MAKKAH: It has been six years since the cannon that stands atop Mount Abu Al-Madafaa in the north of Makkah has been fired to mark the holy month of Ramadan.
But its sound still reverberates in the memories of many Makkans, for whom it was a means to tell the times of fasting, morning prayers, and the beginning and end of Ramadan.
For many years, those who lived near the mountain would climb to its peak to see the cannon being fired once Ramadan was announced. Throughout the holy month, shots would be fired to mark the start of iftar, sahoor, and the start of fasting.
In an interview with Arab News when the cannon was still active, Maj. Abdul Mohsin Al-Maimani — a spokesman for Makkah Police, which was responsible for guarding, maintaining and firing the cannon — noted how popular the cannon was with the public.
“When Makkah Police was founded 75 years ago, it was entrusted with the maintenance and care of this cannon. After Eid, the cannon is returned to a special department.
A few days before Ramadan, it is sent back to the mountain. The powder is handled by a special team so that no one gets hurt,” he added.
HIGHLIGHTS • For many years, those who lived near the mountain would climb to its peak to fire the cannon once Ramadan was announced. Throughout the holy month, shots would be fired to mark the start of iftar, suhoor, and the start of fasting.
• Cannon firing during Ramadan has been traced back as far as the 15th century and the era of the Mamluks.
Fahad Al-Harbi, mayor of Ray Zakhir near Mount Abu Al-Madafaa, told Arab News: “The Ramadan cannon withstood technical changes for long decades until its recent retirement. It represents ancient Makkan history. The blast of the cannon, with all its importance and beauty, became the sound of the call to prayer for the residents of Makkah.”
The cannon has stood on Mount Abu Al-Madafaa for at least a century, and ‘the people of Makkah connected their love for the holy month’ to both the cannon and the mountain.
For many years, he noted, the cannon was “the only means to alert people that it was time to break fast” and “added a distinct character to the holy month” that is still “treasured in people’s memory.”
According to Dr. Fawaz Al-Dahas, director of the Center of Makkah History, the cannon has stood on Mount Abu Al-Madafaa for at least a century, and “the people of Makkah connected their love for the holy month” to both the cannon and the mountain.
“In the past, it was impossible to hear the voice of the Grand Mosque’s muezzins, so the cannon performed the task on their behalf. It remained a tradition held dearly,” said Al-Dahas. But modern technology — most notably the speakers affixed to the minarets of Makkah’s Grand Mosque — eventually made the cannon obsolete.
Cannon firing during Ramadan has been traced back as far as the 15th century and the era of the Mamluks.
Details of the Black Stone were captured with a new technique that uses stacked panoramic focus
The images were taken over seven hours and required a week to edit
RIYADH: Authorities in Saudi Arabia have released new specially processed images of the most important Islamic and archaeological sites in the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosque took 1,050 photographs of the Black Stone and the shrine of Ibrahim using Fox Stack Panorama technology, which combines images with varying degrees of clarity to produce a single accurate high-resolution picture of the Black Stone, known as Hajar Aswad in Arabic.
The 49,000-megapixel images were taken over seven hours and required a week to edit. It is the first time the authority has been able to show the Black Stone in such detail.
The authority was interested in using the latest imaging techniques because of the Black Stone’s importance to Muslims, said Sultan bin Ati Al-Qurashi, undersecretary-general for the Projects and Engineering Studies Agency at the presidency.
The reddish-black, oval-shaped stone is 30 cm in diameter and is located in the southeast corner of the Kaaba.
The stone is positioned 1.5 meters above the ground and placed inside a frame made of pure silver for protection. It is the starting and finishing point of the circumambulation.
Al-Qurashi said the authority was keen to document the Black Stone and the shrine of Ibrahim to show its technical details and engineering dimensions.
The images were printed using a 3D printer.
“It is an advanced technique used for the first time in building a model that greatly simulates the shape and size of the shrine of our Prophet Ibrahim,” Al-Qurashi added.
The Projects and Engineering Studies Agency is building a virtual exhibition to display all these works in a 3D model that is considered an exact replica of the archaeological collection, and will include 123 different pieces from the Two Holy Mosques Architecture Museum.
Team members said they were glad to have had the chance to experience the same route that the prophet took during his migration
May 10, 2021
JEDDAH: More than 1,400 years after Prophet Muhammad and his followers migrated from Makkah to Yathrib (Madinah), Saudi historians and environmentalists have retraced his route.
For eight days the team journeyed on foot and by camel through mountains and deserts, following the steps that were taken over a century ago to escape the Quraysh tribe.
The team comprised historian Abdulhafaiz Al-Graiqri, architect and city planner Amro Darwish, researcher Dr. Samir Barqah and environmentalist Hassan Abdulshakoor.
Their journey began from the historic Ghar Thor, the cave on Jabal Thor in Makkah where the prophet and his closest companion Abu Bakr hid from enemy eyes. They covered around 500 km and there were field expeditions, including overnight camping, in difficult and dangerous conditions.
Al-Graiqri said the documentation of the prophet’s migration was the culmination of several years of research, driven by the desire to determine as precisely as possible the route of the Hijrah.
“In the course of this study we have conducted dozens of field expeditions, collecting data, recording GPS and GIS coordinates, identifying landmarks, and calculating distances,” he said.
Darwish said the migration started on a Monday and ended the following Monday and, after analyzing, synthesizing, cross-checking the information from their research and seeking certain information from tribes living in the valleys, they were able to predict the most likely route that the prophet took.
But they had to overcome physical and mental challenges to achieve their goal.
• The team comprised historian Abdulhafaiz Al-Graiqri, architect and city planner Amro Darwish, researcher Dr. Samir Barqah and environmentalist Hassan Abdulshakoor.
• Their journey began from the historic Ghar Thor, the cave on Jabal Thor in Makkah where the prophet and his closest companion Abu Bakr hid from enemy eyes.
• After completing the journey, the team was convinced it aligned with the prophet’s route.
There was a sandstorm in the journey’s early stages, hindering their progress for two days and threatening their timeline.
“The sandstorm forced four members of the team to use cars but the young hikers who supported our journey insisted to keep walking,” said Darwish. “What we have done is a wonderful and historical achievement on several levels, both from documenting and confirming the prophetic landmarks and drawing attention to their historical and religious significance, in addition to being a physical and mental challenge on a personal level that adds a lot to us.”
After completing the journey, the team was convinced it aligned with the prophet’s route.
“It’s a surreal feeling to cross the finish line to Madinah. It took two years to plan and execute, but it’s such a special moment. History is made.”
The team presented the “Documentation of the Prophet’s Migration Road” exhibition at a launch event in Jeddah, where images and models offered a visual description of the route taken by the prophet.
Team members said they were glad to have had the chance to experience the same route that the prophet took during his migration.
“To document the journey of a lifetime and experience the migration of the prophet from Makkah to Madinah was our dream and we achieved it,” added Darwish.
This cannot be undone and I am sure it will be greatly appreciated.
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