Mecca, or Bakkah, as it has been named by the Quran, literally refers to a place that draws large numbers of people together.
Mecca has had a vast history of holiness ever since the prophet Abraham visited the location; once an arid land, it has now boomed and flourished and become a place of worship for hearts to be spiritually fulfilled.
Several tribes have over the years attempted to seize the Kaaba, the cube structure in Mecca that is the most sacred site in Islam. The Khuza’a tribe attempted to do so in the third century AD, followed by an attempt by the Quraish tribe.
The mosques surrounding the Kaaba have become a destination for scientists, traders and pilgrims and have witnessed a solid urban development.
Through the centuries, many caliphs and rulers have sought to enhance the holy city through expansion, decoration and construction.
Caliphs Umar and Uthman, as well as Abdullah bin al-Zubair, Walid bin Abdel Malik, Abu Jaafar al-Mansur, al-Mahdi, al- Mutadid, al-Muktadir and Salim al-Uthmani, contributed to the mosques’ upkeep.
The city’s enormous expansion began in the era of the modern Saudi state. The founder, King Abdulaziz, initiated the work, and the major shift was during the reign of King Fahd, who chose for himself the title of “the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.” This expansion is significantly pursued nowadays by King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, who inaugurated the largest expansion in the history of the Grand Mosque.
Meanwhile, the holy site’s social space was enriched by cultural and ethnic diversity, which have given Mecca a characteristic charm and the ability to adapt to changing times while mixing tradition with modernity.
(Translated from Arabic by Sarah Sfeir)