What is Mecca?

Table of Contents

Mecca… Etymology

Mecca has been, referred to by many names.
As with many Arabic words, its etymology 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.
… learn Quran online


The Quran refers to the city as Bakkah in Surah Al Imran , verse 96, 
“Indeed the first House [of worship], established for mankind was that at Bakkah…
” – Quran 3:96 
Also This is, presumed to have been, the name of the city at the time of Abraham
(Ibrahim in Islamic tradition)
and it is also transliterated as Baca, Baka, Bakah, Bakka, Becca, Bekka, among others.

Geographically and official

Mecca, officially Makkah al-Mukarramah (Arabic: مكة المكرمة‎, romanized:
Makkat al-Mukarramah, lit.
Makkah the Noble’ Hejazi pronunciation:
and commonly shortened to Makkah
Arabic: مكة, romanized: Makkah Hejazi pronunciation:
is a city and administrative center of the Mecca Province of Saudi Arabia,
and the holiest city in Islam.
It is 70 km (43 mi) inland from Jeddah on the Red Sea, in a narrow valley 277 m
(909 ft) above sea level.
Its last recorded population was 1,578,722 in 2015.
Its also estimated metro population in 2020 is 2.042 million, making it the third-most
populated city in Saudi Arabia after Riyadh and Jeddah.
Pilgrims more than triple this number every year during the Ḥajj pilgrimage,
observed in the twelfth Hijri month of Dhūl-Ḥijjah. 
Mecca is reputedly the birthplace of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
The Hira cave 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, known as the Masjid al-Haram, is home to the Ka’bah,
believed by Muslims to have been, built by Abraham and Ishmael.
It is one of Islam’s holiest sites and the direction of prayer for all Muslims (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 region,
the city has seen several regime changes.
The city was, finally conquered in the Saudi conquest of Hejaz by 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 world’s fourth-tallest
building and third-largest by floor area, towering over the Great Mosque.
The Saudi government has also carried out the destruction of several historical structures
and archaeological sites, such as the Ajyad Fortress. Non-Muslims are, strictly prohibited
from entering the city.

Muslims from around the world visit the city, not only for the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages

but also as tourists to visit regional landmarks such as the ‘Aisha Mosque (Masjid ‘Aisha)
and also the sites visited by pilgrims in the Hajj and ‘Umrah.
Also Mecca is now home to two of the most expensive buildings in the world,
the 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
(called Amin in Arabic) appointed by the Saudi government.
As of May 2015, the mayor of the city is Osama bin Fadhel Al-Barr.
The City of Mecca amanah, which constitutes Mecca and the surrounding region,
is the capital of the Mecca Province, which includes the neighboring cities of Jeddah and Ta’if,
even though Jeddah is, considerably larger in population compared to Mecca.
and also The Provincial Governor of the province from 16 May 2007
is Prince Khalid bin Faisal Al Saud.

Makkah, Makkah al-Mukarramah and Mecca  In South Arabic

the language in use in the southern portion of the Arabian Peninsula at the time of Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم .
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 pronunciationThe government adopted Makkah as the official spelling in the 1980s,
but is, not universally known or used worldwideThe full official name is, Makkah al-Mukarramah
(Arabic: مكة المكرمة‎, romanized: Makkat al-Mukarramah, lit. ’Makkah the Honored’).
“Makkah” is used to refer to the city in the Quran in Surah Al-Fath, 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. 
So The historic consensus in academic scholarship has long been that “Macoraba”,
the place mentioned in Arabia Felix by Claudius Ptolemy, 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 root M-K-R-B which means
“temple”… learn Quran online


Prehistory[edit] In 2010, Mecca and the surrounding area became an important site
for paleontology with respect to 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 monkeys and apes.
Also 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.
[30] Paleontologists involved in the research hope to find further fossils in the area
Early history (up to 6th century CE)[edit] 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 wrongly places it in Mesopotamia rather than the Hejaz.
Although there is general consensus in modern scholarship that Macoraba mentioned
by Ptolemy in the 2nd century CE is indeed Mecca, some scholars have questioned this conclusion. 

The Greek historian Diodorus Siculus writes about Arabia in

the 1st century BCE in his work Bibliotheca historica, 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 in Mecca.
However, the geographic location Diodorus describes is located in northwest
Arabia, around the area of Leuke Kome, within the former Nabataean Kingdom and the Roman 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.[38]
Bowersock favors the identity of the former, with his theory being that “Macoraba”
is, the word “Makkah” followed by the aggrandizing Aramaic adjective rabb (great).
The Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus also enumerated many cities
of Western Arabia, most of which can be, identified.
Also According to Bowersock, he did mention Mecca as “Geapolis” or “Hierapolis”,
the latter one meaning “holy city”, referring to the sanctuary of the Kaaba,
well known already in pagan times.

Patricia Crone, from the Revisionist school of Islamic studies 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
Recently, researchers using enhanced mathematical models to reconstruct ancient maps
and also 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 on the eastern side of the Dead Sea. 
Procopius’ statement that the Ma’ad tribe possessed the coast of western
Arabia between the Ghassanids and the Himyarites of the south confirms
the Arabic sources tradition that associates Quraysh as a branch
of the Ma’add and Muhammad as a direct descendant of Ma’ad ibn Adnan. 
Historians including Patricia Crone and Tom Holland have cast doubt on the claim
So that Mecca was a major historical trading outpost.
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 also 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. 

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