I am in the process of finishing off an essay about the history of Mecca. To give you a heads up here is a draft version of the conclusion…
Islamic traditional history claims Mecca was the centre of a flourishing trade network that was dominated by the Quraysh tribe. It also claims that it was also a major pilgrimage site housing a famous pagan temple. It says a Meccan man called Muhammad came from that tribe and began a new religion. As you can now see, all these claims lack substantiating evidence. I will conclude with a line by line description of what the evidence actually says about Mecca:
Mecca is missing from all historical records until 741AD. It is missing from maps, trade notes, ancient histories, religious inscriptions and records and imperial records.
The Qur’an goes to great lengths to avoid talking about geography. Mecca is not mentioned in the book. However there are two vague references to Bakkah/Makkah. Neither gives any clues as to its location.
It is only the Hadiths, written 200 years later, that say Bakkah/Makkah is the modern Mecca. The Hadiths cannot be trusted as a historical source of material on Mecca and Muhammad. They clearly mythologised the past.
It is a full 200 years after the alleged events that Islamic traditional histories started to describe a prophet Muhammad as coming from a tribe called the Quraysh and growing up in the thriving trading and pilgrimage site called Mecca.
The Qur’an says Mecca is located where Abraham lived, near the place where the Romans were defeated and where Lots wife was turned to stone. All these sites are in Palestine.
The many references to agriculture flourishing around Mecca are false. The climate is too dry. Agriculture did flourish in Palestine.
All other geographical references in the Qur’an, Midian, Ad and Thamud, refer to peoples and places near Palestine.
The number one pre-Arab Empire era pilgrimage site for the Arabs was located at Abraham’s tree of Mamre, in Palestine, not at Mecca.
Until the 8th century all mosques faced Nabataea’s Petra in lower Jordan or somewhere near it. None faced Mecca. The direction changed during the early 8th Century only. The Qur’an even admits to a change of direction.
The Arabic language originated with the Nabataeans, not deep in the Arabian Peninsula, so did Arab international trade, which features significantly in the stories of Islam’s origin.
The Nabataeans worshipped meteorites at sacred cubes called a Ka’ba. This pagan religious practice has been replicated in Mecca.
Mecca could never have been a trading centre as it was not on the coast in an era when land transport had ceased five centuries before.
Pliny’s Mochorbre is definitely not today’s Mecca as it is on the south coast of Arabia.
Ptolemy’s Makoraba is not todays Mecca as the longitude and latitude references are incorrect, he places it near a river and the root consonants of the two words are different.
Mecca is missing from the maps of Periplus, Procopius and from all the Romans records. In addition, no Arab historians of the 7th Century mention Mecca or the Quraysh tribe.
There is no record of any spice trade coming out of Arabia in the centuries leading up to Islam’s birth. It died hundreds of years earlier. Therefore all Islamic references to it are a myth.
There is no record of any pilgrimage site at Mecca before the 8th Century. Mecca is missing from all pilgrimage lists. In addition pilgrimage sites were seasonal, not permanent, and no trading was allowed at these sites.
No Muslim leadership ever based itself at Mecca. Cities of significance were Jerusalem, Damascus and Baghdad.
It was only in 691AD that we first hear of Mecca as an alternative site for the House of God under the reign of Abd al-Malik. His theology, as evidenced on the Dome of the Rock inscription, was still solidly Christian but Arian in doctrine.
Arian Christian theology became the cornerstone of orthodox Islamic theology.
The rapidly expanding Arab Empire needed an Arab prophet, an Arab sacred book and an Arab holy city to justify its Arabian-centric political existence and to create differentiation from the empires and religions surrounding it.