Group 2-2 Mecca



The city of Mecca has been attributed as being on of the most remarkable cities in the world. It is located in the Hejaz region of Saudi Arabia which contains both holy cities of Islam-Mecca and Medina. Saudi Arabia is divided into 13 different emirates. Mecca is the capital of the Mekkah Emirate.

The Kaaba

  • Introduction

Located in the center of Mecca lies the most sacred site in all of Islam-The Kaaba. The Kaaba is located inside of the Great Mosque in Mecca. It now represents the center of the Muslim world and is a focal point for worship.

The Kabba surrounded by the Great Mosque
The Kabba surrounded by the Great Mosque

  • Description

The Kaaba is a large cube-shaped hollow building that stands about 15 meters high and 10-12 meters wide. This structure is made of granite and covered with a black, silk cloth called a kiswah. Near the top of the Kaaba the kiswah is embroidered in gold with verses from the Qur’an. On the southeast corner of the Kaaba is a black meteorite. The black meteorite is also referred to as the “black Stone”. Muslims are expected to kiss this stone during Hajj.

  • History

Mahir Saul states that according to Muslim tradition, The Kaaba was built by the Prophet Abraham. Between the time of the Prophet Abraham and the Prophet Muhammad The Kaaba had become a place for worshiping idols and multiple Gods. When The Prophet Muhammad returned from exile in Medina he destroyed the idols and any sign of multiple Gods. The Kaaba became once again a sacred place for monotheistic worshiping and the purity of The Kaaba was restored.

  • How The Kaaba Plays a Roll In Worship

The Kaaba is a place for Muslims to be unified. They do not worship The Kaaba itself. Muslims face The Kaaba during their daily prayers no matter where they are in the world. Also during Hajj, Muslims walk around The Kaaba in a counter-clockwise manner which is called Tawaf. "The Kaaba stands for God's covenant with the Muslim community" says Mahir Saul.

Carlyn Limonff


Carrier, David. "Seeing Cultural Conflicts." The Journal of Aesthetic Education 39.3 (2005): 115-120 Project Muse Web.
Saul, Mahir. "Islam and West African Anthropology." Africa Today 56.1 (2009):11-12 Project Muse Web.
Kennely, A.E., “A Modern Mecca..” The Scientific Monthly. 15.6 (1992): 570-580

Religious Background of Mecca

By: Allen Martin

According to, by 622 Mohammed’s life was being threatened from the Meccan authorities because of the rise of his religious impact. His followers were being prosecuted and questioned for following Mohammed’s teachings. Mohammed believed in the worshipping of one god: Allah. Mecca was the place that housed the Kaba, a sacred sanctuary used by the Hijaz who worshipped many gods. These conflicting views cause conflict amongst the two.
As time went on Mohammed eventually ended up settling in Medina to mayor and govern with his followers. His continuous teachings spread quickly throughout his time as the head of Medina. Two years before Mohammed’s death in 632, the Kaba was cleansed and marked as the center of worship for Allah.

The Holy Mosque in Mecca
The Holy Mosque in Mecca

Mecca “The Holy Place” – The Haram

According to “The Hajj: The Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca and the Holy Places,” F.E. Peters states, “ The one immediately surrounding the Ka’ba is called the “sacred shrine” (al-masjid al-haram) and was regarded in Muslim times as a mosque. A third and far larger area, the true haram and called simply by that name, extends well beyond the settled area of Mecca city and is defined by stone boundary markers (ansab al-haram). This is the sacred territory prohibited to non-Muslims throughout its history.” Peters elaborates on the structure of the haram. It surrounds the Ka’ba, which is the place that Muslims face to pray daily. It is Islam’s holiest place.

The Hajj

The Hajj is a pilgrimage to Mecca that, according to the "Five Pillars of Islam," is a Muslim duty that must be carried out a least once throughout a his/her lifetime. Those who cannot make the pilgrimage, due to health or financial issues, are excused from the trip. In preparation for the pilgrimage, one enters a state of spiritual purity, called ihram. During this process one cannot quarrel, engage in any act of violence and engage in no from of sexual activity. Men embrace the state of iharm by bathing and wearing two pieces of unsewn white cloth. Woman usually show the state by wearing a white dress and head covering. They then will go on to repeat the Talbiyah prayer...

"Here I am, O God, at Thy Command! Here I am at Thy Command! Thou art without associate; Here I am at Thy Command! Thine are praise and grace and dominion! Thou art without associate."

As they enter the Holy Mosque in Mecca, they come in with their right foot first and recite...

"In the name of Allah, may peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah. Oh Allah, forgive me my sins and open to me the doors of Your mercy. I seek refuge in Allah the Almighty and in His Eminent Face and in His Eternal Dominion from the accursed Satan."

They then performs the tawaf. This displays a symbolism of unity for Muslims. All prayers, no matter where they take place, are performed in the direction of the Ka'aba.

After this is finished they then perform the sa'i. During this part the pilgrim rushes seven times between two hills, Safa and Marwah, which symbolizes the desperate search for food and water by Hagar.

A Muslim pilgrim throws pebbles at a rock pillar representing the devil at the Hajj pilgrimage.
A Muslim pilgrim throws pebbles at a rock pillar representing the devil at the Hajj pilgrimage.
Muslim pilgrims pray on the "Mountain of Mercy" during the Hajj.
Muslim pilgrims pray on the "Mountain of Mercy" during the Hajj.

Scholarly Source

Internet Sources

Violence in Mecca and its Effects on the Greater Muslim World – Kirk Gibbs

Mecca in the modern age hasn’t always been a place of peace and worship. On November 20, 1979, hundreds of gunmen seized the grand mosque and held it for two weeks. At the end of the bloodshed, hundreds were dead and the effects on the country were profound. Using weapons smuggled in coffins and fighters from all nationalities, a group led by a Saudi preacher by the name of Juhayman al Uteybi managed to capture the mosque and hold more than 100,000 worshippers captive. They did this in protest of the corrupt practices of the Saudi royal family. Their goal was simple, by taking the most holy place in the Islamic world, they were hoping to force the Saudi royal family to make the nation of Saudi Arabia more Islamic. It took more than two weeks for the fighters to be defeated and removed from the mosque. The problem was that going baack to Muhammad, the city of Mecca was supposed to be a city of no weapons and no violence. Especially, in the grand mosque itself, no weapons were ever supposed to enter that most holy of places. In the words of Yarislov Trofimov, author of The Siege Of Mecca,

“Well, the Saudi army took a while to realize what's going on. The problem was that the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque is a place so sacred to Muslims everywhere in the world, that it's forbidden to bear arms there. It's forbidden, according to the Muslim Hadith, the Muslim tradition. They didn't kill a bird there.”

The army refused to attack the mosque until they had religious approval. They managed to take back the mosque with high casualties on both sides. As sacrilegious as it was to attack and take the mosque from the armies stand point, the fact that an armed group was able to take the mosque in the first place was an embarrassment to the Saudi government. In order to get the religious support that was needed to retake the mosque, the government had to roll back many of the reforms and modernization programs that they had put in place. Much of the religious law and rules we see in modern Saudi Arabia is a direct result of the seizure of the grand mosque in Mecca. In the end the men who took the mosque achieved their stated goal of ending the religious corruption of the Saudi government, thus inspiring movements such as Al Qaeda.

Another point of interest on the importance of Mecca was how the Saudi government kept quiet the fact that the mosque had been taken. Since they are directly responsible for the protection of the most holy of cities, this was seen as a huge embarrassment. The problem was that even though they tried to keep it quiet, rumors quickly spread. Instead of the truth though, many countries and their peoples heard that it was agents of the Mossad and CIA who had taken the mosque. This led to the deaths and evacuation of personnel at the U.S. embassy in Pakistan when riots erupted.

A Layout of the Grand Mosque
A Layout of the Grand Mosque

Trofimov, Yarislov, The Siege of Mecca, Doubleday Publishing 2007

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