Millions of Muslim pilgrims congregate in Mecca for the haj every year. The come from all corners of the globe, carrying with them their own versions and interpretations of Islam, but some things unite them: their simple white robes and rituals such as circling the Kaaba, a cube-shaped structure that Muslims believe was built by the Prophet Abraham, standing at Mount Arafat and the hurling pebbles at a wall in an act of ritual stoning.
But in the shadow of these sacred rituals lurk some practices that Saudi Arabia’s austere Wahhabi clerics describe as sinful or “innovative”.
One of those innovated rites is visiting Mount al-Nour, which Muslims believe is the place where the Koran was first revealed to Prophet Mohammad as he was praying in a small cave tucked between slabs of rock near the top of the mountain. Its name is Hera Cave.
The mountain is in the outskirts of Mecca and, upon arrival at the area, pilgrims are greeted with a sign that tells them visiting the cave is not a part of the pilgrimage.