Makkah, or Mecca, is the centre of Islamic civilization. Qur’an terms it as Ummul Qura’ i.e. Mother of the Cities (6: 92 & 42: 7). It is the place to which all Muslims turn their faces five times a day and making a pilgrimage to it once in life is not only an obligation but the heartiest desire of every Muslim.Apparently it is only the importance of this city which gives us ‘mecca’ as a word in the English language meaning, ‘a place frequented for special purpose.’
But this is not all; its central position in the House of Islam has lead some jaundiced-eye critics of Islam to even doubt its historicity. They say that history of Arabia has no evidence for the existence of Makkah before the advent of Christianity.
Infact there are references to the city and sanctuary of Makkah even in the Old Testament. But in the following lines I will not bask upon references from the Bible but instead share a secular historical evidence to refute the lie.
Diodorus Siculus, a first century B.C. Greek historian while discussing Arabia writes;
“The people that inhabit these parts are called Bizomenians and live upon wild beasts taken in hunting. Here is a sacred temple in high veneration among all the Arabians.” (The Historical Library of the Diodorus the Sicilian, Translated by G. Booth, Esq., J. Davis Military Chronicle Office, London 1814 vol.1 p.184)
This certainly is a reference to Makkah. Georgi Zaidan (d. 1914 C.E.), a Christian Arab from Beirut writes in his book Al-‘Arab Qabl al-Islam (Arabs before Islam);
“There is no mention of Makkah or Ka’ba in the books of the Greeks of antiquity except what is found in the book of Diodorus Siculus of the first century before Christ in his discussion about the Nabateans. In that he refers to Makkah and he writes, ‘And beyond the land of the Nabateans is the region of Bizomenians. And there is a sacred temple in high veneration among all the Arabs.’”
And he does not just stop here, he even explains as to whom Diodorus refers to by using the word, “Bizomenians.” He writes (Arabic wording is given in the image above);
“As to the ‘Bizomenians’; sometimes by it are intended the Jurhamites or other Arabian tribes who were the custodians of Makkah.” (Al-‘Arab Qabl al-Islam, Al-Hilal publishers Cairo, second ed. vol.1 p.244)
So we find a Christian testifying for and expounding a historical evidence for Makkah from pre-Christian times.
Similarly another Arab Christian, Jesuit Louis Cheikho (d. 1927 C.E.) in his work titled, ‘al-Nasaraniyah wa adaabuha bayn ‘Arab al-Jahaliyyah’ (The Christianity and Its Literature amongst the Arabs of Pre-Islamic Times) also refers to the same quotation from Diodorus Siculus and takes it like Zaidan. (See al-Nasaraniyah wa adaabuha bayn ‘Arab al-Jahaliyya, Darul Mashriq, Beirut second ed. 1989 p.14)
I hope objective readers will find this piece useful.
Indeed Allah knows the best!