Mecca in the Quran is named as the Mother of Cities. God says that Mecca is a safe haven for whoever enters it. Mecca is the city where God commanded Adam and then Ibrahim to build the Kaaba or the house of God. Mecca was a strategic city for Muslims at the time of the Prophet as it was a place for pilgrimage and their qiblah. Muslims at the time of the Prophet were able to conquer it after breach of Hudaybiyyah peace treaty. In this article, we will take a look at:
Mecca in the Quran: Bakkah Another Name for Mecca
God says in the Quran:
إِنَّ أَوَّلَ بَيْتٍ وُضِعَ لِلنَّاسِ لَلَّذِي بِبَكَّةَ مُبَارَكًا وَهُدًى لِّلْعَالَمِينَ ﴿96﴾
Indeed the first house to be set up for mankind is the one at Bakkah, blessed and a guidance for all nations. 1
In this verse, God says that the very first house that was built was in the city of Bakkah, which is another name for Mecca. Bakkah means a place of congregation and population. God gave this name to this city because people would come to this city in congregation in order to worship Him. Prophet Adam was the one who first built the house of God that became known as the Kaaba. Later, during the great flood at the time of Noah, the Kaaba was partially destroyed. Therefore, Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) rebuilt it. Then in the next verse God says:
فِيهِ آيَاتٌ بَيِّنَاتٌ مَّقَامُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ ۖ وَمَن دَخَلَهُ كَانَ آمِنًا ۗ وَلِلَّـهِ عَلَى النَّاسِ حِجُّ الْبَيْتِ مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلًا ۚ وَمَن كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ غَنِيٌّ عَنِ الْعَالَمِينَ ﴿97﴾
In it are manifest signs [and] Abraham’s Station, and whoever enters it shall be secure. And it is the duty of mankind toward Allah to make pilgrimage to the House—for those who can afford the journey to it—and should anyone renege [on his obligation], Allah is indeed without need of the creatures. 2
God has said that Mecca is a safe and secure city for whoever enters it. It is incumbent on all Muslims to go on the hajj pilgrimage if they have the funds for it.
Mecca in the Quran: the Mother of Cities
God has named Mecca in the Quran as the Mother of Cities:
وَهَـٰذَا كِتَابٌ أَنزَلْنَاهُ مُبَارَكٌ مُّصَدِّقُ الَّذِي بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَلِتُنذِرَ أُمَّ الْقُرَىٰ وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا ۚ وَالَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْآخِرَةِ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِهِ ۖ وَهُمْ عَلَىٰ صَلَاتِهِمْ يُحَافِظُونَ ﴿92﴾
Blessed is this Book, which We have sent down, confirming what was [revealed] before it, so that you may warn the Mother of Cities and those around it. Those who believe in the Hereafter believe in it, and they are watchful of their prayers. 3
Likewise, in another verse, God states:
وَكَذَٰلِكَ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لِّتُنذِرَ أُمَّ الْقُرَىٰ وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا وَتُنذِرَ يَوْمَ الْجَمْعِ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهِ ۚ فَرِيقٌ فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَفَرِيقٌ فِي السَّعِيرِ ﴿7﴾
Thus have We revealed to you an Arabic Quran that you may warn [the people of] the Mother of the Towns and those around it, and warn [them] of the Day of Gathering, in which there is no doubt, [whereupon] a part [of mankind] will be in paradise and a part will be in the Blaze. 4
According to narrations, the reason Mecca is known as the Mother of Cities is because the earth was spread from beneath Mecca and specifically the Kaaba. As a matter of fact, an event known as daḥw al-arḍ (دحو الارض), meaning spreading of the earth, took place on the 25th of Dhu al-Qa‘dah. During this event, the earth spread itself and extended to other regions from beneath the Kaaba.
The Conquest of Mecca in the Quran
In the early days of Islam, the polytheists ruled over Mecca and the Muslims living there were persecuted by them. Therefore, Prophet Muhammad and the Muslims decided to migrate to another city, Medina, whose inhabitants were willing to host the Noble Prophet. As a result, the Prophet and a group of Muslims migrated to Medina. After a few battles took place between the Muslims of Medina and the polytheists of Mecca, Islam was beginning to spread throughout much of Arabia. The Muslims and polytheists eventually signed a peace treaty with each other that they should not fight with one another for ten years. However, the polytheists breached the peace treaty only after two years.
The Prophet Mobilizes a Mighty Army
The polytheists went to war with a group of the Muslims who had allied themselves with the Prophet. Therefore, the treaty was breached. The Noble Prophet mobilized a mighty army and marched toward Mecca. When they got close to Mecca, the Prophet ordered his troops to light fires. Ten thousand fires were lit. When the polytheists saw the fire, they were frightened and thought one of the tribes of Muslims wanted to attack them. The Prophet’s army that consisted of about ten thousand troops instilled fear in the hearts of the polytheists. Eventually, they all surrendered and professed their faith in Islam. This was when surah Naṣr (سورةُ النَّصر) and surah Fatḥ (فَتح) were revealed.
Mecca in the Quran: God Swears by Mecca in Different Surahs
God in surah Balad says:
لَا أُقْسِمُ بِهَـٰذَا الْبَلَدِ ﴿1﴾
I swear by this town,
وَأَنتَ حِلٌّ بِهَـٰذَا الْبَلَدِ ﴿2﴾
as you reside in this town;
وَوَالِدٍ وَمَا وَلَدَ ﴿3﴾
[and] by the father and him whom he begot: 5
This shows the significance of the city of Mecca that God swears by it. The reason it is so significant is that the Noble Prophet resides in it and it is where the Kaaba, that is the house of God, is located. God also swears by Prophet Ibrahim and Prophet Ismail in the third verse of this surah when He talks about the father and the one who he begot, because they were also in Mecca and it was them who rebuilt the Kaaba. God has sworn by the city of Mecca in surah Tīn (سورة التين) as well:
وَالتِّينِ وَالزَّيْتُونِ ﴿1﴾
By the fig and the olive,
وَطُورِ سِينِينَ ﴿2﴾
by Mount Sinai,
وَهَـٰذَا الْبَلَدِ الْأَمِينِ ﴿3﴾
and by this secure town: 6
God has guaranteed the security of anyone who visits the city of Mecca. In fact, the inhabitants of Mecca need to observe specific rules that pertain only to this city. One of them, is not harming those who come to this city.
Mecca in the Quran: Masjid al-Ḥarām
Inside the city of Mecca is a mosque known as Masjid al-Haram (مسجد الحرام). The Kaaba is inside this mosque and it is the direction to which Muslims pray.
قَدْ نَرَىٰ تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِي السَّمَاءِ ۖ فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبْلَةً تَرْضَاهَا ۚ فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ ۚ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنتُمْ فَوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ ۗ وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ لَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ ۗ وَمَا اللَّـهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا يَعْمَلُونَ ﴿144﴾
We certainly see you turning your face about in the sky. We will surely turn you to a qiblah of your liking: so turn your face towards the Holy Mosque, and wherever you may be, turn your faces towards it! Indeed those who were given the Book surely know that it is the truth from their Lord. And Allah is not oblivious of what they do. 7
Of course, the first qiblah of Muslims was Masjid al-Aqṣā. However, God told the Prophet to turn his face toward the Kaaba he was praying in a mosque that later became known as, Masjid Dhu Qiblatayn (مسجد ذو قبلتین), meaning the mosque having two qiblahs.
Mecca is a very important city for Muslims. It is the city where the qiblah of Muslims, meaning the Kaaba is located. God revealed most of the surahs of the Quran to the Prophet in the city of Mecca. Muslims must travel to this city in order to offer the hajj during the hajj season if they can afford it. It is hoped that all Muslims have the opportunity to go on the hajj pilgrimage at least once in their life.
- Quran 3:96 (Qara’i).
- Quran 3:97 (Qara’i).
- Quran 6:92 (Qara’i).
- Quran 42:7 (Qara’i).
- Quran 90:1-3 (Qara’i).
- Quran 95:1-3 (Qara’i).
- Quran 2:144 (Qara’i).