Mecca (Arabic: مکة) is the holiest city for Muslims where Prophet Muhammad (s) was born and Islam was appeared. This city is located in Arabian Peninsula, Arabia. Bakka, Balad al-Ḥarām, Balad al-Amīn and Umm al-Qurā are the other names of this city.
Ka'ba, the Qibla of Muslims is located in Mecca and every year millions of Muslims visit it in order to perform Hajj. Masjid al-Haram, 'Arafat, Mash'ar al-Haram and Mina are the most important religious and holy places in the city.
The population of Mecca increased in the 10th/16th century. A large number of Shi'ite scholars were living in Mecca during different historical eras. In the time of Al Sa'ud, Shi'ites have faced restrictions in performing their religious rituals because of anti-Shi'ite approaches of Wahhabis. Shi'ites are also economically under pressure.
The famous name of this city is Mecca which is mentioned in the Quran:
"It is He who withheld their hands from you, and your hands from them, in the valley of Makkah, after He had given you victory over them." Sura Al-Fath, verse 24.
Different reasons have been mentioned on designation of this city as Mecca; its most important ones are:
- Mecca is a combination of Mak, meaning house, and Rab, meaning God and Mecca means Bayt al-Rab or Bayt Allah, the House of God.
- Mecca is a combination of Mak, meaning wadi (valley), and Rab, meaning God and Mecca means Wadi l-Rab, the Valley of God.
- Mecca is originally derived from Mukraba from the term Muqrab which means a place in which people seek taqarrub (nearness) to God.
- Mecca is derived from the term Makak meaning perish or decline, and Mecca is a place that every tyrant who wants to harm the city will be definitely perished.
- Mecca is derived from Mak meaning attraction, which means people of all regions are drawn to this land.
Mecca has been famous for different names throughout history and some of them were mentioned in the Holy Quran:
- Bakka: Undoubtedly the first House for the worship of Allah ever built for mankind is the at Bakka (Makka), a blessed site and a guidance for all the worlds.
- Balad al-Amin: Consider the fig and the olive, and Mount Sinai, and this land secure!.
- Umm al-Qura: … may warn the people living in the Mother City (Makka) and those who live around her.
- Al-Balad al-Haram.
Mecca is the most important and holiest city in Hijaz. This city is located 80 km from the Red Sea at 21.3891˚ N, 39.8579˚. It is at a height of 330 meters above the sea level.
Before the emergence of Islam, Mecca was important for having Ka'ba and for being on the way of merchants who traveled from from Yemen to Syria, Palestine and Egypt; they did trades in Mecca. Although Quraysh were conducting their trades only in Mecca, Hashim b. 'Abd Manaf started developing trading with regions around Mecca. Hashim and his brother, 'Abd Shams and Nufil managed to attain permission for doing trades from the rulers of Syria, Yemen, Abyssinia and Iraq. Then Mecca turned into a prominent trading city. Quraysh merchants gathered around mostly in a market called 'Akkaz near 'Arafat during Dhu al-Qa'da.
Before the Emergence of Islam
According to narrations, the significant religious events before the emergence of Islam in Mecca were:
- Building Ka'ba: Prophet Ibrahim (a), following the order of God, built Ka'ba with the help of his son, Isma'il. However there are different narrations on the first time that Ka'ba was built, some stated that Ka'ba was built even before the creation of Adam (a).
- Abraha's Raid: Abraha the ruler of Yemen, attacked Mecca in order to destroy Ka'ba in 571 with an army of elephants. But when they arrived near Mecca birds came from the sky and dropped stones on their heads and perished their troops.
- Birth of Prophet Muhammad (s): Prophet Muhammad (s) was born on 17th or 12th of Rabi' I in the first year of Am al-Fil (569 or 570) in Mecca.
- Birth of 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a) inside Ka'ba: Imam 'Ali (a) was born on Friday, 13th of Rajab in 30th year of 'Am al-Fil in Ka'ba. He is the only person who was born inside Ka'ba; this narrations is also stated in a number of Sunni sources. Based on al-Mustadrak 'ala al-sahihayn considering Mutawatir narrations, 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a) was born inside Ka'ba by Fatima bt. Asad.
In Islamic Era
In the time of Prophet Muhammad (s):
During this time a number of important historical and religious events took place in Mecca including:
- Appearance of Islam
- Immigration of groups of Muslims to Abyssinia lead by Ja'far b. Abi Talib (5 years after Bi'tha/614 C.E)
- Economic boycott of Muslims in Shi'b of Abi Talib (7 Bi'tha/616 C.E) in the seventh year after Bi'that
- Demise of Abu Talib (10 Bi'tha/619)
- Demise of Lady Khadija (a) (10 Bi'tha/619)
- Immigration of Prophet Muhammad (s) to Yathrib (later known as Medina)
- The Conquest of Mecca (8/630)
- Hajjat al-Wida' (10/632)
- Ghadir Khumm (10/632)
In the time of Umayyad dynasty:
- Uprising against choosing Yazid b. Mu'awiya as the successor of his father
- The uprising of 'Abd Allah b. Zubayr in Mecca (62/682)
- The attack of Yazid's army to Ka'ba and Masjid al-Haram (64/683)
- Rebuilding Ka'ba by 'Abd Allah b. Zubayr
- The Attack of Hajjaj b. Yusuf by the order of 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan to Mecca and setting it on fire
In the time of Abbasid dynasty:
- Uprising of Fakhkh (169/786)
- The event of Ahbash (173/789-790)
- The uprising of Al-Aftas (199/314-15)
- Capturing Mecca by Qaramata (317/929-930)
- Qarmatians raided Ka'ba and stole Hajar al-Aswad (the Black Stone) (317/929-930)
In the time of Fatimid and Sharifs of Mecca:
- Ruling of Sharifs over Mecca (358/969)
- Influence of Shi'ism over Mecca
In the time of Mamluk rulers and Ottomans Empire:
- Disturbing Iranian pilgrims in Mecca
- Killing Shi'ites in Mecca with the pretext of making the curtain of Ka'ba najis (unclean) (1088/1677)
- Killing a number of Iranian scholars in Mecca including Zayn al-'Abidin al-Kashani (1040/1630) and Sayyid Muhammad Mu'min Radawi (1088/1677)
- Obliging lecturers to curse Shi'ites in their formal speeches (1157/1744-45)
- Issuing the fatwa of takfir (excommunication) of Shi'ites by religious scholars in Mecca
In the time of Saudi Family:
- Killing Yemeni pilgrims in Mecca (1341/1923)
- Attacking and capturing Mecca and killing Muslims (1342/1924)
- Destroying mausoleums and shrines including the shrine of Abu Talib, 'Abd al-Muttalib and Lady Khadija (a) (1342/1924)
- Dominance of Al Saud over Mecca (1344/1926)
- Killing Egyptian pilgrims in Mina (1344/1926)
- Killing Iranian pilgrims in Mecca in 1987
- Expansion of Masjid al-Haram and building new spaces for performing Tawaf
- Mina stampede and death of over two thousand pilgrims in 2015
Merits of Mecca
Mecca is regarded with great significance and respect among Muslims because of the presence of religious and holy places in the city including Ka'ba, Masjid al-Haram also Hajj is annually performed in this city. In addition, religious leaders always encouraged Muslims to worship and perform religious rituals in this city especially in Masjid al-Haram. According to narrations from the Infallibles (a) the rewards of one rak'at (unit) of prayer in Masjid al-Haram is equal to praying hundred thousand rak'ats (units) of prayers in other mosques. This city is referred to as Haram (shrine) of God, his Prophet (s) and 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a).
- Main article: Masjid al-Haram
Masjid al-Haram (or Al-Masjid al-Haram) is the most famous and the holiest mosque for Muslims which is located in Mecca in Arabia. It is regarded as the Qibla of Muslims. Masjid al-Haram includes a number of holy places and things including Ka'ba, Hajar al-Aswad, Multazam, Mustajar, Hatim and Hijr of Isma'il which are highly respected by Muslims. In addition to general religious rules about mosques, in Islamic fiqh, there are exclusive religious rules about Majid al-Haram. It is obligatory for Mustati' (financially capabale) Muslims to make a pilgrimage to Mecca and perform Hajj at least once in their lifetime. Some of its rituals are performed in Masjid al-Haram.
- Main article: Ka'ba
Ka'ba is the Qibla of Muslims and is the most important place for worship among Muslims. According to religious narrations and the Holy Quran, Prophet Ibrahim (a) and his son, Isma'il built Ka'ba by the order of God. The Qibla of Muslims was changed in the second year after Bi'tha from Bayt al-Maqdis to Ka'ba.
- Al-Khayf Mosque: According to narrations Prophet Muhammad (s) gave his speech in Hajjat al-Wida' in this mosque. Shiite Imams have mentioned high rewards for praying in al-Khayf Mosque.
- Masjid al-Nahr: It is located in Mina, where God sent a lamb for Ibrahim (a) to sacrifice instead of Isma'il.
- Masjid al-Bay'a or Masjid al-Ghanam: The first oath of allegiance of new Muslims of Yathrib (Medina) to Prophet Muhammad (s) in 'Aqaba took place here.
- Masjid of Ghadir Khumm: Prophet Muhammad (s) introduced 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a) as his vicegerent and people's guardian after himself.
- Tan'im Mosque
- The Mosque of Ibrahim (a)
- Al-Jinn Mosque
- Al-Ijaba Mosque
- Shaqq al-qamar Mosque
- Masjid al-Raya
- Masjid al-Safa'ih
Muzdalifa or Mash'ar is a region between 'Arafat and Mina and staying there on the morning of Eid al-Adha is one of the essentials of Hajj. Most hajj pilgrims collect stones for Ramy al-Jamarat from Muzdalifa.
Mina is a place where Hajj pilgrims stay from the tenth until the twelfth of Dhu l-Hijja. They also perform some rituals of Hajj in this land including Ramy al-Jamarat, Sacrificing, Halq or Taqsir and Baytuta (stay at night).
Yalamlam: According to narrations, Yalamlam is the last miqat for pilgrims from Yemen and those who go to Mecca from this route.
Religious and Historical Sites
- The House of Lady Khadija (a), the wife of Prophet Muhammad (s) is among the most important places in Mecca in which a number of significant incidents took place:
- Marriage of Prophet Muhammad (s) with Khadija bt. Khuwaylid (a)
- Birth of Lady Fatima (a)
- Demise of Lady Khadija (a)
- Laylat al-Mabit event
- Start of immigration of Prophet (s) to Medina.
- The house of Arqam b. Abi Arqam; the first secret house for promoting Islam.
- The house of 'Abd Allah b. Jad'an where the Treaty of Hilf al-Fudul were made.
- Bazan region where Hamza b. 'Abd al-Muttalib was born in.
- The house of Harith b. Abd al-Muttalib where the first public promotion of Islam started by Prophet Muhammad (s); he invited his relatives to Islam.
- Dar Abi Sa'id near Dar al-'Ijla where Imam al-Sadiq (a) was born. It is said that Ja'far al-Tayyar was born in this house as well.
Shrines between Mecca and Medina
- The burial place of the martyrs of the battle of Badr: It is located 150 km southwest of Medina where the battle took place. Fourteen martyrs of the battle are buried in this place.
- The mosque of 'Arish: This mosque is built next to the burial place of the martyrs of the battle of Badr. Prophet Muhammad (s) has performed the night prayer in this place the night before the battle.
- Ghadir Khumm: It is a region near al-Juhfah and 156 km northwest of Mecca where the Event of Ghadir Khumm took place.
- Abwa': It is 45 km on the road of al-Juhfa where Amina bt. Wahb, the mother of Prophet Muhammad (s) is buried.
- Mount Abu Qubays: Its height is 420 meters and it is located on the northeast of Masjid al-Haram. As it is near Ka'ba, according to narrations Abu Qubays Mountain is regarded holy. It is said that in the time of Prophet Nuh when the storm erupted, the Hajar al-Aswad was safely protected by the Mount of Abu Qubays which is the reason that this mountain is called Amin (custodian). The first public declaration of Islam by Prophet Muhammad (s) was made on this mountain as well. Mount Safa which is the beginning point of Sa'y is on the hillside of this mountain.
- Jabal al-Nur or Hira': It is located four km on the northeast of Mecca and next to the road of Mina to 'Arafat. Its height is 634 meters. Hira' Cave is located on the top of this mountain where Prophet Muhammad (s) was worshiping in Ramadan months before Bi'tha. During that time 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a) accompanied Prophet (s) as well. The first verses of the Quran was revealed to Prophet (s) in Hira' Cave.
- Mount Thawr: Its height is 759 meter and it is located three km on the south of Mecca. When Prophet Muhammad (s) planned to Immigrate to Medina, he sought shelter in a cave in the Mount Thawr from the polytheists who were looking for him.
- Shi'b of Abi Talib: Today it is called Shi'b or valley of 'Ali (a) as well. Muslims escaped from the tyrannies and prosecutions of polytheists to this valley and stayed there for three years.
The Situation of Shi'ite Muslims in Mecca
Appearance of the local autonomous Shi'ite rule of Banu al-Hasan over Mecca perfectly shows the situation of Shi'ism in this city. In 10/631. Mecca was the center of Shi'ism as Ibn Hajar al-Haytami stated that his purpose in writing al-Sawa'iq al-muhrriqa was expansion and growth of Shi'ite Muslims in Mecca. Ibn Jubayr (b. 540/1145 - d. 614/1217) stated in his travel account that in his journey to Mecca, the Emir of the city declared the start of Ramadan month based on religious rules of Alavi Shi'ites. He has also stated that a special place was given to Zaydiyya Shi'ites in Masjid al-Haram for performing congregational prayers. Ibn Jubayr also called Sharifs of Mecca Zaydiyya who recited the verse "Hayya 'ala Khayr al-'Amal" in their Adhan. Some travel accounts stated that the influence of Shi'ites declined in the next centuries in Mecca. Muhammad Husayn Farahani who performed Hajj in 1302/1885 said that the number of Shi'ite Muslims in mecca were very few who mostly worked as guides for Hajj pilgrims. Ayazkhan Qashqai who visited Mecca in 1341/1923 stated that Shi'ites did not need to exercise Taqiyya in order to perform their religious rituals in Jeddah, Mecca and Medina; they could freely express their religious affiliation as well.
Sharifs of Mecca officially supported Zaydiyya at least until early 1500. A number of travel account writers stated that Sharifs were Shi'ites but they hid their religion. Due to tensions posed from Mamluk rulers, Sharifs of Mecca were forced to become Shafi'i Muslims by which they completely separated from Zaydiyya. However, some sources stated that they always wanted to treat Shi'ites with tolerance and peace until the end of their rule.
When Al Saud came to power, Shi'ites who were limited and scattered in Mecca were put under huge pressure and religious restrictions. Wahhabi muftis also issued fatwas by which the life and properties of Shi'ites were put at risk. Gradually they were forced to exercise Taqiyya especially in Mecca where Shi'ites performed their religious rituals at home and behind closed doors while they acted as Sunni Muslims in public.
In the late 2012 Saudi soldiers arrested Shaykh Badr Al Talib and Shaykh Muhammad al-'Atiyya, two Shi'ite clergymen in Mecca and Jeddah.
With constant growth in the number of Hajj pilgrims in Mecca, new hotels were built around Masjid al-Haram. For example now it is expected that twenty six hotels to be built with thirteen thousand rooms which will increase the capacity of city for pilgrims. Also the first phase of monorail on the way of Mecca to Mina, 'Arafat and Muzdalifa has started in 2010. The Clock Tower is one of the new structures in Mecca which is the biggest clock tower in the world with four clock faces. Construction of such high buildings around Masjid al-Haram have been criticized in the world of Islam, as they believe such buildings are disrespectful to Ka'ba and Masjid al-Haram.
In the late 2011 a new expansion plan of Masjid al-Haram started in order to add more mataf (circumambulation areas) spaces in two floors around Ka'ba to accommodate more pilgrims for Tawaf. Its first floor is three to four meters high and the second floor is thirteen meters high. Building of such structures have brought new fiqh issues about Tawaf. According to Shi'ite faqihs, performing Tawaf in the first floor is right, but some believe only those with difficulties and disabilities are allowed to perform Tawaf in the second floor of Masjid al-Haram.
- Qur'an 3:96
- Qur'an 95:1-3
- Qur'an 6:92
- The material for this article is mainly taken from مکه in Farsi WikiShia.