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Mecca, officially Makkah al-Mukarramah ( ) and commonly shortened to Makkah ( ), Quran 48:22 ' () is a city and administrative center of the
Mecca Province The Mecca Province ( ar, مِنْطَقَة مَكَّة '), also known as the Mecca Region, is one of the 13 provinces of Saudi Arabia The States of Saudi Arabia, also known as Regions , and officially the Emirates of the States of the Kingdom ...
of
Saudi Arabia (''Shahada'') , national_anthem = "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia, " "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia" , image_map = Saudi Arabia (orthographic projection).svg , capital = Riyadh , coordinates ...

Saudi Arabia
, and the holiest city in
Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", "ah gawd"; see interjection An interjection is a word or ex ...
. It is inland from
Jeddah Jeddah ( ), also spelled Jedda, Jiddah or Jidda ( ; ar, جِدَّة, Jidda, ), is a city in the Hejaz The Hejaz (, also ; ar, ٱلْحِجَاز, al-Ḥijāz, lit=the Barrier, ) is a region in the west of Saudi Arabia (''Shahada ...

Jeddah
on the
Red Sea The Red Sea ( ar, البحر الأحمر, translit=al-Baḥr al-ʾAḥmar; or ; Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a North ...

Red Sea
, in a narrow valley above sea level. Its last recorded population was 1,578,722 in 2015. Its estimated metro population in 2020 is 2.042 million, making it the third-most populated city in
Saudi Arabia (''Shahada'') , national_anthem = "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia, " "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia" , image_map = Saudi Arabia (orthographic projection).svg , capital = Riyadh , coordinates ...

Saudi Arabia
after
Riyadh Riyadh ( ar, الرياض, 'ar-Riyāḍ, Literal translation, lit.: 'The Gardens' Najdi Arabic, Najdi pronunciation: ) is the capital of Saudi Arabia and the largest city on the Arabian Peninsula. Located in the center of the An Nafud, an-Naf ...

Riyadh
and
Jeddah Jeddah ( ), also spelled Jedda, Jiddah or Jidda ( ; ar, جِدَّة, Jidda, ), is a city in the Hejaz The Hejaz (, also ; ar, ٱلْحِجَاز, al-Ḥijāz, lit=the Barrier, ) is a region in the west of Saudi Arabia (''Shahada ...

Jeddah
. Pilgrims more than triple this number every year during the '' Ḥajj''
pilgrimage A pilgrimage is a journey, often into an unknown or foreign place, where a person goes in search of new or expanded meaning about their self, others, nature, or a higher good, through the experience. It can lead to a personal transformation, aft ...
, observed in the twelfth
Hijri The Hijri calendar ( ar, ٱلتَّقْوِيم ٱلْهِجْرِيّ '), also known as the Lunar Hijri calendar and (in English) as the Islamic, Muslim or Arabic calendar, is a lunar calendar A lunar calendar is a calendar based on the mon ...
month of '' Dhūl-Ḥijjah''. Mecca is generally considered "the fountainhead and cradle of Islam". Mecca also is reputedly the birthplace of the
Islamic prophet Prophets in Islam ( ar, الأنبياء في الإسلام, translit=al-ʾAnbiyāʾ fī al-ʾIslām) are individuals in Islam who are believed to spread God In monotheism, monotheistic thought, God is conceived of as the supreme being, c ...
Muhammad Muhammad ibn AbdullahHe is referred to by many appellations, including Messenger of Allah, The Prophet Muhammad, Allah's Apostle, Last Prophet of Islam, and others; there are also many variant spellings of Muhammad, such as Mohamet, Mohammed, ...

Muhammad
. The
Hira cave Jabal an-Nour ( ar, جَبَل ٱلنُّوْر, Jabal an-Nūr, lit=Mountain of the Light or 'Hill of the Illumination') is a mountain A mountain is an elevated portion of the Earth's crust, generally with steep sides that show significan ...
atop the ''Jabal al-Nur'' ("Mountain of Light") is just outside the city and where Muslims believe the Quran was first revealed to Muhammad. Visiting Mecca for the Hajj is an obligation upon all able Muslims. The
Great Mosque of Mecca , native_name_lang = ar , religious_affiliation = Islam Islam (;There are ten pronunciations of ''Islam'' in English, differing in whether the first or second syllable has the stress, whether the ''s'' is or , and whether the ''a'' is pron ...

Great Mosque of Mecca
, known as the ''Masjid al-Haram'', is home to the
Ka'bah The Kaaba (, ), also spelled Ka'bah or Kabah, sometimes referred to as al-Kaʿbah al-Musharrafah ( ar, ٱلْكَعْبَة ٱلْمُشَرَّفَة, lit=Honored Ka'bah, links=no, translit=al-Kaʿbah al-Musharrafah), is a building at the cen ...

Ka'bah
, believed by Muslims to have been built by
Abraham Abraham, ''Ibrāhīm''; el, Ἀβραάμ, translit=Abraám, name=, group= (originally Abram) is the common patriarch of the Abrahamic religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In Judaism, he is the founding father of the covenan ...
and Ishmael. It is one of Islam's holiest sites and the direction of prayer for all Muslims (''
qibla The qibla ( ar, قِبْلَة, links=no, lit=direction, translit=qiblah) is the direction towards the Kaaba The Kaaba (, ), also spelled Ka'bah or Kabah, sometimes referred to as al-Kaʿbah al-Musharrafah ( ar, ٱلْكَعْبَة ٱل ...

qibla
''). Muslim rulers from in and around the region long tried to take the city and keep it in their control, and thus, much like most of the
Hejaz The Hejaz (, also ; ar, ٱلْحِجَاز, al-Ḥijāz, lit=the Barrier, ) is a region in the west of Saudi Arabia. It includes the cities of Mecca, Medina, Jeddah, Tabuk, Saudi Arabia, Tabuk, Yanbu and Taif. It is also known as the "Western P ...

Hejaz
region, the city has seen several
regime change Regime change is the forcible or coerced replacement of one government regime In politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individ ...
s. The city was finally conquered in the
Saudi conquest of Hejaz The Saudi conquest of Hejaz or the Second Saudi-Hashemite War, also known as the Hejaz-Nejd War, was a campaign engaged by Saudi Sultan Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz to take over the Hashemites, Hashemite Kingdom of Hejaz in 1924–25, end ...
by
Ibn Saud Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud ( ar, عبد العزيز بن عبد الرحمن آل سعود, ʿAbd al ʿAzīz bin ʿAbd ar Raḥman Āl Suʿūd; 15 January 1875Ibn Saud's birth year has been a source of debate. It is generally accepted a ...

Ibn Saud
and his allies in 1925. Since then, Mecca has seen a tremendous expansion in size and infrastructure, with newer, modern buildings such as the
Abraj Al Bait The Abraj Al-Bait ( ar, أبراج البيت, ʾAbrāǧ al-Bayt "Towers of the House") is a State ownership, government-owned complex of seven skyscraper hotels in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. These towers are a part of the Abdullah of Saudi Arabia#Dome ...
, the world's fourth-tallest building and third-largest by floor area, towering over the Great Mosque. The
Saudi government The politics of Saudi Arabia takes place in the context of a totalitarian Totalitarianism is a concept for a form of government or political system that prohibits opposition parties, restricts individual opposition to the state and its claims, a ...
has also carried out the destruction of several historical structures and archaeological sites, such as the
Ajyad Fortress The Ajyad Fortress (Ottoman Turkish Ottoman Turkish ( ota, لِسانِ عُثمانى, , ; tr, Osmanlı Türkçesi) was the standardized register A register is an authoritative list of one kind of information. Register or registration m ...
.Fattah, Hassan
Islamic Pilgrims Bring Cosmopolitan Air to Unlikely City
, ''
The New York Times ''The New York Times'' is an American daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership. Founded in 1851, the ''Times'' has since won List of Pulitzer Prizes awarded to The New York Times, 132 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of a ...

The New York Times
'' (20 January 2005).
Non-Muslims are strictly prohibited from entering the city. Muslims from around the world visit the city, not only for the
Hajj The Hajj (; ar, حَجّ ' "wikt:pilgrimage, ''pilgrimage''"; sometimes also spelled Hadj, Hadji or Haj in English) is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the Holiest sites in Islam, holiest city for Muslims. Hajj is a Far ...
and
Umrah The ʿUmrah ( ar, عُمْرَة, lit="to visit a populated place") is an Islamic pilgrimage A pilgrimage is a journey, often into an unknown or foreign place, where a person goes in search of new or expanded meaning about their self, others ...
pilgrimages but also as tourists to visit regional landmarks such as the 'Aisha Mosque (''Masjid 'Aisha'') and the sites visited by pilgrims in the Hajj and 'Umrah. Mecca is now home to two of the most expensive buildings in the world, the
Masjid al-Haram , native_name_lang = ar , religious_affiliation = Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", ...

Masjid al-Haram
, valued at 100 billion US dollars, and the Abraj al-Bait complex, valued at 15 billion US dollars. Under the Saudi government, Mecca is governed by the Mecca Regional Municipality, a municipal council of 14 locally elected members headed by the
mayor In many countries, a mayor is the highest-ranking official An official is someone who holds an office (function or , regardless whether it carries an actual with it) in an or government and participates in the exercise of , (either their ow ...

mayor
(called ''Amin'' in Arabic) appointed by the
Saudi government The politics of Saudi Arabia takes place in the context of a totalitarian Totalitarianism is a concept for a form of government or political system that prohibits opposition parties, restricts individual opposition to the state and its claims, a ...
. , the mayor of the city is Osama bin Fadhel Al-Barr. The City of Mecca ''
amanah The National Trust Party (AMANAH; ms, Parti Amanah Negara), is a registered political party in Malaysia advocating a reformist Reformism is a political doctrine advocating the reform Reform ( lat, reformo) means the improvement or amendm ...
,'' which constitutes Mecca and the surrounding region, is the capital of the Mecca Province, which includes the neighboring cities of
Jeddah Jeddah ( ), also spelled Jedda, Jiddah or Jidda ( ; ar, جِدَّة, Jidda, ), is a city in the Hejaz The Hejaz (, also ; ar, ٱلْحِجَاز, al-Ḥijāz, lit=the Barrier, ) is a region in the west of Saudi Arabia (''Shahada ...

Jeddah
and
Ta'if Taif ( ar, اَلطَّائِفُ, translit=aṭ-Ṭāʾif, lit=The circulated or encircled) is a city and governorate in the Makkah Province of Saudi Arabia. Located at an elevation of in the slopes of the Hejaz Mountains, which themselves are p ...
, even though Jeddah is considerably larger in population compared to Mecca. The Provincial Governor of the province from 16 May 2007 is
Prince A prince is a Monarch, male ruler (ranked below a king, grand prince, and grand duke) or a male member of a monarch's or former monarch's family. ''Prince'' is also a title of nobility (often highest), often hereditary title, hereditary, in so ...
Khalid bin Faisal Al Saud Khalid bin Faisal Al Saud ( ar, خالد بن فيصل ال سعود ''Khālid bin Fayṣal Āl Suʿūd''; born 24 February 1940) is a Saudi Arabia (''Shahada The ''Shahada'' ( ar, ٱلشَّهَادَةُ ' , "the testimony"), also ...
.


Etymology

Mecca has been referred to by many names. As with many Arabic words, its
etymology Etymology ()The New Oxford Dictionary of English ''The'' () is a grammatical article Article often refers to: * Article (grammar) An article is any member of a class of dedicated words that are used with noun phrases to mark the identi ...
is obscure. Widely believed to be a synonym for Makkah, it is said to be more specifically the early name for the valley located therein, while Muslim scholars generally use it to refer to the sacred area of the city that immediately surrounds and includes the
Ka'bah.
Ka'bah.
Quran 3:96 Bakkah The Quran refers to the city as Bakkah in
Surah A ''surah'' (; ar, سورة, sūrah) is the equivalent of "chapter" in the Qur'an The Quran (, ; ar, القرآن , "the recitation"), also romanized Qur'an or Koran, is the central religious text of Islam, believed by Muslims to be ...
Al Imran Aal Imran ( ar, آل عمران, ; The Family of Imran) is the third chapter (sūrah A ''surah'' (; ar, سورة, Sūratun or sūrah; , ) is the equivalent of "chapter" in the Quran The Quran (, ; ar, القرآن, translit=al-Q ...

Al Imran
(3), verse 96,
"Indeed the first .html" ;"title="f worship
House [of worship
">f worship
House [of worship
established for mankind was that at Bakkah..." – Quran 3:96 This is presumed to have been the name of the city at the time of
Abraham Abraham, ''Ibrāhīm''; el, Ἀβραάμ, translit=Abraám, name=, group= (originally Abram) is the common patriarch of the Abrahamic religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In Judaism, he is the founding father of the covenan ...

Abraham
(Ibrahim in Abraham in Islam, Islamic tradition) and it is also transliterated as Baca, Baka, Bakah, Bakka, Becca, Bekka, among others. Makkah, Makkah al-Mukarramah and Mecca In South Arabic, the language in use in the southern portion of the
Arabian Peninsula The Arabian Peninsula (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") is a peninsula of Western Asia, situated northeast of Africa on the Arabian Plate. At , the ...
at the time of Muhammad, the ''b'' and ''m'' were interchangeable. This is presumed to have been the origin of the current form of the name. "Makkah" is the official transliteration used by the Saudi government and is closer to the Arabic pronunciation. The government adopted ''Makkah'' as the official spelling in the 1980s, but is not universally known or used worldwide. The full official name is Makkah al-Mukarramah (). "Makkah" is used to refer to the city in the Quran in
Surah A ''surah'' (; ar, سورة, sūrah) is the equivalent of "chapter" in the Qur'an The Quran (, ; ar, القرآن , "the recitation"), also romanized Qur'an or Koran, is the central religious text of Islam, believed by Muslims to be ...
Al-Fath Al-Fath ( ar, الفتح, ; "Victory" , "Triumph") is the 48th chapter ( surah) of the Qur'an with 29 verses ( ayat). The surah was revealed in Madinah in the sixth year of the Hijrah, on the occasion of the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah between t ...

Al-Fath
(48), verse 24. The word "Mecca" in English has come to be used to refer to any place that draws large numbers of people, and because of this some English-speaking Muslims have come to regard the use of this spelling for the city as offensive. Nonetheless, Mecca is the familiar form of the English transliteration for the Arabic name of the city. The historic consensus in academic scholarship has long been that "Macoraba", the place mentioned in
Arabia Felix ''Arabia Felix'' (literally: ''Fertile/Happy Arabia''; also Ancient Greek: ''Eudaemon Arabia'') was the Latin name previously used by geographers to describe South Arabia, or what is now Yemen. Name Etymology The term Arabia Felix (Latin: “Happy ...
by
Claudius Ptolemy Claudius Ptolemy (; grc-koi, Κλαύδιος Πτολεμαῖος, ''Klaúdios Ptolemaîos'' ; la, Claudius Ptolemaeus; AD) was a mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics ...
, is Mecca. More recent study has questioned this association. Many etymologies have been proposed: the traditional one is that it is derived from the
Old South Arabian Old South Arabianhttp://e-learning.tsu.ge/pluginfile.php/5868/mod_resource/content/0/dzveli_armosavluri_enebi_-ugarituli_punikuri_arameuli_ebrauli_arabuli.pdf (or Ṣayhadic or Yemenite) is a group of four closely related extinct language Ex ...
root M-K-R-B which means "temple". Other names Another name used for Mecca in the Quran is at 6:92 where it is called ''Umm al-Qurā Quran 6:92 '' (, meaning "Mother of all Settlements"). The city has been called several other names in both the Quran and ''
ahadith Ḥadīth ( or ; ar, حديث , pl. aḥādīth, , , , literally means "talk" or "discourse") or Athar ( ar, أثر, , literally means "tradition") in Islam refers to what the majority of Muslims believe to be a record of the words, actions ...

ahadith
.'' Another name used historically for Mecca is ''''. According to Arab and Islamic tradition, another name for Mecca, Fārān, is synonymous with the Desert of Paran mentioned in the
Old Testament The Old Testament (often abbreviated OT) is the first division of the Christian biblical canon A biblical canon or canon of scripture is a set of texts (or "books") which a particular Jewish or Christian religious community regards as aut ...
at Genesis 21:21. Arab and Islamic tradition holds that the wilderness of Paran, broadly speaking, is the and the site where Ishmael settled was Mecca.
Yaqut al-Hamawi Yāqūt Shihāb al-Dīn ibn-'Abdullāh al-Rūmī al-Hamawī (1179–1229) ( ar, ياقوت الحموي الرومي) is famous for his great "geography", ''Mu'jam ul-Buldān'', an encyclopedia of Islam written in the late Abbāsid era and as muc ...
, the 12th-century Syrian geographer, wrote that Fārān was "an arabized Hebrew word, one of the names of Mecca mentioned in the Torah."


History


Prehistory

In 2010, Mecca and the surrounding area became an important site for
paleontology Paleontology (), also spelled palaeontology or palæontology, is the scientific study of life that existed prior to, and sometimes including, the start of the Holocene epoch (geology), epoch (roughly 11,700 years before present). It includes th ...
with respect to
primate A primate ( ) (from Latin , from 'prime, first rank') is a eutherian mammal constituting the Taxonomy (biology), taxonomic order (biology), order Primates (). Primates arose 85–55 million years ago first from small Terrestrial animal, ...

primate
evolution, with the discovery of a '' Saadanius'' fossil. ''Saadanius'' is considered to be a primate closely related to the common ancestor of the
Old World monkey Old World monkey is the common English name for a family In , family (from la, familia) is a of people related either by (by recognized birth) or (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose of families is to maintain the well-bei ...
s and
apes Apes (Hominoidea ) are a branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientis ...
. The fossil habitat, near what is now the Red Sea in western Saudi Arabia, was a damp forest area between 28 million and 29 million years ago. Paleontologists involved in the research hope to find further fossils in the area.


Early history (up to 6th century CE)

The early history of Mecca is still largely disputed, as there are no unambiguous references to it in ancient literature prior to the rise of Islam. The first unambiguous reference to Mecca in external literature occurs in 741 CE, in the Byzantine-Arab Chronicle, though here the author places the region in Mesopotamia rather than the Hejaz.Holland, Tom; In the Shadow of the Sword; Little, Brown; 2012; p. 471 Although there is general consensus in modern scholarship that Macoraba mentioned by
Ptolemy Claudius Ptolemy (; grc-koi, Κλαύδιος Πτολεμαῖος, , ; la, Claudius Ptolemaeus; AD) was a mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes ...
in the 2nd century CE is indeed Mecca, some scholars have questioned this conclusion. The Greek historian
Diodorus Siculus Diodorus Siculus, or Diodorus of Sicily ( grc-gre, Διόδωρος Σικελιώτης ;  1st century BC), was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern ...
writes about Arabia in the 1st century BCE in his work
Bibliotheca historica ''Bibliotheca historica'' ( grc, Βιβλιοθήκη Ἱστορική, "Historical Library") is a work of universal history A universal history is a work aiming at the presentation of a history History (from Greek , ''historia'', meani ...
, describing a holy shrine: "And a temple has been set up there, which is very holy and exceedingly revered by all Arabians". Claims have been made this could be a reference to the
Ka'bah The Kaaba (, ), also spelled Ka'bah or Kabah, sometimes referred to as al-Kaʿbah al-Musharrafah ( ar, ٱلْكَعْبَة ٱلْمُشَرَّفَة, lit=Honored Ka'bah, links=no, translit=al-Kaʿbah al-Musharrafah), is a building at the cen ...
in Mecca. However, the geographic location Diodorus describes is located in northwest Arabia, around the area of Leuke Kome, within the former
Nabataean Kingdom The Nabataean Kingdom ( ar, المملكة النبطية, al-Mamlakah an-Nabaṭiyyah), also named Nabatea (), was a political state of the Arab The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, ISO 233 The international standard a ...
and the Roman province of
Arabia Petraea Arabia Petraea or Petrea, also known as Rome's Arabian Province ( la, Provincia Arabia; ar, العربية البترائية; grc, ἐπαρχία Πετραίας Αραβίας) or simply Arabia, was a frontier Roman province, province of ...

Arabia Petraea
. Ptolemy lists the names of 50 cities in Arabia, one going by the name of Macoraba. There has been speculation since 1646 that this could be a reference to Mecca, but some scholars see no compelling explanation to link the two names. Bowersock favors the identity of the former, with his theory being that "Macoraba" is the word "''Makkah"'' followed by the aggrandizing
Aramaic Aramaic (Classical Syriac The Syriac language (; syc, / '), also known as Syriac Aramaic (''Syrian Aramaic'', ''Syro-Aramaic'') and Classical Syriac (in its literary and liturgical form), is an Aramaic Aramaic (Classical Syriac ...
adjective ''rabb'' (great). The Roman historian
Ammianus Marcellinus Ammianus Marcellinus (born , died 400) was a Roman soldier This is a list of Roman army units and bureaucrats. *''Accensus'' – Light infantry men in the armies of the early Roman Republic, made up of the poorest men of the army. *''Actuarius' ...
also enumerated many cities of Western Arabia, most of which can be identified. According to Bowersock, he did mention Mecca as "Geapolis" or "Hierapolis", the latter one meaning "holy city", referring to the sanctuary of the
Kaaba The Kaaba (, ), also spelled Ka'bah or Kabah, sometimes referred to as al-Kaʿbah al-Musharrafah ( ar, ٱلْكَعْبَة ٱلْمُشَرَّفَة, lit=Honored Ka'bah, links=no, translit=al-Kaʿbah al-Musharrafah), is a building at the cent ...

Kaaba
, well known already in pagan times.
Patricia Crone Patricia Crone (March 28, 1945July 11, 2015) was a Danish-American Orientalist, and historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a perso ...
, from the
Revisionist school of Islamic studies The Revisionist school of Islamic studies, (also Historical-Critical school of Islamic studies and skeptic/revisionist Islamic historians) Hoyland, ''In God's Path'', 2015: p.232 is a movement in Islamic studies questioning much of "what the Musl ...
on the other hand, writes that "the plain truth is that the name Macoraba has nothing to do with that of Mecca ..if Ptolemy mentions Mecca at all, he calls it Moka, a town in
Arabia Petraea Arabia Petraea or Petrea, also known as Rome's Arabian Province ( la, Provincia Arabia; ar, العربية البترائية; grc, ἐπαρχία Πετραίας Αραβίας) or simply Arabia, was a frontier Roman province, province of ...

Arabia Petraea
" Recently, researchers using enhanced mathematical models to reconstruct ancient maps and translate their locations into modern coordinates have been able to confirm that Mecca and Ptolemy’s Macoraba are in the same location, while Moka is safely identified as the fortress of
Machaerus Machaerus (Μαχαιροῦς, from grc, μάχαιρα, , Makhaira (a sword); ar, ِقلعة مكاور ''Qal'atu Mkawer''; he, מכוור ''Mikwar'' ) is a fortified hilltop palace located in Jordan southeast of the mouth of the Jordan riv ...
on the eastern side of the Dead Sea.
Procopius Procopius of Caesarea ( grc-gre, Προκόπιος ὁ Καισαρεύς ''Prokópios ho Kaisareús''; la, Procopius Caesariensis; – after 565) was a prominent late antique Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, fr ...
' statement that the Ma'ad tribe possessed the coast of western Arabia between the
Ghassanids The Ghassanids ( ar, الغساسنة, al-Ghasāsinah, also ''Banū Ghassān'' "Sons of Ghassān"), also called the Jafnids, were an Arab The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, : , Arabic pronunciation: , plural ar, ...
and the
Himyarites The Himyarite Kingdom ( ar, مملكة حِمْيَر, Mamlakat Ḥimyar, he, ממלכת חִמְיָר), or Himyar ( ar, حِمْيَر, ''Ḥimyar'', xsa, 𐩢𐩣𐩺𐩧𐩣, Ḥmyrm) (floruit, fl. 110 BCE–520s Common Era, CE), historic ...

Himyarites
of the south confirms the Arabic sources tradition that associates
Quraysh The Quraysh ( ar, قُرَيْشٌ, ) were a grouping of Arab clans that historically inhabited and controlled the city of Mecca and its Ka'ba. The Islamic prophet Muhammad was born into the Banu Hashim, Hashim clan of the tribe. Despite this, ...
as a branch of the Ma'add and Muhammad as a direct descendant of
Ma'ad ibn Adnan Ma'ad ibn Adnan ( ar, مَعَدّ ٱبْن عَدْنَان, Maʿadd ibn ʿAdnān) is an ancient ancestor of Qusai ibn Kilab Qusai ibn Kilab ibn Murrah ( ar, قصي ٱبن كلاب ٱبن مرة, ''Qusayy ibn Kilāb ibn Murrah''; ca. 400–48 ...
. Historians including
Patricia Crone Patricia Crone (March 28, 1945July 11, 2015) was a Danish-American Orientalist, and historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a perso ...
and
Tom Holland Thomas Stanley Holland (born 1 June 1996) is an English actor. A graduate of the BRIT School, BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology in London, he began his acting career on the West End theatre, West End stage in the title role of '' ...
have cast doubt on the claim that Mecca was a major historical trading outpost.Crone, Patricia; ''Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam''; 1987; p.7 However, other scholars such as Glen W. Bowersock disagree and assert that Mecca was a major trading outpost. Crone later on disregarded some of her theories as shown in her later work. She argues that Meccan trade relied on skins, hides, manufactured leather goods, clarified butter, Hijazi woollens, and camels. She suggests that most of these goods were destined for the Roman army, which is known to have required colossal quantities of leather and hides for its equipment. Mecca is mentioned in the following early Quranic manuscripts: * Codex Is. 1615 I, folio 47v,
radiocarbon dated Radiocarbon dating (also referred to as carbon dating or carbon-14 dating) is a method for determining the age of an object containing organic material Organic matter, organic material, or natural organic matter refers to the large source of ...
to 591–643 CE. * Codex Ṣanʿāʾ DAM 01–29.1, folio 29a, radiocarbon dated between 633 and 665 CE. * Codex Arabe 331, folio 40 v, radiocarbon dated between 652 and 765 CE. The earliest Muslim inscriptions are from the Mecca-
Ta'if Taif ( ar, اَلطَّائِفُ, translit=aṭ-Ṭāʾif, lit=The circulated or encircled) is a city and governorate in the Makkah Province of Saudi Arabia. Located at an elevation of in the slopes of the Hejaz Mountains, which themselves are p ...
area. Islamic narrative In the Islamic view, the beginnings of Mecca are attributed to the Biblical figures,
Abraham Abraham, ''Ibrāhīm''; el, Ἀβραάμ, translit=Abraám, name=, group= (originally Abram) is the common patriarch of the Abrahamic religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In Judaism, he is the founding father of the covenan ...

Abraham
,
Hagar Hagar ( he, הָגָר, ''Hāgār'', of uncertain origin; ar, هَاجَر ''Hājar''; gr, Ἁγάρ, ''Hagár''; la, Agar) is a biblical figure. According to the Book of Genesis The Book of Genesis,, "''Bərēšīṯ''", "In hebeginn ...

Hagar
and
Ishmael Ishmael ''Ismaḗl''; Classical/Qur'anic Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of ...
. The civilization of Mecca is believed to have started after Ibrāhīm (Abraham) left his son Ismāʿīl (Ishmael) and wife Hājar (Hagar) in the valley at
Allah Allah (; ar, الله, translit=Allāh, ) is the Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East ...

Allah
's command. Some people from the
Yemen ) , image_map = Yemen on the globe (Yemen centered).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Sana'a Sanaa ( ar, صَنْعَاء, ' , Yemeni Arabic: ; Old South Arabian: 𐩮 ...

Yemen
i tribe of
Jurhum Jurhum ( ar, جرهم, Jurhum; also Banu Jurhum or The second Jurhum) historically referred to as Gorrhamite by the Greeks, was an old Arab The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, ISO 233 The international standard are techn ...
settled with them, and Isma'il reportedly married two women, one after divorcing the first, on Ibrahim's advice. At least one man of the Jurhum helped Ismāʿīl and his father to construct or according to Islamic narratives, reconstruct, the ''
Ka'bah The Kaaba (, ), also spelled Ka'bah or Kabah, sometimes referred to as al-Kaʿbah al-Musharrafah ( ar, ٱلْكَعْبَة ٱلْمُشَرَّفَة, lit=Honored Ka'bah, links=no, translit=al-Kaʿbah al-Musharrafah), is a building at the cen ...

Ka'bah
'' ('Cube'), Quran 2:127 which would have social, religious, political and historical implications for the site and region. Muslims see the mention of a pilgrimage at the
Valley of Baca Bakkah ( ar, بَكَّةُ ), is a place mentioned in ''sura A ''surah'' (; ar, سورة, Sūratun or sūrah; , ) is the equivalent of "chapter" in the Quran. There are 114 ''surahs'' in the Quran, each divided into ''ayahs'' (verses). T ...
in the
Old Testament The Old Testament (often abbreviated OT) is the first division of the Christian biblical canon A biblical canon or canon of scripture is a set of texts (or "books") which a particular Jewish or Christian religious community regards as aut ...
chapter
Psalm 84 Psalm 84 is the 84th psalm of the Book of Psalms The Book of Psalms ( or ; he, תְּהִלִּים, , lit. "praises"), commonly referred to simply as Psalms, the Psalter or "the Psalms", is the first book of the ("Writings"), the third ...
:3–6 as a reference to Mecca, similar to the Quran at Surah 3:96. In the ''Sharḥ al-Asāṭīr'', a commentary on the
Samaritan Samaritans (; ; he, שומרונים, translit=Shomronim; ar, السامريون, translit=as-Sāmiriyyūn) or Samaritan people are members of an ethnoreligious group originating from the Israelites of historical History of ancient Israel a ...

Samaritan
midrash ''Midrash'' (;"midrash"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''.
he, מִדְרָשׁ; ...

midrash
ic chronology of the Patriarchs, of unknown date but probably composed in the 10th century CE, it is claimed that Mecca was built by the sons of
Nebaioth Nebaioth () ( Arabic:نبط ''Nabit'') or Nebajoth is mentioned at least five times in the Hebrew Bible, according to which he was the firstborn son of Ishmael, and the name appears as the name of one of the wilderness tribes mentioned in the Book ...
, the eldest son of Ismāʿīl or
Ishmael Ishmael ''Ismaḗl''; Classical/Qur'anic Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of ...
. Thamudic inscriptions Some
Thamudic Thamudic is a name that refers to ancient Arabic Thamudic tribe language found by nineteenth-century scholars for large numbers of inscriptions in Ancient North Arabian Ancient North Arabian (ANA)http://e-learning.tsu.ge/pluginfile.php/5868/mod_reso ...
inscriptions which were discovered in the south
Jordan Jordan ( ar, الأردن; tr. ' ), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,; tr. ') is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In ge ...

Jordan
contained names of some individuals such as ''ʿAbd Mekkat'' (, "Servant of Mecca"). There were also some other inscriptions which contained personal names such as ''Makki'' (, "Makkahn"), but Jawwad Ali from the
University of Baghdad The University of Baghdad (UOB) ( ar, جامعة بغداد ''Jāmi'at Baghdād'') is the largest university in Iraq and the second largest in the Arab world, behind the Cairo University, University of Cairo. Nomenclature Both University of B ...

University of Baghdad
suggested that there's also a probability of a tribe named "Makkah".


Under the Quraish

Sometime in the 5th century, the Ka'bah was a place of worship for the deities of Arabia's pagan tribes. Mecca's most important
pagan Paganism (from classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, includ ...
deity A deity or god is a supernatural being considered divinity, divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' defines deity as a God (male deity), god or goddess (in a polytheistic religion), or anything revered as divine. C. Scott Littleto ...

deity
was
Hubal Hubal ( ar, هُبَل) was a god worshipped in pre-Islamic Arabia, notably by Quraysh at the Kaaba in Mecca. The god's idol was a human figure believed to control acts of divination, which was performed by Belomancy, tossing arrows before the s ...

Hubal
, which had been placed there by the ruling
Quraish The Quraysh ( ar, قُرَيْشٌ, ) were a grouping of Arab clans that historically inhabited and controlled the city of Mecca and its Ka'ba. The Islamic prophet Muhammad was born into the Banu Hashim, Hashim clan of the tribe. Despite this, ...
tribe. and remained until the
Conquest of Mecca The conquest of Mecca ( ar, فتح مكة ') was the conquering of the town of Mecca Mecca, officially Makkah al-Mukarramah () and commonly shortened to Makkah,Quran 48:22 ' () is the Holy sites in islam, holiest city in Islam and the ...
by
Muhammad Muhammad ibn AbdullahHe is referred to by many appellations, including Messenger of Allah, The Prophet Muhammad, Allah's Apostle, Last Prophet of Islam, and others; there are also many variant spellings of Muhammad, such as Mohamet, Mohammed, ...

Muhammad
. In the 5th century, the Quraish took control of Mecca, and became skilled merchants and traders. In the 6th century, they joined the lucrative
spice trade The spice trade involved historical civilizations in Asia Asia () is a landmass variously described as part of Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified b ...
, since battles elsewhere were diverting
trade route A trade route is a Logistics, logistical network identified as a series of pathways and stoppages used for the commercial transport of cargo. The term can also be used to refer to trade over bodies of water. Allowing Good (economics and accountin ...
s from dangerous sea routes to more secure overland routes. The
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
had previously controlled the
Red Sea The Red Sea ( ar, البحر الأحمر, translit=al-Baḥr al-ʾAḥmar; or ; Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a North ...

Red Sea
, but
piracy Piracy is an act of robbery Robbery is the crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine publi ...

piracy
had been increasing. Another previous route that ran through the
Persian Gulf The Persian Gulf ( fa, خلیج فارس, translit=xalij-e fârs, lit=Gulf of , ) is a in . The body of water is an extension of the () through the and lies between to the northeast and the to the southwest.United Nations Group of Exper ...
via the
Tigris The Tigris () is the easternmost of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of the Armenian Highlands through the Syrian Desert, Syrian and Arabian Deserts, and empti ...

Tigris
and
Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Tigris–Euphrates river system, Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia (the "Land Between the Rivers"). O ...
rivers was also being threatened by exploitations from the
Sassanid Empire The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (, ''Ērānshahr The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (Middle Persian Middle Persian or Pahlavi, also known by its ...
, and was being disrupted by the
Lakhmids The Lakhmids ( ar, اللخميون) referred to in Arabic as al-Manādhirah () or Banu Lakhm () was an Arab The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, ISO 233 The international standard are technical standards developed b ...

Lakhmids
, the
Ghassanids The Ghassanids ( ar, الغساسنة, al-Ghasāsinah, also ''Banū Ghassān'' "Sons of Ghassān"), also called the Jafnids, were an Arab The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, : , Arabic pronunciation: , plural ar, ...
, and the
Roman–Persian Wars The Roman–Persian Wars, also known as the Roman–Iranian Wars, were a series of conflicts between states of the Greco-Roman world File:Merida Roman Theatre2.jpg, Roman Theatre of Mérida, Spain. The term "Greco-Roman world" (also "Greco ...
. Mecca's prominence as a trading center also surpassed the cities of
Petra The Positron-Electron Tandem Ring Accelerator (PETRA) is one of the particle accelerator A particle accelerator is a machine that uses electromagnetic fields to propel electric charge, charged particles to very high speeds and energies, and to ...

Petra
and
Palmyra Palmyra (; Palmyrene dialect, Palmyrene: 𐡶𐡣𐡬𐡥𐡴 () ''Tadmor''; ar, تَدْمُر ''Tadmur'') is an ancient Semitic people, Semitic city in present-day Homs Governorate, Syria. Archaeological finds date back to the Neolithic pe ...

Palmyra
."Makka – The pre-Islamic and early Islamic periods", ''Encyclopaedia of Islam'' Lapidus, p. 14 The Sassanids however did not always pose a threat to Mecca, as in 575 CE they protected it from a Yemeni invasion, led by its Christian leader Abraha. The tribes of southern Arabia asked the Persian king Khosrau I for aid, in response to which he came south to Arabia with foot-soldiers and a fleet of ships near Mecca. By the middle of the 6th century, there were three major settlements in northern Arabian Peninsula, Arabia, all along the south-western coast that borders the Red Sea, in a habitable region between the sea and the Hejaz mountains to the east. Although the area around Mecca was completely barren, it was the wealthiest of the three settlements with abundant water from the renowned Zamzam Well and a position at the crossroads of major Camel train, caravan routes. The harsh conditions and terrain of the Arabian peninsula meant a near-constant state of conflict between the Tribes of Arabia, local tribes, but once a year they would declare a truce and converge upon Mecca in an annual pilgrimage. Up to the 7th century, this journey was intended for religious reasons by the pagan Arabs to pay homage to their shrine, and to drink Zamzam Well, Zamzam. However, it was also the time each year that disputes would be arbitrated, debts would be resolved, and trading would occur at Meccan fairs. These annual events gave the tribes a sense of common identity and made Mecca an important focus for the peninsula. Lapidus, pp. 16–17 The Year of the Elephant (570 CE) The "Year of the Elephant" is the name in
Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", "ah gawd"; see interjection An interjection is a word or ex ...
ic history for the year approximately equating to 550–552 Common Era, CE, when, according to Islamic sources such as Ibn Ishaq, Abraha descended upon Mecca, riding an elephant, with a large army after building a Church (building), cathedral at Sanaa, San'aa, named ''al-Qullays'' in honor of the Negus of Axum. It gained widespread fame, even gaining attention from the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
. Abraha attempted to divert the pilgrimage of the Arabs from the Ka'bah to al-Qullays, effectively converting them to Christianity. According to Islamic tradition, this was the year of
Muhammad Muhammad ibn AbdullahHe is referred to by many appellations, including Messenger of Allah, The Prophet Muhammad, Allah's Apostle, Last Prophet of Islam, and others; there are also many variant spellings of Muhammad, such as Mohamet, Mohammed, ...

Muhammad
's birth. Abraha allegedly sent a messenger named Muhammad ibn Khuza'i to Mecca and Tihamah with a message that al-Qullays was both much better than other houses of worship and purer, having not been defiled by the housing of idols. When Muhammad ibn Khuza'i got as far as the land of Banu Kinanah, Kinana, the people of the lowland, knowing what he had come for, sent a man of Banu Hudhayl, Hudhayl called ʿUrwa bin Hayyad al-Milasi, who shot him with an arrow, killing him. His brother Qays who was with him, fled to Abraha and told him the news, which increased his rage and fury and he swore to raid the Kinana tribe and destroy the Ka'bah. Ibn Ishaq further states that one of the men of the
Quraysh The Quraysh ( ar, قُرَيْشٌ, ) were a grouping of Arab clans that historically inhabited and controlled the city of Mecca and its Ka'ba. The Islamic prophet Muhammad was born into the Banu Hashim, Hashim clan of the tribe. Despite this, ...
tribe was angered by this, and going to Sana'a, entering the church at night and defiling it; widely assumed to have done so by defecation, defecating in it."Abraha."
''Dictionary of African Christian Biographies''. 2007. (last accessed 11 April 2007)
Müller, Walter W. (1987

, in Werner Daum (ed.), ''Yemen: 3000 Years of Art and Civilisation in Arabia Felix''.
Abraha marched upon the
Ka'bah The Kaaba (, ), also spelled Ka'bah or Kabah, sometimes referred to as al-Kaʿbah al-Musharrafah ( ar, ٱلْكَعْبَة ٱلْمُشَرَّفَة, lit=Honored Ka'bah, links=no, translit=al-Kaʿbah al-Musharrafah), is a building at the cen ...

Ka'bah
with a large army, which included one or more war elephants, intending to demolish it. When news of the advance of his army came, the Arab tribes of Quraysh, Kinanah, Banu Khuza'a, Khuza'a and Hudhayl united in the defense of the Ka'bah and the city. A man from the Himyarite Kingdom was sent by Abraha to advise them that Abraha only wished to demolish the Ka'bah and if they resisted, they would be crushed. Abdul Muttalib told the Meccans to seek refuge in the hills while he and some members of the Quraysh remained within the precincts of the Kaaba. Abraha sent a dispatch inviting Abdul-Muttalib to meet with Abraha and discuss matters. When Abdul-Muttalib left the meeting he was heard saying,
"The Owner of this House is its Defender, and I am sure he will save it from the attack of the adversaries and will not dishonor the servants of His House."
Abraha eventually attacked Mecca. However, the lead elephant, known as Mahmud, is said to have stopped at the boundary around Mecca and refused to enter. It has been theorized that an epidemic such as by smallpox could have caused such a failed invasion of Mecca. The reference to the story in Quran is rather short. According to the 105th Surah of the Quran, Al-Fil, the next day, a dark cloud of small birds sent by Allah appeared. The birds carried small rocks in their beaks, and bombarded the Ethiopian forces, and smashed them to a state like that of eaten straw. Economy Camel caravans, said to have first been used by Muhammad's great-grandfather, were a major part of Mecca's bustling economy. Alliances were struck between the merchants in Mecca and the local nomadic tribes, who would bring goods – leather, livestock, and metals mined in the local mountains – to Mecca to be loaded on the caravans and carried to cities in Syria (region), Shaam and Iraq.#iw, ''Islamic World'', pp. 17–18 Historical accounts also provide some indication that goods from other continents may also have flowed through Mecca. Goods from Africa and the Far East passed through en route to Syria including spices, leather, medicine, cloth, and slaves; in return Mecca received money, weapons, cereals and wine, which in turn were distributed throughout Arabia. The Meccans signed treaties with both the Byzantines and the Bedouins, and negotiated safe passages for caravans, giving them water and pasture rights. Mecca became the center of a loose confederation of client tribes, which included those of the Banu Tamim. Other regional powers such as the Habesha people, Abyssinians, Ghassanids, and Lakhmids were in decline leaving Meccan trade to be the primary binding force in Arabia in the late 6th century.


Muhammad and the conquest of Mecca

Muhammad was born in Mecca in 570, and thus Islam has been inextricably linked with it ever since. He was born in a faction, the Banu Hashim, of the ruling Quraysh tribe. It was in Mecca, in the nearby mountain cave of Hira on Jabal al-Nour, that, according to Islamic tradition, Muhammad began receiving divine revelations from God through the archangel Gabriel, Jibreel in 610 CE. Advocating his form of Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic monotheism against Meccan paganism, and after enduring persecution from the pagan tribes for 13 years, Muhammad emigrated to Medina (Hijra (Islam), ''hijrah'') in 622 with his companions, the ''Muhajirun'', to Yathrib (later renamed Medina). The conflict between the Quraysh and the Muslims is accepted to have begun at this point. Overall, Meccan efforts to annihilate Islam failed and proved to be costly and unsuccessful. During the Battle of the Trench in 627, the combined armies of Arabia were unable to defeat Muhammad's forces. Lapidus, p. 32 In 628, Muhammad and his followers wanted to enter Mecca for pilgrimage, but were blocked by the Quraysh. Subsequently, Muslims and Meccans entered into the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, whereby the Quraysh and their allies promised to cease fighting Muslims and their allies and promised that Muslims would be allowed into the city to perform the pilgrimage the following year. It was meant to be a ceasefire for 10 years; however, just two years later, the Banu Bakr, allies of the Quraish, violated the truce by slaughtering a group of the Banu Khuza'ah, allies of the Muslims. Muhammad and his companions, now 10,000 strong, marched into Mecca and conquered the city. The pagan imagery was destroyed by Muhammad's followers and the location Islamized and rededicated to the worship of
Allah Allah (; ar, الله, translit=Allāh, ) is the Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East ...

Allah
alone. Mecca was declared the holiest site in Islam ordaining it as the center of Muslim pilgrimage (''
Hajj The Hajj (; ar, حَجّ ' "wikt:pilgrimage, ''pilgrimage''"; sometimes also spelled Hadj, Hadji or Haj in English) is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the Holiest sites in Islam, holiest city for Muslims. Hajj is a Far ...
''), one of the faith's Five Pillars of Islam, Five Pillars. Muhammad then returned to Medina, after assigning 'Akib ibn Usaid as governor of the city. His other activities in Arabia led to the unification of the peninsula under the banner of Islam. Muhammad died in 632. Within the next few hundred years, the area under the banner of Islam stretched from North Africa into Asia and parts of Europe. As the Rashidun Caliphate, Islamic realm grew, Mecca continued to attract pilgrims from all across the Muslim world and beyond, as Muslims came to perform the annual Hajj pilgrimage. Mecca also attracted a year-round population of scholars, pious Muslims who wished to live close to the Kaaba, and local inhabitants who served the pilgrims. Due to the difficulty and expense of the Hajj, pilgrims arrived by boat at Jeddah, and came overland, or joined the annual caravans from Syria or Iraq.


Medieval and pre-modern times

Mecca was never the capital of any of the caliphate, Islamic states. Muslim rulers did contribute to its upkeep, such as during the reigns of 'Umar (r. 634–644 CE) and 'Uthman ibn Affan (r. 644–656 CE) when concerns of flooding caused the caliphs to bring in Christian engineers to build barrages in the low-lying quarters and construct dykes and embankments to protect the area around the Kaaba. Muhammad's return to Medina shifted the focus away from Mecca and later even further away when 'Ali, the fourth caliph, took power chose Kufa as his capital. The Umayyad Caliphate moved the capital to Damascus in Syria and the Abbasid Caliphate to Baghdad, in modern-day Iraq, which remained the center of the Islamic Empire for nearly 500 years. Mecca re-entered Islamic political history during the Second Fitna, when it was held by Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr, Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr and the Zubayrids. The city was twice besieged by the Umayyads, in Siege of Mecca (683), 683 and Siege of Mecca (692), 692 and for some time thereafter, the city figured little in politics, remaining a city of devotion and scholarship governed by various other factions. In 930, Mecca was attacked and sacked by Qarmatians, a millenarianism, millenarian Shia Islam, Shi'a Ismailism, Isma'ili Islamic schools and branches, Muslim sect led by Abū-Tāhir Al-Jannābī and centered in eastern Arabia. The Black Death pandemic hit Mecca in 1349. File:Adriaan-Reland-Verhandeling-van-de-godsdienst-der-Mahometaanen MG 0723.tif, Mecca, 1718 CE File:Mecca-1850.jpg, Mecca, c. 1778 CE File:Mecca1880s.jpg, Mecca, in the 1880s File:Makkah-1910.jpg, Mecca in 1910 File:Mecca view.jpg, Pilgrims surround the Ka'bah in 1910


Ibn Battuta's description of Mecca

One of the most famous travelers to Mecca in the 14th century was a Moroccan scholar and traveler, Ibn Battuta. In his ''rihla'' (account), he provides a vast description of the city. Around the year 1327 CE or 729 AH, Ibn Battuta arrived at the holy city. Immediately, he says, it felt like a holy sanctuary, and thus. he started the rites of the pilgrimage. He remained in Mecca for three years and left in 1330 CE. During his second year in the holy city, he says his caravan arrived "with a great quantity of alms for the support of those who were staying in Mecca and Medina". While in Mecca, prayers were made for (not to) the King of Iraq and also for Saladin, Salaheddin al-Ayyubi, Sultan of Egypt and Syria at the Ka'bah. Battuta says the Ka'bah was large, but was destroyed and rebuilt smaller than the original and that it contained images of angels and prophets including Jesus, his mother Mary, and many others. Battuta describes the Ka'bah as an important part of Mecca due to the fact that many people make the pilgrimage to it. Battuta describes the people of the city as being humble and kind, and also willing to give a part of everything they had to someone who had nothing. The inhabitants of Mecca and the village itself, he says, were very clean. There was also a sense of elegance to the village. Under the Ottomans In 1517, the then Sharif of Mecca, Barakat bin Muhammad, acknowledged the supremacy of the Ottoman Caliphate, Ottoman Caliph but retained a great degree of local autonomy. In 1803 the city was captured by the First Saudi State, which held Mecca until 1813. destroying some of the historic tombs and domes in and around the city. The Ottomans assigned the task of bringing Mecca back under Ottoman control to their powerful ''Khedive'' (viceroy) and ''Wali (administrative title), Wali'' of Egypt, Muhammad Ali of Egypt, Muhammad Ali Pasha. Muhammad Ali Pasha successfully returned Mecca to Ottoman control Ottoman return of Mecca 1813, in 1813. In 1818, the Saud were defeated again but survived and founded the Second Saudi State that lasted until 1891 and led on to the present country of Saudi Arabia. In 1853, Sir Richard Francis Burton undertook the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina disguised as a Muslim. Although Burton was certainly not the first non-Muslim European to make the ''Hajj'' (Ludovico di Varthema did this in 1503), his pilgrimage remains one of the most famous and documented of modern times. Mecca was regularly hit by cholera Cholera outbreaks and pandemics, outbreaks. Between 1830 and 1930, cholera broke out among pilgrims at Mecca 27 times.


Modern history

Hashemite Revolt and subsequent control by the Sharifate of Mecca In World War I, the Ottoman Empire was at war with the Allies of World War I, Allies. It had successfully repulsed an attack on Istanbul in the Gallipoli campaign and on Baghdad in the Siege of Kut. The British intelligence agent T.E. Lawrence conspired with the Ottoman governor, Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca, Hussain bin Ali, the Sharif of Mecca to revolt against the Ottoman Empire and it was the first city captured by his forces in the Battle of Mecca (1916), 1916 Battle of Mecca. Sharif's revolt proved a turning point of the war on the eastern front. Hussein declared a new state, the Kingdom of Hejaz, declaring himself the Sharif of the state and Mecca his capital. News reports in November 1916 via contact in Cairo with returning
Hajj The Hajj (; ar, حَجّ ' "wikt:pilgrimage, ''pilgrimage''"; sometimes also spelled Hadj, Hadji or Haj in English) is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the Holiest sites in Islam, holiest city for Muslims. Hajj is a Far ...
pilgrims, stated that with the Ottoman Turkish authorities gone, the Hajj of 1916 was free of the previous massive extortion and monetary demands made by the Turks who were agents of the Ottoman government. Saudi Arabian conquest and modern history Following the Battle of Mecca (1924), 1924 Battle of Mecca, the Sharif of Mecca was overthrown by the Saud family, and Mecca was incorporated into Saudi Arabia."Mecca"
at Encarta. (Archived) 1 November 2009.
Under Saudi rule, much of the historic city has been demolished as a result of the Saudi government fearing these sites might become sites of association in worship besides Allah (''Shirk (Islam), shirk''). The city has been expanded to include several towns previously considered to be separate from the holy city and now is just a few kilometers outside the main sites of the Hajj, Mina, Muzdalifah and Arafat. Mecca is not served by any airport, due to concerns about the city's safety. It is instead served by the King Abdulaziz International Airport in
Jeddah Jeddah ( ), also spelled Jedda, Jiddah or Jidda ( ; ar, جِدَّة, Jidda, ), is a city in the Hejaz The Hejaz (, also ; ar, ٱلْحِجَاز, al-Ḥijāz, lit=the Barrier, ) is a region in the west of Saudi Arabia (''Shahada ...

Jeddah
(approx. 70 km away) internationally and the Ta'if Regional Airport (approx. 120 km away) for domestic flights. The city today is at the junction of the two most important highways in all of the Saudi Arabian highway system, Highway 40, which connects the city to Jeddah in the west and the capital,
Riyadh Riyadh ( ar, الرياض, 'ar-Riyāḍ, Literal translation, lit.: 'The Gardens' Najdi Arabic, Najdi pronunciation: ) is the capital of Saudi Arabia and the largest city on the Arabian Peninsula. Located in the center of the An Nafud, an-Naf ...

Riyadh
and Dammam in the east and Highway 15, which connects it to Medina, Tabuk, Saudi Arabia, Tabuk and onward to
Jordan Jordan ( ar, الأردن; tr. ' ), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,; tr. ') is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In ge ...

Jordan
in the north and Abha and Jizan in the south. The Ottomans had planned to extend their railway network to the holy city, but were forced to abandon this plan due to their partaking in the World War I, First World War. This plan was later carried out by the Saudi government, which connected the two holy cities of Medina and Mecca with the modern Haramain high-speed railway system which runs at 300 km/h (190 mph) and connects the two cities via Jeddah, King Abdulaziz International Airport and King Abdullah Economic City near Rabigh within two hours. The Haram (site), haram area of Mecca, in which the entry of non-Muslims is forbidden, is much larger than that of Medina. 1979 Grand Mosque seizure On 20 November 1979, two hundred armed dissidents led by Juhayman al-Otaibi, Grand Mosque Seizure, seized the Grand Mosque, claiming the Saudi royal family no longer represented pure Islam and that the Masjid al-Haram and the Ka'bah, must be held by those of true faith. The rebels seized tens of thousands of pilgrims as hostages and barricaded themselves in the mosque. The siege lasted two weeks, and resulted in several hundred deaths and significant damage to the shrine, especially the Al-Safa and Al-Marwah, Safa-Marwah gallery. A multinational force was finally able to retake the mosque from the dissidents. Since then, the Grand Mosque has been expanded several times, with many other expansions being undertaken in the present day. Destruction of Islamic heritage sites Under Saudi rule, it has been estimated that since 1985, about 95% of Mecca's historic buildings, most over a thousand years old, have been demolished.'The destruction of Mecca: Saudi hardliners are wiping out their own heritage'
, The Independent, 6 August 2005. Retrieved 17 January 2011
It has been reported that there are now fewer than 20 structures remaining in Mecca that date back to the time of Muhammad. Some important buildings that have been destroyed include the house of Khadija bint Khuwaylid, Khadijah, the wife of Muhammad, the house of Abu Bakr, Muhammad's birthplace and the Ottoman-era
Ajyad Fortress The Ajyad Fortress (Ottoman Turkish Ottoman Turkish ( ota, لِسانِ عُثمانى, , ; tr, Osmanlı Türkçesi) was the standardized register A register is an authoritative list of one kind of information. Register or registration m ...
. The reason for much of the destruction of historic buildings has been for the construction of hotels, apartments, parking lots, and other infrastructure facilities for
Hajj The Hajj (; ar, حَجّ ' "wikt:pilgrimage, ''pilgrimage''"; sometimes also spelled Hadj, Hadji or Haj in English) is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the Holiest sites in Islam, holiest city for Muslims. Hajj is a Far ...
pilgrims. Incidents during pilgrimage Mecca has been the site of several incidents and failures of crowd control because of the large numbers of people who come to make the Hajj. For example, on 2 July 1990, a pilgrimage to Mecca ended in tragedy when the ventilation system failed in a crowded pedestrian tunnel and 1,426 people were either suffocated or trampled to death in a 1990 Hajj stampede, stampede. On 24 September 2015, 700 pilgrims 2015 Mina stampede, were killed in a stampede at Mina, Saudi Arabia, Mina during the stoning-the-Devil ritual at Jamarat.


Significance in Islam

Mecca holds an important place in Islam and is the holiest city in all branches of the religion. The city derives its importance from the role it plays in the
Hajj The Hajj (; ar, حَجّ ' "wikt:pilgrimage, ''pilgrimage''"; sometimes also spelled Hadj, Hadji or Haj in English) is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the Holiest sites in Islam, holiest city for Muslims. Hajj is a Far ...
and '
Umrah The ʿUmrah ( ar, عُمْرَة, lit="to visit a populated place") is an Islamic pilgrimage A pilgrimage is a journey, often into an unknown or foreign place, where a person goes in search of new or expanded meaning about their self, others ...
.


Masjid al-Haram

The ''Masjid al-Haram'' is the largest mosque in the world and the most expensive single building in the entire world, valued at 100 billion US dollars, as of 2020. It is the site of two of the most important rites of both the Hajj and of the Umrah, the circumambulation around the Ka'bah (''tawaf'') and the walking between the two mounts of Safa and Marwa (''sa'ee''). The masjid is also the site of the Zamzam Well. According to Islamic tradition, a prayer in the masjid is equal to 100,000 prayers in any other masjid around the world.


Kaaba

There is a difference of opinion between Islamic scholars upon who first built the
Ka'bah The Kaaba (, ), also spelled Ka'bah or Kabah, sometimes referred to as al-Kaʿbah al-Musharrafah ( ar, ٱلْكَعْبَة ٱلْمُشَرَّفَة, lit=Honored Ka'bah, links=no, translit=al-Kaʿbah al-Musharrafah), is a building at the cen ...
, some believe it was built by the Angels in Islam, angels while others believe it was built by Adam and Eve, Adam. Regardless, it was built several times before reaching its current state. The Ka'bah is also the common direction of prayer (''
qibla The qibla ( ar, قِبْلَة, links=no, lit=direction, translit=qiblah) is the direction towards the Kaaba The Kaaba (, ), also spelled Ka'bah or Kabah, sometimes referred to as al-Kaʿbah al-Musharrafah ( ar, ٱلْكَعْبَة ٱل ...

qibla
'') for all Muslims. The surface surrounding the Ka'bah on which Muslims circumambulate it is known as the Mataf.


Hijr al-Aswad (The Black Stone)

The Black Stone is a stone, considered by scientists to be a meteorite or of similar origin and believed by Muslims to be of divine origin. It is set in the eastern corner of the Ka’bah and it is Sunnah to touch and kiss the stone. The area around the stone is generally always crowded and guarded by policemen to ensure the pilgrims' safety.


Maqam Ibrahim

This is the stone that Ibraham(Abraham) stood on to build the higher parts of the Ka'bah. It contains two footprints that are comparatively larger than average modern-day human feet. The stone is raised and housed in a golden hexagonal chamber beside the Ka'bah on the Mataf plate.


Safa and Marwa

Muslims believe that in the divine revelation to Muhammad, the Quran, Allah describes the mountains of Safa and Marwah as symbols of his divinity. Walking between the two mountains seven times, 4 times from Safa to Marwah and 3 times from Marwah interchangeably, is considered a mandatory pillar (''Fard, rukn'') of '
Umrah The ʿUmrah ( ar, عُمْرَة, lit="to visit a populated place") is an Islamic pilgrimage A pilgrimage is a journey, often into an unknown or foreign place, where a person goes in search of new or expanded meaning about their self, others ...
.


Hajj and 'Umrah

The Hajj pilgrimage also called the greater pilgrimage, attracts millions of Muslims from all over the world and almost triples Mecca's population for one week in the twelfth and final Islamic month of ''Dhu al-Hijjah''. In 2019, the Hajj attracted 2,489,406 pilgrims to the holy city. The 'Umrah, or the lesser pilgrimage, can be done at anytime during the year. Every adult, healthy Muslim who has the financial and physical capacity to travel to Mecca must perform the Hajj at least once in a lifetime. Umrah, the lesser pilgrimage, is not obligatory, but is recommended in the Quran. In addition to the ''Masjid al-Haram'', pilgrims also must visit the nearby towns of Mina, Saudi Arabia, Mina/Muna, Muzdalifah and Mount Arafat for various rituals that are part of the Hajj.


Jabal an-Nur

This is a mountain believed by Muslims to have been the place where Muhammad spent his time away from the bustling city of Mecca in seclusion.http://www.witness-pioneer.org . Retrieved 3 February 2013. The mountain is located on the eastern entrance of the city and is the highest point in the city at 642 meters (2,106 feet).


Hira'a Cave

Situated atop Jabal an-Nur, this is the place where Muslims believe Muhammad received the first revelation from Allah through the archangel Gabriel (Angels in Islam, Jibril in Islamic tradition) at the age of 40.


Geography

Mecca is located in the Hejaz, Hejaz region, a 200 km (124 mi) wide strip of mountains separating the An Nafud, Nafud desert from the
Red Sea The Red Sea ( ar, البحر الأحمر, translit=al-Baḥr al-ʾAḥmar; or ; Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a North ...

Red Sea
. The city is situated in a valley with the same name around 70 km (44 mi) west of the port city of
Jeddah Jeddah ( ), also spelled Jedda, Jiddah or Jidda ( ; ar, جِدَّة, Jidda, ), is a city in the Hejaz The Hejaz (, also ; ar, ٱلْحِجَاز, al-Ḥijāz, lit=the Barrier, ) is a region in the west of Saudi Arabia (''Shahada ...

Jeddah
. Mecca is one of the lowest cities in elevation in the Hejaz region, located at an elevation of 277 m (909 ft) above sea level at 21º23' north latitude and 39º51' east longitude. Mecca is divided into 34 districts. The city centers on the al-Haram area, which contains the Masjid al-Haram. The area around the mosque is the old city and contains the most famous district of Mecca, Ajyad. The main street that runs to ''al-Haram'' is the Ibrahim al-Khalil Street, named after Abraham in Islam, Ibrahim. Traditional, historical homes built of local rock, two to three stories long are still present within the city's central area, within view of modern hotels and shopping complexes. The total area of modern Mecca is over .


Elevation

Mecca is at an elevation of above sea level, and approximately 70 km (44 mi) inland from the Red Sea.#iw, ''Islamic World'', p. 13 It is one of the lowest in the
Hejaz The Hejaz (, also ; ar, ٱلْحِجَاز, al-Ḥijāz, lit=the Barrier, ) is a region in the west of Saudi Arabia. It includes the cities of Mecca, Medina, Jeddah, Tabuk, Saudi Arabia, Tabuk, Yanbu and Taif. It is also known as the "Western P ...

Hejaz
region.


Topography

The city center lies in a corridor between mountains, which is often called the "Hollow of Mecca". The area contains the valley of al-Taneem, the valley of Bakkah and the valley of Abqar."Makka – The Modern City", ''Encyclopaedia of Islam'' This mountainous location has defined the contemporary expansion of the city.


Sources of water

In pre-modern Mecca, the city used a few chief sources of water. The first were local wells, such as the Zamzam Well, that produced generally brackish water. The second source was the spring of 'Ayn Zubaydah (Spring of Zubaydah). The sources of this spring are the mountains of Jabal Sa'd and Jabal Kabkāb, which are a few kilometers east of 'Arafah/'Arafat or about southeast of Mecca. Water was transported from it using underground channels. A very sporadic third source was rainfall which was stored by the people in small reservoirs or cisterns. The rainfall, scant as it is, also presents the threat of flooding and has been a danger since earliest times. According to al-Kurdī, there had been 89 floods by 1965. In the last century, the most severe flood was that of 1942. Since then, dams have been built to ameliorate this problem.


Climate

Mecca features a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification, Köppen: ''BWh''), in three different Hardiness zone, plant hardiness zones: 10, 11 and 12. Like most Saudi Arabian cities, Mecca retains warm to hot temperatures even in winter, which can range from at night to in the afternoon, but also, very rarely, fall to zero and subzero temperatures. Summer temperatures are extremely hot and consistently break the mark in the afternoon, dropping to in the evening, but humidity remains relatively low, at 30–40%. Rain usually falls in Mecca in small amounts scattered between November and January, with heavy thunderstorms also common during the winter.


Economy

The Meccan economy has been heavily dependent on the annual pilgrimage. Income generated from the Hajj, in fact, not only powers the Meccan economy but has historically had far-reaching effects on the economy of the entire
Arabian Peninsula The Arabian Peninsula (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") is a peninsula of Western Asia, situated northeast of Africa on the Arabian Plate. At , the ...
. The income was generated in a number of ways. One method was taxing the pilgrims. Taxes were especially increased during the Great Depression, and many of these taxes existed to as late as 1972. Another way the Hajj generates income is through services to pilgrims. For example, the Saudi flag carrier, Saudia, generates 12% of its income from the pilgrimage. Fares paid by pilgrims to reach Mecca by land also generate income; as do the hotels and lodging companies that house them. The city takes in more than $100 million, while the Saudi government spends about $50 million on services for the Hajj. There are some industries and factories in the city, but Mecca no longer plays a major role in Saudi Arabia's economy, which is mainly based on oil exports. The few industries operating in Mecca include textiles, furniture, and utensils. The majority of the economy is service-oriented. Nevertheless, many industries have been set up in Mecca. Various types of enterprises that have existed since 1970 in the city include Iron mining, corrugated iron manufacturing, copper extraction, carpentry, upholstery, bakeries, farming and banking. The city has grown substantially in the 20th and 21st centuries, as the convenience and affordability of jet aircraft, jet travel has increased the number of pilgrims participating in the
Hajj The Hajj (; ar, حَجّ ' "wikt:pilgrimage, ''pilgrimage''"; sometimes also spelled Hadj, Hadji or Haj in English) is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the Holiest sites in Islam, holiest city for Muslims. Hajj is a Far ...
. Thousands of Saudis are employed year-round to oversee the Hajj and staff the hotels and shops that cater to pilgrims; these workers in turn have increased the demand for housing and services. The city is now ringed by freeways, and contains shopping malls and skyscrapers.


Human resources


Education

Formal education started to be developed in the late Ottoman period continuing slowly into Hashemite times. The first major attempt to improve the situation was made by a Jeddah merchant, Muhammad ʿAlī Zaynal Riḍā, who founded the Madrasat al-Falāḥ in Mecca in 1911–12 that cost £400,000. The school system in Mecca has many public and private schools for both males and females. As of 2005, there were 532 State school, public and private schools for males and another 681 public and private schools for female students. The medium of instruction in both public and private schools is Arabic with emphasis on English as a second language, but some private schools founded by foreign entities such as International schools use the English language as the medium of instruction. Some of these are coeducational while other schools are not. For higher education, the city has only one university, Umm Al-Qura University, which was established in 1949 as a college and became a public university in 1981.


Healthcare

Healthcare is provided by the Saudi government free of charge to all pilgrims. There are ten main hospitals in Mecca: * Ajyad Hospital () * King Faisal Hospital () * King Abdulaziz Hospital ( ar, مُسْتَشْفَى ٱلْمَلِك عَبْد ٱلْعَزِيْز بِحَي ٱلـزَّاهِر) * Al Noor Specialist Hospital () * Hira'a Hospital () * Maternity and Children's Hospital () * King Abdullah Medical City () * Khulais General Hospital () * Al Kamel General Hospital () * Ibn Sina Hospital () There are also many walk-in clinics available for both residents and pilgrims. Several temporary clinics are set up during the Hajj to tend to wounded pilgrims.


Effect of the COVID-19 pandemic

In February 2020, Saudi Arabia temporarily banned foreigners from entering Mecca and Medina to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic COVID-19 pandemic in Saudi Arabia, in the Kingdom.


Culture

Mecca's culture has been affected by the large number of pilgrims that arrive annually, and thus boasts a rich cultural heritage. As a result of the vast numbers of pilgrims coming to the city each year, Mecca has become by far the most diverse city in the Muslim world. Al Baik, a local fast-food chain, is very popular among pilgrims and locals alike. Until 2018, it was available only in Mecca, Medina and
Jeddah Jeddah ( ), also spelled Jedda, Jiddah or Jidda ( ; ar, جِدَّة, Jidda, ), is a city in the Hejaz The Hejaz (, also ; ar, ٱلْحِجَاز, al-Ḥijāz, lit=the Barrier, ) is a region in the west of Saudi Arabia (''Shahada ...

Jeddah
, and traveling to Jeddah just to get a taste of the fried chicken was common.


Sports

In pre-modern Mecca, the most common sports were impromptu wrestling and foot races. Association football, Football is now the most popular sport in Mecca and the kingdom, and the city hosts some of the oldest sport clubs in Saudi Arabia such as Al-Wahda (Mecca), Al Wahda FC (established in 1945). King Abdul Aziz Stadium, King Abdulaziz Stadium is the largest stadium in Mecca with a capacity of 38,000.


Demographics

Mecca is very densely populated. Most long-term residents live in the Old City, the area around the Great Mosque of Mecca, Great Mosque and many work to support pilgrims, known locally as the ''Hajj'' industry. 'Iyad Madani, the Saudi Arabian Minister for Hajj, was quoted saying, "We never stop preparing for the Hajj." Year-round, pilgrims stream into the city to perform the rites of '
Umrah The ʿUmrah ( ar, عُمْرَة, lit="to visit a populated place") is an Islamic pilgrimage A pilgrimage is a journey, often into an unknown or foreign place, where a person goes in search of new or expanded meaning about their self, others ...
, and during the last weeks of eleventh Islamic month, Dhu al-Qi'dah, on average 2–4 million Muslims arrive in the city to take part in the rites known as Hajj. Pilgrims are from varying ethnic group, ethnicities and backgrounds, mainly South Asia, South and Southeast Asia, Europe and Africa. Many of these pilgrims have remained and become residents of the city. The Burmese are an older, more established community who number roughly 250,000. Adding to this, the discovery of oil in the past 50 years has brought hundreds of thousands of working immigrants. Non-Muslims are not permitted to enter Mecca under Basic Law of Saudi Arabia, Saudi law, and using fraudulent documents to do so may result in arrest and prosecution. The prohibition extends to Ahmadiyya, Ahmadis, as they are considered non-Muslims. Nevertheless, many non-Muslims and Ahmadis have visited the city as these restrictions are loosely enforced. The first such recorded example of a non-Muslim entering the city is that of Ludovico di Varthema of Bologna in 1503. Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, is said to have visited Mecca in December 1518. One of the most famous was Richard Francis Burton, who traveled as a Qadiriyyah, Qadiriyya Sufism, Sufi from Afghanistan in 1853.
Mecca Province The Mecca Province ( ar, مِنْطَقَة مَكَّة '), also known as the Mecca Region, is one of the 13 provinces of Saudi Arabia The States of Saudi Arabia, also known as Regions , and officially the Emirates of the States of the Kingdom ...
is the only province where expatriates outnumber Saudis.


Architectural landmarks

Adorning the southern facade of the Masjid al-Haram, the Abraj Al Bait, Abraj al-Bait Complex, which towers over the Great Mosque, is a seven-building complex with the central clock tower having a length of 601 m (1,972 feet), making it the world's fourth-tallest building. All seven buildings in the complex also form the List of largest buildings in the world, third-largest building by floor area. The Mecca Gate, known popularly as the Quran Gate, on the western entrance of the city, or from Jeddah. Located on Highway 40, it marks the boundary of the Haram (site), Haram area where non-Muslims are prohibited from entering. The gate was designed in 1979 by an Egyptian architect, Samir Elabd, for the architectural firm IDEA Center. The structure is that of a book, representing the Quran, sitting on a Rehal (book rest), ''rehal'', or bookrest. – Makkah Gate


Communications


Press and newspapers

The first press was brought to Mecca in 1885 by Osman Nuri Pasha, an Ottoman Wali (administrative title), Wāli. During the Hashemite period, it was used to print the city's official gazette, ''Al Qibla''. The Saudi regime expanded this press into a larger operation, introducing the new Saudi official gazette of Mecca, ''Umm al-Qurā''. Mecca also has its own paper owned by the city, ''Al Nadwa''. However, other Saudi newspapers are also provided in Mecca such as the ''Saudi Gazette'', ''Al Madinah'', ''Okaz'' and ''Al-Bilad (Saudi newspaper), Al Bilad,'' in addition to other international newspapers.


TV

Telecommunications in the city were emphasized early under the Saudi reign. King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz pressed them forward as he saw them as a means of convenience and better governance. While under Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca, Hussein bin Ali, there were about 20 public telephones in the entire city; in 1936, the number jumped to 450, totaling about half the telephones in the country. During that time, telephone lines were extended to Jeddah and Ta’if, but not to the capital,
Riyadh Riyadh ( ar, الرياض, 'ar-Riyāḍ, Literal translation, lit.: 'The Gardens' Najdi Arabic, Najdi pronunciation: ) is the capital of Saudi Arabia and the largest city on the Arabian Peninsula. Located in the center of the An Nafud, an-Naf ...

Riyadh
. By 1985, Mecca, like other Saudi cities, possessed modern telephone, telex, radio and television communications. Many television stations serving the city area include Saudi T.V. Channel 1, Saudi TV1, Saudi T.V. Channel II, Saudi TV2, Saudi TV Sports, Al-Ekhbariya, Arab Radio and Television Network and various cable, satellite and other specialty television providers.


Radio

Limited radio communication was established within the Kingdom under the Hashemites. In 1929, wireless stations were set up in various towns in the region, creating a network that would become fully functional by 1932. Soon after World War II, the existing network was greatly expanded and improved. Since then, radio communication has been used extensively in directing the pilgrimage and addressing the pilgrims. This practice started in 1950, with the initiation of broadcasts on the Day of Arafa, Day of 'Arafah (9 Dhu al-Hijjah), and increased until 1957, at which time Radio Makkah became the most powerful station in the Middle East at 50 kW. Later, power was increased 9-fold to 450 kW. Music was not immediately broadcast, but gradually folk music was introduced.


Transportation


Air

The only airport near the city is the Mecca East airport, which is not active. Mecca is primarily served by King Abdulaziz International Airport in
Jeddah Jeddah ( ), also spelled Jedda, Jiddah or Jidda ( ; ar, جِدَّة, Jidda, ), is a city in the Hejaz The Hejaz (, also ; ar, ٱلْحِجَاز, al-Ḥijāz, lit=the Barrier, ) is a region in the west of Saudi Arabia (''Shahada ...

Jeddah
for international and regional connections and Ta'if Regional Airport for regional connections. To cater the large number of Hajj pilgrims, Jeddah Airport has Hajj Terminal, specifically for use in the ''Hajj'' season, which can accommodate 47 planes simultaneously and can receive 3,800 pilgrims per hour during the Hajj season.


Roads

Mecca, similar to Medina, lies at the junction of two of the most important highways in Saudi Arabia, Highway 40 (Saudi Arabia), Highway 40, connecting it to the important port city of
Jeddah Jeddah ( ), also spelled Jedda, Jiddah or Jidda ( ; ar, جِدَّة, Jidda, ), is a city in the Hejaz The Hejaz (, also ; ar, ٱلْحِجَاز, al-Ḥijāz, lit=the Barrier, ) is a region in the west of Saudi Arabia (''Shahada ...

Jeddah
in the west and the capital of
Riyadh Riyadh ( ar, الرياض, 'ar-Riyāḍ, Literal translation, lit.: 'The Gardens' Najdi Arabic, Najdi pronunciation: ) is the capital of Saudi Arabia and the largest city on the Arabian Peninsula. Located in the center of the An Nafud, an-Naf ...

Riyadh
and the other major port city, Dammam, in the east. The other, Highway 15, connects Mecca to the other holy Islamic city of Medina approximately 400 km (250 mi) in the north and onward to Tabuk, Saudi Arabia, Tabuk and
Jordan Jordan ( ar, الأردن; tr. ' ), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,; tr. ') is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In ge ...

Jordan
. While in the south, it connects Mecca to Abha and Jizan."The Roads and Ports Sectors in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia"
. saudia-online.com. 5 November 2001
Mecca is served by four ring roads, and these are very crowded compared to the three ring roads of Medina.


Rapid transit

Al Masha'er Al Muqaddassah Metro The Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro, Al Masha'er Al Muqaddassah Metro is a metro line in Mecca opened on 13 November 2010. The 18.1-kilometer (11.2-mile) elevated metro transports pilgrims to the holy sites of 'Mount Arafat, Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina, Saudi Arabia, Mina in the city to reduce congestion on the road and is only operational during the ''
Hajj The Hajj (; ar, حَجّ ' "wikt:pilgrimage, ''pilgrimage''"; sometimes also spelled Hadj, Hadji or Haj in English) is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the Holiest sites in Islam, holiest city for Muslims. Hajj is a Far ...
'' season. It consists of nine stations, three in each of the aforementioned towns. Mecca Metro The Mecca Metro, officially known as Makkah Mass Rail Transit, is a planned four-line Rapid transit, metro system for the city. This will be in addition to the Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro, Al Masha'er Al Muqaddassah Metro which carries pilgrims.


Rail


Intercity

In 2018, a high speed intercity rail line, part of the Haramain High Speed Rail Project, named the Haramain high-speed railway line entered operation, connecting the holy cities of Mecca and Medina together via
Jeddah Jeddah ( ), also spelled Jedda, Jiddah or Jidda ( ; ar, جِدَّة, Jidda, ), is a city in the Hejaz The Hejaz (, also ; ar, ٱلْحِجَاز, al-Ḥijāz, lit=the Barrier, ) is a region in the west of Saudi Arabia (''Shahada ...

Jeddah
, King Abdulaziz International Airport and King Abdullah Economic City in Rabigh. The railway consists of 35 Electric locomotive, electric trains and is capable of transporting 60 million passengers annually. Each train can achieve speeds of up to 300 kmh (190 mph), traveling a total distance of 450 km (280 mi), reducing the travel time between the two cities to less than two hours.


See also

*
Mecca Province The Mecca Province ( ar, مِنْطَقَة مَكَّة '), also known as the Mecca Region, is one of the 13 provinces of Saudi Arabia The States of Saudi Arabia, also known as Regions , and officially the Emirates of the States of the Kingdom ...
* Masjid al-Haram * Sharifate of Mecca


References


Bibliography

* *


Further reading

* * * * * Watt, W. Montgomery. "Makka – The pre-Islamic and early Islamic periods." ''Encyclopaedia of Islam''. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2008. Brill Online. 6 June 2008 * Winder, R.B. "Makka – The Modern City." ''Encyclopaedia of Islam''. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2008. Brill Online. 2008 *


Online


Mecca Saudi Arabia
in ''Encyclopædia Britannica Online'', by John Bagot Glubb, Assʿad Sulaiman Abdo, Swati Chopra, Darshana Das, Michael Levy, Gloria Lotha, Michael Ray, Surabhi Sinha, Noah Tesch, Amy Tikkanen, Grace Young and Adam Zeidan


External links


Holy Makkah Municipality




{{Authority control Mecca, Burial sites of the House of Saud Capitals of caliphates Closed cities Hajj Holy cities Islamic holy places Populated places in Mecca Province Provincial capitals of Saudi Arabia Red Sea