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Pictures of Mecca (Holy Makkah)
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Following is an Academic article written By Jamal Panhwar and should be read with history in mind. It is not connected with the holiness of the Holi Kaaba Or Holy Mecca.
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Holy Mecca From Past to Present
Mecca or Makkah or Makkah Al Mukarrammah is the holiest lace for Muslims around the world. It is written in Arabic as Makkah while it is translated into English as Mecca. The history of Mecca goes back to the times of prophet Abraham (AA) who built the Kaaba with the help of his eldest son Ishmael in aproximatly 2000 BC when the inhabitants of the city which was known as Bakkah had gone astray from the original monotheism of Abraham through the influence of the Amelkites. Over time after Abaham, the Kaaba had become a repository for the idols and tribal dieties of Arabia's pagan tribes. Mecca's most important pagan diety was Hubal, which had been placed there by the ruling Quraysh tribe during the Prophet Mohammad (SAW)
Ptolemy the egyptian Methametician & Poet mentioned the city "Macoraba" in 2nd centrury AD, though this identification is controversial. In the 5th century, the Quraysh took control of Mecca, and became skilled merchants and traders. In the 6th century they joined the lucrative spice trade as well, since battles in other parts of the world were causing trade routes to divert from the dangerous sea routes to the more secure overland routes.
The Byzantine Empire had previously controlled the Red Sea, but piracy had been on the increase. Another previous route, that from the Persian Gulf via the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, was also being threatened by exploitation from the Sassanid Empire, as well as being disrupted by the Lakhmids, the Ghassanids, and the Roman–Persian Wars. Mecca's prominence as a trading center surpassed the cities of Petra and Palmyra.
By the middle of the 6th century, there were three major settlements in northern Arabia, all along the south-western coast that borders the Red Sea, in a habitable region between the sea and the great desert to the east. This area, known as the Hejaz, featured three settlements grown around oases, where water was available. In the center of the Hijaz was Yathrib, later renamed Madinah, from "Madinatun Nabi," or "City of the Prophet." 250 mi (400 km) South of Yathrib was the mountain city Ta’if, north-west of which lay Mecca. Although the area around Mecca was completely barren, it was the wealthiest of the three settlements with abundant water via the renowned Zamzam Well and a position at the crossroads of major caravan routes.
The area remained a near-constant state of conflict between the local tribes, but once a year they would declare a truce and converge upon Mecca in an annual pilgrimage, which was originally initiated (in folklore) by Abraham as an act of worship of the One God but his descendents abandoned Abrahams faith over time and descended back to paganism. Up to the 7th century, this journey was intended for religious reasons by the pagan Arabs to pay homage to their shrine, and to drink from the springs of Zamzam. However, it was also the time each year that disputes would be arbitrated, debts would be resolved, and trading would occur at Meccan fairs. These annual events gave the tribes a sense of common identity and made Mecca an important focus for the peninsula.
Camel caravans, said to have first been used by Prophet Muhammad's (SAW) great-grandfather, were a major part of Mecca's bustling economy. Alliances were struck between the merchants in Mecca and the local nomadic tribes, who would bring goods – leather, livestock, and metals mined in the local mountains – to Mecca to be loaded on the caravans and carried to cities in Syria and Iraq. Historical accounts also provide some indication that goods from other continents may also have flowed through Mecca. Supposedly goods from Africa and the Far East passed through on route to Syria including spices, leather, medicine, cloth, and slaves; in return Mecca received money, weapons, cereals and wine, which in turn were distributed throughout Arabia. The Meccans signed treaties with both the Byzantines and the Bedouins, and negotiated safe passages for caravans, giving them water and pasture rights.
After 966, Mecca was led by local sharifs until 1924 when the Ottoman Empire collapsed and it came under the rule of the Saudis. In its modern period, Mecca has seen tremendous expansion in size and infrastructure.
Today the city is modern, cosmopolitan and while being closed to non-Muslims, is nonetheless ethnically diverse.
The modern day city is the capital of Saudi Arabia's Makkah Province, in the historic Hejaz region. With a population of 1.7 million (2008), the city is located 73 km (45 mi) inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of 277 m (910 ft) above sea level
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