Makkah History, Saudi Arabia
Makkah or Mecca, Saudi Arabia, is known in the local language as “Al-Mamlaka al-'Arabiya as-Sa'udiyaIt is believed that Prophet Muhammad delegated the sacred status to Mecca, with the decree that all Muslims must offer their prayers 5 times a day, facing the holy city, wherever they live on earth. This is known as ‘Qibla’.
Mecca History and The Ka'ba
The Ka'ba in Mecca is held by the Muslims as the first place that God created on earth, having direct contact with the heavenly power and bliss. Muslims believe that the Ka'ba or ‘House of God’ was built by one of their holy personalities, Abraham, with the assistance of his son Ishmael, around 2,000 B.C. This reference is found in Quran; 2:127. “When Abraham built the foundations of the holy shrine with the help of Ismail, together they prayed: ‘Our Great Lord, please accept this small offer from all of us.
You are the Omniscient, the Hearer of everything'.” The Ka'ba is supposed to be a Blackstone structure, covered by a gold-embroidered black fabric. Non-Muslims are not allowed to witness the rituals and rites at the Ka'ba during Hajj.
One of the very few non-Muslims who had entered the Ka'ba complex was a British explorer, Sir Richard Burton, when he went inside in the disguise of an Afghani Muslim in 1853. He wrote his experiences in the book, ‘Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al Madinah and Mecca’. Before Prophet Muhammad designated the Ka'ba as the holiest place for Muslims, the people of Mecca had slipped away from the religion preached by Abraham. They had resorted to the worship of several idols, most important among them being al-Uzza, Manat, and al-Lat. Historians hold that the actual structure standing now as the Ka'ba had been destroyed and rebuilt many times in the past.
The history of Ka'ba
In his book that traces the history of the Ka'ba, Edward Gibbon had written that the nation had been respecting the religion and the holy place of Mecca for a long time, in spite of the changes in the rites enforced by various families, tribes, and leaders. He noted that the antiquity of the Ka'ba went beyond the era of Jesus Christ. He quoted the Greek historian, Diodorus Siculus that all Arabians comprising of the Sabeans and the Thamudites, bowed before the sanctity of a famous temple.
He added that the silken veil, made of linen, was initially presented by the Homerites, whose regime existed about seven hundred years before Mohammad established his religion. Today, the Turkish emperor renews the silk veil at the Ka'ba every year. The Greek historian belonging to first century B.C., Diodorus Siculus, whom Gibbon had referred to above, had written in his book, ‘Bibliotheca Historica’ that a temple was set up there that was considered very holy by all Arabians, who revered it without exception.
Mecca is referred to in the Quran, the Bible, and the Jewish Encyclopedia, as Baca or Baccah, meaning ‘weeping’, to signify the distress underwent by Hagar, when she was forced to stay in the desert with Ishmael. Baca is also considered to mean ‘lack of stream’, which is descriptive of the barren nature of the desert area in which it is situated. The only stream in that area is Zam-Zam or Zamzam near the Ka'ba and that is considered a very holy water by the Muslims. Even today, most of the Muslims carry back at least a bottle of the Zamzam water, after finishing their Hajj at the Ka'ba.
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