Mecca is a city in western Saudi Arabia significant because it was the birthplace and home of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad. The city was long an important locus of trade in the Middle East because it lays at the crossroads of trading caravans traveling throughout the region. Because of its association with Muhammad, it became a sacred space for Muslims and the object of a religion-mandated pilgrimage, occurring once a year. Mecca provides both a continuing association with the founder of Islam for its members and a connection with others who follow the same faith, which results in the reaffirmation of identity and a sense of communal affiliation.
According to Watt, “Mecca, Muhammad’s home for half a century was entirely a commercial city, set amidst the barren rocks. The growth of the city as a trading centre came about through the existence there of a haram or sanctuary area, to which men could come without fear of molestation. Geographical conditions were also in its favour; it...
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