure of the gatherings along these routes. These routes also served as a bridge of communication among Islamic cities bustling with activity during earlier eras.

According to SPA, these ancient Haj routes were:

Zubaydah Trail

The Zubaydah Trail, named in honour of Zubaydah bint Jaafar bin Abi Jaafar Al-Mansur, the wife of Caliph Harun Al-Rashid, was significant during the Islamic era as a major pilgrimage and trade route.

This route served pilgrims travelling from Baghdad, passing through Kufa in Iraq, and traversing the northern and central regions of the Kingdom until reaching Makkah.

Its construction was overseen by Zubaydah, ensuring its enduring legacy throughout the ages.

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Kufa/Makkah Route

Renowned for its significance during the Islamic era, the Kufa/Makkah route served as a major pilgrimage and trade route, spanning over 1400 km within the Kingdom's territory and crossing five regions: the Northern Border, Hail, Qassim, Madinah, and Makkah Regions.

It gained prominence during the era of the Rightly Guided Caliphate and has continued to be utilised over time.

Basra/Makkah Route

Starting from the city of Basra, the Basra/Makkah route spanned about 1,200 km and features 27 main stations.

Passing through the northeastern part of the Arabian Peninsula in Wadi Al-Batin, it traversed various desert regions, including the challenging Al-Dahna Desert, before converging with the Kufa/Makkah route.

Egyptian (and North African) Haj Road

Utilised by Egyptian pilgrims and those from Morocco, Andalusia, and Africa, this route crosses the Sinai Peninsula to reach Ayla (Aqaba), serving as the initial station along the route.

Pilgrims then have the option to travel through two routes: an internal trail and a coastal trail.

Yemeni Haj Routes

Yemeni pilgrims embarked on their journey to Makkah through various routes originating from cities such as Aden, Taiz, Sanaa, Zabid, and Saadah in northern Yemen.

These routes included the coastal road, the internal or middle road, and the upper road, each with its paths and stations.

Omani Haj Routes

Omani pilgrims had two routes, one starting from Oman passing through Yabrin, Bahrain, Yamama, and Dhariyah, while the other began from Furq, Oklan, Habah coast, Shahr, and then joined one of the main Yemeni roads leading to Makkah.

Levantine Pilgrimage Route

Connecting the Levant to the holy sites of Makkah and Medina, the Levantine pilgrimage route facilitated pilgrims' journeys from the Levant region to the sacred cities.

These historical routes played a crucial role in facilitating the pilgrimage to Makkah, fostering cultural exchange, and shaping the societal structure along the way.

They stand as a testament to the enduring spirit of pilgrimage and the diverse heritage of Islam. - BERNAMA-SPA

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