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The people of Mecca were traders – they organised great caravans and a market where different tribes could trade. But they had one great advantage

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The people of Mecca were traders – they organised great caravans and a market where different tribes could trade. But they had one great advantage.

  • At Mecca was the ‘Ka’bah’ a building like a cube which contained the sacred BLACK STONE in its furthest corner – this was a symbol of divine power and is very old. It is believed to have been given by the Angel Gabriel to Abraham.



  • Abraham is regarded by Islam as the earliest of the prophets.

    • Abraham is regarded by Islam as the earliest of the prophets.

    • According to the Qu’ran, Abraham prayed to God to make Mecca safe and to give it to him and his descendents as their home. He and his eldest son, Ishmael, then erected the ‘Kabah’ there as a shrine to Allah. Abraham is the forerunner of the HANIF – worshippers in one God who were found in Arabia before Muhammad.

    • Ottoman miniature 1583. Istanbul



    Every tribe had its local deities in the Kab’ah and this had the advantage of enabling tribes to worship as well as trade at Mecca.

    • Every tribe had its local deities in the Kab’ah and this had the advantage of enabling tribes to worship as well as trade at Mecca.

    • There was also a tradition that tribes normally at war could go on pilgrimage to Mecca and they could trade and be safe because of the holiness of the city.

    • Mecca was not originally the focus – Muhammad’s followers initially directed their prayers to Jerusalem. However when Muhammad’s message was rejected by the Jews, Mecca became the new focus. Mecca had always had great symbolic importance as a centre for worship for the wandering tribes.



    The ‘Quraysh’ tribe were the custodians of the Ka’bah. This gave them great status but they were also aware of anything that might undermine their status.

    • The ‘Quraysh’ tribe were the custodians of the Ka’bah. This gave them great status but they were also aware of anything that might undermine their status.

    • Muhammad was to present such a challenge. He was an uncomfortable, uncompromising figure – insisting on the worshop of the one true God and calling people away from idol worship.



    Muhammad was born in 570ce into a powerful clan, but he was himself poor. His father, Abdullah, died before Muhammad was born to his mother, Aminah so any inheritance went to his father’s brothers.

    • Muhammad was born in 570ce into a powerful clan, but he was himself poor. His father, Abdullah, died before Muhammad was born to his mother, Aminah so any inheritance went to his father’s brothers.

    • Muhammad was sent to live with Halimah, a shepherd’s wife, until he was 6. The painting on the right dates from the 16th century and shows Halimah feeding breast-feeding the infant Muhammad. Note the fire coming from the baby.



    After Muhammad was returned to his mother, she took him on a journey to the city of Yathrib where his father had died – but she died on the return journey.

    • After Muhammad was returned to his mother, she took him on a journey to the city of Yathrib where his father had died – but she died on the return journey.

    • Muhammad was thus an orphan and was cared for by his uncle, Abu Talib. He took part in his Uncle’s business activities and went with the Caravans to Syria where he met Christians and Jewish thinkers.

    • Muhammad’s life up to the age of 25 is only known in outline terms – there are stories, but they are disputed.



    Khadijah, a wealthy widow, had employed Muhammad to lead some caravans for her. Tradition has it that she was 40+ when Muhammad married hern (he was 25) and he had no other wife till she died.

    • Khadijah, a wealthy widow, had employed Muhammad to lead some caravans for her. Tradition has it that she was 40+ when Muhammad married hern (he was 25) and he had no other wife till she died.

    • They lived together for 25 years and had two sons, who both died in infancy, and four daughters – only Fatima did not die before her father.

    • The wealth of Khadijah, enabled Muhammad to spend time deepening his spiritual life through meditation in the surrounding hills.(Muhammad. Maxime Rodinson, Pantheon Books, New York, 1971, p. 69)

    • After the death of Khadijah, Mohammed married several wives.



    In 610ce (aged 40), whilst meditating in a cave on Mt. Hira outside Mecca, the angel Gabriel appeared and delivered a message from Allah challenging Muhammad to recite a message from God (cf Sura 96). He was in great pain and feared he was going to die.

    • In 610ce (aged 40), whilst meditating in a cave on Mt. Hira outside Mecca, the angel Gabriel appeared and delivered a message from Allah challenging Muhammad to recite a message from God (cf Sura 96). He was in great pain and feared he was going to die.

    • Muhammad was anxious and wondered if he was deranged. He spoke to Khaidjah who consulted a hanif (a worshipper of one God which was comparatively rare at the time) and he confirmed that what Muhammad had experienced was in accordance with messages to prophets recognised by Jews and Christians.

    • Khaidjah supported him from the beginning and Muhammad began to recite the messages he had been given.





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