Are people living and worshipping in holy places like Makkah and Madinah luckier and more advantageous than those living in other places?

The Details of the Question
Is the thawab of worshipping in Masjid al-Haram and around it more than worshipping in other places? Is the punishment of the sins committed there more than that of other places? If it is so, is a person who was born or living in Makkah luckier than other people? That is, such a person has the opportunity of worshipping in Masjid al-Haram and gain a lot of rewards every day but we do not have such an opportunity. Or, is it valid for the people living there but for those, say, who go there for hajj?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The Prophet (pbuh) said these hadiths to the people living in Hejaz region at that time. Besides, most of those who were there lived there.

The expression here is for any person who performs prayers there and there is no injustice here. It also encourages people to visit those places. The virtue of the prayers performed in these holy places are more but the sins committed there are relatively heavier.

Those who visit these places coming from distant places and perform prayers there will receive a lot of extra rewards due to the difficulty of travelling. Those who live there will not get such rewards.

Besides, Allah gives rewards to a person based on his intention. A person who always wants to be in those holy places and to perform prayers there but cannot go there may expect rewards from Allah as if he has performed prayers there. This is closer to Allah’s mercy and justice.

There are various narrations regarding the issue. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) states the following in a hadith:

"Do not set out on a journey except for three mosques: Masjid al-Haram, my mosque and Masjid Al-Aqsa" (Bukhari, Fadailus-Salat, 1, 6)

A prayer performed in Masjid an-Nabawi is much more virtuous than a prayer performed in other mosques. Sa'd Ibn Abi Waqqas narrates that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said,

"A prayer performed in my mosque is better than one thousand rak’ahs performed in other mosques except Masjid al-Haram." (Ahmad b. Hanbal, I/184)

In another narration, the phrase "more virtuous" is used. (Hanbal, I/16; Nasai, Masjid, 4)

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