National Geographic : 1953 Jul
+ Hadjis Ride a Magic Carpet with Bucket Seats Crowded into a United States Air Force transport, these Mecca-bound Moslems relax after taking off from Beirut, Lebanon. American authorities came to the rescue after pilgrim throngs swamped commer cial lines. While companions chat and read Arabic, one man (left) investigates the lunch of bread, cheese, and fruit provided each passenger by the American Friends of the Middle East. <- Pilgrims in Farewell to Mecca Pray, "Lord, Accept My Hadj!" Streaming along the route of the Safa-Marwa, the crowd passes the Great Mosque (minaret, left). A projecting canopy provides shade. With worship completed, hadjis may put on ordinary clothes, relax, and prepare to go home. © National Geographic Society Kodachrome by Abdul Ghafur Sheikh eyes with grave amusement. But we were soon friends again; and he volunteered to accompany me to the tomb of Mohammed, which is situated within the Masjid-al-Nabi, the Mosque of the Prophet (page 34). The mosque, in turn, is built upon the spot where Mohammed's camel first lay down to rest when the Prophet arrived on his flight to Medina. Mohammed, who made it very plain to his followers that he claimed no divinity but was only a mortal messenger of God, left explicit instructions about his last resting place. "Let not my tomb," he said, "be ever an object of worship." Were we who made the pilgrimage to his tomb and offered prayers there violating his command? No, for we prayed not to the Prophet, but for him; and we worshiped not the tomb but felt only that we stood upon a spot loved by God.