Monday, January 12, 2015

A History Of Mecca, Islam and Muhammad

The history of Mecca is related to Muhammad, the last great prophet of humanity and the founder of Islam. Home of Kaaba, the sacred Black Stone sent from Heaven as Muslims believe, Mecca or Makkah is not quite a travel destination from the Europeans, Americans or let's say non-Muslims' point of view, for it is the heart of a religion many people do not really understand or accept, unfortunately. Capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia, it is located 70 km from Jeddah. Mecca is also Muhammad birth place and it is considered the holliest city of Islam, for here the Quran was first revelated to the prophet.
Mecca map
Where is Mecca Saudi Arabia
 Source : Googlemaps.

In 567 A.D. Muhammad is born. Member of the privileged Quraysh tribe, at the age of 6 he lost his parents. His grandfather and an uncle took care of him and at the age of 25 we find him as  employe of a rich 40 years old widow, Hadige. She was the one who encouraged him in his religious experiences. They had 7 children, 3 sons who died soon after their birth and 4 daughters. He met no other woman before Hadige's death but had 9 wives after. The first revelation occured in 610 A.D. It was the period when the population in this area still had many gods, the Christians were only a few and the practice of isolation for praying was almost unknown. Yet, Muhammad started before this year his so-called tahannut, spiritual retreats in the desert near Mecca. According to legends, before his birth, his mother heard a voice saying that her son's destiny was to be his people ruler and prophet and at the age of 4 two angels opened his chest and took out a drop of black blood from his heart, leaving him alive to fulvil his faith(Quran, sura 94).
The first revelation occured while the prophet sat in cave and Angel Gabriel came and ordered him to read from the book he brought. Although he rejected it, finally he read. And the angel ordered him to spread the word for God created the man from a drop of blood. Muhammed obbeyed. And this is the meaning of Islam - to obbey. He shared his revelation only to his wife, Hadige and a few relatives. 3 years later, in 612 A.D. after another revelation he made his public his knowledge. And there is no violence in it. Muhammad spoke about the almighty of God and His kindness, about the end of the world and faith and about the happiness promised to the virtous ones. Allah is the only God and He is the only owner of the Black Stone in Kaaba, said the prophet. According to Mircea Eliade History of religions, this was not quite a declaration of war but an attempt to get his people out of ignorance.
Mecca Kaaba pilgrimage
Mecca location Muhammed
  Source :

Nobody believed his message. On one hand, a religion with only one God made his tribe fear of losing privileges, on the other hand people asked for wonders. Yet Muhammad still believes he is God's messenger(rassul Allah) who brought the Revelation(Quran) to people. The wonder came. Tradition says that the prophet travelled from Mecca to Jerusalem(Read o brief travel guide for Jerusalem) on a winged horse and then visited Heaven. Despite this legend Muhammad had to leave Mecca in 622 A.D not to be killed. for Iatrib(the old city of Medina), which will become the political and religious center of Islam. Hegira or the immigration was a succes and it was here, in Medina, where the Islam organization began. All Muslims, those in Medina and those in Mecca became one community, umma, so the privileges of different tribes were abolished. In 624 AD, as the Jews refuse to recognize Muhammad as a prophet and more than that shew that he knew nothing about the Bible, he asked Muslims not to pray to Jerusalem anymore, but to Mecca. This is the moment the prophet becomes a politician. He proclaims that the Holy Stone in Kaaba at Mecca was put there by Abraham and one of his sons, Ismael and that the holy place of Islam is under heretic reign. The ideea was that Islam was to replace Christianity just as Christianity had replaced Judaism before, for theese two religions failed in sharing the right message.  
In 627 AD, Muhammad's army achieves a first victory against the caravans to Mecca. The tribes of Mecca put Medina under seige in the same year. They had to face a desert storm and failed after 2 weeks. The prophet, now general of his army noticed that some Jews were suspect and ordered their execution after the seige. In 629 AD, Muhammad and 2.000 warriors entered Mecca and celebrated for the first time the pilgrimage ritual. It was the real beginning of Islam since in 630 AD the prophet and 10.000 occupy Mecca and purify Kaaba. The religion of Islam was not only a new religion but the end of gods. See Moorish Monuments in Spain at Malaga!
In March 632 Muhammad left Medina for Mecca in his last pilgrimage. According to tradition, he was told by an angel that Islam is the new religion and that his mission was done. The prophet returns to Medina and died on June 8, 632 AD in his favourite wife's house, Aisha. Was burried not in a cemetery but inside the house where a monument was built later the Mosque of the Prophet.

Muhammed Grave
Grave of Muhammad Islam Aisha

Travel tips to Mecca coming soon. On January 18, 2015 Saudi Arabia announced that pilgrims will be allowed to visit not only Makkah and Medinah but also another 5 travel destinations. See detalis in Archae-News.
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