Introduction of Mecca
Holy city of Islam and the birthplace c. 570 of Muhammed the prophet, located in the Hejaz, approximately 45 mi from the port of Jidda. It was an ancient commercial center linking the Far East and Mediterranean. The site of the Kaaba and its sacred Black Stone, it was sacred to idol-worshipping Arabs even before Muhammed’s flight from Mecca to Medina in 622, which marked the beginning of the Muslim era. It was sacked by the Karmathians in the early 10th century, came under the Ottoman Empire in 1517, and was seized in the early 19th century by Wahabis whom Mohammad Ali of Egypt defeated. It was the seat of the grand sherif of Mecca, Husein ibn- Ali, who declared his independence from Turkey in 1916; Mecca then became the capital of the kingdom of Hejaz. In 1924 it was occupied by Wahabis under ibn-Saud, who later created the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is the site of the Great Mosque.