Mecca in their eyes: The holy city from an international perspective

The first mention of Mecca was, according to researchers, in the writing of the Greek Ptolemy in the second century A.D. Some have it that Alexander the Great talked about it too or at least this is what a painting by the Grand Mosque suggests.

The famous explorer Ibn Batutta spared no effort in praising Mecca and expressed his admiration of the Grand Mosque, the Safa and Marwa hills, and the holy well of Zamzam as well as the entire atmosphere and the customs.

Yaacoubi talked about Mecca in “The Book of Countries” as did Nasir Khusraw in his “Safarnama” in addition to “Zakaria bin Kattab.”

The most prominent of Andalusian geographers Ibn Jubayr traveled to Mecca and drew a detailed map of its roads and gave an elaborate description of it. Portuguese sailor Gregeory da Quadra also visited Mecca.

More than 120 years ago, French explorer Gervais Courtellemont visited Mecca and offered the meticulous description of a professional photographer.

Apparently, it is the spirituality of the place that fascinated a large number of scholars and drove them to study its impact of Muslims from all over the world.

They were also mesmerized by the hardships pilgrims had to go through to travel to Mecca and how this never discouraged them from going.

Today, Mecca remains at the heart of the world’s interest.

This is the first exhibition of its kind. The exhibition, to last for three months, is held in the British Museum in London in coordination with King Abdul Aziz Public Library. Amid international anticipation, Mecca is the bride of the exhibition.

According to British Crown Prince Charles, the exhibition reflects the international character of the pilgrimage.

Charles stressed how the ritual of pilgrimage is respected worldwide and how the current services offered now facilitate the process for all Muslims.

The exhibition includes rare items related to the history and culture of Mecca like the cloth that covered the Kaaba, old copies of the Quran, manuscripts, utensils, historic depictions of pilgrims’ trips to Mecca, and miniature models of the Grand Mosque.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)

Voice: Nadia Idriss Mayen

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