Abdel Ghani Bashir/AFP via Getty Images


Common Core: RH.6-8.1, RH.6-8.4, RH.6-8.7, WHST.6-8.4, RI.6-8.1, RI.6-8.4, RI.6-8.7, W.6-8.4

NCSS: Culture • Time, Continuity, and Change • People, Places, and Environments • Global Connections


Ready for Ramadan

Every year, millions of Muslims gather in Mecca during this sacred holiday.

Jim McMahon/Mapman®

Muslims from all over the world travel to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, year-round. But the number of visitors to the city will boom this month, when Ramadan begins at sundown on March 10.

What is Ramadan? For the world’s 2 billion Muslims, it is the most important time of the year. They focus on cleansing the mind and body, seeking forgiveness, and showing compassion toward others, especially the poor. People observing Ramadan fast for 30 days, consuming no food or drink between dawn and dusk.

Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

Muslims around the world pray five times daily.

Some Muslims also make a pilgrimage to Mecca at this sacred time. As the birthplace of Muhammad—the founder of Islam—Mecca is considered the religion’s holiest city. In 2023, more than 9 million people arrived there in the first 10 days of Ramadan alone.

Islamic pilgrimage traditions vary, but all include prayers at a shrine called the Kaaba (below). During Ramadan, tens of thousands of pilgrims in Mecca surround the Kaaba to pray. They also circle the shrine seven times, the entire mass of pilgrims moving together in harmony.

Abdel Ghani Bashir/AFP via Getty Images

The Kaaba is draped in black silk embroidered with gold and silver threads. It stands in the courtyard of Islam’s most important mosque. 

Question: Why is Mecca important to Muslims?

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