Mecca or Makkah is a city in the Hejazi region of the Arabian Peninsula, and the plain of Tihamah in Saudi Arabia, and is also the capital and administrative headquarters of the Makkah Region. The city is located 70 km inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of (909 ft) above sea level, and 340 kilometres (south of Medina. Its resident population in 2012 was roughly 2 million, although visitors more than triple this number every year during the Ḥajj ( “Pilgrimage”) period held in the twelfth Muslim lunar month of Dhūl-Ḥijjah
As the birthplace of Muhammad, and the site of Muhammad’s first revelation of the Quran (specifically, a cave 3 km (2 mi) from Mecca),Mecca is regarded as the holiest city in the religion of Islam and a pilgrimage to it known as the Hajj is obligatory for all able Muslims. Mecca is home to the Kaaba, by majority description Islam’s holiest site, as well as being the direction of Muslim prayer.
Mecca was long ruled by Muhammad’s descendants, the sharifs, acting either as independent rulers or as vassals to larger polities. It was conquered by Ibn Saud in 1925. In its modern period, Mecca has seen tremendous expansion in size and infrastructure, home to structures such as the Abraj Al Bait, also known as the Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel, the world’s fourth tallest building and the building with the third largest amount of floor area. During this expansion, Mecca has lost some historical structures and archaeological sites, such as the Ajyad Fortress. Today, more than 15 million Muslims visit Mecca annually, including several million during the few days of the Hajj. As a result, Mecca has become one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the Muslim world,even though non-Muslims are prohibited from entering the city.
Muhammad and conquest of Mecca
Muhammad was born in Mecca in 570, and thus Islam has been inextricably linked with it ever since. He was born in a minor faction, the Hashemites, of the ruling Quraysh tribe. It was in Mecca, in the nearby mountain cave of Hira on Jabal al-Nour, that, according to Islamic tradition, Muhammad began receiving divine revelations from God through the Archangel Gabriel in 610 AD, and advocated his form of Abrahamic monotheism against Meccan paganism.
After enduring persecution from the pagan tribes for 13 years, Muhammad emigrated (see Hijrah) in 622 with his companions, the Muhajirun, to Yathrib (later called Medina). The conflict between the Quraysh and the Muslims, however, continued: The two fought in the Battle of Badr, where the Muslims defeated the Quraysh outside Medina; while the Battle of Uhud ended indecisively. Overall, Meccan efforts to annihilate Islam failed and proved to be costly and unsuccessful. During the Battle of the Trench in 627, the combined armies of Arabia were unable to defeat Muhammad’s forces.
Muhammad and Pilgrimage
In 628, Muhammad and his followers wanted to enter Mecca for pilgrimage, but were blocked by the Quraysh. Subsequently, Muslims and Meccans entered into the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, whereby the Quraysh promised to cease fighting Muslims and promised that Muslims would be allowed into the city to perform the pilgrimage the following year. It was meant to be a ceasefire for 10 years. However, just two years later, the Quraysh violated the truce by slaughtering a group of Muslims and their allies.
Muhammad and his companions, now 10,000 strong, marched into Mecca. However, instead of continuing their fight, the city of Mecca surrendered to Muhammad, who declared peace and amnesty for its inhabitants. The pagan imagery was destroyed by Muhammad’s followers and the location Islamized and rededicated to the worship of God. Mecca was declared as the holiest site in Islam ordaining it as the center of Muslim pilgrimage, one of the faith’s Five Pillars. Then, Muhammad returned to Medina, after assigning Akib ibn Usaid as governor of the city. His other activities in Arabia led to the unification of the peninsula.
Death of Muhammad(PBUH)
Muhammad died in 632, but with the sense of unity that he had passed on to his Ummah (Islamic nation), Islam began a rapid expansion, and within the next few hundred years stretched from North Africa into Asia and parts of Europe. As the Islamic Empire grew, Mecca continued to attract pilgrims from all across the Muslim world and beyond, as Muslims came to perform the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
Mecca also attracted a year-round population of scholars, pious Muslims who wished to live close to the Kaaba, and local inhabitants who served the pilgrims. Due to the difficulty and expense of the Hajj, pilgrims arrived by boat at Jeddah, and came overland, or joined the annual caravans from Syria or Iraq.