Islamic Sacred Sites and Places


Holy Cities of Islam

Sacred places in Islam, like Mecca and Medina, are very important. These cities are important in Islamic history, in part because they were important in the life of Muhammad. Because of this, these places are also important to present-day Muslims.

Most of Islam's sacred places are in the Middle East, specifically the Arabian Peninsula. However, as can be seen in the map the area of ancient Mesopotamia (dark green) and northern Africa are important to in Islam as well even though they are not as equally sacred as places like Mecca and Medina.

The most sacred place in Islam is the Ka'ba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The Ka'ba is a mosque (built by Abraham according to Muslim tradition) built around a black stone. Muhammad designated Mecca as the holy city of Islam and the direction (qibla) in which all Muslims should offer their prayers.

The second holiest site in Islam is Medina (or Medinah), the "City of the Prophet," is in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia. It was to Medina city that Muhammad fled when he was initially driven out of Mecca, and the place where he attracted his first followers.

The third most sacred city in Islam is Jerusalem, which was the original qibla (direction of prayer) before it was changed to Mecca. Jerusalem is revered because, in Muslim tradition, Muhammad miraculously traveled to Jerusalem by night and ascended from there into heaven.

Karbala is a city in Iraq, located about 100 km southwest of Baghdad. Shia Muslims consider Karbala to be one of the holiest places in the world, second only to Mecca and Najaf.

Najaf is one of the holiest cities in Shia Islam and is the center of Shia political power in Iraq.

Islam by Country

What countries in the world have the highest percentage of Muslims?

Top 50 Muslim Countries by Percentage of Muslims

Notable Mosques

  • Al-Aqsa, in Jerusalem
  • Al-Azhar in Cairo, Egypt - the mosque university is the foremost school of Sunni Islam
  • Al-Hakim Mosque - one of the largest Fatimid mosques in Cairo, Egypt
  • Ar-Rifaye Mosque in Cairo, Egypt
  • Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, India - now destroyed and a site of recent violence between Muslims and Hindus
  • Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan
  • Bajrakli Mosque in Belgrade, Serbia - burned in 2004 after ethnic violence
  • Dome of the Rock (Masjid Al Sakhrah) in Jerusalem - technically a shrine, not a mosque
  • Faisal Mosque in Islamabad, Pakistan
  • Ferhadija Mosque in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, destroyed in 1993
  • Great Mosque of Djenné in Djenné, Mali
  • Ground Zero Mosque, New York City
  • Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey - was a mosque from 1453 until 1934; is now a museum
  • Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco
  • Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, People's Republic of China
  • Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf, Iraq - the holiest Shi'ite mosque
  • Isabey Mosque in near Izmir, Turkey
  • Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia - the largest mosque in Southeast Asia.
  • Masjid al Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia - the "Great Mosque"; holiest in Islam
  • Masjid al Nabawi in Medina, Saudi Arabia
  • The Mezquita in Córdoba, Spain - now a Catholic cathedral
  • Masjid al-Quba, just outside Medina, Saudi Arabia - foundation stone was laid by the Prophet Muhammad
  • Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan, in Cairo, Egypt
  • Mosque of Ibn Tulun, in Cairo, Egypt
  • Mosque of Mohammed Ali at the Citadel, Cairo, Egypt
  • Selimiye Mosque in Edirne, Turkey
  • Suleiman Mosque (Süleymaniye Mosque) in Istanbul, Turkey
  • Sultan Ahmed Mosque ("the Blue Mosque") in Istanbul, Turkey
  • Tsar's Mosque in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Ground Zero Mosque, New Yorkhttp://www.religionfacts.com/islam/places/ground-zero-mosque

    What is the Ground Zero Mosque? The Ground Zero mosque, also called Park51, is proposed community center for the Islamic religion. The controversy surrounding it stems from the fact the site is two blocks from where the World Trade Center towers stood prior to September 11, 2001...

  • Muslim Jerusalem - Islamic Placeshttp://www.religionfacts.com/islam/places/jerusalem

    The third most sacred city in Islam is Jerusalem, which was the original qibla (direction of prayer) before it was changed to Mecca. Jerusalem is revered because, in Muslim tradition, Muhammad miraculously traveled to Jerusalem by night and ascended from there into heaven...

  • Karbalahttp://www.religionfacts.com/islam/places/karbala

    What is Karbala? Shia Muslims consider Karbala to be one of the holiest places in the world, second only to Mecca and Najaf. Karbalā' (also transliterated Kerbala or Kerbela) is a city in Iraq, located about 100 km southwest of Baghdad at 32...

  • Meccahttp://www.religionfacts.com/islam/places/mecca

    What is Mecca? The most sacred place in Islam is the Ka'ba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The Ka'ba is a mosque (built by Abraham according to Muslim tradition) constructed around a black stone...

  • Medinahttp://www.religionfacts.com/islam/places/medina

    What is Medina? Medina is the second holiest site in Islam. "Medina" means the "City of the Prophet," is in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia...

  • Najaf Iraq - Islamic Placeshttp://www.religionfacts.com/islam/places/najaf

    Najaf is one of the most important cities in Islam, particularly Shia Islam and was the center of Shia political power in Iraq. Najaf is a city in Iraq, about 160 km south of Baghdad, located at 31...

  • Top 50 Muslim Countrieshttp://www.religionfacts.com/stats/top-50-countries-islam

    Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in the world. From its birth through the prophet Muhammad in the Middle East, Islam has spread to Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Americas...