Jabal al-Nour

Holy mountain and peak in Saudi Arabia
Map of Saudi Arabia Showing the location of Jabal al-Nour
Map of Saudi Arabia Showing the location of Jabal al-Nour
Jabal al-Nour
Location of Jabal al-Nour in Saudi Arabia
LocationMakkah Province, Hejaz, Saudi ArabiaParent rangeHijaz Mountains

Jabal an-Nour (Arabic: جَبَل ٱلنُّوْر, romanized: Jabal an-Nūr, lit. 'Mountain of the Light' or 'Hill of the Illumination') is a mountain near Mecca in the Hejaz region of Saudi Arabia.[1] The mountain houses the grotto or cave of Hira' (Arabic: غَار حِرَاء, romanized: Ghar-i-Hira, lit. 'Cave of Hira'), which holds tremendous significance for Muslims throughout the world, as the Islamic prophet Muhammad is said to have spent time in this cave meditating, and it was here that he received his first revelation, which consisted of the first five ayats of Surah Al-Alaq from the angel Jibra'il (as is pronounced in certain Quran recitation schools and some Arab tribes; also known as Gabriel).[2] It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Makkah. The mountain itself is barely 640 m (2,100 ft) tall; nonetheless one to two hours are needed to make the strenuous hike to the cave. There are 1750 steps to the top which, even for a fit individual, can take anywhere between half an hour and one-and-a-half hours.


This is where Muhammad is said to have had his first revelation and received the fifth verses of the Quran, the mountain was given the title Jabal an-Nūr ("Mountain of the Light" or "Mountain of the Enlightenment"). This experience is sometimes identified with the beginning of revelation; hence the present name.[3] The date of the first revelation is said to be during the night on August 10, 610 A.D. Or, Monday the 21st of Ramadan, making Muhammad 40 lunar years, 6 months and 12 days of age, i.e. 39 solar years, 3 months and 22 days.[4]


One physical feature that differentiates Jabal al-Nour from other mountains and hills is its unusual summit, which makes it look as if two mountains are on top of each other. The top of this mountain in the mountainous desert is one of the loneliest of places. However, the cave within, which faces the direction of the Kaaba, is even more isolated. While standing in the courtyard back then, people could only look over the surrounding rocks. Nowadays, people can see the surrounding rocks as well as buildings that are hundreds of meters below and hundreds of meters to many kilometers away. Hira is both without water or vegetation other than a few thorns. Hira is higher than Thabīr (ثَبِيْر),[a] and is crowned by a steep and slippery peak, which Muhammad with some companions once climbed.[7]


The mountain is composed of intrusive igneous rocks, predominantly Precambrian aged coarse grained hornblende tonalite, with subordinate granodiorite.[8]

Cave of Hira

The entrance to the Cave of Hira in the mountain

The Cave of Hira was of minor significance before Islam, its name comes from hira (jewels). Taking 1750 walking steps to reach, it is about 3.7 m (12 ft) in length and 1.60 m (5 ft 3 in) in width.[2] It is at a height of 270 m (890 ft).[9] During the Hajj (pilgrimage), an estimated five thousand visitors climb to it daily to see the place where Muhammad is believed to have received the first revelation of the Quran on the Laylat al-Qadr (night of power) by the angel Jibreel (Gabriel).[9] Most Muslims do not consider visiting the cave an integral part of the Hajj. Nonetheless many visit it for reasons of personal pleasure and spirituality, and though some consider it a place of worship, this view conflicts with Salafist interpretations of Islamic ritual. While the cave plays an important role in As-Sīrah an-Nabawiyyah (prophetic biography), it is not considered as holy as other sites in Mecca, such as the Al-Haram Mosque, and so under most interpretations of Islam, the same reward is received for praying here as any other place in Mecca.[10]

Before Muhammad's first revelation, he had pleasant dreams. In them were signs that his prophethood had begun and that the stones in Mecca would greet him with the salaam. These dreams lasted for six months.[4]

An increasing need for solitude led Mohammed to seek seclusion and meditation in the rocky hills which surrounded Mecca.[11] He retreated to the cave for one month each year, engaging in taḥannuth (تَحَنُّث).[b][3][14] He took provisions and fed the poor who came to him. Before returning home to his family for more provisions, he would circumambulate the Kaaba seven times.[14]


  • View of Jabal al-Nour

    View of Jabal al-Nour

  • People entering the Cave of Hira

    People entering the Cave of Hira

  • Overview of Jabal an-Nour

    Overview of Jabal an-Nour

  • Cave Hira

    Cave Hira

  • Jabal e Noor

    Jabal e Noor

  • A photograph of Mecca in 2019, featuring Al-Masjid Al-Haram in the foreground, and Jabal an-Nour in the background. Note that Jabal Abu Qubays is to east of the mosque, in the right hand side of the photograph.

    A photograph of Mecca in 2019, featuring Al-Masjid Al-Haram in the foreground, and Jabal an-Nour in the background. Note that Jabal Abu Qubays is to east of the mosque, in the right hand side of the photograph.

See also

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  • iconGeography portal


  1. ^ "Jabal al-Nour (The Mountain Of Light) and Ghar Hira (Cave of Hira)". 16 September 2015.
  2. ^ a b "In the Cave of Hira'". Witness-Pioneer. Archived from the original on 2008-02-15. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  3. ^ a b Weir, T.H.; Watt, W. Montgomery (24 April 2012). "Ḥirāʾ". In Bearman, P.; Bianquis, Th.; Bosworth, C.E.; van Donzel, E.; Heinrichs, W.P. (eds.). Encyclopaedia of Islam (2nd ed.). Brill Online. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
  4. ^ a b Mubārakpūrī, Ṣafī R. (1998). When the Moon Split (A Biography of the Prophet Muhammad). Riyadh: Darussalam. p. 32.
  5. ^ "T̲h̲abīr", Encyclopedia of Islam (2 ed.), Brill, 2017, retrieved 2018-04-11
  6. ^ Schadler, Peter (2017). "4". John of Damascus and Islam: Christian Heresiology and the Intellectual Background to Earliest Christian-Muslim Relations. Brill. p. 158. ISBN 978-9004356054.
  7. ^ Weir, T. H.. "Ḥirāʾ." Encyclopaedia of Islam, First Edition (1913-1936). Edited by M. Th. Houtsma, T.W. Arnold, R. Basset, R. Hartmann. Brill Online, 2013. Reference. Augustana College. 07 October 2013 <http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopaedia-of-islam-1/hira-SIM_2820>
  8. ^ Youssef, Ahmed M.; Pradhan, Biswajeet; Al-Kathery, Mohamed; Bathrellos, George D.; Skilodimou, Hariklia D. (January 2015). "Assessment of rockfall hazard at Al-Noor Mountain, Makkah city (Saudi Arabia) using spatio-temporal remote sensing data and field investigation". Journal of African Earth Sciences. 101: 309–321. Bibcode:2015JAfES.101..309Y. doi:10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2014.09.021.
  9. ^ a b "Saudi Tourism". Saudi Tourism. Archived from the original on 2011-10-08. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  10. ^ "Multiplication of reward for prayer in Makkah and Madeenah - Islamweb - Fatwas". www.islamweb.net. Retrieved 2021-07-12.
  11. ^ Peterson, Daniel C. (2013). Muhammad, prophet of Allah. Grand Rapids, Mich.
  12. ^ "Taḥannut̲h̲", Encyclopedia of Islam (2 ed.), Brill, 2017, retrieved 2018-04-11
  13. ^ Kister, M. J. (1968), ""Al-Taḥannuth": An Inquiry into the Meaning of a Term" (PDF), Kister.huji.ac.il, pp. 223–236, retrieved 2018-04-11
  14. ^ a b al-Tabarī, Abū Ja'far Muhammad B. Jarīr (1988). Watt, W. Montgomery; McDonald, M.V. (eds.). Ta'rīkh al-rusul wa'l-mulūk [The history of al-Tabarī]. Vol. 6. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press.

External links

  • 3D Tour of Hira Cave
  • 360° Virtual Tour of Hira Cave
  • In pictures: Hajj preparations (Pictures #4 and #5 are of Jabal an-Nūr and the Hira cave)
  • v
  • t
  • e
Hajar range[c]
Central Hajar
Eastern Hajar
  • Jabal Aswad
  • Jabal Bani Jabar
Western Hajar[f]
Ru'us al-Jibal[g]
  • Jabal Harim
  • Jabal Qiwhi
Dhofar range
 Saudi Arabia
Sarat range[h]
'Asir range[j]
  • Jabal Shada [ar]
  • Jabal Abu Hamdan
  • Jabal Raum
Hijaz range[k]
Midian range
Shammar range
Aja range
Tuwayr range
 United Arab Emirates
Western Hajar[l]
Ru'us al-Jibal[m]
Shumayliyyah range[p]
Outliers, outcrops or anticlines
Hadhramaut range
  • Jabal Ar-Rays?
  • Jabal Husn Ghuraf
  • Jebel Shaqb?
Sarat range[r]
Haraz range
Jebel Shams of the Western-Central Hajar range, Oman

Sarat Mountains in the area of Al-Bahah, Saudi Arabia Jebel Jais of the Western Hajar in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE

Sarat Mountains near Ma'rib, Yemen
Note: Mountains are sorted in alphabetical order, unless where it concerns ranges. The highest confirmed mountains in each country are indicated with 'HP', and those with the highest peak are indicated with 'HP', bearing in mind that in the UAE, the highest mountain and the mountain with the highest peak are different. Outcrops are indicated with 'OC', and outliers with 'OL', and anticlines with 'AC'. Volcanoes are indicated with 'V', volcanic craters with 'VC', lava fields with 'LF', and volcanic fields with 'VF'.

Other notes:

  1. ^ A peak in the area of Mina, Saudi Arabia.[5][6]
  2. ^ It has a number of meanings,[12][13] one of which is 'self-justification', as practised by the tribe of Quraysh during the Jāhiliyyah.
  3. ^ Shared with the UAE
  4. ^ Also regarded as being of the Western Hajar
  5. ^ Also regarded as being of the Western Hajar
  6. ^ Shared with the UAE
  7. ^ Shared with the UAE
  8. ^ Sensu lato, shared with Yemen
  9. ^ Shared with Yemen
  10. ^ Sensu lato
  11. ^ Sensu lato
  12. ^ Shared with Oman
  13. ^ Shared with Oman
  14. ^ Highest mountain in the UAE, but the peak is in Oman
  15. ^ Due to the peak of Jebel Jais being in Oman, this mountain has the highest confirmed peak in the UAE
  16. ^ Shared with Oman
  17. ^ Shared with Oman
  18. ^ Shared with Saudi Arabia
  19. ^ Highest confirmed peak in the Arabian Peninsula
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Saudi Arabia
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