The Haram Sharif is the Holiest and largest Mosque for Muslims around the world and is situated in the Holy city of Makkah. Millions of faithful followers gather at Al Masjid Al Haram every year for prayers and to perform Tawaf, the ritual circling of the Kaaba. The Kaaba predates the Prophet Muhammad's lifetime; Muslims believe it was built by the Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ishmael as a house of worship to one God.
Wearing special Ihram clothing pilgrims from across the Muslim world flow through the mosque’s multitude of gates to fulfil the fifth pillar of Islam. The world’s largest mosque never sleeps. At all hours of the day and night, disciples can be seen walking counter-clockwise around the Kaaba and praying.
The mosque has been expanded, rebuilt and renovated over its long history. Construction began in the 7th century (Gregorian calendar) under Caliph Omar Ibn al-Khattab. To accommodate a growing number of pilgrims, he demolished buildings around the Kaaba and erected a wall. In 777, Abbasid Caliph Al Mahdi had the original mosque torn down, along with surrounding structures. In their place, he built a larger mosque based on a grid plan. Many of today’s buildings date to an extensive renovation that was done in 1571.
The heart of the Islamic pilgrimages depicted on a 500 Riyal Banknote issued in 2017.