If you are a Muslim you must have driven to Makkah and Madina and seen the traffic boards instructing diversion for Non-Muslims. If you are a Non-Muslim and have driven near to Makkah or Madina, you must have seen these boards near the check points of Makkah and Madina. Moreover, embassies of Non-Muslim countries also teach their citizens to not to enter Makkah as it is strictly prohibited in Saudi Arabia. Now a question will be arising in your mind why are Non-Muslims not allowed to enter the Makkah and Madina? What can be the punishment if Non-Muslims actually enter to Makkah or Madina? Answer is given below.
Why Non-Muslims are not allowed to Enter to Makkah and Madina?
Actually this is the decision of Allah as he stated in the Holy Quran “Oh you who believe! Truly the polytheists are unclean; so let them not, after this year, approach the Sacred Mosque” Quran 9:28. Muslims strictly follow the teachings of the Quran and this is the reason Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter to the Makkah and Madina. Muslims have been criticized for this but I don’t think there should be any criticism upon this issue. I know of one major ("Christian") group that restricts access to any area of worship. The LDS (Latter Day Saints of Jesus Christ) "Monmons" restrict access to their major "Churches" to members in good-standing. The local worship centers are open to anyone. Hindus also have some sacred places where people from other religions are not allowed to enter. It should be kept in mind that people of any other religions are allowed to enter into any Masjid of the world except Makkah and Madina.
In Islam, non-Muslims are only barred from entering Makkah and not Madinah as mentioned in Surah Tauba in the Quran. During the time of the Holy Prophet and later during the Guided Caliphate after the death of the Prophet, many ambassadors from non-Muslim states came to Madinah. However, the barring of non-Muslims from entering Madinah is a security issue since Madinah is also a sacred place and faces similar security threats from some terrorists as Makkah. Dr. Zakir Naik, a famous Indian cleric justifies it in this way. As we need visa to enter to any country of the world and every country has its own visa policy. In the same way, one of the visa requirements to enter to Makkah and Madina is to be Muslim.
Punishment for Non-Muslims for Entering to Makkah and Madina
If a Non-Muslim is caught by the authorities in the Holy Cities of Makkah and Madina, he will be presented in front of Judge who will decide his punishment. Punishment will depend upon the scenario in which he is caught. If he is caught planning to do anything to defame Islam or any other activity against Islam, he can be sentenced to death. If he is just found doing something else with not a malicious intention, he can be left. But in any case, whenever a Non-Muslim expatriate is caught from Makkah or Madina, he will be deported with lifetime ban. Deportation and lifetime ban is the minimum penalty for such Non-Muslim who enters to Makkah and Madina.
Islam is not the only religion to stop the non-followers to enter the sacred places. I know about one temple “Guruvayur Temple, Guruvayur Devaswom, Guruvayur, Kerala, India” which does not allow Non-Hindus to enter into it. GPS Coordinates: 10.5945515,76.0393587