|One of many articles on|
|Topics of interest|
|Persons of interest|
Every Muslim is expected to make at least one pilgrimage, or Hajj, to Mecca in his lifetime, unless constrained by poverty or health. Deep in the heart of Mecca is a huge black cloth-covered marble box, called the Kaaba, around which each pilgrim must circle. The primary item in the kaaba is a meteorite. Believers think this meteorite is a stone from Paradise: after all it did fall from the sky. According to tradition, the kaaba was originally built by Adam and Eve, and then rebuilt by Abraham. Other researchers have suggested that it was one of many such structures in Arabia prior to the birth of Islam, but owing to the importance of Mecca to Mohammed, it was the only one to survive. It is certain that it was used in the polytheistic rites of the pre-Islamic Arab religion.
Non-Muslims are not allowed within the city proper.
 Other holy cities
Medina is the second-holiest city in Islam after Mecca. Located in western Saudi Arabia, Medina is where Muhammad settled after the Hejira; it is also the place where he was buried. Jerusalem is the third holiest city in Islam. It said to be the place from where Mohammed ascended to Heaven. In Shia Islam there are a further seven: Karbala, Baghdad, Najaf and Samarra are all in Iraq; Masshad, Qom and Shiraz are in Iran.