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Mecca, also transliterated as Makkah, is a city in the Hejaz and the capital of Makkah Province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located 70 km (43 mi) inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of 277 m (909 ft) above sea level. Its resident population in 2012 was roughly 2 million, although visitors more than triple this number every year during Hajj period held in the twelfth Muslim lunar month of Dhu al-Hijjah.

As the birthplace of Muhammad and a site of Muhammad's first revelation of the Quran (the site in specificity being a cave 3.2 km (2 mi) from Mecca), 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. It was absorbed into Saudi Arabia in 1925. In its modern period, Mecca has seen tremendous expansion in size and infrastructure, home to structures such as the Abraj Al Bait, also known as the Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel, the world's third tallest building and the building with the largest amount of floor area. Due to 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. As a result, Mecca has become one of the most cosmopolitan and diverse cities in the Muslim world, despite the fact that non-Muslims are prohibited from entering the city.


  • I have erected a house and built a church so as to put an end to the circumambulation of the Ka’bah by pilgrims and visitors.
    • Abraha (the Abyssinian Christian governor). The Rauzat-us-Safa, or Garden of Purity by Muhammad bin Khavendshah bin Mahmud translated into English by E. Rehatsek, first published 1893, Delhi Reprint 1982. (Quoted in in Goel, S. R. (1993). Hindu temples: What happened to them. Vol. II)
  • [An] outrage had been committed by an Arab who came from the temple in Mecca where the Arabs went on pilgrimage, and that he had done this in anger at his threat to divert the Arabs’ pilgrimage to the cathedral, showing thereby that it was unworthy of reverence... [Abraha felt] “enraged and swore that he would go to the temple and destroy it.”
    • Abraha (the Abyssinian Christian governor). Ibn Ishãq, Sîrat Rasûl Allãh, translated into English by A. Gillaumne, OUP, Karachi, Seventh Impression. (Quoted in in Goel, S. R. (1993). Hindu temples: What happened to them. Vol. II)
  • The ancient rituals of the hajj, which Arabs performed for centuries before Islam, have helped pilgrims to form habits of heart and mind that – pace the western stereotype – are non-violent and inclusive. In the holy city of Mecca, violence of any kind was forbidden. From the moment they left home, pilgrims were not permitted to carry weapons, to swat an insect or speak an angry word, a discipline that introduced them to a new way of living. At a climactic moment of his prophetic career, Muhammad drew on this tradition.
  • The hajj is one of the five essential practices of Islam; when they make the pilgrimage to Mecca, Muslims ritually act out the central principles of their faith.
  • CAABA, n. A large stone presented by the archangel Gabriel to the patriarch Abraham, and preserved at Mecca. The patriarch had perhaps asked the archangel for bread.
    • Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1906); referring to the Kaaba.
  • Had you seen Muhammad and his troops
    The day the idols were smashed when he entered,
    You would have seen God’s light become manifest
    And darkness covering the face of idolatry.
    • Fadãla b. al-Mulãwwih al-Laythî in Ibn Ishãq, Sîrat Rasûl Allãh, translated into English by A. Gillaumne, OUP, Karachi, Seventh Impression.(Quoted in in Goel, S. R. (1993). Hindu temples: What happened to them. Vol. II)
  • The House of Saud had used its custodianship of Mecca and Medina to claim leadership of Muslims everywhere, using the pilgrimage as a conduit for its influence around the Muslim world. Wanting to welcome an ever-increasing number of pilgrims all year long to the hajj, it had embarked on huge expansion projects, bulldozing and paving over ancient, religiously significant sites. Medina—where Islam was born—was already lost to savage modernization. The old roads, once lined with stucco houses, their facades ornamented with delicate wooden latticework, had been replaced with multi-lane streets and modern, soulless buildings. The Prophet’s Mosque, al-Masjid al-Nabawi, Islam’s second-holiest site and the second mosque to be built after the one in Mecca, had also been transformed, with gray stone replacing the delicate rose-red stone and graceful Ottoman style, making way for more grandeur.
    • Kim Ghattas Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East (2020)
  • For centuries, scholars from the four different schools of Islam had taught in the Holy Mosque and crowds of students had traveled from near and far to gather in halaqas, circles of study, around their preferred teachers. The faithful prayed, at slightly different times, behind their imams; there was a prayer station for each school: Shafi’i, Maliki, Hanafi, and Hanbali. When King Abdelaziz took control of Mecca in 1924, the Wahhabi clerics objected to the arrangement that had prevailed so far in the Holy Mosque. If the community of Muslims was one, and the call to prayer was one, why not pray behind one imam? The Wahhabi clerics won the debate, thereby dealing themselves all the power. But there was no rotation or compromise: the sole imam who would lead all five daily prayers in the Holy Mosque came from Wahhabi circles, with all that that entailed in puritanical intolerance. The number of halaqas dwindled rapidly, from several hundred to around thirty-five in the late 1970s. The Sufi sheikh that Sami had consulted that first day of the Mecca attack, Mohammad Alawi al-Maliki, was still drawing crowds, lecturing in his corner of the courtyard of the Holy Mosque, on the chair he had inherited from his father in 1971, the chair that been passed through generations. But few others were able to resist the onslaught of Wahhabi zeal. Harmony could be brought back, Sami thought, only if diversity was allowed to thrive again in the House of God. But this was not how the Al-Sauds would proceed. That was not the deal they had cut with Bin Baz to save their throne.
    • Kim Ghattas, Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East (2020)
  • Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as is practiced by people of all colors and races here in this Ancient Holy Land, the home of Abraham, Muhammad and all the other Prophets of the Holy Scriptures. For the past week, I have been utterly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I see displayed all around me by people of all colors. I have been blessed to visit the Holy City of Mecca. ...There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blonds to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and the non-white.
    • Malcolm X (1965). The Autobiography of Malcolm X. New York: The Random House Publishing Group. p. 390. 
  • All over India, all over the world, as the sun or the shadow of darkness moves from east to west, the call to prayer moves with it, and people kneel down in a wave to pray to God. Five waves each day - one for each namaaz - ripple across the globe from longitude to longitude. The component elements change direction, like iron filings near a magnet - towards the house of God in Mecca.
  • He said: “Abdullah b. Yazid related to me from Sa’id b. Amr al-Hudhali, who said: The Messenger of God arrived in Mecca on Friday, ten nights before the end of Ramadan. The Squadrons spread in every direction. He commanded them to attack those who were not following Islam.
    • Al-Wāqidī’s Kitāb al-Maghāzī, edited by Rizwi Faizer, p.429
  • At the same time, “The proclaimer authorised by the apostle of Allãh went throughout Mecca calling upon all those who believe in Allãh and the Last Day to leave no idol unbroken in their homes.”...Having “purified” Mecca, the Prophet sent “expeditions to those idols which were in the neighbourhood and had them destroyed; these included al-‘Uzzã, Manãt, Suwã‘, Buãna and Dhu’l-Kaffayn.”
    • Tabqãt-i-Ibn Sa‘d, Translated from ‘Alãma Abdullãh al-Ahmdî’s Urdu version of Tabqãt-i-ibn Sa‘d, Karachi, (n.d.). (Quoted in in Goel, S. R. (1993). Hindu temples: What happened to them. Vol. II)


  • The Prophet entered Mecca and (at that time) there were three hundred-and-sixty idols around the Ka`ba. He started stabbing the idols with a stick he had in his hand and reciting: “Truth (Islam) has come and Falsehood (disbelief) has vanished.”
    • Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 3, Book 43, Hadith 658
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