Mecca is a city in the Hejaz and the capital of Makkah Province in Saudi Arabia. Mecca is regarded as the holiest city in the religion of Islam and a pilgrimage to it known as the Hajj is obligatory for all able Muslims. Mecca is home to the Kaaba, by majority description Islam’s holiest site, as well as being the direction of Muslim prayer.
Mecca was long ruled by Muhammad’s descendants, the sharifs, acting either as independent rulers or as vassals to larger polities. During this expansion, Mecca has lost some historical structures and archaeological sites, such as the Ajyad Fortress.
Today, more than 15 million Muslims visit Mecca annually, including several million during the few days of the Hajj. In the 5th century, the Quraysh took control of Mecca, and became skilled merchants and traders.
In the 6th century they joined the lucrative spice trade as well, since battles in other parts of the world were causing trade routes to divert from the dangerous sea routes to the more secure overland routes.
The Byzantine Empire had previously controlled the Red Sea, but piracy had been on the augment. The central point of pilgrimage in Mecca before the advent of Islam in the 7th century, the cube-shaped stone building has been destroyed and rebuilt several times.
During pre-Islamic times the city was ruled by a series of Yemeni tribes. Under the Quraysh it became a type of city-state, with strong commercial links to the rest of Arabia, Ethiopia, and Europe.
According to ancient Arabian traditions, when Adam and Eve were cast from Paradise they fell to different parts of the earth; Adam on a mountain on the island of Serendip, or Sri Lanka, and Eve in Arabia, on the border of the Red Sea nears the port of Jeddah.
For two hundred years Adam and Eve wandered separate and lonely about the earth. Finally, in consideration of their penitence and wretchedness, God permitted them to come together again on Mt. Arafat, near the present city of Mecca.
In a certain sense Mecca is said to be visited by all Muslims every day; this because five times each day (three times in the Shi’a sect) millions upon millions of devoted believers kneel to pray. The archaeological record of Arabia is one of the best preserved on earth because the relatively low rainfall limited degradation of the archaeological evidence.
Many ancient towns such as Yemen, Qudar, Dedan, Tiema, Mada’in Saleh (Al-Hijr), Magan (Oman) and Dilmun are well attested in the historical and archaeological record, and also attest to each other.
Hajar ran seven times back and forth between the hills of Safa and Marwah in desperate search for water for her baby (pbuh) dying of thirst when miraculously the spring of ZamZam slowly appeared at her baby’s feet.
Masjid Al-Haram has been expanded numerous times from 10,270 square meters under the Umayyad Dynasty to 160,000 square meters in the 1960’s. There are so many places to explore, this world we are living in is full of beautiful places.