Pakistanis help preserve Jabal Noor near Makkah
Makkah - Today, the site is among few still preserved from the holy prophet's time - with help from Pakistani workers in the kingdom.
Just outside the holy city of Makah in Saudi Arabia lies one of Islam's most important historical sites - a cave where, according to tradition, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) spent time in seclusion, contemplation and self-reflection.
It was here, inside Hira Cave located near the top of a steep hill called Jabal Noor where God revealed to the holy prophet the first verses of the Holy Quran through the angel Jebril.
Today, the site is among few still preserved from the holy prophet's time - with help from Pakistani workers in the kingdom.
Each year, observant Muslims deepen their prayers and supplication in the final 10 nights of the holy month of Ramadan, believing that it was during this time some 1,400 years ago that the miraculous revelation took place on Jabal Noor, also known as the 'Hill of Light.'
The hill itself is not part of the annual Haj pilgrimage, but its location so close to the holy city of Makkah and its significance as a place of enlightenment draws thousands of pilgrims here every year.
But present-day visitors encounter a markedly different summit from the one the prophet experienced. For starters, there are now more than 1,000 steps that guide pilgrims up the rocky hill to the secluded cave.
Along the way, entrepreneurial Pakistanis sell bottled water, snacks and tea to pilgrims exhausted by the climb. Unlike the quiet and seemingly endless stretch of nature the Prophet would have seen from the cave, massive high-rises housing five-star hotels jut into the distant skyline just steps away from the Holy Kaaba.
The Pakistani workers who live off the mountain's draw say they play a key role in helping to preserve it. Nizam Din, from the Pakistani city of Quetta, spends his days fixing broken cement steps along the path up Noor Mountain. Jamal Khan, from Karachi, Pakistan's largest city and main port, also earns a living by serving the pilgrims who make their way to the cave.
"Our lives here are better because we do not have jobs back home," he said. "What is a better place to be than here where the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) received his first revelation from God?"
Makkah's mayor, Osama Al Bar, says the municipality ensures the area's cleanliness.
There are also plans, he said, for the development of a visitors' centre near the hill to explain to people its significance and history.
He said the area is watched over by the kingdom's religious police, known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, who ensure visitors do not turn it into a place of worship that venerates anything other than God.