Why is makkah important?
Mecca is the most important city to Muslims, and they are
required to face it when they Pray. It is important because Muslims
believe that the Patriarch Abraham personally built the Kaaba
(cube-shaped building), using the Black Stone in its construction.
Abraham's son Ishmael assisted in that construction, according to
Islamic beliefs. Because Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son
because the Lord asked him to do so, clearly indicated that Abraham
was the first truly Devout believer in the One God (Allah). This
makes Abraham the central human figure in Muslim beliefs, the first
of the Patriarchs. (This is the very same Abraham that Christians
and Jews similarly revere as Patriarch.) The fact that Muslims face
Mecca is really them facing the Kaaba, in honor to Abraham.
Mecca (Arabic: Makkah), the birthplace of Muhammad, is the holiest city of the Islamic faith. Capital of the Hejaz province of Saudi Arabia, Makkah is located 72 km (45 mi) east of Jaddah, its port on the Red Sea, and about 485 km (300 mi) south of Medinah. Makkah's population is 367,000 (1976 est.). The city is located on the sandy, narrow valley of the Wadi Ibrahim and is surrounded by hills from 60 to 150 m (200 to 500 ft) high. The 914-m-high (3,000-ft) Jabal Khandama is located nearby.
Makkah is a holy city, and non-Muslims are not permitted to enter it. But for Muslims the pilgrimage to Makkah, or the hajj, is one of the basic tenets of the religion. Each year, over 1,000,000 people visit during the month of pilgrimage. The core of Mecca, including the commercial district, surrounds the al-Haram or Great Mosque, which can hold 300,000 people. Inside the mosque, the Kaaba (a shrine enclosing a sacred Black Stone) and the well of Zamzam are located. They are the focus of the pilgrimage.
The main economic activity in Mecca is the provision of services to pilgrims. Merchants in particular benefit from the trade of travelers, as huge fairs are held during the month of the pilgrimage. Because of the yearly influx of visitors, the city's transportation network is well developed. Mecca is connected to Jidda and Riyadh by road, and the airport at Jidda serves Mecca.
Even before Muhammad's birth (570), the city was an important commercial and religious center (the Black Stone was sacred in early Arabic religions). Muhammad began to preach in the city c.613 but was forced to flee to Medina in 622 (Hijrah). In 630 he returned with 10,000 men to conquer the city and establish it as the center of the Islamic world. The city was ruled by the Carmathians from 930 until 1269, when the Egyptian Mamelukes gained control.
The Ottoman Turks ruled from 1517 until 1916, when the Hejaz region became independent, with Mecca as its capital. Mecca fell to Ibn Saud in 1924, and in 1932 Hejaz became a province of Saudi Arabia. In November 1979 a group of 200 Muslim zealots seized Mecca's Great Mosque; they were driven out by Saudi troops after 10 days, and many were executed. In 1987, Iranian pilgrims staged violent demonstrations in the city.
Mecca, also Makkah (ancient Macoraba), is a city in western Saudi Arabia, located in Al Hij⺠(Hejaz) Province, near Jiddah. Mecca is the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam, and the most sacred of the Muslim holy cities. According to Islamic tradition, Muslims around the world must face Mecca during their daily prayers. Every year, during the last month of the Islamic calendar, more than 1 million Muslims make a pilgrimage, or hajj, to Mecca. The city's location on several trade routes has made it commercially important since ancient times. Mecca was a religious center before the time of Muhammad, and several holy sites within the sacred precincts of the great mosque, called al-Haram, had religious significance in pre-Islamic times.
The Kaaba (or Caaba), a windowless cube-shaped building in the courtyard of the mosque, is believed to have been built by the Hebrew patriarch Abraham. In the southeastern corner of the Kaaba is the Black Stone, supposedly given to Abraham by the angel Gabriel. Also within the precincts of the mosque is the sacred well, called the Zamzam (Zemzem), which was reputedly used by Hagar, mother of Abraham's son Ishmael. The city is first mentioned by the Alexandrian geographer Ptolemy, who in the 2nd century AD called it Macoraba.
From the time of Muhammad, Mecca was besieged on various occasions. It was taken by the Egyptians in the 13th century. In the 16th century control passed to Turkey. From 1517 the sharifs, or descendants of Muhammad through Hasan, son of Muhammad's son-in-law Ali, governed Mecca for the Turks. The latter were driven from the city in 1916 by Grand Sharif Husein ibn Ali, later first king of Al Hij⺮ In 1924 the city was occupied by Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, then sultan of Najd (Nejd), who made Mecca the religious capital of Saudi Arabia. Population (1994 estimate) 1,500,000.