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The Pigeons of Al Haram Al Sharif: Ambassadors of Peace

20 Aug 2019

Amidst a tranquil and peaceful atmosphere, the sounds of pigeons cooing and fluttering their wings echo across Al Haram Al Sharif. You look up and find these grey birds – with hints of green or blue on their necks – playing with you without fear; they know they are in the safest and most spiritual place on earth.

They are known as Makkah pigeons, pigeons of the household, or pigeons of Al-Hema. There are different accounts on the origin of these pigeons; there are some who say this breed of pigeons was released by Noah and those with him on the ship after the flood, and that they came back with an olive branch to signify that the earth is ready for docking the ark and starting a new life. On the other hand, there are accounts that they are descendants from the Ababil bird that stoned Abraha and his soldiers when they almost destroyed the Kaaba in the famous story of the Owners of the Elephant. The last account states that the pigeons in Al Haram Al Sharif are two breeds of pigeons who mated in front of Hira cave and built a nest at its door to hide the Prophet PBUH and his companion Abu Bakr when they hid from the infidels of Quraish during the migration to Madinah.

Despite the different accounts, all have unanimously agreed that these pigeons are special and must be treated as such; Islam has granted them freedom, peace, sanctity and safety. In fact, the Secretariat of Makkah built towers for these pigeons in the Al Hujun area. The pigeons fly around Makkah before Fajr and return after eating and meeting pilgrims from around the world. As soon as pilgrims step foot in the holy city, swarms of pigeons approach them and fearlessly roam the areas surrounding Al Haram Al Sharif regardless of how close people get to them, so people can feel that this is indeed a safe, secure and holy place.

A lot of visitors look at these pigeons as an opportunity to earn rewards by feeding them, as the Prophet PBUH said: “There is a reward for serving any animal.” As soon as you exit Shaza Makkah, you’ll notice that many pilgrims play with these pigeons and offer them food, and you can get seeds and grains for 10 riyals per kilo near Al Haram Al Sharif. However, we recommend choosing the right time of day and avoiding peak times, in addition to carrying an umbrella during sunny weather.

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