Mecca

Mecca is the holiest city in all of Islam. Muslims pray in the direction of Mecca, and they are obliged to do the pilgrimage or al-Hajj once in their life. This includes an extensive ceremony of rituals based upon the father of all Abrahamic faiths, Abraham. There are many rituals that go along with the Ka’ba in Mecca, which Muslims believe Abraham built with his son Ismail. Even in pre-Islamic Arabia, it was common for pagan Arabs to do a pilgrimage to the Ka’ba, but the prophet Muhammed changed this shrine so that it was dedicated worship of only one God [1].

Scholar Ross E. Dunn notes in his book The Adventures of Ibn Battuta that when Ibn Battuta saw Mecca it looked substantially different than it does now [2]. Furthermore, when Ibn Battuta visited Mecca, the trip was less regulated by the government. Now the Saudi government maintains crowd control, sets up first aid stands, and even has kiosks with food or lemonade for those who are  hungry or thirsty. Mecca during the 14th century was not the city that it is today. When Hajj season ended, Mecca turned into “a dusty western Arabian town” [3]. Ibn Battuta was impressed with the Meccans because of the modesty in dress and their piousness. Mecca was the destination of a special trip for Ibn Battuta to do his duty as a devout, religious man and go on the Hajj. He left Mecca more knowledgable about different people from different lands which possibly spurred his interest to go further and further into the Islamic world. Ibn Battuta did the Hajj multiple times, but he only kept record of his first visit.

Mecca has only changed in the slightest ways since Ibn Battuta was there. The Saudi government has made it more accessible for people and less dangerous allowing more Muslims to do their Islamic duty. There are so many visitors a year that tourism is a major part of the Saudi economy now, and without the holy city the economy in Saudi Arabia would take a hit. But, Mecca is still just as sacred to Muslims as the day Ibn Battuta went there nearly 700 years ago.

 

Source:

[1] Dunn, Ross. The Adventures of Ibn Battuta. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005.

[2] Dunn, Ross. The Adventures of Ibn Battuta. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005.

[3] Dunn, Ross. The Adventures of Ibn Battuta. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005.