The city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia is, of course, the birthplace of the prophet Muhammad, and also the locus of the well-known Hajj or annual pilgrimage to Mecca (as one of the “Five Pillars” of Islam, it is religiously incumbent upon every Muslim who is able to do so to make the formal pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in one’s lifetime). It should therefore come as no surprise that, in Islam, Mecca is regarded as the holiest city.
The nearby city of Medina, home to Muhammad’s tomb and a refuge to which Muhammad and his companions were forced to flee due to increasing persecution in Mecca — a watershed event in the birth of Islam, referred to as the Hijra (“flight,” “migration”) — is an optional addition to the Hajj which many Muslim pilgrims also undertake. Medina is therefore understandably revered as the second holiest city in Islam.
For Muslims, Jerusalem is also a sacred site; in fact, it ranks as Islam’s third holiest city, right after Mecca and Medina.