Mecca the Blessed

Chart of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. Royal Geographic Society

The Sanctuary at Mecca photographed through the colonnade with a view of the Ka‘ba, late 1990s. Peter Sanders

The first House [of worship] to be established for people was the one in Mecca. It is a blessed place; a source of guidance for all people.
Qur’an 3 - Al ‘Imran: 96
Wherever you may have started out, turn your face in the direction of the Sacred Mosque.
Qur’an 2 - al-Baqara: 150

Mecca is the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad. The sanctuary at Mecca with the Ka‘ba at its heart is the holiest site in Islam. Mecca has been a sacred site from ancient times. It owes its existence to a sanctuary which developed around the Ka‘ba and the spring of Zamzam.

Even before Islam, Mecca was an important site of pilgrimage for the Arab tribes of north and central Arabia. Although they believed in many deities, they came once a year to worship Allah at Mecca. During this sacred month, violence was forbidden within Mecca and this allowed trade to flourish. As a result, Mecca became an important commercial centre. The revelation of Islam to the Prophet Muhammad (d. 632) restored the ancient religion of the One God to the Arab people and transformed Mecca into the holiest city in the Islamic world.

Mecca diagram

Plan of the Sanctuary at Mecca after Eldon Rutter (in Mecca 1925)

Supported by

Arts and Humanities Research Council