Mecca (Arabic Makkah, ancient Macoraba) city in western Saudi Arabia, capital of Al-Hijaz in Hijaz province near Jiddah. The Muslims called the city “Umm al-Qora”, meaning “Mother of Cities” deriving its sanctity from having been the birthplace of Muhammad (SAW). Mecca is situated in a narrow, sandy valley, enclosed by barren-hills.
No city in the history of mankind has received the veneration and honor as has been bestowed upon the holy city of Mecca. There is the location of the Holy Ka”ba, central shrine of Islam, a cube-shaped, one-room stone structure in Mecca in Saudi Arabia, that was the first house to be built purely for the worship of Allah. As established on the site by prophet Abraham and his son Ismael, peace be upon them both, to be a sacred shrine to where believers make pilgrimage. Islamic tradition has it that it was already a site for a pilgrimage and considered the most important sanctuary (Arabic ofharam) in pre-Muslim Arabia.
The door is seven feet from the ground, there are no windows. The interior is richly decorated. There are many sacred corners in the shrine for meditation, one of these being the legendary spot where Abraham stood when he built the temple.
Long before Muhammad (SAW) the Ka”ba was the center of worship a repository of idols brought by traders from many lands. Certain traditions state that Adam laid the foundations of the Ka”ba, Abraham restored it, and hundreds of prophets are buried around it.
Some scholars believe that Allah had sent down the bases of the House from the Heaven and it was very white and lighter than the snow, but later became dark when the unbelievers touched it. With the advent of Islam, the sanctity of Mecca was certified and its honor increased, it became a shrine and the black-stone in its south-east corner also a relic of idol-worship became the holiest object of the faith.
Pilgrims arriving in Mecca, kiss the stone as their first obligation. Outside is the sacred well, Zamzam, which was reputedly used by Hajar, the mother of Abraham”s son Ismael. The peculiar importance of the Ka”ba, the black-stone and Zamzam toward which all devout Muslims are oriented, has been perhaps the single greatest factor in forging the sense of Oneness among the widely scattered adherents of Islam.
Being the city where Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was born and where the revelation descended upon him and sent by Allah as a messenger and prophet for all mankinds to call for the worship of Allah without any partner. The greatest Mosque in the world is al-Masjid al-Haram (Sacred House) in Mecca, regarding which Allah states in the Glorious Qur”an: “Most surely the first house appointed for men (set up for human beings) is the one at Mecca, blessed and a guidance for nation. (3:96)
Additionally, Allah made the Ka”ba, the Qiblah or the direction toward which all Muslims turn in performing their prayers, and the pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca was established as a pillar of worship in Islam. The sanctity and holiness of Mecca has been preserved throughout Islamic history, and of its service. Hajj is the duty of all healthy adult Muslim men and women to perform the hajj can only be carried out once a year and unfolds in a set sequence on specific dates, during the first two weeks of the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijja. Since the Islamic year is lunar and without intercalation, the hajj – as with all Islamic festivals – is independent of season. The first historical mention of rebuilding of the Ka”ba was in 605 AH, before the prophethood of Muhammad (SAW). A dispute developed between the tribes of Mecca regarding the placing of the Black-Stone, each tribe felt that the honor of placing the Black Stone should have been reserved for itself. To settle the dispute, Muhammad (SAW) placed the Black-Stone on his garment and requested a representative of each tribe to grasp a portion of the garment and raise the Black-Stone. He then placed the Black-Stone himself in its proper place in the wall of the Ka”ba. The Ka”ba remained in that condition without change until Islam came and idols that had been placed on and around it were removed.
For Muslims, the Ka”ba is the “House of Allah”, where the divine touches the mundane. It is washed annually and covered with a dark silk cloth. The Ka”ba has been greatly enlarged since the time of Muhammad (SAW), a mosque-court was later built around it and recently a gate of solid gold was added.