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-Haram, Balad al-Amin and Umm al-Qura 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.
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 Mecca as well as being on the way of merchants who were passing this city 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 Dhi 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 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 of 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 (Medina)
The Conquest of Mecca (8 A.H./630)
Hajjat al-Wida' (10 A.H./632)
Ghadir Khumm (10 A.H./632)
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).
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 and Hijr of Isma'il which are highly respected by Muslims. Other than general religious rules about mosques, in Islamic [fiqh], there are exclusive religious rules about Masjid 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.
Ka'ba is the Qibla of Muslims and it is the most important place for worship among Muslims. According to religious narrations and 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-Khif 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 al-Shajara: Pledge of al-Ridwan in the time of Hudaybiyya Peace Treaty was made here.
-Masjid of Ghadir Khumm: Prophet Muhammad (s) introduced 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a) as his vicegerent and people's guardian after himself.
-The Mosque of Ibrahim (a)
-Shaqq al-qamar Mosque