Mecca, the city of God

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Mecca, the holiest city in Islam, the Hajj destination every year, the pilgrimage, 5th pillar of faith and task for the life of the believer

The words of Ibn Battuta

As God says in His lofty Book referring the words of the prophet to the Khalil, Mecca is placed in a deserted valley, but the holy pray of Abraham has turned in his favor: every rare thing is imported into it and fruits are reaped for her of all kinds, I myself have tasted grapes, figs, peaches and dates that have no openers in the world. Not to mention the melons, unmatched in perfume and sweetness; the meat is pretty fatty and eating it is a delight.


In short, there are gathered the goods of various countries in the world, and fruits and vegetables that come from Ta’if, from wadi Nakhla and Batn Marr: all this for divine Kindness towards those who live in your inviolable Shrine and the pilgrims who they stay in His ancient house.

The borne of Mecca

In 2010 a troupe of archaeologists found fossils belonging to the Saadanius near Mecca, a primate that lived between 28 and 29 million years ago in the area and from which the first hominids of the area would have evolved. However, the origins of the city appear partially shrouded in mystery, as there are no sources outside the Islamic Arab world that directly indicate its presence before 741, a time when the clash between Arabs and Byzantines was more alive than ever.


This is certainly due to the position, very far from the trafficking of Romans and Persians and, therefore, more protected from external influences that allowed it to develop undisturbed. According to Islam, however, its origins are to be found in Abraham who, during his journey to the Promised Land, stopped here to rebuild the Ka’ba and abandon his son Ishmael and his wife Hajar.

The Quraish and Mecca

About the 5th century, the Quraish tribe gained control of the city, transforming it, even more than in the past, into a fundamental center for both religion and for trade between Africa and the East. With the fall of the Roman Empire, in fact, traffic by sea became increasingly complicated due to growing piracy and constant wars, allowing Mecca to quickly become one of the most important caravan centers in Arabia. This was also favored by: the presence of the source of Zamzam, according to the Quran, created to quench Hajer and Ismaele and which is the only source of water around the region and, above all, by the presence of the Ka’ba.


Under the Quraish, in fact, this building was transformed into a pantheon for all the Arab gods, thus bringing thousands of pilgrims every year to gather in the city to celebrate their divinities. This religious centrality became a problem for the nearby Christian kingdom of Axum, so much so that, in 570, the year of the birth of the prophet Muhammad, he sent an army to destroy it. According to the Koran, however, Allah sent birds of the African general against the elephants who, by dint of throwing stones at him, destroyed the enemy army; the content of this event is contained in the Surah al Fil, or “The Surah of the Elefant”, number 105.


Starting from the birth of the prophet Muhammad, the city will acquire a level of importance never known before, becoming in all respects the city known to the whole world. In 610 the Envoy of God had his first revelation by the angel Gabriel on Mount Jabal al Nour, forever changing the course of history. The Prophet will suffer 13 years of persecution here, before fleeing to Medina with the Hegira and giving form to what he had only previously been able to whisper.


The Meccans, however, frightened by the possibility of losing their “trade of the gods”, declared war on the Muslims and their Medinese aides, starting a war that will see 3 key clashes: the battle of Badr, Uhud and the Trench. Having won the latter, the Muslims entered into the Hudaybiyya Treaty with the Meccans, in order to be able to make their pilgrimage undisturbed. Only 2 years later, however, the Banu Bakr dishonored the oath and for this reason the Muslims marched on the city, which opened its doors to the Prophet and Islam, finally bringing peace to the region.

Far from politics

Immediately after the triumph of Muhammad, the city quickly lost importance if not as a symbolic place and / or where to make the Pilgrimage; however, the Prophet himself preferred to die in Medina rather than in Mecca, marking a trend that will accompany itself over the centuries. No great Islamic empire, in fact, saw its capital in this place which was nevertheless protected by the Ottomans precisely for the many meanings associated with it.


However, with the imminent collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the city was shaken by several battles: the first was fought by the Hashemite dynasty against the soldiers of the Sublime Gate, while the second saw the Hashemites as protagonists against the al Sa’ud. With the victory of the latter, the Kingdom of Nejd and Hijaz will be established which, starting from 1932, will form the current Saudi Arabia. Under the Saudis, most of the city’s historic buildings were destroyed, as, according to them, they would have led the faithful to worship others outside of God, thus risking to perform an act of “shirk”, making them more serious for the Islamic jurisprudence.

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