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.
Medina was Muhammad’s destination after his Hijrah from Mecca, and became the capital of a rapidly increasing Muslim Empire, first under Muhammad’s leadership, and then under the first four Rashidun caliphs, Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali. It served as the power base of Islam in its first century where the early Muslim community developed. Medina is home to the three oldest mosques, namely the Quba Mosque, al-Masjid an-Nabawi,and Masjid al-Qiblatayn (“the mosque of the two qiblas”). Muslims believe that the chronologically final surahs of the Quran were revealed to Muhammad in Medina, and are called Medinan surahs in contrast to the earlier Meccan surahs.
Similar to Mecca, non-Muslims are forbidden from entering the sacred core of Medina (but not the entire city) or the city centre by the national government.
1. The Jamarat used to be small pillars which would be stoned symbolising stoning of the devil
2. The Mosque of Khaif and Mina. Mina is a station of the hajj, where pilgrims camp out on the eighth, 11th, 12th (and some on the 13th) of Dhul-Hijjah (the twelfth month of the Muslim calendar)_c1907
3. Al-Baqi before the demolition_Medina_c1910
4. A view of the city of Mecca, circa 1887
5. Tomb of the Relatives of Mohammed at Mecca_c1924
6. Ka’bah and sanctuary at Mecca. Pilgrims surround the Ka’bah; all are facing it while some are performing the tawaf – the ritual of circumambulation of the Ka’bah._Circa 1907
7. Horse and carriage were used as a means of transport during that time _c1953
8. One of the entrances to the Masjid Al Haram_c1953
9. The western part of the Mina Valley, outside Mecca, during the Hajj pilgrimage, circa 1887
10. Pilgrims pray while standing around the Kaaba in Mecca, circa 1887
11. An Extremely Rare Sketch Showing Mecca City in 1850
12. The Paradise of al-Ma’ala. This image shows the cemetery known as the Paradise of al-Ma’ala or Jannat al-Mualla, north-north-east of the Masjid al-Haram_c1907
13. Markets and stalls near the Masjid Al Haram_c1953
15. Old Photo of Kaaba during Ottoman Empire Period
16. Kaaba Old Photos Kaaba during floods of 1941
In the Sharḥ al- Asāṭīr, a commentary on the Samaritan midrashic chronology of the Patriarchs, of unknown date but probably composed in the tenth century C.E., it is claimed that Mecca was built by the sons of Nebaioth, the eldest son of Ishmael.
Some time in the 5th century, the Kaaba was a place of worship for the deities of Arabia’s pagan tribes. Mecca’s most important pagan deity was Hubal, which had been placed there by the ruling Quraysh tribe and remained until the 7th century.
According to Ibn Ishaq, the local pagan Arab tribes, the Muslim Muhajirun from Mecca, the local Muslims (Ansar), and the Jewish population of the area signed an agreement, the Constitution of Medina, which committed all parties to mutual co-operation under the leadership of Muhammad. The nature of this document as recorded by Ibn Ishaq and transmitted by Ibn Hisham is the subject of dispute among modern Western historians, many of whom maintain that this “treaty” is possibly a collage of different agreements, oral rather than written, of different dates, and that it is not clear exactly when they were made. Other scholars, however, both Western and Muslim, argue that the text of the agreement—whether a single document originally or several—is possibly one of the oldest Islamic texts we possess.
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