Did Abraham Build the Kaaba?

The body of this paper will deal primarily with places and destinations, not theology or personality. I will examine the Biblical accounts of Abraham in the natural and sequential order in which they are preserved in the Bible, while I examine and compare a small sampling of the similarities and differences in the Quran and other Islamic sources. In doing so, I’ll point out the several fatal contradictions in the Islamic perspective and leave the reader to determine whether the Islamic version is truth to be believed or fable created to connect a pagan Arabian shrine to the Biblical patriarch of the Israelites. I will cover the ancient evidence and promptly dismember Islamic dogma as inauthentic and based on inadequate grounds. In the end, it will be hard to ignore that the Biblical account is far more reliable and historically accurate and that the Islamic version is mere conjecture imagined in the mind of a suicidal poet of the seventh century.

Nothing is more important to the foundations and development of Islam than the re-casting of Biblical personalities into newly assigned roles as devout Muslims. Shaping Israelite patriarchs into ancient Muslims who worshiped Muhammad’s god is step one. Turning the Lord Christ into a minor image of Muhammad was step two, and worldwide conquest which wars against the soul is now a real possibility [Peter 2:11; Revelation 11:7, 12:7]. While the claims against the Bible are similar to those put forward in Mormonism, and falsified just as easily, both Muslims and non-Muslims need to be reminded that the books of the Bible are the measuring stick to evaluate the historicity and integrity of Muhammad’s often fictional portrayals of these ancient and important people.

Why did the Kaaba play a central role in Muhammad’s fantasies? While no historical facts support his claims, Muslims are seldom deterred. Islam is built upon the notion that Abraham was not only a Muslim [Q. 2:31] but that he was selected by Allah to build the Kaaba in Mecca [Q. 2:125-127], and that while doing so he established the rituals and beliefs which are the cornerstones of Islamic worship. The pagan origins and practices of the Kaaba will not be discussed here, only the patriarchal journeys and the Islamic corruption of the Bible’s texts. Muslims claim that Mecca and the Kaaba are the centers of worship for the entire world. Christians and Jews know that it is Jerusalem, where lays the chief cornerstone of Yahweh’s kingdom [Psalm 102:16; I Peter 2:6]. The City of David [Zion] is mentioned nearly 50 times in the Bible as the home of God’s people [Isaiah 10:24] and where the hosts will reign [Isaiah 24:23]. Are Muslims going to tell us that these references are corruptions in the texts and that Mecca was the intended city the whole time? Hardly even remotely plausible.

The Kaaba in Mecca is without equal in veneration in Islamic tradition, and had been revered by Arab pagans long before Muhammad’s birth. The Muslim religion holds that the Kaaba was built by Abraham and Ishmael after hearing a direct revelation from Allah. This seems improbable. After all, once Allah guides a people on the right course and provides a mode of conduct for worship through a chosen Prophet, Allah does not then lead them astray into confusion or an inability to see the right course [Q. 9:115]. How is it then that such a man as Abraham would be sent to Mecca to deliver the people from polytheism and build the Kaaba only to later have them fall into apostasy and disbelief, needing yet another prophet in the 7th century A.D.? Abraham being in Mecca is just not consistent with important Islamic doctrines, and a myth. For example, in Q. 2:125 the Kaaba is being purified [Ar. ‘tahara’], yet in Q. 2:127 the foundation are still being raised [Ar. Rafa’a]. Depending on the traditions being reviewed, the Kaaba was built by Allah or maybe Adam or possibly Abraham. But, is it true?

Reconstructing ancient events in search for truth is never an easy task, but within the literature handed down from the earliest days, confirmed by corroborating testimony where it is available, certainty looms dreadful for Islamic claims. For example, American scholars such as Albright have discussed the groupings of people and popular migration patterns into and around cultivated areas of the Fertile Crescent, and it is nigh impossible to think that the barren wasteland of the Hijaz would be such a destination for Mesopotamian travelers. Crossing over from Ethiopian lands may be plausible, but Abraham was never in Ethiopia. General migration patters are important to consider if we are going to place the journeys of Abraham into historical context. It is very likely that many people, Abraham’s troop included, traveled from Ur to Canaan via the established routes such as the Kings Highway or the International Coastal Road. It is far less likely that these same people then had any reason to travel another 700 miles south into the central Hijaz.

Respected biblical scholars have placed the journeys of the patriarchs in the Middle Bronze Age [2000-1550 B.C.] and this would include the relevant chapters in the Book of Genesis [Chapters 12-50] as well as the narrative accounts in both the Quran and Tradition of the Muslims. In this paper, I will present the narrative from the Book of Genesis, chapters twelve thru twenty-five, as those speak specifically of the travels of Abraham from his calling to his death. Let’s introduce a few of the Islamic fables first, take a close look at the Bible, then we’ll touch upon a few more Islamic myths before closing. That will complete the comparison, and the reader can decide which is believable and which is not.

One Islamic tradition holds that Abraham brought both Hagar and Ishmael to Mecca [Source: Bukhari Volume 4, Book 55, Number 584] then returned to Canaan after leaving both Hagar and her infant son in the uninhabited region of Arabia which would later serve as the ground for a building used to quarter the idols of the Kaaba. However, Sam Shamoun points out in ‘Ishmael is not the Father of Muhammad’ that eminent scholar Alfred Guillaume has written,

‘”… there is no historical evidence for the assertion that Abraham or Ishmael was ever in Mecca, and if there had been such a tradition it would have to be explained how all memory of the Old Semitic name Ishmael (which was not in its true Arabian form in Arabian inscriptions and written correctly with an initial consonant Y) came to be lost. The form in the Quran is taken either from Greek or Syriac sources.” (Alfred Guillaume, Islam [Penguin Books Inc., Baltimore, 1956], pp. 61-62).

Another tradition holds that Muhammad himself is said to have told his favorite wife Aisha that, “Had not your people been still close to the pre-Islamic period of ignorance I would have dismantled the Kaaba and would have made two doors in it; one for entrance and the other for exit”. [Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 3, Number 128].

So much for the importance of the Kaaba. Yet, we are to believe that the Meccan prophet held the Kaaba in the highest esteem, and believed it had been built and rebuilt after a revelation from Allah.

Let’s examine the Bible and see what we can gather about Abraham, his journeys as agent of Yahweh among the nations and his role as a channel for God’s blessing to the world.

What does the Bible tell us of Abraham, and is it possible that he had spent time in Mecca? Let’s review the Scriptures now. The answers to all these questions lay within a survey of the Book of Genesis. Most of this is common knowledge to Christians, but by way of review, let’s go over the complete list of places Abraham traveled. A good Bible atlas would be useful to the reader. I suggest the Holman Bible Atlas but any Bible Atlas will help to put the following discussion into geographical perspective. The point of this exercise is to elucidate where Abraham did travel, in order to discover where he did not. Obviously, the Muslims will quickly claim that the Christian Scriptures are corrupted, and that we removed the parts which corroborate the worth and validity of the Islamic claims from the germane chapters of the Book of Genesis. The accusation of corruption is silly and unsupported by fact but it’s the only card Muslims have to play, so I don’t blame them for playing it. As I noted, Abraham went outside of Canaan a couple of times. However, the Bible nowhere mentions that Arabia was part of his journeys. Muslims may claim that this has been “removed” from the text, but for what reason? The text of Genesis was fixed many centuries before Islam. Why would it mention several travels outside of Canaan but remove Arabia/Mecca when neither the author (Moses) nor the Jews for many centuries would have the slightest idea about Islam? We have plenty of manuscripts from centuries before Muhammad, none of which place him in Mecca.

Born in Ur, his father Terah began his migration to Canaan [Genesis 11:21]. After Terah’s death, Abraham was called by Yahweh to continue the journey to Canaan [Genesis 12:1] where God promised to Abraham and his descendants the land inhabited by the Canaanites. Let’s note here that we are given the names of the Tribes which would be displaced to establish Abraham in the land. None of them inhabited the Hijaz. The point is, that the area in which the Ka’aba was allegedly built by Abraham was nowhere near the region where Abraham was to establish his family, so why build a temple or an altar so far from Canaan? [Genesis 12:7-8; cf. First Epistle of Clement 10:3-5 (source for I Clement)]. Soon, Abraham and his family arrived in Canaan, and drove his herds into the region of Bethel, Shechem and Moreh [Genesis 12:4-6]. After an appearance of God in Canaan, Abraham moved his house further south, into the Negev. The Negev is in Canaan, on the West side of the Dead Sea, north of the Wilderness of Zin. It is bordered on the east by Edom, and could not have possibly included the Syro-Arabian desert region further to the east, and certainly excludes the uninhabited lands surrounding Mecca 700 miles to the south.

Next, a famine struck Canaan, and Abraham sought refuge by going ‘down to Egypt’ [Genesis 12:10] and later, his son Ishmael would take an Egyptian for a wife [Genesis 21:21]. To summarize so far, Abraham had yet to travel farther south than the centers of power in Egypt. Still a long way from Mecca.

Abraham later left Egypt a wealthy man and soon separated from his nephew Lot [Genesis 13:14]. Abraham then moved to Hebron, and built an altar to Yahweh. Later, a war breaks out in the region of the Dead Sea [Genesis 14:1-24] and Abraham defeats a tyrannical king in a battle north of Damascus near Mt. Hermon [vv. 13-17] frees Lot and establishes himself as ‘blessed by the God Most High’. God then establishes His covenant with Abraham, and promises to his descendants ‘this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates’ [Genesis 15:18-21]. Notice by using your atlas that the boundaries for the covenant lands are not even close to Mecca or central Arabia. The river in Egypt was most likely the Wadi el-Arish. The Euphrates is in northern Syria. It makes no sense that God would tie a people to a land and the land to the people, only to draw his Prophets from someplace else.

Next we find that Abraham had been living in Canaan for ten years, traveling about Canaan as seasonal weather patterns required [Genesis 16], when he became impatient with God’s plan and took Hagar as a second ‘wife’. The same Hebrew word is used in 16:3 to describe both Sarai and Hagar as wife. However, the status of Hagar is debatable. Follow this link for a fuller discussion on ‘Hagar in Abraham’s Household’. The Egyptian maid conceived, in Canaan, and bore Abraham’s son, in Canaan. Abraham’s anxiousness to have a son caused him and his family great grief. Rather than exercising self-control and forbearance, he took a course that was a threat to his faith. While Abraham’s actions nearly lead him astray, he was not the first nor the last to doubt God’s promises. Hagar soon suffers intense humiliation at the hands of Abraham and Sarah, but at Beer-Lahai-Roi is met by the Angel of the Lord, and delivered from her plight. This event took place West of the Wadi el-Arish, in Egypt and nearly 1,000 miles from Mecca. She was most likely trying to return home to Egypt.

After the establishment of the Covenant of Circumcision, we find Abraham talking to God under the ‘holy tree of Mamre’, which is near Hebron, nearly 1,000 miles from Mecca [Book of Genesis 18:1]. Later, Abraham intercedes for Sodom, which is then destroyed for its depravity and Lot escapes to Zoar [Genesis 18:16-19:30; cf. First Epistle of Clement 11:1-2]. Outside of Zoar, Lot was the victim of a scheme concocted by his eldest daughter. Zoar was in the southern tip of the Dead Sea in the Valley of Siddim, and like every other event from the OT, a long way from Mecca. From Lot’s daughters are born the Moabites and the Ammonites, longstanding enemies of Israel and Judah. Moab and Ammon lay on the east side of the Dead Sea and later form the eastern edge of the Covenant Land. The southeastern extreme of the Covenant Land extends no farther than this and no prophets would ever be called from beyond these borders.

Following the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, we encounter Abraham in Gerar, between Kadesh and Shur. In Gerar Isaac was born, wells were dug and treaties were struck. In short, there is no reason imaginable that God would take Abraham from his wells, family and tents in Canaan and command him to raise the foundations of the Kaaba over 1,000 miles away. All of this is a death blow to the Quran’s claims to Abraham, but let’s discuss a few more Biblical passages, ending with the death and burial of Abraham in order to close the lid on Islam once and for all.

Isaac is later weaned and tension again increases between Sarah and Hagar. Sarah pleaded with Abraham to cast Hagar out, and the following morning she was given bread, a water skin and her son. She then wandered into the wasteland of Beer-Sheba, in southern Canaan [Genesis 21:8-21]. In these passages, God addresses Abraham and calls Hagar the ‘maidservant’ [Hb אמה ‘amah’ not ‘wife’ as in 16:3; compare the Latin Vulgate where in 21:8-12 ‘ancilla‘ is ‘maidservant’ or ‘female slave’ ]. Hagar had lost any status she may have earlier enjoyed, so her status as a wife at all can be questioned.

Before we leave Hagar to history, let me remind you of four important differences between the Bible and Quran surrounding this narrative. In the Biblical narrative, Hagar’s suffering and plight are of paramount importance to understanding the events surrounding the birth of the Promised Son. These events also give us insight into the treatment of women in the ancient Near East, which are still evident in Islam today. Hagar is the only woman in the Scriptures who is given the honor of giving a name to God, and she receives her own distinct covenant as a reward for her suffering and submission. What does the Quran say about this incredible woman who endured so much suffering? Nothing. So much for Islam honoring its pivotal women.

Eventually, Ishmael settled in the Wilderness of Paran, and took an Egyptian wife. Just where is the Wilderness of Paran, and does it, as Muslims claim, include the lands far to the south in the Hijaz? Let’s again look at our atlas. Paran is an ill-defined term in the Old Testament, suggesting that outside of it being a place on the route of the Exodus [Numbers 12:16], the region had very little geographical or theological importance to the Israelites. There is no prophetic scripture suggesting that a prophet would come from the Wilderness of Paran, nor a promise of prophetic license promised to Hagar or her descendants [Gen 16:7-16]. It is also worth noting that God spoke to Hagar, never to Ishmael. Very curious.

Located in the Sinai, Midian and Edom are natural borders to the east. Canaan is due north and central Sinai to the west. Not only are the borders of Paran well within the Sinai Peninsula, but as mentioned earlier, migration across the barren lands of Arabia was far less likely than remaining close to the routes of the Exodus. While migrations of people from Palestine into the Hijaz appear to be rare from the extant evidence, armies from Babylon did venture south. One example is Nabonidus King of Babylon who in the 6th century B.C. established outposts and colonies in the region. A total of six oasis towns are listed in the extant inscriptions, and while Yathrib is mentioned, Mecca, which is 280 miles south of Yathrib is nowhere to be seen on his lists. Mercantile movements were more common, but not until the 10th century and long after the death of Abraham. A notable case in favor of the Quranic view of Abraham’s travels can be found in the Book of I Kings [10:1-13] where the Queen of Sheba did in fact make the journey from S.W. Arabia to Israel. However, the territory of Sheba and also Tema are mentioned in the Book of Job [6:19] and yet while the region was traveled by merchants and known to the Biblical writers, there is still no mention of Mecca. Sheba is again discussed by the Prophet Isaiah [60:6] and nothing is said of Mecca or any dialectal variant of the name offered by Muslims. The Sabeans of Yemen never even mention the city either. The conclusion is evidently that Mecca was not in existence until long after Abraham’s journeys.

Following God’s expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael, life continues for Abraham and his only wife Sarah. A disputed well becomes a source of controversy with King Abimelech. This name may translate ‘Slave of Molech’. If this Biblical name were a derivative of the Canaanite name, that would serve as strong evidence that much of the Book of Genesis pre-dates Israel’s Kingdom Period and gives even greater evidence to the non-existence of Mecca during the period of Abraham’s travels, and an oath is sworn in Beersheba, again in Canaan [Genesis 21:22-34]. Later, Abraham is called to Mt. Moriah and the well known ‘binding of Isaac’ is played out. Mt. Moriah is also in Palestine, north of Beersheba. While the exact location is unknown, it only took Abraham three days to travel, so it could not have taken place in Mecca [Genesis 22]. An important observation here is that Isaac is called ‘your only son’ three times in this chapter. How can that be? Because Ishmael had already been sent away. He was to have no part of the covenant promised to Abraham and given to Isaac.

Soon, we find that Sarah had died, and Abraham arranges for the purchase of the Cave of Machpela. Yet again he has not left Canaan [Genesis 23]. Here Muslims need to explain why God would allow Abraham to build a tomb in Canaan for his family, but then a temple 1,000 miles away in a barren region of the Hijaz. In chapter twenty-four, we find that Abraham had become ‘old in years’ [24:1] It was time to find a wife for Isaac. Note that Abraham had nothing to do with finding a wife for Ishmael. Abraham’s chief servant was selected for the task of conducting the search. An oath was sworn that the wife would not be a Canaanite but from Abraham’s people in Mesopotamia. Let’s be reasonable here. If Abraham had built the Kaaba, then why wouldn’t Isaac’s wife be taken from the local tribes in the Hijaz or even farther south? . He returns home with Rebekkah to south Canaan, she weds Isaac and later Abraham dies and is buried with his wife Sarah in Machpelah. Both Ishmael and Isaac attended the funeral. Both must have been very close to Canaan, and in no way can we conclude that any of these men ever travels to Mecca to build a shrine to Allah and the other pagan gods native to Mecca. The Quran 11:49 clearly states that there had been no prophets to the Arabs before, so it can’t be true that Abraham built the Kaaba. Also note that the Islamic traditions point out that before Muhammad’s claim to the prophetic office, none of his people had made the claim before him [Bukhari, Vol 1, Book 1, #6].

This all leads us to a connection with the nation of Israel, the Davidic Kingdom and the Savior who even now offers mercy to his wandering sons [Psalm 100:5,8; Luke 1:50; cf. Apology of al-Kindy, p.121].

Mecca and the Evidence of Classical Writers

 

 

STUDIES BY CLASSICAL WRITERS SHOW THAT MECCA COULD NOT HAVE BEEN BUILT BEFORE THE 4TH CENTURY A.D.

By Dr. Rafat Amari

We refer the reader to the book of Dr. Amari, Islam in light of History, for more arguments on the true history of Mecca

Accurate data from Greek geography also excludes the appearance of Mecca before the 4th century A.D.

There is no mention of Mecca in the writings of any classical writer or geographer. This fact is an important argument against Islam’s claim that Mecca has existed since the time of Abraham. We have complete records of Greek and Roman writers, as well as many geographers who visited Arabia from the 4th century B.C. through the 3rd century A.D. Some of these people drew maps of Arabia telling us about every city, village, tribe, and temple existing there, yet none mentioned Mecca. If Mecca did indeed exist at the time of any of these geographers and writers, surely someone would have told us about this city.

To give you a better understanding, we’ll look at the work of some of these classical writers. Greeks were well known for their accuracy in geography. So much so, that they didn’t put much stock in reports provided by merchants. We can see this in the writings of Strabo, a famous Greek geographer and historian , who lived between 64 B.C. and 23 A.D. He emphasized how important it is to not depend on reports from merchants, but to depend upon the official findings provided by geographers and historians who visited the regions themselves.[i] This makes the research on the geography of Arabia provided by ancient Greek geographers and historians a valuable resource, especially when they tell us which cities existed in West Arabia since the end of the 5th century B.C. through the 4th century A.D. We see, then, that facts gathered by Greek geographers and historians are extremely important in establishing the dates when these cities first appeared. Since those geographers provided us with accurate reports dated between the end of the 5th century B.C. and the 3rd century A.D., scholars can easily determine within approximately 20 years the date of each city built in West Arabia. With reliable accuracy, we find that Mecca is absent from all the years documented by the Greek and Roman geographers. How ironic it is to claim that a city like Mecca existed as early as the Muslims claim, when it was never mentioned by the historians and the geographers who documented that time period. So, the case for Mecca existing as a city since Abraham’s time is more than a lost cause. It’s the most unhistorical assertion that anyone could claim or insert into history.

THE GEOGRAPHERS OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT AND ARABIA

Surveys prepared by naval expeditions commissioned by Alexander the Great also excludes the presence of Mecca from accounts in the 4th century B.C.

We come to the 4th century B.C. Alexander the Great sent naval expeditions to make a survey of Arabia in preparation for an invasion Alexander was planning. Although his death in 323 B.C. stopped the invasion, the men whom Alexander sent succeeded in providing the Greeks with detailed information about Arabia. Some of those who led the expeditions, developed important surveys which came to us through the Greek historians and geographers. In their surveys, they mentioned important details about the coast of the Red Sea and the surrounding region. If Mecca existed in the 4th century B.C., they couldn’t have missed it. But there’s no mention of Mecca in their reports.

From Arrian, Anabasis, we know that Alexander the Great built a large harbor at Babylon as part of his preparation for conquering Arabia. Arrian wrote:

“Near Babylon, he constructed a harbor by excavation l enough to afford anchorage for 1,000 ships of war; and adjoining the harbor he built dockyards. Miccalus the Clazomenian was despatched to Phoenicia and Syria with 500 talents to enlist some men and purchase others who were experienced in nautical affairs… He made these preparations for the fleet to attack the main body of the Arab.” [ii]

Arrian explained that Alexander planned to occupy Arabia:

“…under the pretext that they were the only barbarians of this region who had not sent an embassy to him or done anything else becoming their position and showing respect to him. But the truth was, as it seems to me, that Alexander was insatiably ambitious of acquiring fresh territory.”[iii]

Arrian cited other reasons that Alexander planned to occupy Arabia: its fertility and the growth of certain plants there. Arrian wrote:

“The fertility of the land was a secret inducement to him to invade it. He had heard that the people obtained cassia from the lakes and myrrh and frankincense from the trees, that cinnamon was cut from the shrubs, and that the meadows produced spikenard without any cultivation.” [iv]

Alexander sent three naval expeditions from Babylon. The first was under Archias, “who was sent with a triacontor to investigate the course of the coasting voyage to Arabia, and who went as far as the island of Tylus (Bahrain), but dared not venture beyond that point.” [v]

Alexander then sent another naval expedition under Androsthenes, who sailed to a part of the peninsula of Arabia.[vi] Androsthenes wrote a book describing his voyage. The book is lost, but his work was a subject of study by the later Greek historians and geographers. For example, Strabo in his 16th book of Geography quoted Eratosthenes who quoted Androsthenes in his survey[vii]. A fragment of the work of Androsthenes recounting his voyage is preserved by Athenaeus (iii. p. 93).

The third naval expedition Alexander sent was under Hieron of Soli. Arrian wrote:

“Hieron of Soli, the pilot, also received a triacontor from Alexander and advanced farthest of those whom he had despatched to this region; for he had received instructions to sail round the whole Arabian peninsula as far as the Arabian Gulf near Egypt over against Heroopolis. Though he had sailed round the greater part of Arabia Hieron did not dare go further, but turned back to Babylon.” [viii]

Hieron’s sailing “round the greater part of Arabia” means that he sailed around western Arabia. But he turned back. We suppose the reason Hieron turned back before reaching the Egyptian Gulf opposite to Heroopolis was the arid tract of central western Arabia. We can understand this from another document in which Arrian wrote about a voyage of Nearchus, who was instructed “to find out what men inhabit it, to discover the harbors and rivers in it, to ascertain the customs of the people, and to see if any of the country was fertile and if any was sterile. This was why Alexander’s naval expedition returned in safety; for if it had sailed beyond the deserts of Arabia, it would not have returned in safety. This is said also to have been the reason that Hieron turned back.” [ix]

This means that Hieron turned back because he found deserted regions that were not safe. There were no inhabitants or cities or harbors to give anchorage for his fleet. This corresponds to the part of western Arabia where Mecca was later built, a region that later Greek geographers described as uninhabitable.

The words of Arrian in chapter 20: 10cited above help us understand how the Greek explorers were explicitly instructed to explore and learn about the inhabitants, their costumes, the fertility of the lands, etc. They had to give a complete picture. Sailing around Arabia allowed them to gather in-depth information about the lands and the cities that existed in their day. The information they gathered became an important resource for the later Greek explorers of Arabia, not one of whom mentioned Mecca. This suggests that during the 4th century B.C. Mecca did not exist.

The Expedition of Anaxicrates

A previous expedition that Alexander sent while still in Egypt is very important. He sent Anaxicrates from the Egyptian city of Heroopolis to explore western Arabia. Scholars consider Anaxicrates’ reconnaissance very successful. In his book The Archaeology of Seafaring in Ancient South Asia (published by the Cambridge University Press), Dr. Himanshu Prabha Ray wrote: “Anaxicrates surveyed the whole of the Western coast of Arabia as far as the Bab-al-Mandeb.” [x] Dr. Stanley Burstein, an expert in the ancient geography of Arabia, stated that Anaxicrates provided an “accurate account of political conditions in Western Arabia.” [xi] This means that Anaxicrates rendered an accurate account of the nations, cities, and tribes that dominated the region of western Arabia.

The rich information Anaxicrates gathered on his expedition explains in large part why the Greeks had such extensive knowledge about western Arabia. As such, Anaxicrates was an important source for later geographers. He gave measurements of the regions, and the geographer Strabo (in XVI.iv.4) cited Anaxicrates’ estimation of distance. This proves that Anaxicrates’ works were studied by important geographers and historians such as Strabo, Agatharchides, and others who described the cities and tribes of the region of western Arabia–none of whom mentioned Mecca. Strabo even accompanied the Roman military campaign into western Arabia. The Roman army stopped in the city of Hegra, the Nabataean city of al-Hijr in north Arabia. The army then followed the route that passed through the area where Mecca was later built en route to the city of Nejran (on the northern border of Yemen). Then the army proceeded until it reached the city of Maarib, the capital of Saba. The Roman expedition cited the names of the cities that existed on that tract of western Arabia at the time of their expedition (around 23 B.C.) but made no mention of Mecca.

Scholars such as Stanely Burstein hold that Agatharchides drew heavily from Anaxicrates’ voyage to South and West Arabia. [xii]

Since Anaxicrates was meticulous enough to study the distances between the cities in the regions he explored, would he not have given an account of the inhabitants who lived in the coastal region, such as the region where Mecca was later built, and the cities that existed in those regions in his day?! Yet he made no mention of Mecca.

Burstein has written: “Three explorers who surveyed the coasts of the Red Sea during reigns of Ptolemy II (282-246 B.C.) and Ptolemy III: Satyrus, Simmias and Ariston repeated the voyage of Anaxicrates.” [xiii] They began in the north, describing the peoples and tribes of northwestern Arabia, until they reached Yemen. Agatharchides and other Greeks who wrote about western Arabia consulted the reconnaissances of those earlier explorers, which proves that the information about western Arabia substantiates the accounts rendered in the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C.

A religious city that was a center of monotheism, according to the claims of Islam, could simply not have been missed by those explorers of the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C., especially in light of the claim that it had a temple, and the Greeks report every important temple that existed in the vast regions they explored. That they made no mention of the Kaabah temple, which Islam claims was on the very route connecting north Arabia with Yemen that the Greek explorers walked and described, is an important proof that neither the temple of Mecca nor Mecca itself existed in their times.

The expeditions sent by Alexander the Great is of special importance, because Alexander is known to have studied the cultural, historical and religious aspects of each country before battle, in order to determine how to deal with its inhabitants. If Mecca had existed at the time of Alexander’s expedition, it would have attracted attention from the expeditions whom he sent ahead. If the Muslim’s claim that Mecca, as the center of a monotheistic religion, had existed since the time of Abraham, it would have attracted worshippers from tribes in Arabia, including Yemen. Therefore, it would have been the subject of Alexander’s explorers. In fact, no other city would have been more important to present to their master Alexander the Great, who doted passionately on religion and the history of religions, than a center of monotheism with a temple. The fact that they did not mention Mecca, though the Islamic claim that Mecca was a pilgrimage city in Arabia from ancient times, is historical proof that Mecca did not exist in the 4th century B.C. This leads us to the conclusion that the Qur’an and the Muslim claims about this city are historically inaccurate. When comparing the historical claims of the Qur’an with those of the Bible, we find that the Biblical claims are true and historically accurate. By contrast, I cannot find a single critic in history who has argued the non-existence of Jerusalem and its central importance for the Israelites. Records concerning Jerusalem and its monotheistic faith have come from each generation since the time the Israelites entered into the Promised Land in the 15th century B.C. Records from Mesopotamia and Egypt all contain important entries about Jerusalem. We find in Hebrew literature complete records about the kings who reigned in the city of Jerusalem. Much literature attested to by both internal and external records tells about the monotheistic worship by the Jews in the Temple of Jerusalem. These facts should convince our Muslim friends to return to the historical legacy of a monotheistic worship as proclaimed in the Bible and known throughout documented history – and not to give heed to claims which create a worship without any historical foundation housed in a pagan temple built in the 5th century A.D. THEOPHRASTOS’ SURVEYTheophrastos‘ survey also excludes the existence of Mecca during the end of the 3rd century B.C.

We continue our study by looking at the works of other classical writers who wrote on the geography of Arabia. If we really study these works, we’ll learn that they prove that Mecca did not exist until after the 4th century A.D.

An important Greek historian, Theophrastos, lived in the 4th century B.C. He wrote about the Sabaeans – their trade, their land and their marine routes. He wrote in detail about the region but he never mentioned Mecca. That is significant, because Muslims claim that, in ancient history, Mecca was a center of commerce with Yemen and the Sabaeans. In spite of this claim, we find that Theophrastos, who specialized in describing details about the region – especially trade connections and the routes – did not mention Mecca.

Eratosthenes’ Survey

After the death of Alexander the Great, many classical writers and historians arose who were concerned about the geography and history of Arabia. Most of these historians and geographers lived in the city of Alexandria, which was the capital of the Ptolemies. The first university in the world was established in Alexandria, and it boasted of a famous library, the Library of Alexandria. One of the most important historical figures of Alexandria was the famous geographer, Eratosthenes. He lived between 275-195 B.C., he contributed greatly to documenting the geography of Arabia. Eratosthenes gathered important information from various resources.

We know of many authors who visited and wrote about the Red Sea region during the 3rd century B.C. Among them are: Pythagoras,[xiv] who was an admiral under Ptolemy II, Basilis, Dalion, Bion of Soli, Simonides the Younger, Aristocreon, and Philon. Those books were available in the famous Library of Alexandria. In fact, we understand from the narration of Strabo, that Eratosthenes made a collection of these books.[xv]

He examined the data obtained by the explorers who were sent by Alexander the Great, and data by geographical expeditions initiated by the Alexander Ptolemaic successors.[xvi] These Greek expeditions continued through the 3rd century B.C.[xvii]

Information from the expeditions of Ptolemy II in 278 B.C. encompassed the southern and middle regions of the Red Sea and the African coast. They were used to help in the control of the spice route coming from India and Yemen. This information was also used to facilitate elephant hunts. Elephants were used in the Ptolemies wars against the Seleucids, the royal Greek family which dominated Syria. These factors opened the door for a systematic collection of geographical data of the African coast of the Red Sea and the Arabian coast. The results of this geographical activity was the book of Eratosthenes, and an important map.[1]

Eratosthenes measured the length of the Red Sea. He also gave a complete survey of the land and marine routes which connect southern Arabia with Aqaba, or Ilat on the north, which is the Israeli port on the Red Sea. He described all the people and centers in the region, but he didn’t mention Mecca, even though he followed the land route upon which Mecca was eventually built. Classical Geographers Describe the Area Where Mecca was Eventually Built as “Uninhabitable.” Among the things which Eratosthenes described is the Arabian region, which corresponds to Africa’s coastal region along the Red Sea called the Troglodytic Land.[xviii] This African region is an important region for our study because there is a huge desert area opposite it on the Arabian coast of the Red Sea. This was described by the classical geographers. The southern part of this Arabian region was an arid area without cities or villages. It was a dangerous region where savage nomads roamed from time to time, attacking caravans. This area was described by the classical writers as uninhabitable, dividing the region of Northern Arabia from Southern Arabia. Yet, it was the most fearful tract in the land route. Beginning of the 3rd century B.C., they began using the land route in commerce with Israel and Syria; I mean the land route, which lies adjacent to the Red Sea, passing through the area where Mecca was eventually built.It continued to be the most dangerous tract of land until after the Christian era. Eratosthenes mentioned the area of Arabia, opposite to the African Red Sea region called Troglodytic Land. While geographers, who came in the centuries following Eratosthenes, described some areas near this one. The historian Eratosthenes failed to find or describe inhabitants who lived close to this region. This tells us that in 275-195 B.C., at the time of Eratosthenes, many areas around this one were not inhabited. They were part of a huge desert. Since the land route beside the Red Sea from Yemen toward Palestine was scarcely used in Eratosthenes’ time, we can conclude that no villages were yet established in the middle of western Arabia, along the land route. We know that Eratosthenes’ report expresses not only his time – starting from the end of the 3rd century B.C. – but also the various geographers who ventured and visited the area before, starting with the explorers of the Alexander the Great during the last part of the 4th century B.C. If Mecca had existed in Eratosthenes’ time, how had he failed to put it on his map of that region? It would have become a refuge for the travelers and their caravans, and would have become the pride of the Red Sea. No villages or cities were described by him, or by those who explored before him, because no villages or cities existed. Mecca would have become a center of rest and hope for the geographers and those who crossed that arid and terrible tract of the desert. If Mecca had existed in Eratosthenes’ time it would likely have been the main reference point for his map to fill in the arid area of central western Arabia, a region which later maps also depicted without cities and villages. If the Muslim claim that Mecca was a pilgrimage city for all Arabians, why would Eratosthenes portray central western Arabia as a void area both in his description and on his map, making no mention of Mecca?

But, unfortunately, geographers such as Eratosthenes did not have any city or village to use as a reference in the area where Mecca was eventually built. Since there were no villages in that arid desert region, there could be no temple to attract pilgrims from all over the world to worship, as Mohammed claimed. Nor were there religious or non-religious tribes which would require a temple to be built for their worship. In reality, reports of the geographers confirm that the Kaabah of Mecca was a pagan temple for tribes which emigrated to those regions in the centuries after the Christ.

How ironic it is to build a historical, monotheistic faith on this arid uninhabited tract of the desert. And how strange that it shifted people’s attention from the Truth to Arabian paganism in the centuries following the Christian era.

If this is the picture of this neglected part of the desert in the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C., even when the initiated land route had just scarcely started, then how unrealistic it is to conclude that this part of the desert was a center of the monotheism in the 21st century B.C. at the time of the patriarch Abraham, where no land routes were known, Yemen, itself, was unknown to the contemporaries of the patriarch. To build an eternal hope on this tract of sand, which did not express life through history to help anyone create a religious legacy, is fatal for the soul. However, the tribe of Mohammed came to live on this unimportant region of sand in the 5th century A.D. After emigrating from Yemen, and after Mohammed claimed himself as prophet of Allah, he wanted to shift the legacy of the Bible to his tribe’s new location; yet, it did not affect the historical reports about such tract of the desert. Our Muslim friends need to return to the real legacy of monotheism known in history. They need to acquire a Biblical view, where it is prophesied many times that the true Savior of the world is Jesus Christ. This is the only trustworthy legacy through which all people are called by God to seek Him and His salvation. Many, many people in every generation have received salvation when they have believed in the atoning death of Christ as prophesied in the Old Testament.

Isaiah, who prophesied in 750 B.C. concerning the suffering of Christ, said in chapter 53, verses 4 and 5:

He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

This is an invitation for every person who longs to be healed from his or her sin, to look to the righteous Lamb who was slain for us on the cross. Jesus did not refuse to be led to the place where He would be slain, as Isaiah also prophesied in the next verse:

He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.

He was willing to be slain, though He is the all-powerful One about whom Isaiah said in chapter 9, verse 6:

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder. And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace.

The powerful God went to the Cross –though He was able to avoid it – because He was willing to pay the penalty for our sins so that we can live forever. In Isaiah 53, we read a detailed prophecy regarding the death and resurrection of Christ, as prophesied by Isaiah in the 8th century B.C.

AGATHARCHIDES’ SURVEY ON WESTERN ARABIA

THE ACCURACY OF HIS SURVEY AS A RELIABLE SOURCE FOR OUR STUDY. In our study, we now come to the 2nd century B.C. Without doubt, the most important geographer and historian of the time was Agatharchides of Alexandria, who wrote between 145-132 B.C. He was born at the Greek city of Cnidus. He was believed to be a major figure in compiling Egypt’s political history in the late 2nd century B.C.[xix]

Because he was very close to the royal palace of the Ptolemies, he had first-hand knowledge of the results of the expeditions which took place throughout the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C., especially in the regions around the Red Sea, the African shore and West and South Arabia. He had access to sources which documented the achievements of the Ptolemies. These were mainly reports presented by the envoys of the kings during the 3rd and the beginning of the 2nd century B.C.[xx] Agatharchides coordinated all the information as a keen synthesizer and analyzer. He documented the names of the explorers who visited the region. Among those he mentioned was the name of the geographer, Ariston. That geographer is the one whom Ptolemy dispatched in the 3rd century B.C. to explore Arabia, especially the regions of West Arabia near the Red Sea where Mecca was later built.[xxi]

Agatharchides mentioned the name of other explorers, such as Simmias, whom Ptolemy III sent to explore the region. Agatharchides told how Simmias described the region, and how this had become an important resource.[xxii]

Agatharchides also studied books written by other geographers sent by the Ptolemies.[xxiii] Scholars think he drew heavily from Anaxicrates’ voyage to South and West Arabia.[xxiv] We know, as I previously mentioned, that at least seven authors who visited and wrote about the Red Sea region during the 3rd century B.C. Among them are: Pythagoras,[xxv] Basilis, Dalion, Bion of Soli, Simonides the Younger, Aristocreon, and Philon. Scholars assert that Agatharchides consulted all of their writings. Agatharchides synthesized and gathered information from reports and books which explorers and geographers had written before his time. He also depended upon people he encountered whom he called “eyewitnesses.” Among them were envoys of the king – traders and explorers who visited the regions surrounding the Red Sea.[2] Unfortunately, the original documented survey of Agatharchides on the Erythraean Sea disappeared, but almost the entire book has survived in the writings of three classical writers: Strabo, Photius and Diodorus(Diodorus Siculus). The most significant summary of Agatharchides’ book is found in Photius’ book, Bibliotheca.[3]

The accuracy of his survey is very much accepted by scholars. The expeditions and discoveries from the 7th and 8th centuries A.D. confirmed the accuracy of the writings of Agatharchides, as they corresponded completely to his writings. Burstein, in his bookAgatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, describes it this way, “they have vindicated its basic accuracy so that, once again, it is recognized by scholars as one of the most important sources for the study of the history and human geography of ancient northeast Africa and western Arabia to survive from antiquity.”[xxvi]

One example scholars give to defend Agatharchides’ accuracy is how he described the shores and adjoining water. Agatharchides tells us that the color of the water opposite Saba Land, South Arabia, was white, like river water. The phenomenon is still true today.[xxvii] Another element which proves the accuracy and value of his writings is the similarity between his descriptions of tribes and people living in the area, and the description of the same people in later reports.[xxviii] Agatharchides gives measurements of various tracts along the shores of the Red Sea in West Arabia. This tells us that his writing depended on testimony from expert geographers who examined the shore and the regions of Arabia connected to it.

Ptolemies wanted an exact study of the region to protect their trade in the Red Sea, and to know how to deal with various groups of population or tribes living in regions connected with the Red Sea. They also wanted to know the exact lengths of regions where the trade might find uninhabited areas, or areas with savage tribes or Bedouins. This justified the quantity and the quality of a prolonged, intensive and accurate study through the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C., where the Ptolemies started to control the movement of trade on the Red Sea, and deal with piracy which threatened such trade coming from the interior Arabian regions. The book of Agatharchides reflected the success of the Greek geographers in providing to the Ptolemies accurate and detailed geographical and geographical information of the region of West Arabia.

Although Agatharchides wrote about locations along the Red Sea, including all the temples and routes which pass through the area where Mecca was eventually built, he never mentioned Mecca, nor its temple.

In his description of West Arabia, Agatharchides mentions each of the populations present in the 3rd century B.C. and the first half of the 2nd century B.C., in the regions adjacent to the Red Sea. He began with the Nabataeans, who had their capital in south Jordan and then penetrated into north Arabia, and he went on to describe each population, city, port, temple and mountain, until he reached Yemen. Here’s what we learn from Agatharchides’ accounts: He passed through the region where Mecca was later built, but he never mentioned Mecca, nor did he mention a single temple in that region, although temples were a central subject in his study. We find him stopping to give the origin of the Poseidon Temple, in the northwest coast of Sinai. He tells who built it and for whom it was built. We find him also giving much attention to the temple located in the Negev desert, saying:

There is also an ancient altar that is made of hard stone and bears an inscription in lettering that is archaic and unintelligible. The sanctuary is cared for by a man and a woman who occupy their sacred office for life.[xxix]

Agatharchides accurately reports the Greek trend to know about the temples existing in each region, especially in Sinai and West Arabia, where a temple is a rarity. The Greeks had a passion to know the origin of each temple. In the temple in the Negev, the Greeks made an effort to analyze the archaic inscription carved in the stone altar. They also described the source of the priesthood who served in the temple.

If Mecca and its temple existed in that period, it would have been of great interest to the Greeks because the location where Mecca was built was on a land route which the Greek explorers used. If Mecca and its Kaabah existed then, as the Muslims claim, every Greek geographer would have stopped there to describe it. It stands to reason that they would have mentioned who built the temple and what was its religious purpose. Yet, that arid uninhabited area did not host any temple or religious tradition for those who lived in Palestine thousands of years earlier such as Abraham and Ishmael.

Agatharchides describes a temple along the Gulf of Aqaba.

Agatharchides told about another temple close to Ilat in the Aqaba gulf area. It is in a land belonging to a tribe called “Batmizomaneis.” Agatharchides emphasizes that the temple, in his own words, “is highly revered by all the Arabs.”[xxx]

Many Muslims claim that Agatharchides’ temple was actually the Temple of Mecca. To fix the exact place of that temple, let’s follow the narration of Agatharchides, as reported by Photius and Diodorus. Agatharchides began to describe regions north of this temple, including the Nabataeans around the Gulf of Aqaba. The Northern part of the Gulf of Aqaba was called the Laeanites Gulf. In Photius and Diodorus, Agatharchides says:

One encounters the Laeanites Gulf around which there are many villages of the so-called Nabataean Arabs. They occupy much of the coast and not a little of the adjacent country which extends into the interior and contains a population that is unspeakably great as well as herds of animals that are unbelievably numerous. In ancient times they led a just life and were satisfied with livelihood provided by their flocks, but later, after the kings in Alexandria had made the gulf navigable for merchants, they attacked those who suffered shipwreck. They also built pirate vessels and plundered sailors, imitating the ferocity and lawlessness of the Tauri in the Pontus. But later they were caught at sea by quadriremes and properly punished. After what is called the Laeanites Gulf, around which Arabs live, is the land of the Bythemaneas.

The Gulf of Ilat was called Alenites or Aelaniticus. The gulf of Laeanites, which is in the northern part of the Gulf of Aqaba, is thought to be the Gulf of Ilat.

Notice that the land of Bythemaneas is connected to the south of the Nabataeans’ region, which extended during the second and third centuries B.C. to the northern part of the Gulf of Aqaba.( see fig. 2). Musil, a famous scholar on Arabia, declared that this land was the “lower portion of the Wadi al- Abjaz, namely the so-called Wadi al ‘efal[4], a lowland 50 Km long by 20 km wide just east of the Gulf of Aqaba.”[xxxi] The narration of Agatharchides continues:

Next after this section of the coast is a bay which extends into the interior of the country for a distance of not less than five hundreds stades. Those who inhabit the territory within the gulf are called Batmizomaneis and are hunters of land animals.

The stade, or stadia, according to the system of Eratosthenes, equals one tenth of an English mile,[xxxii] thus making the land of Bythemaneas only about 50 miles. He is placing the inhabitants of Batmizomaneis within the gulf region, as we see from his statement, “Those who inhabit the territory within the gulf are called Batmizomaneis.” referring to the bay, which he described previously to be near the Gulf of Aqaba, adjacent to the land of the Nabataeans. The Nabataean’s domain still existed during the second and third centuries B.C. around the city of Petra and into the northern part of the Gulf of Aqaba. It is clear that the people called Batmizomaneis inhabited the northern part of the Gulf of Aqaba.

The narration of Diodorus is parallel to that of Photius because both copied the writings of Agatharchides in his fifth book On the Erythraean Sea. Diodorus says:

The people who inhabit the country beside the gulf, who are named the Banizomenes, support themselves by hunting and eating the flesh of land animals. A very sacred temple has been established there which is highly revered by all the Arabs.

We see that both Photius and Diodorus placed the people of Banizomenes (or Batmizomaneis) beside the gulf of the Laeanites, or Ilat that is the northern part of Gulf of Aqaba, a great distance from where Mecca was eventually built. Mecca is in central western Arabia, very close to Yemen. Following their comments on Banizomenes, the two authors speak of another area in the south, the Thamud territory. They describe it in these words, “after these it is the territory of the Thamoudeni Arabs.” [xxxiii] The Thamud tribe was known in history to inhabit northern Arabia close to the Aqaba gulf; they never reached to the south, toward the area where Mecca was later built. So the temple described by Diodorus was between the Thamud region and the city of Petra, within the Gulf of Aqaba region.

After Photius mentioned the Thamud region, he mentioned the next segment to the south of Thamud. [xxxiv] Scholars have identified this segment as the portion of the coast between Ras karama (25 54 N, 36 39 E) and Ras Abu Madd (24 50 N, 37 08 E). [xxxv] Ras Abu Madd is about 450 kilometers (280 miles) north of Mecca. This accurate study shows clearly that the temple mentioned by Diodorus was in the Aqaba Gulf region, north to the Thamud region, and could not be identified with the Temple of Mecca (see Fig.2 ).

Nonnosus[5], seems to speak about the same temple at the same place close to Petra. This temple is built to honor the Arabian deities. Nonnosus wrote:

Most of the Saracens, those Phoinikon and those beyond the Taurenian mountains, consider as sacred a place dedicated to I do not know what god and they assemble there twice a year.[xxxvi]

The Saracens are a people mentioned by Pliny in Natural History, Book V, chapter 12, as people who live in the Gulf of Aqaba not far from the city of Petra. The Romans called them “Saracenus.” They were tribes who inhabited the desert connected with Edom, south of Jordan, near to the city of Petra[xxxvii].Ptolemy in the 2nd century A.D. mentioned “Saracene” as part of Arabia Petraea,[6] and placed it in Sinai between southern Palestine and Egypt. This suggests that in the 2nd century A.D. the Saracens had spread into regions around about Sinai. Epiphanius Scholasticus, a translator of many Greek works, in his Christian histories compiled in the middle of the 6th century, placed Saracens east of the Gulf of Aqaba but beyond the Roman province of Arabia. [xxxviii] Epiphanius described the Saracens in the 6th century as they became restricted to their original home, which was east of the Gulf of Aqaba.

To locate Phoinikon, which was mentioned by Nonnosus, we have to consult the works of the historians of the 6th century (Nonnosus’ day) who mentioned Phoinikon. Among those was Procopius. Procopius wrote that Abochorabus gave the oasis of Phoinikon to Justinian, the Byzantine Emperor, as a gift. Abochorabus was Abu Karib, a Ghassanide leader over the Saracens in the area of Gulf of Aqaba. Abu Karib was the son of Jabla, the Ghassanide king of Bilad al Sham (Southern Syria), which was under the Byzantine Empire. Jabla died in the year 529 A.D. He had two sons: Arethas, who became successor of his father on Bilad al Sham, and Abu Karib, who reigned over the regions toward the Gulf of Aqaba. Dr. Irfan al Shahid wrote: “We know from epigraphy that Procopius’ Abochorabus is in fact Abu Karib, son of Jabala and brother of Arethas”[xxxix]

To determine the location of Phoinikon, which was also described in the writing of Procopius by the name ofPalm Groves, we return to the following writing of Procopius:

“This coast immediately beyond the boundaries of Palestine is held by Saracens, who have been settled from old in the Palm Groves. These groves are in the interior, extending over a great tract of land, and there absolutely nothing grows except palm trees. Abochorabus (Abu Karib) presented Emperor Justinian with the Palm Grove, Phoinikon. Abochorabus was the ruler of the Saracens there, and he was appointed by the emperor captain over the Saracens in Palestine. And he guarded the land from plunder constantly, for both to the barbarians over whom he ruled and no less to the enemy, Abochorabus always seemed a man to be feared and an exceptionally energetic fellow. Formally, therefore, the emperor holds the Palm Groves, but for him really to possess himself of any of the country there is utterly impossible. For a land completely destitute of human habitation and extremely dry lies between, extending to the distance of a ten days’ journey; moreover the Palm Groves themselves are by no means worth anything, and Abochorabus only gave the form of a gift, and the emperor accepted it with full knowledge of the fact. So much then for the Palm Groves.”[xl]

Procopius continued: “Adjoining this people there are Maddeni.”[xli]Those are the Midianites, whose homeland was east of the Gulf of Aqaba. This confirms that the Saracens of the Palm Groves, Phoinikon, lived adjacent to the Midianites in the east of Aqaba Gulf.

We know from a document found in al-Nabk (between Palmyra and Damascus) that Abu Karib was an important figure in the history of the Monophysite church.[xlii]Later, Abu Karib’s main city was Sadaqa, some 25 kilometers southeast of Petra. A Petra papyri, Roll 83, called the King’s Scroll, reports that he was involved in arbitrating a dispute between some citizens of the area.[xliii]

After Abu Karib presented Phoinikon to the emperor Justinian as a gift, the emperor appointed him as phylarch on the Saracens of Palestine.[xliv]Phoinikonbecame a part of the province of Palestine, governed by Abu Karib for the Byzantines. This province included Sinai and Negev. Before this, however, Abu Karib governed the Saracens of Phoinikon. [xlv]

Two oases have been proposed most often as the location of Phoinikon: Dumat al-Jandal and Tabuk. Both had established connections with Byzantium.

In his campaign to the city of Tabuk, Mohammed prayed in the temple of Tabuk[xlvi]This temple was known to the people of the caravans who came from Hejaz and other regions of Arabia traveling toward Syria and Palestine. No doubt this temple was known to Mohammed who led the caravans of Khadijeh to Syria, before she became his first wife. This was before he claimed to be a prophet. He had to pass by and stop in Tabuk. On his incursion to Tabuk, he went to the temple there. (Muslims used to call the temples mosques.) According to al Waqidi’s book Maghazi (the first narration about the incursions of Mohammed) Mohammed placed a stone in front of the temple area.

“when the apostle of Allah reached Tabuk, he placed a stone in front of the Mosque of Tabuk, …then he said: ‘from here is al- Sham.’”[xlvii]He wanted to say that his incursion had set new boundaries. Tabuk was part of Al-Sham, a possession of the Ghassanides who governed al-Sham (southern Syria) under the Byzantines. Mohammed wanted to say that the boundaries of the Ghassanides after his incursion became beyond that stone and that everything he reached in his incursion became his.

In fact, Tabuk was the farthest southern place of the Byzantines. In the year 628-629 A.D. the Ghassanides and the Byzantines recaptured Tabuk.

Therefore, the temple that Nonnosus mentioned was in an oasis where, he said, Saracens and the people of Phoinikon worshipped. We saw above that the Saracens inhabited the region east of the Gulf of Aqaba. The oasis of Phoinikon was under the dominion of the Ghassanides and was governed by the Ghassanide Abu Karib, who presented the oasis as a gift to the Byzantine emperor Justinian. These facts mean that the oasis cannot be identified with Mecca, for the Saracens never lived at Mecca nor in its region. Mecca was never under the domain of the Ghassanides or the Byzantines. Those descriptions are congruous with an oasis in the northern extremity of Arabia where the Ghassanides governed for the Byzantines. Tabuk is most likely the oasis and its temple is the temple of which Nonnosus wrote.

From Procopius we know that “the Saracens always dedicated about two months to their god, during which time they never undertook any inroad into the land of others.”[xlviii]So the worship of the Saracens in their main temple left its imprint on the Arabians who used to pass by on their way to Syria with their caravans and stopped there to worship. Thus, the idea of months Haram, where no wars are permitted, became a ritual observed by many tribes in Arabia, including Quraish of Mecca.

We have seen that Nonnosus said this about the worship of that temple: “Most of the Saracens, those Phoinikon and those beyond the Taurenian mountains, consider as sacred a place dedicated to I do not know what god and they assemble there twice a year.”[xlix]

Crone contends that the Taurenian Mountains were Jabal Tayyi’,[l] which are in northern Najed in North Arabia. In this case this temple located in the east of the Gulf of Aqaba would have attracted worshippers from the east of that region. It is most likely, however, that the Taurenian Mountains are al Tor mountains, which are located in southern part of Sinai close to the Red Sea. We know that some Saracens lived there. This region was part of the province that the emperor Justinian assigned to Abu Karib.

Diodorus and Nonnosus spoke of the same temple

Diodorus mentioned a temple in the land of a small tribe, Banizomenes, in the area of the Gulf of Aqaba where “all Arabs worshipped.” Knowing that the Greeks and Romans used the term “Arabs” for all the peoples of Arabia, including Trans-Jordan and Sinai, helps us understand Diodorus’ statement that the temple was honored by all Arabs. This leads us to assume that Nonnosus was speaking about the same temple that Diodorus mentioned.

Diodorus wrote that the temple was built to honor the Arabian deities. The Greek historians’ and geographers’ remarks about this temple, though situated on the extreme north of Arabia and within the secondary tribe’s domain, are very significant. At a certain time there were tribes in northern Arabia (on the southern border with Jordan) who worshipped at this temple with other Arabian tribes as well. Obviously, the temple’s location became well-known because of the caravans that came from the interior of Arabia and passed through the land of Banizomenes, which was situated on the northern part of the Gulf of Aqaba near the city of Petra. We saw above how Mohammed and his companions entered the Tabuk temple to worship during his incursion to Tabuk.

The Greeks are very careful to distinguish the temple, which has special importance and is revered by many, in a land, regardless of where it is located.

With such propensity of the Greek historians and geographers, it seems impossible that they could fail to mention a temple with a special claim such as to draw worshippers from all tribes, as Islam claims, for the Temple of Mecca. The fact is that neither Mecca, nor its temple, is mentioned by Agatharchides, although he pursued with such passion all temples existent until his time. This is a clear indication that Mecca, and, its temple, did not exist during such times.

Agatharchides covered the narrations of geographers of the 3rd century B.C., and of his time, which was the first part of the 2nd century B.C. Scholars today confirm the fact that the temple near the Aqaba Gulf, close to the border with South Jordan, was revered by Arabian tribes, just as the classical authors had written.

Arabian sources confirm the pilgrimage of the Arabian tribes to a temple in the north of Arabia

Through a phrase attributed to Amru bin Luhy, we understand that the tribes in north western Arabia performed the Hajj to two main places. Luhy’ phrase is, “The Lord passes his winters in al Taif with Ellat, and his summers with al Uza.” [li] Which reveals that many tribes in that area made the Hajj to the city of Taif, where there was a Kaaba dedicated to Ellat. Tribes went at other times during the year to other Kaabas dedicated to al Uza.

Scholars today believe that even Quraish, which is the tribe of Mohammed, traveled north every year to a revered temple. There are many proofs that Quraish neglected the temple of Mecca and made their Hajj to the north. Wellhausen quotes the words of al-Kalbi, “people would go on a pilgrimage and then disperse, leaving Mecca empty.” [lii] In their thinking, another temple had pre-eminence over Kaabah, the temple at Mecca.

Verses in the Qur’an tell us that the citizens of Mecca used to make a trip “far away,” but later the Qur’an put a stop to the practice. Mohammed also prohibited people from making this religious trip after he occupied Mecca. Quraish used to go to Taif in the summer. This is attested to by a saying of Ibn Abbas, as reported in the Tabari. [liii] The other trip may be toward a northern temple.

Agatharchides’ survey, along with what we have discussed, confirms the fact that Mecca and its temple didn’t exist during the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C. Even when the temple was eventually built in later centuries A.D., it was a local temple of secondary importance, disregarded even by the tribe to which Mohammed belonged. Mohammed’s tribe used to make a pilgrimage with other Arabian tribes to a temple in the far northern part of Arabia.

It is unhistorical to believe the Islamic claim that the temple in Mecca was built by Abraham and Ishmael as a center of monotheistic worship for Arabia. Muslims today need to renounce this claim and return to the true monotheism of history, the revelation of God, which the Bible alone represents. Such Biblical revelation has been documented in all epochs since the time Moses received the first five books of the Bible until Revelation, the last book of the New Testament.

The temple that Nonnosus wrote about in the Gulf of Aqaba area was twice a year a center of Hajj for some Arabian tribes. Quraish went there once a year.

This temple mentioned by Agatharchides in northern Arabia in the Aqaba Gulf region is attested to by Nonnosus. Previously, I quoted the words of Nonnosus regarding this temple, as we find them in the book of Photius:

Most of the Saracens, those Phoinikon and those beyond the Taurenian mountains, consider a place dedicated to I do not know what god as sacred, and assemble there twice a year.

The first of these gatherings lasts a whole month and goes on until the middle of Spring. The other lasts two months. While these gatherings last, they live in complete peace not only with each other, but also with all the people who live in their country. They claim that even the wild beasts live in peace with men and, what is more, among themselves.[liv]

This tells us that the northern temple was a place where many tribes would perform a pilgrimage twice a year. During this pilgrimage, the tribes abstained from fighting each other. If one of the religious trips of Quraish was to this temple, it is clear that Mohammed tried to stop this famous and historical Arabian temple pilgrimage. He directed Quraish, the tribe of Mecca, as well as other tribes, to make the pilgrimage to Mecca instead.

From the quotation of Nonnosus, we see that the northern temple had similarities between their rituals and the rituals we encounter in the temple at Mecca and in other temples of Arabia. These rituals included the Hajj, and abstinence from war during the Hajj. These rituals performed in the temple of Mecca reflect those of pagan Arabian religions. The Temple of Mecca was built in the 5th century A.D. by Tubb’a, the Himyarite leader of Yemen. However, the Quraish tribe, like many Arabian tribes, continued to make a pilgrimage twice a year. The word “Hajj” means pilgrimage. Scholars think the Quraish were regularly traveling on these pilgrimages to the temple at Taif and to a temple located in the far north of Arabia. These travels were performed long before Mohammed imposed worship at the Temple of Mecca on all Muslims and annulled worship at the other temples of Arabia.

Therefore, with the accuracy of Agatharchides and the geographers of that time, we see that neither the temple of Mecca nor the city of Mecca existed at that time. Instead, there was another temple, which attracted the Arabian tribes. That temple was located near the border between northern Arabia and Jordan.

Quraish, the tribe of Mohammed, occupied Mecca after it was built around the 4th century A.D. by another tribe called Khuzaa’h which had come from Yemen. Even after the Temple of Mecca was built in the city later, the Quraish continued the practice of many Arabian tribes and made a pilgrimage twice a year.

The Qur’an in Sura Quraish 106, verses 1-3, prohibits the tribe to do their “covenant” for two journeys. I think the two pilgrimages to a northern temple and to the temple of Taif are intended in the Qur’anic verse and, instead, compel them to worship Allah in the Temple of Mecca. Sura Quraish 106, verses 1-3, says:

for the covenants by the Quraish; their covenants covering journeys by winter and summer. Let them adore the lord of this house.

Islamic tradition confirms that Quraish used to have two religious Hajj to other places in northern Arabia. Scholars think that Quraish were traveling on these pilgrimages to a temple located in the far north of Arabia and to the Taif temple. These travels were regularly performed before Mohammed imposed worship at the temple of Mecca, called Kaabah, on all Muslims. Mohammed annulled worship at the other temples of Arabia, many of which were also called Kaabah.

Were the two journeys that the Quran prohibited Quraish to perform, commercial or religious Hajj journeys?

When interpreting the Quranic chapter of Quraish about the two journeys of Quraish, some Muslims contend that there were two annual commercial journeys—one caravan to Syria and another to Yemen. The contend that the Quranic verse intended that Quraish quit the commerce and dedicate itself to the service of the pilgrims at Mecca. Historical evidence, however, contradicts this claim, given the true size of commerce of Mecca at that time.

The circumstances in Yemen in the 6th century prepared the way for Mecca to assume the principal role in the trade in western Arabia. Political events caused the Himyarite commercial activity to decline and Mecca to rise as a capital of commerce. Among these events were the Ethiopian campaigns against the Himyarites of Yemen in the year 525/526 A.D. in response to the Himyarite persecutions against the Christians of Nijran in Yemen. In the year 575/577 A.D. the Himyarites, under Maad Karb the third (called Saif bin Dhi Yazan), regained authority over Yemen. This effectively blocked the Himyarites’ trade with Syria, Palestine, and Egypt because these regions were under the Byzantines, who were allies of the Ethiopians. Then came the Persian occupation of Yemen in 577 A.D., which ended the Himyarites’ domain. Thus it was not possible for the Yemenites to carry the goods they brought from Asia and the Persian Gulf to trade with the regions under the Byzantine control, such as Syria, Gaza, Egypt, and Trans-Jordan.

Mecca benefited from the deterioration of political conditions in Yemen, and the Yemeni loss of control of Hejaz. Mecca rose as a central concourse on the land routes. Scholars such as W.M. Watt, maintain that Mecca controlled the commerce in western Arabia beginning in the first part of the 6th century A.D.[lv]

Mecca formed alliances with the tribes in western Arabia and paid them to protect the caravans from piracy[lvi]The Quraish merchants went to southern Syria and Gaza. Gaza was an important commercial market for trade with the nations of Europe and other nations on the Mediterranean Sea. The Quraish merchants brought perfumes, incense, and leather goods, especially the gilded ones, from Yemen.[lvii] They traded various goods that came to Yemen from Asia including spices. In return, they returned to Arabia from their trade in Syria with various foodstuffs such as olive oil and grain.

Quraish had caravans that went to Hira in Iraq,[lviii]and (as we understand from al Asfahani) they had commercial connections with Ethiopia.[lix]

Quraish made several journeys each year to Syria and Yemen. From the incursions of Mohammed against the caravans of Quraish, we know that Quraish had at least one extensive caravan traveling to Syria each month; some caravans included 2,500 camels. Mohammed often tried to plunder those caravans. For example he once sent his uncle, Hamzeh bin Abdel Mutaleb, with 30 Muslims to ambush a caravan of Quraish that was returning to Mecca from Syria. This was in the 7th month after his emigration to Medina. In the 8th month one month later, he sent Ubeidah bin al Harith with 60 Muslims to plunder another caravan of Quraish as it was returning from Syria. That caravan was led by Abu Sifian accompanied by 200 people of Quraish. In the 9th month after his emigration, one month after the last incursion, Mohammed sent Saad bin Abi Waqqas with a group of Muslims to plunder another caravan coming from Syria. In the 12th month after his emigration, three months after the last incursion, Mohammed himself led his companions to al Abwa’, between Mecca and Medina, to plunder a caravan of Mecca traveling to Syria. Two months later, Mohammed led 200 Muslims in another incursion, known as the incursion of Buwat, to plunder a large Quraish caravan of 2,500 camels returning from Syria. In the 16th month after his emigration he led an incursion called the incursion of al-‘Ashirah with 150 Muslims seeking a caravan of Quraish en route to Syria.

After one month, he sent a group of Muslims under Abdellah bin Jahsh Al-Asadi to plunder the caravans of Quraish that were returning to Mecca from Yemen. When the caravan of Quraish passed close to them carrying goods to Mecca, the Muslims ambushed the caravan, killing one man, taking two men as prisoners, and plundering the caravan.

Those were the incursions in which Mohammed tried to plunder the Quraish caravans. The historical fact is that each month (not merely twice each year) the Quraish had a large caravan whose camels reached 1,500-2,500. A number of wealthy residents of Mecca invested their money and conducted business through these caravans. There were also many smaller caravans owned by certain individuals of Mecca. Contending that Quraish had only two journeys a year—one to Syria and another to Yemen—is simply unhistorical. Therefore, it is inaccurate to contend that Mohammed prohibited Quraish through the Quran to perform the two commercial journeys. Mohammed intended to prohibit Quraish from conducting their own two religious pilgrimages, which one was toward al Taif to worship Ellat, the sun, and the other toward the temple of the north of Arabia, which was most likely the famous temple of Tabuk. As we saw above, Tabuk was called in the past the oasis of Phoinikon, where existed the famous temple honored by the Arabian tribes.

The kaabah of Mecca was part of a religious system involving many kaabahs of Arabia that belonged to Arabian Star Worship.

In the worship before Mohammed’s time, “Kaabah” was the name given to all the temples of the so-called “Family Star Religion” of Arabia. The Kaabah of Mecca was no exception. Each Kaabah had the same basic cubic form, with the same structural details on the inside as are found in the Temple at Mecca. For example, each temple had a well where gifts were placed. Also, each temple had a well which provided holy water for use in the rites of the pilgrimage. In the case of Mecca, this well is called Zamzam.

The Main element in the Kaabahs are the black stones, a key element in worship. These stones are meteorites which the Arabians found and revered. Wherever one of these stones was found, a temple was built around it. So each Kaabah has one black stone which is held in esteem as a deity representing the family star. Pilgrims visiting any of these Kaabahs perform many of the same rites we encounter in the rites at Mecca. For example, men and women wearing special clothing circle around the black stone. The custom was to circle nude around the Kaabah. Groups, such as the Halah, would join the circle completely naked, including the women. [lx]

The Kaabahs originated in Yemen and spread northward. They were dedicated to “The Star Family.” The name of Allah is derived from Hilal, the Thamudi god of the moon. The Kaabahs spread across Arabia with the emigration of many Yemeni tribes in the north. The tribe of Khuzaa’h emigrated from Yemen in the 2nd century A.D. to the area where Mecca was later built. In the 4th century A.D., they built the city of Mecca. Asa’d Abu Karb, the Yemeni leader who occupied Mecca during his reign in Yemen from 410-435 A.D., built the Temple of Mecca with the same specifications as Yemeni existing temples.

The Kaabah was dedicated to the worship of Ellat, the sun, and Allah’s daughters, Manat and al-‘Uzza. Ellat was also the wife of Allah. Every Kaabah was dedicated to Arabian Star Worship. Sometimes it was specifically dedicated to one member of the Star Family. For example, the Kaabah in the city of Taif was dedicated to the worship of Ellat, the wife of Allah.

Other idols were later added to the Kaabah at Mecca, that took special prominence. Another example was Hubul, who was considered by scholars to represent the moon. Two other important idols were Isaf and Naelah. As priests for the Jinn, they were important Kuhhan for the Jinn inside the Kaabah. They also were worshiped after they died. Because of the importance of Isaf and Naelah both for the family of Mohammed and in the Hajj of Umrah, which was dedicated to these two idols. We will later study them in greater detail.

Through the report of Agatharchides, we know that the area where Mecca was eventually built was uninhabited during his time.

We will now return to our discussion of the works of Agatharchides. He is known for describing in detail the regions of Arabia along the Red Sea. He identified all the peoples that lived along the entire Arabian coast of the Red Sea. Agatharchides described the geography from the coast of the Red Sea to 100 miles inland. He mentioned cities like Petra, located about 80 miles from the coast. This was the area that the caravans begin to use in the 3rd century B.C. as their land trading route along the Red Sea.

The Greek and Roman geographers were very interested with the strip of land which extended in depth from the shore of the Red Sea to about 100 miles inland, and in length from Sinai to Yemen. This strip of land is important to our study, because this is the place where Mecca was later built – about 40 miles from the shore. Although sites in this area were well documented, Mecca is absent in the descriptions of all the Greek and Roman geographers from this time who explored and described this strip of land.

There is another historical strip of land which starts about 150-200 miles from the Red Sea in northwestern Arabia. A few cities were built on some of the oases in this region around the 9th century B.C. Among the first cities built were Dedan and Qedar. Other cities were built later, when a trading route developed between the oasis cities and Yemen in the 8th century B.C. Among these cities were Yathrib and Khaybar, which are mentioned in various records of the kings and the people who occupied northwestern Arabia, an area also called Hijaz. The location where Mecca was later built is also located in Hijaz. Mecca is not mentioned in these different records.

One of the kings who ruled in the area of northwestern Arabia, known as Hijaz, was Nabonidus, the Babylonian king. Nabonidus transferred his residence to the city of Teima in northern Arabia for 10 years (550-540 B.C.). In what has been called, the “Verse Account of Nabonidus” we read:

Nabonidus killed the prince of Teima and took his residency and built there his palace like his palace in Babylonia.[lxi]

From an inscription which Nabonidus left at his original city Harran, we know that during his sojourn at Teima he also ruled the cities of Hijaz existing at that time. Among them were Yathrib (Medina) and Khaybar,[lxii] but he did not mention Mecca (see Fig. 4). Mecca, if it existed at that time, would have been the only city of Hijaz which he did not conquer. This would have been strange for a strong Babylonian king to conquer so deep and far into the land of Hijaz, reaching as far as Yathrib, and then spare Mecca. The fact is that he did not mention Mecca because it did not exist in his time, which was the middle of the 6 th century B.C. Therefore, Mecca is absent from the historical picture of the events of northern Arabia during the aforementioned times.

This strip of land bordering the Red Sea holds yet another key to the dating of Mecca. The land is historically attested to by expeditions of Greeks and Romans. It is also attested to by kingdoms that tried to control the trade across it from Yemen toward Palestine and Syria. One of these kingdoms is the Nabataean kingdom, situated on the border between Arabia and Jordan. Another is the Main Kingdom in Yemen. In all their reports, Mecca is absent from the archaeological records.

Agatharchides’ survey covered, in detail, this strip of land along the Red Sea where Mecca was built in later times. He started systematically with the Nabataeans and mentioned a body of water called the Laeanites Gulf.

Then Agatharchides tells us about the land inhabited by people called the Batmizomaneis. He says:

Next after this section of the coast is a bay which extends into the interior of the country for a distance of not less than five hundred stades. Those who inhabit the territory within the gulf are called Batmizomaneis and they are hunters of land animals.[lxiii] ( A “stade” is one eighth of an English mile.)

Fig. 2 shows the Gulf of Aqaba where the land of the Batmizom-aneis is located – south of the Nabataeans and north of the Thamud.

In this land Agatharchides mentioned the temple which all the Arabs used to revere, the temple that I discussed previously. This temple is not the Temple of Mecca; geographers had placed the temple in the land of the Batmizomaneis, close to Petra, about 700 miles distant from where Mecca was built. It is interesting to note that Agatharchides describes each group of people living on the strip along the Red Sea, and he explicitly mentions how far each one’s territory extended into the interior. As a careful Greek geographer, he documented, in detail, all the people and the geography of the strip, mentioning places at least 100 miles into the interior of Arabia.

After describing land along the Red Sea, Agatharchides turns to the Thamud region, which covered a section south of the strip about which we’ve been talking. He says this area is inhabited by “Arabs called Thamoundeni,” or Thamud, a tribe which first appeared in the 8th century B.C. and continued until the 5th century A.D. The existence of the Thamuds is also reflected in Assyrian records, whose inscriptions proved that the Thamuds were scattered through a wide part of northern Arabia, including the strip along the Red Sea. Agatharchides describes many details about this part of strip – the length of the Thamudic coast, and other particulars. This helped scholars to identify the coasts which come next after this Thamudic coast, corresponding to today’s maps of the Red Sea. In fact, the next coast he described has been identified by geographers as the coast between the following current locations in Arabian peninsula: Ras Karkama located at 25 54’ N, 36 39’ E, and Ras Abu Madd located at 24 50’ N, 37 08 E.[lxiv]Ras Abu Madd is about 450 kilometers (280 miles) from Mecca.

After describing the place identified today as Ras Abu Madd, Agatharchides seemed to pass through uninhabited areas. Previously, he would stop to describe the inhabitants of each area, but after leaving the area which the geographers identified with the region that ends with Ras Abu Madd, there are no descriptions of inhabitants. It is unusual for Agatharchides and the other geographers upon whom he depended to fail to describe an area if it was inhabited. To fail to tell about the inhabitants of an area allows us to conclude that the area was uninhabited. This segment without inhabitants corresponds to the strip where Mecca was built in later times. This fact is reconfirmed by other geographical facts not only by scholars recognizing the tract that precedes it, namely, the tract between Ras Karkama and Ras Abu Madd, the two cities which we find today on the map of Arabia. It is also identifiable by the tract, which follows in the description of Agatharchides, which he describes with the following words:

The next part of the coast is dominated by dunes which are infinite in their length and breadth and black in color.

This is identified by scholars with the black basalt Harat Shama half way between Jeddah and the lagoon of al-Sharifa.[lxv] Today, Jeddah is considered as the port of Mecca – it is about 40 miles distant from it. Al-Sharifa is described by the geographical books as “a very long inlet, parallel to the coast immediately northwest of al-Lith, shut in by a long narrow island, Jezirat Qishran.”[lxvi] (See Fig. 3.)

After the area where Jeddah and Mecca were built, Agatharchides described another arid, uninhabited area in his time which extended about 86 miles to the south. From his description, we can see a long tract, starting from Ras Abu Madd until half-way between Jeddah and the Lagoon of al-Sharifa, which was uninhabited in the time of Agatharchides. It is the tract where Mecca was built in later times. This tract is estimated to be about 460 miles in length. Mecca was built in the 4th century A.D., in the middle of this tract which divides northwestern Arabia (particularly where some of the Thamuds came to live along the Red Sea) from other tracts which connect central west Arabia with southern Arabia. It was a huge arid geographical barrier between northwestern Arabia and the southwest, where no inhabitants lived at the time of Agatharchides, who wrote about the 3rd century B.C., and about his times, the middle of the 2nd century B.C.

This observation of Agatharchides about this tract located in central western Arabia is understandable historically, because the tribes which inhabited the north of Arabia along the Red Sea were mainly Lihyanites and Thamuds, along with the Nabataeans who extended their dominion (sometimes) over Northwestern Arabia. None of these tribes were known in history to have lived toward the central western portion of Arabia where this uninhabited tract (that later became the city of Mecca) is situated. All this tells us is that it would be easier for the people of Alaska to claim that Abraham went to the frozen north and built a temple to establish a monotheistic religion, than for Mohammed to claim that Abraham built a temple in an arid tract along the Red Sea in central west Arabia – an area which never attracted people to inhabit it, even the closest tribes of North Arabia. None of the tribes and nations closest to such tract from the southern direction had ever inhabited such tract of central western Arabia. Who would want to build a caravan station in such an arid area? The Maini had already built stations in other regions like Dedan to oversee their trade and protect their caravans. However, they never built a station in the area where Mecca was later built because throughout ancient history, it was known to have been an arid and uninhabited area.

ARTEMIDORUS’ SURVEY

Artemidorus’ survey showed that the tract on central western Arabia, where Mecca was later built, was still uninhabited as late as 103 B.C.

Another Greek geographer and historian, Artemidorus of Ephesus, wrote a total of eleven geography books. He lived around 103 B.C. and was quoted by the historian, Strabo. Although Artemidorus included extensive excerpts from the book of Agatharchides in his eleven-book survey of world geography,[lxvii] he also included additional information gathered by others in his time, and from his own travels, as well.[lxviii] Consequently, Artemidorus, as well as Agatharchides, described the strip of land along the Red Sea. Just like Agatharchides, Artemidorus described the nature of each tract along the coast of the Red Sea and the population who lived there. When he came to the same central western Arabian tract where Mecca was later built, he didn’t mention any people living there, making it clear that around 103 B.C. this tract was still uninhabited. He mentioned some islands near that area which were also uninhabited.[lxix] He has to walk very much more to the south of this region in order to find a small port. To the south of this port was a land inhabited by the so-called “Debae” people. There were Bedouins traveling in the area and a few farmers, but no cities were seen in that area. Artemidorus had to travel much further south to near the border of Yemen to find, as he said, “more civilized” people.[lxx] In other words, the tract of central western Arabia where Mecca was built later was still uninhabited as of 103 B.C. This tract is divided from Yemen by an area, which is inhabited only by uncivilized Bedouin tribes.

THE ROMANS EXPLORE WESTERN AND SOUTHERN ARABIA

The Roman Expedition into western and southern Arabia accurately described the villages which were built in the area of central western Arabia, but a city called Mecca was never mentioned.

Our history doesn’t end here. In the year 30 B.C., Egypt became a Roman province. The Romans then wanted to control the Arabian regions along the Red Sea, especially south of the city called Leuce Kome( known today as Haura’ الحوراء ) on the shore of the Arabian Red Sea. From there, through the central western shore, were places where savage tribes were acting as pirates and threatening sea navigation. The Romans also wanted to control Yemen and, subsequently, the spice trade coming from India through Yemen.

Rome trusted the military campaign to Gallus, the governor of Egypt. He was unsuccessful, but his campaign provides more historical accuracy for us. Gallus departed from the Egyptian shore of the Red Sea with 10,000 Roman soldiers, 1,000 Nabataean soldiers, and some other Roman allies in the region. The Nabataeans were ruled by the Roman Empire at that time, so they promised to help the Romans in this expedition as soldiers and guides. The Nabataeans were ideal as guides because part of northern Arabia along the Red Sea was under the Nabataean domain. Strabo, the famous geographer and historian, took part in the expedition and wrote about it in his 16th book. This gives to the expedition a special value in terms of geography; it is a highly-documented expedition, and not a narration of any kind.

The expedition had special importance for a geographer, because it was not the journey of a traveler who might have missed cities deeper inland. It was a military expedition, intended to control all the villages and cities which might threaten Roman trade within this strip of land. The Romans were very thorough and would not have missed a city. The Roman Expedition went through the strip of land which geographers used to explore along the Red Sea, which I defined previously as extending from the shore to at least 100 miles inland. The Romans wanted to subdue every village because of the continuing piracy which originated from central western Arabia. Therefore, no city or village was left alone in this military expedition.

The expedition arrived at Leuce Come, which means the “white village.” This village was part of the Nabataean territory at the time of the expedition. Strabo attested to the flourishing of the land route through this village to Petra, and from there to Egypt and Syria. This village is placed in the today map of Arabia at El Haura, 25 7 N., 37 13 E.[lxxi] Leuce Come is about 280 miles from the place where Mecca was later built. To the south of this village lay the central western part of Arabia along the Red Sea, which we previously saw was uninhabited in 103 B.C. But now, because the land route along the Red Sea had started to flourish, there had been a few villages built since 103 B.C., which Gallus occupied. These villages are mentioned in the narration of Strabo, who was an eyewitness to this important expedition.

After Leuce Come, Gallus marched to the south, through Nabataean-controlled lands. Strabo describes the nature of the region with these words:

Gallus moved his army from Leuce Come and marched through regions where water had to be carried by camels.

Gallus marched until he reached the desert assigned to Aretas, his kinsman, by King Obodas of Nabataean. We assume that Gallus was marching toward the village of Egra about 1,100 Greek stadia from Leuce Come (about 137 miles). Strabo described this part under Aretas, as follows:

It afforded only zea, a kind of coarse grain, a few palm trees and butter instead of oil.[lxxii]

It is a description of a deserted tract of land with few stations on the caravan route coming from the south. These stations are mainly Nabataean stations to protect and control the trade passing through this area.

Then Strabo described the next segment of the central-western Arabian campaign with these words:

The next country which Gallus traversed belongs to nomads and most of it was truly desert; and it was called Ararene, and he spent fifty days arriving at the city of Negrani.

That was a city of Najran on the border of Yemen about 385 miles south of Mecca, and about 125 miles from the shore of the Red Sea.We understand from the description of Strabo that the central western tract of Arabia along the Red Sea during the time of the expedition had few changes since the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C. This region was described by previous geographers as uninhabited in its northern part, and inhabited by Bedouins in its southern part, until reaching the more-civilized people near Yemen. At least three of the stations which the Nabataeans had built on the caravan road became small villages, which were mentioned in this expedition. The situation was likely similar to that of the 2nd and 3rd centuries B.C.

Gallus wanted to subdue the region to protect the trade from the piracy coming from this area. His plan was to occupy all the cities found in this dangerous tract, but he did not find any city until he reached Najran. This demonstrates that Mecca was not yet built in those times – that is, around 23 B.C. Gallus occupied Najran, then Asca (within Yemeni territory). Going south, he occupied a city called Athrula, then advanced toward Marsiaba (probably Ma’rib, the capital of Saba). He assaulted and besieged the city for six days, but desisted for want of water.He lost only seven soldiers in war against the Arabians of Najran and in the battles south of it. Most of the losses in his army came from lack of water and supplies, and disease.

If Mecca had existed at the time of the Roman Expedition, it would have been impossible to be missed by a weary army which needed a city in which to rest and replenish supplies.

The hardships of Gallus’ army were because of the huge distances, which existed between the small few villages in this tract of central Arabia where Mecca was built in later times. This caused many soldiers to die from a lack of water and supplies. The Romans accused Syllaeus of not helping them as a guide because the Romans accused him of choosing paths between the villages and cities that were longer than they should have been. This did not affect the plan of passing through all the villages which existed in the area, since the villages and cities were known by all contemporaries to the expedition, and confirmed by the inhabitants. In other words, each village or city knew the name of the next city or village which Gallus needed to visit on the way to Najran and the other cities of Yemen.

Since subduing all of central western Arabia was an important goal for the expedition, Gallus would not have missed a city like Mecca, if it had existed then.

Another thing to consider is that after Gallus failed to occupy the Yemeni city of Marsiaba, he replaced Syllaeus as a guide, and instead depended on native experts to return to Negrana and then to the Nabataean village of Leuce Come. Consequently, he made the return trip more quickly, passing through the few villages which were built on the caravan road where Mecca was eventually built. Strabo mentioned them by name, but never mentioned Mecca.[7] Ultimately, Gallus withdrew from the war. The huge distances between the villages, which were built on this central Arabian tract, created a logistical travel problem for an army of more than 11,000. Gallus lost thousands of his soldiers because of lack of water and supplies.

The Roman historian, Dio Cassius, described the failure of the expedition in his book, The History of Rome. Here’s what he wrote:

At first Aelius Gallus encountered no one, yet he did not proceed without difficulty; for the desert, the sun, and the water (which had some peculiar nature) all caused his men great distress, so that the larger part of the army perished.[lxxiii]

This advances our argument. If Mecca had existed as a city, it would have been Gallus’ main goal to control it. No cities are described by any of the historians, except for the few villages I mentioned previously which were built on the caravan road. If Mecca had existed, it would have been an important place to rest, to replenish supplies and to prepare a person to traverse the rest of this terrible tract toward Najran and the other Yemeni cities. No one who planned to occupy a desert would abandon its main city. But that desert had no city in existence like Mecca; that is why the expedition had its hardships and problems with supplies.

What this ultimately shows us is that the claims of Islam which state that Mecca was a city that flourished during the time of Abraham, are unsubstantiated and false. All the records of the historians of the time show that Mecca was not in existence until the 4th century A.D., certainly not in the time of Abraham. If Islam is wrong on this key assertion, how can we trust it in other assertions?

MECCA WAS ABSENT FROM THE HISTORICAL TRAVELS AND WRITINGS OF STRABO.

The historian, Strabo, shows us clearly that the city of Mecca could not have existed during the time of Christ and, therefore, not when the Muslims claim.

We will continue to refute the Islamic claim that Mecca has existed since the time of Abraham. To this end we will now study the works of Strabo, a Greek geographer who lived between 64 B.C. and 23 A.D. In his geographical study, Strabo summarized the most important works written by geographers before him and reported writings done by his contemporaries. Among those whose work he referenced were: Artemidorus, Eratosthenes and Agatharcides.[lxxiv] I have mentioned these men in the past.

Athenodorus was a geographer who accompanied Strabo in some of his travels. In Strabo’s own words, he was “a philosopher and companion of mine who had been in the city of the Petraneans.”[lxxv] By “Petraneans” Strabo means the city of Petra, and he quotes some of Athenodorus’ writings about the city and its government. Strabo also passionately and accurately gives us a detailed survey of many regions of Arabia during his lifetime. He visited the region with other Greek historians, philosophers and geographers and described the region, relying on his own first-hand research and the observations of those who accompanied him in the region. I mentioned previously that as a geographer and historian, Strabo accompanied Gallus on the Roman Expedition. Strabo’s purpose was to personally verify information about the region which he had gathered from various sources. He discussed the goal of the expedition in these words:

Many of the special characteristics of Arabia have been disclosed by the recent expedition of the Romans against the Arabians, which was made in my own time under Aelius Gallus as commander. He was sent by Augustus Caesar to explore the tribes and the places.[lxxvi]

So we see that one of the aims of the expedition was to explore the “tribes and the places” of Arabia. Strabo mentioned Augustus Caesar’s particular interest in western Arabia when he said:

Caesar saw that the Troglodyte country, which adjoins Egypt, neighbors upon Arabia, and he saw also that the Arabian Gulf, which separates the Arabians from the Troglodytes, is extremely narrow. Accordingly, he conceived the purpose of winning the Arabians over to himself or of subjugating them.[lxxvii]

From this we see that one main goal of the Romans was the pacification of the northern and central regions of Arabia, which lay opposite to Troglodytes on the shore of the Red Sea and the regions around it. This is also where the city of Mecca was later built. Notice, also, that the control of this area was important to the security of the land trade, which was beginning to flourish around the start of the Christian era. Caesar, also, needed to protect the marine route from piracy which was coming from the Arabian regions adjoining the Red Sea.

Strabo’s work is important to my argument that Mecca did not come into existence until more than 2,000 years after Abraham lived. Although this region was documented thoroughly by Strabo’s participation in the Roman Expedition, Mecca was not mentioned at all. Though his survey quoted heavily the intensive research by other geographers, Mecca was not mentioned in all of this. Neither was any tribe mentioned that, according to Islamic tradition, was supposed to have lived in Mecca since the time of Abraham, nor was any temple found in that area. Strabo’s survey is also important because it verified the description given by other geographers who wrote about the tribes and places along the Red Sea, starting from the far north of Arabia and reaching south to Yemen.

Why doesn’t Strabo make any mention of Mecca or its temple? This cannot be accidental. If a tourist with far less interest in exploring a region had failed to mention the name of a main city, we might be able to consider this an accident. But when a geographer, who is entrusted to make a survey for a great empire like Rome, fails to mention a city like Mecca, there is no possibility that he accidentally missed it. Add to that all the geographers and experts who described the area, and didn’t mention once a city like Mecca, and you can reach only one conclusion: Mecca did not exist in about 23 B.C. when Strabo wrote his reports.

“THE PERIPLUS OF THE ERYTHRAEAN SEA”

The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea” confirms Mecca didn’t exist during the end of the 1st century A.D.

I have mentioned Artemidorus, Eratosthenes and Agatharcides, as well as Strabo– none of whom acknowledged the existence of Mecca in their time, which was prior to Christ. Now I’d like to take you to another source. This time, to a book considered to be one of the most reliable historical documents on trade routes and the regions of Arabia. The book, written between 58- 62 A.D.[lxxviii] by an unnamed author, is The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. It was written by a resident in the city of Berenice, opposite to central Arabia, and located about 200-220 miles from the place where Mecca was later built.

The dating of the book is important to our study, and many external evidences attest to the dating. For example, Pliny copied some of the ideas of Periplus into his book, Natural History. Natural History was written between 72-76 A.D.,[8] so we can conclude that Periplus was written before that. Another important element in determining the date of Periplus is that the author, in Chapter 57, mentions the monsoon on the Indian Ocean, which Hippalus documented around 47 A.D. Because Hippalus noticed the periodic weather behavior, he was able to sail to India at just the right time, thus shortening the time required for a round-trip voyage to India. His discovery allowed trade with India to flourish.

The author of Periplus mentions the monsoon discovery, proving that the book was written after 47 A.D. Some other proofs more accurately determine that the book was even written a little later than that – somewhere between 60-62 A.D.

It is certain that the author of Periplus was a Greek merchant, and that he traveled the Arabian regions as far as India. We also assume that he lived in the city of Berenice on the Red Sea, opposite the Arabian ports of Leuce Come, and not in the larger city of Alexandria. How do we know this? Because the author didn’t describe the usual voyage as going from Coptos in the interior of Egypt, along the Nile, and through the Egyptian desert. Coptos later was known as Qift قفط. It was about 43 Kilometers from Luxor, near the city of Thebes. Both Strabo and Pliny describe this voyage, but the author of The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea failed to describe it. This causes some scholars to assume that the writer lived in Berenice.

The city of Berenice is on the western coast of the Red Sea, opposite the Arabian ports of Leuce Come and Egra. We know that Egra is about 137 miles away from Leuce Come, and only 62 miles from the village of Malathan, which is the closest village to the place where Mecca was later built. This is important to us because the author lived on the African shore of the Red Sea, not too far from the tract of land on which Mecca was later built. Being very familiar with the central tract of Arabia where Mecca was built in later times, he wrote about the regions close to where he lived, making his book an extremely important document. We also know that the book was not written by a person who only visited the region, or made a survey during his lifetime, but by a person who knew in detail the cities and villages near the area where he actually lived.

The distance between the city in which he lived and the place where Mecca was built is between 200-250 miles. His knowledge of Mecca, if it had existed in his time, is analogous to a contemporary resident of Paris knowing about the city of Rome. Assuredly, the author would have known about the city if it had actually been there. The accuracy of Periplus is corroborated by many geographical and historical evidences. We find that descriptions in the book agree with descriptions in the later book which Pliny wrote describing the Arabian coasts.

Also, we find historical facts corresponding with those narrated by The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. For example, the author of the book, in chapter 19, mentioned Malichas as king of the Nabat-aeans. Josephus, the Jewish Roman historian, mentioned this king, under the name of Malchus, in more than one place.[lxxix] The author of The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea mentioned Eleazus as a title of the king of Frankincense country, that is, Hadramuot.[lxxx] He also mentions Charibael as title for the king of two Yemeni tribes, the Himyarites and the Sabaeans.[lxxxi] This information is attested to be true by inscriptions discovered in southern Arabia by archaeologist Glaser.[lxxxii]

The author mentioned many other cities which were distant from the shore of the Red Sea. One example is Coloe, which he said is “a three days’ journey” from Adulis, a city on the African shore.[lxxxiii] The author mentioned many other cities which were similarly distant from the Red Sea. Therefore, not mentioning Mecca, which is only 30-40 miles from the Red Sea, is a significant matter. While the author mentioned many cities in the region which are of little importance, and are two or three times as far from shore as Mecca, the author still does not mention the city of Mecca at all. Think about it .The author of The Periplus of the Erythraean Seadescribed the regions adjacent to the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, which were the western and southern regions of Arabia. He mentioned the names of kings, tribal chiefs, and cities distant from shore, but he did not mention Mecca. His report has significant importance because he is a resident in the city of Berenice, opposite to central Arabia, and a distance of about 200-220 miles from the place where Mecca was built in later times. As an expert merchant and geographer, which his book clearly shows, it cannot be attributed to him to be ignorant of the cities close to his home when he described the Red Sea coastal regions. In fact, if he did succeed in describing with such accuracy the cities, tribes and trade as far as India, how, then, could he be ignorant of a city such as Mecca, which would be only 200–220 miles from his home? The fact is that he does not mention Mecca because, in his time, Mecca did not exist.

PLINY’S SURVEY

Pliny‘s Survey covered all of Arabia, mentioning all the cities, villages and tribes of Arabia, but he never mentioned Mecca, or any tribe which the Islamic tradition claims inhabited Mecca since ancient times.

Previously, we looked at an important military campaign during the time of Caesar. The Roman geographer and historian, Strabo, documented the campaign, but nowhere did he mention the city of Mecca. This causes us to conclude that Mecca had not been built during the time he lived, which was 64-23 B.C.

We move ahead in history to another important Roman author. We know him as Pliny, the Elder. Pliny was born at Como, in northern Italy, in 23 A.D. He became a commander of a Roman cavalry squadron, studied the law, became the Procurator – the financial manager – in Spain, then returned to Rome and became part of the Emperor’s intimate inner circle.[lxxxiv] This gave him access to the Roman documents, especially about the expedition into Arabia under Gallus, which Pliny mentioned in his work. He then received a naval commission. He died in 79 A.D.

Pliny completed his book, Natural History, in 77 A.D. It is his most important contribution to the knowledge we have about Roman life and times. It is an encyclopedia covering a wide variety of subjects, including: geography, astronomy, botany, zoology, meteorology and mineralogy. In the preface to this book, Pliny writes that he deals with 20,000 matters selected from 100 different authors. One of the authors Pliny consulted was Juba, a king in Mauritania, who did a survey of Arabia, documenting various locations and tribes in Arabia.

Pliny, in Natural History, Book Five, chapter 12, deals with “the coasts of Arabia, situated on the Egyptian sea.” Then, in the book six, in the lengthy chapters 32 and 33, he focuses with detail on Arabia. The work of Pliny is considered a true encyclopedia. He mentioned approximately 92 nations and tribes in Arabia. Though he mentioned the least and most insignificant tribes of Arabia which existed in his lifetime, he does not mention any of the tribes which the Islamic tradition claims lived in Mecca during the first centuries after Christ. Although he mentioned 69 cities and villages in Arabia at this time, including villages of insignificant tribes, he did not mention Mecca. This adds to all other documented proofs that the Islamic claims regarding Mecca are unhistorical and without any foundation.

Pliny’s survey has significant value, because he covered all the regions of Arabia. The survey starts in the far north, proceeds to the eastern gulf region, then proceeds south until it reaches the southeastern corner of Arabia. He goes west to the Red Sea, then north to the Gulf of Aqaba, and finally returns by proceeding south, all the while describing the interior land of Arabia. It is easy to see that the survey didn’t overlook any area of Arabia which was inhabited at that time. Pliny was so detailed that he mentioned tribes which inhabited the desert, called the An-Nafud Desert today, such as the tribe of the Agraei, but still he didn’t mention Mecca or any tribe living in the area where Mecca eventually was built.

Considering that Pliny’s research covered all regions of Arabia, it is significant that there is a total absence in Pliny’s work of any mention of any of the tribes, which were claimed by the Islamic tradition to have existed, and which had an important role in the affairs of Arabia. I firmly believe that the absence of such tribes confirms that Islamic tradition wanted to back the Qur’an in its false claim concerning Mecca. Consequently, the Muslims created false names of tribes, and a false history which doesn’t correspond with the true documented history of men like Pliny, Artemidorus, Agatharchides and Strabo.One of the tribes that the Muslims created an imaginary history about is Jurhum. The Islamic narrators, such as Ubeid bin Sharayyah and ibn Abbass, claimed that the people of Jurhum had lived in Mecca since the time of Abraham. This assumes Ishmaelite tribes lived at Mecca since that date as well. For a period of time, they say the Ishmaelites also dominated Arabia. If these claims were true, Jurhum would have been superior to the documented nations of Arabia, such as Saba and Main. Then archeology and the trips made by classical geographers and historians would show the existence of the Ishmaelite tribes at Mecca and would have confirmed the historical facts.But neither Greek nor Roman historical or archaeological records mention or even allude to a tribe named Jurhum. They don’t even mention that Ishmaelite tribes ever lived in the area where Mecca was eventually built,even though archaeology over many centuries B.C. had uncovered many nations and tribes who lived north and south to the area where Mecca was later built. Jurhum might have been an insignificant tribe which appeared only after the Christian era.

Pliny’s survey helps us to see that the Islamic claim regarding Adnan is false. Islamic genealogists claim that Adnan was the father of Maed who was the 20th ancestor of Mohammed. They also claim the Adnanites inhabited Hijaz. The Adnanites were perceived by Muslims as a great tribe which descended from Ishmael, and they dominated all the regions of Hijaz. However, we do not see in the Pliny’s survey any mention of Adnanites, nor the name of any tribe the Islamic writers claimed the Adnanites descended from. This is covered in more detail in our research on the Adnanites. All this proves incisively that Muslims have forged a false history. Archaeology, surveys of classical geography and historical studies convince us that the Islamic claim was entirely false.

Pliny, along with his Greek predecessors, demonstrates clearly that the history of Mecca is completely untrue and not historical. It wasn’t until the time of Ubeid bin Sharayah and Ibn Abbass that Islamic writers began to forge an ancient history for Mecca. We already saw the ignorance of people such as Ubeid and Ibn Abbass. We saw that their forgery was mythological, not built on documented material. Of course, the work of both Pliny and the Greeks shows that these claims can’t be substantiated.

Pliny’s survey, when combined with other Greek and Roman surveys, didn’t mention Khuzaa’h, confirms the fact that, Khuzaa’h, the tribe which first built Mecca, did not yet exist in the 1st century A.D. in the region where Mecca was eventually built. This is a further confirmation that this tribe appeared and emigrated from Yemen in later times, and built Mecca some time after they emigrated from Yemen. Certainly Khuzaa’h was then a very small tribe. Perhaps it had not separated from its mother tribe in Yemen. Khuzaa’h must have come from Yemen sometime after the second century A.D., after the dam of Maarib was damaged. Sometime during the Fourth Century A.D, the tribe moved near the land route and built Mecca to enhance its trade.

Early Islamic narrators and their ignorance of basic historical facts

Previously, I mentioned the names of persons who first attempted to assign names to the tribes living in Mecca, and to create a history for Quraish. Among those men were Ubeid bin Sharayeh, ibn Abbass, Mohammed bin al Kalbi and his son Hisham, Wahab bin Munebbeh and ibn Ishack.

I also mentioned the ignorance of these persons, their limited knowledge of history, and their confused chronology. In spite of this, the Muslims still follow these men’s writings today, although they showed ignorance in their narration about history and lack of any historical basis for their writings. The writings of these persons, who wrote in the 7th, 8th and 9th centuries A.D., became the foundation on which other Muslim historians built a history for Muslims to read instead of the officially documented history.

According to Ibn Ishak, Christianity originated in Rome through a Roman emperor who was converted to Christianity by the twelve disciples of Christ. Ibn Ishak thought that the Roman emperor, Constantine, who lived in the 4th century A.D., was a contemporary of Jesus.[lxxxv] We know that these claims about Christianity, Constantine and Jesus are not true.

The writings of early Islamic narrators are full of enormous mistakes and myths which less-informed and ignorant elementary students would not make. How can he be considered a reliable historian for Muslims when they write mythological narratives which disagree with documented history? And they did all this in order to convince people that Ishmael lived in Mecca and built the temple with Abraham’s help! Sadly, these untrustworthy persons became the fathers of a false history which has kept many Muslims from reading true and documented history. They have also kept many Muslims from reading the Bible, a dependable source for understanding ancient history.

It is time for Muslims to think for themselves, to go beyond false claims, and to challenge what they have believed for years. Once they find the truth about Islam, they will also find the truth about Jesus Christ, the One who died as the sacrifice for sin, and the only way to heaven.

PTOLEMY’S SURVEY AND THE LOCATION OF MACORABA

The Greek geographer, Claudius Ptolemy of Alexandria, Egypt, was born in the year 90 A.D. and died in 168 A.D. He wrote Almonagest, a chief astronomical work, and another work about astrology called Tetrabilos. Around the year 150 A.D., he dedicated himself to the study of the earth’s geography – more specifically, cartographical representation, or mapping of the earth. He was inspired by the work of several other geographers who lived before him, including Marinus, who lived from 70-130 A.D. These geographers pioneered the concept of latitude and longitude lines for world maps. Ptolemy enhanced the concept of the latitudes and longitudes. Ptolemy reduced the latitude and longitude that Marinus has established before.[lxxxvi] Ptolemy tried to document in his geographical work, simply called Geography, the latitude and longitude coordinates, also called meridians lines, for the important locations marked on the maps of his time. Most scholars doubt that the maps which included his latitude and longitude coordinates were actually drawn by him. But they do believe that other geographers used his information when making their maps.[lxxxvii]

Ptolemy’s geography provides valuable help in locating places that existed in his time, but we should consider some disclaimers which he mentions in his work. In his second book, Ptolemy mentions that the locations of some of the places or cities that were documented more recently, with respect to his time, are actually estimated regarding their proximity to more established places or cities.[lxxxviii] When compared to the latitude and longitude system we use today, his system seems crude and inaccurate. Yet, it is still helpful to know about the recently-discovered places which didn’t appear in previous geographical surveys. We can establish where newer cities are located in relation to older ones. It’s helpful to know whether the cities in question are south or north of an old city, or whether they are east or west.

From a practical standpoint, Ptolomy’s criteria proves valuable when looking for other cities in the Middle East mentioned by him, or even by those in his own country, Egypt. Based on these facts, his work helps us resolve the location problem for some cities, such as Macoraba, which appeared in his generation.

In book six, chapter seven, of his work titled Geography, Ptolemy documents the latitude and longitude coordinates of several landmarks in Arabia.[lxxxix] By studying these locations and coordinates, we notice once again that the city of Mecca is never mentioned. In fact, Ptolomy doesn’t mention any cities in the strip of land where Mecca was eventually built.

Macoraba was a city in the Arabian interior which was mentioned by Ptolemy. Some people wanted to assume that Macoraba was actually Mecca. Macoraba had appeared recently, with respect to Ptolemy’s time. This assumption would result in the conclusion that Mecca was built around the middle of the 2nd century A.D. However, even if this were true, it wouldn’t support the claim that Mecca was an old city existing from the time of Abraham. Upon further study of the facts concerning Macoraba, we can conclude with certainty that Macoraba cannot be Mecca, and we can refute the idea that Mecca was built in the 2nd century A.D. All the facts point to the historical argument that Mecca was constructed in the 4th century A.D. Since Macoraba is not pronounced like Mecca, the scholar Crone suggested that the location of Maqarib, near Yathrib, was actually Macoraba. Maqarib is mentioned by Yaqut al-Hamawi, an Arab geographer who lived from 1179-1229 A.D., in his geographical dictionary Mujam al-Buldan.[xc] This location is more acceptable than Mecca for the modern-day location of Macoraba, because Maqarib is closer in pronunciation to Macoraba than to Mecca. Another reason is that Maqarib, though it does not exactly fit the documented location of Macoraba, is closer to the location, according to the latitude and longitude of Ptolemy, than Mecca is to the documented location of Macoraba.

In order to determine the exact location of Macoraba, scholars have looked to the city of Lathrippa, mentioned by Ptolemy at a longitude of 71, as a reference. Lathrippa is accepted by most scholars as the city of Yathrib, a city documented in the historical record. Ptolemy placed the city of Macoraba at 73 20 longitude, which means about three-and-a-third degrees east of Yathrib, while Mecca is west of Yathrib. So Macoraba cannot be the city of Mecca, nor a city in the direction where Mecca was later built. Macoraba should be located deeper into the interior of Arabia, or toward the eastern coast of Arabia.

We have just analyzed the longitude; now let’s turn to the latitude. When we study latitude we find more data concerning the historical location of Macoraba. Ptolemy described Macoraba, not as the next city south of Lathrippa, or Yathrib, but the sixth city to the south. While the city of Carna is the first city to the south of Lathrippa, Macoraba is the sixth city to the south. Carna was a well-known Yemeni city, belonging to the Minaean kingdom mentioned by Strabo. This is significant, because Strabo described the main tribes of southern Arabia in these words:

The extreme part of the country is occupied by the four largest tribes; by the Minaeans … whose largest city is Carna; next to these, by the Sabaeans, whose metropolis is Mariaba; third by the Cattabanians, whose royal seat is called Tamna; and the farthest toward the east, the Chatramotitae, meaning Hadramout, whose city is Sabata.[xci]

In the past, Carna was known as the most important, and the largest city of the Yemen Kingdom of Ma’in. Carna was a significant city of Arabia which Ptolemy couldn’t miss. Because Macoraba was listed as the fifth city south of Carna, we understand Ptolemy used Carna as a reference point for the five cities he listed south of Carna, included Macoraba. We can’t make Lathrippa a reference point for locating Macoraba, since Lathrippa is farther north of Macoraba, but Macoraba’s location is south of the famous old Minaean city of Carna. We can only conclude that by latitude, Macoraba is in south Arabia, south of the Yemeni city of Carna.

Considering where Ptolemy placed the longitude of Macoraba it is a great distance from where Mecca was later built. Its longitude would bring it east of Yathrib. In fact, Pliny mentions a city with the name Mochorba, and he said it was a port of Oman on the Hadramout shore in South Arabia. It’s also possible that Macoraba is derived from Mochorba.[xcii]

Since Macoraba never appears in any literature other than the narration of Ptolemy, it must have been a small settlement or tiny village which disappeared in Ptolomy’s time during the 2nd century A.D. Probably a small Omani tribe emigrated from the port of Mochorba toward the north of Yemen, south of Carna, the old Minaean city of Yemen, and established a small settlement which they named after their original city. The tribe would then have moved to another area in search of better living conditions, a usual migratory occurrence in Arabia. The fact that Macoraba never appears again in any other classical survey confirms the fact that it was a small provisional settlement of a small tribe, and not a significant town.

If a case for the name of Machorba should be opened, it should be seen in relation to the southern Arabian city of Mochorba, and not to Mecca. In the same manner, we see the city of New London in the United States as being named after the original city of London. We can’t open a case for the origin of the name of the American city apart from the English city after which it was named.

THE ABSENCE OF MECCA IN THE ETHIOPIAN, SYRIAN, ARAMAIC AND COPTIC LITERATURE

The absence of Mecca in the Ethiopian, Syrian, Aramaic and Coptic literature points to the fact that it couldn’t have been founded during the 3rd century A.D.

Let’s look at Ethiopian literature. The Ethiopians were also concerned with documenting Arabian cities on the opposite coast of the Red Sea, especially in the area where Mecca was eventually built. Again, we see that there is no mention of Mecca in their surveys. Neither do we find any mention of Mecca during the 2nd, 3rd or 4th century A.D. This also demonstrates that Mecca did not exist at the time of Ptolemy; we have to place its origin at a later date.

That Mecca was not built before the 2nd A.D. century is an indisputable fact. The question now is whether we can determine if Mecca was built in the 3rd or 4th century A.D. The absence of records in Syrian, Aramaic and Coptic literature makes the dates for the existence of Mecca later than the 3rd century A.D. Crone, whom I mentioned earlier, did a survey of the Coptic and Syrian literature which was concerned with Arabia, but none of these works mentioned Mecca.[xciii]

We also have other reasons to assume that the date for Mecca’s founding was after the beginning of the 4th century A.D. We find some help in Christian evangelistic and missionary activities in Arabia and Christian literature. They do not mention Mecca, either.

We also know that the Christians under the Byzantine Empire tried to evangelize Arabia. The Byzantine emperor targeted the main cities of Arabia and sent missionaries to evangelize and establish churches. This evangelism was so successful that, at the Nicea Convention around 320 A.D., an Arabic bishop participated.[xciv] The church in Najran, a city on the border of Yemen toward Mecca, was established before the Nicea Convention. In 354 A.D., Constantine the Second sent Theophilus Indus to Arabia to evangelize the region. He established churches in Eden, Thafar and Hermez. The Ethiopians sent missionaries to Arabia to evangelize the cities around the Red Sea. The Nestorians sent missionaries to Hijaz; into northern and central western Arabia where Mecca was eventually built. Arabia was also the main target of missionary activity for the church of Hira in southern Iraq.

It is significant that we don’t find any mention of Mecca in all the Christian records of this time. This suggests that Mecca did not exist in the 3rd century A.D., or at the beginning of the 4th century. Because it was inhabited by many tribes, and built by a big tribe, like Khuzaa’h, Mecca could not be a small village which would not have attracted the attention of the missionaries and the Christian churches of Mesopotamia, Ethiopia and Byzantium.

Once again, we see the writers of history confirming our research which shows that Mecca was built long after Muslims claim it was. This simple truth should challenge Muslims to take a fresh look at the teachings of the Bible and seek after the truth, which Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”( Gospel of John 8:32)

Fig. 3 Central Western Arabia as it appeared in 1945 taken from “Western Arabia and the Red Sea,” prepared by the Naval Division, Great Britain.

Fig. 4 The cities occupied by Nabonidus, king of Babylonia, during his 10 years’ sojourn in north and central western Arabia, but Mecca is missing in his records

 

[1] Many of the reports upon which Eratosthenes based his map were lost, but much of the contents survive in the fragments of Agatharchides’ work On the Erythraean Sea, Burstein, page 12

[2] Many passages in On the Erythraean Sea clearly point to the fact that Agatharchides consulted eyewitness merchants and others who visited the region. See especially fragment 41.

[3] Although the book of Agatharchides is no longer in existence, it has been preserved through the synopsis of the classical authors Photius, Diodorus and Strabo. We find a good summary of the 5th book of Agatharchides in the work of Diodorus Library of History, chapters 12-48. The summary of Photius in his work Bibliotheca, especially Codex 250, is very important.

[4] The geographical book Western Arabia and the Red Sea, specifies the area of Wadi al- ‘efal in the following area adjacent to the Gulf of Aqaba: “East of the Gulf of Aqaba two important watersheds lie, roughly parallel to one another and to the gulf; immediately behind the coastal lowlands the Ridge of al-Farwa separates the Wadis, which cut westward through the coastal ridge to the gulf, from those which drain southward to the Red Sea east of Ras Fartak. The chief of the latter wadis is Wadi al-Abyadh which, in its lower reaches, broadens and is called Wadi Efal- behind to be the plain inhabited by the Bythemani- Bythemaneas-….”; Western Arabia and the Red Sea, Naval Intelligence Division, Geographical Handbook Series, 1946, page 40; see also footnote 3

[5] Nonnosuswas an ambassador to Justinian the Great, the Byzantine Emperor, who lived in the 6th century A. D. He made a journey to western Arabia, Yemen, and Axum (a kingdom that flourished in the land that became known as Ethiopia). Nonnosuswrote a book describing his own voyages and the Arab cultures he encountered. His book survived in the writings of Photius of Constantinople.

[6] Arabia Petraea, or Provincia Arabia , was a Roman province. It was called so in the beginning of the second century; when Trajan annexed the Nabataean lands, which consisted of Trans-Jordan, southern Syria, the Sinai and Aqaba Gulf area.

[7] Regarding the expedition of Gallus; He returned to Negrana in nine days after he failed to occupy Marsiaba in Saba. Negrana is Najran, about 650 kilometers south of Mecca. On the 11th day he reached a village called Hepta phreata, then he went to another village named Chaalla, then on to another village named Malotha which, most probiblay, was Malothan located close to the actual city of Jadda, which is about 30 miles from Mecca. But between Malotha or Malothan and Egra (north of where Mecca was later built) there were no villages mentioned by Strabo who accompagned the expedition. Gallus badly needed urgent supplies of water and food, but he could not find villages which could give him rest, and re-supply his troops in the area where Mecca was eventually built. See The Geography of Strabo, Book XVI. 4 . 24

[8] Scholars agree that Pliny wrote his Natural History after the compilation of The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, because Pliny seems to include many elements in the description of The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea of Arabia Felix. It is known that Pliny accomplished his work Natural History between 72-76 A.D.

 

[i] Strabo, Geography, xv.1:4

[ii] Arrian, Anabasis, book vii, chapter 19: 4 and 5

[iii] Arrian, Anabasis, book vii, chapter 19: 6

[iv] Arrian, Anabasis, book vii, chapter 20: 2

[v] Arrian, Anabasis, book vii, chapter 20:6 and 7

[vii] Strabo, book 16, 3:1

[viii] Arrian, Anabasis, book vii, chapter 20: 7, 8

[ix] Arrian, Anabasis, book vii, chapter 20: 10

[x] Himanshu Prabha Ray, The archaeology of seafaring in ancient South Asia, Press of the University of Cambridge, 2003, page 170

[xi] Stanley M. Burstein, Agatharchides of Cnidus, On The Erythraean Sea, The Hakluyt Society, London, 1989, page 3

[xii] Burstein, Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, The Hakluyt Society London, 1989, page 160

[xiii] Stanley M. Burstein, Agatharchides of Cnidus, On The Erythraean Sea, The Hakluyt Society, London, 1989, page 31

[xiv] There are fragments of the book of Pythagoras, kept by Aelian, NA 17.8-9 and Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 4 .183-4; citation of Burstein

[xv] Strabo wrote: “Eratosthenes takes all these as matters actually established by the testimony of the men who had been in the regions, for he has read many historical treatises – with which he was supplied if he had a library as large as Hipparchus says it was – he means the Library of Alexandria” Strabo, Geography, book 2. 1:5

[xvi] Stanley Burstein, Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, The Hakluyt Society London, 1989, page 30

[xvii] Stanley Burstein, Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, The Hakluyt Society London, 1989 , page 3

[xviii] The Geography of Strabo, Book XVI .4:4

The Geography of Strabo, Volume VII, Harvard University Press, 1966, page 313

[xix] See C. Muller, Geographi Graeci Minores, Paris, 1855-1861, I,LIV-L,VIII; quoted by Burstein,page 13

[xx] Fraser, P.M., Ptolemaic Alexandria, Oxford, 1972, I, 549; cf. Peremans, W., Diodore de Sicile et Agatharchide de Cnide’, Historia xvi, 1967, pp. 443-4; cited by Burstein, page 30

[xxi] From Book 5 of Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, excerption from Photius, Bibliotheca, cited by Burstein, page 147-fragment 87

[xxii] From book 5 of Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, excerption from Diodorus, Library of History, cited by Burstein, page 79-fragment 40b

[xxiii] Peremans, W., Diodore de Sicile et Agatharchide de Cnide’, pp. 447-55, cited by Burstein, page 32

[xxiv] Burstein, Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, The Hakluyt Society London, 1989, page 160

[xxv] There are fragments of the book of Pythagoras, kept by Aelian, NA 17.8-9 and Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 4 .183-4; citation of Burstein

[xxvi] Burstein, Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, The Hakluyt Society London, 1989 , page 36

[xxvii] From book 5 of Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, excerption from Photius, Bibliotheca, cited by Burstein, page 169-fragment 105a

[xxviii] See Burstein’s study, footnotes, page 33

[xxix] From book 5 of Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, excerption from Photius, Bibliotheca, cited by Burstein, page 148-fragment 87a

[xxx] From book 5 of Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, excerption from Diodorus, Library of History, cited by Burstein, page 153-fragment 92b

[xxxi] Musil, page 303

[xxxii] Wilfred Schoff, The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, Munshiram Manoharial Publishers Pvt Ltd., 1995, page 54

[xxxiii] From book 5 of Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, excerption from Photius, Bibliotheca, cited by Burstein, page 150-155-fragment 90 a- 95a ; from book 5 of Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, excerption from Diodorus, Library of History, cited by Burstein, page 150-155 –fragment 91b-93b

[xxxiv] From book 5 of Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea,, excerption from Photius, Bibliotheca, cited by Burstein, page 155-fragment 95a

[xxxv] cf.Woelk, p. 223; cited by Burstein, page 155

[xxxvi] Nonnosus cited by Photius, Bibliotheca, 1,5

[xxxvii] Forster, The Historical Geography of Arabia, I, page 20

[xxxviii] Cited by Jan Retso, The Arabs in Antiquity: Their History from the Assyrians to the Umayyads, . Routledge 2003, pages 505and 506

[xxxix]Irfan Shahid, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, volume 2, Part 1, Dumbarton Oaks, 1995, page 126

[xl] Procopius, History of the Wars, book I, xix. 7-16

[xli] Procopius, History of the Wars, book I, xix. 7-16

[xlii]W.Wright, Catalogue of Syriac Manuscripts in the British Museum ( London, 1871), part II, page 468; cited by Irfan Shahid, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, volume 2, Part 1, Dumbarton Oaks, 2002, page 29

[xliii]cited by Irfan Shahid, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, volume 2, Part 1, Dumbarton Oaks, 2002, pages 29 and 46

[xliv]Irfan Shahid, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, volume 2, Part 1, Dumbarton Oaks, 1995, page 125

[xlv] Irfan Shahid, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, volume 2, Part 1, Dumbarton Oaks, 1995, page 127

[xlvi] Al Waqidi, Al Maghazi, part ii, page 355

[xlvii] Al Waqidi, Al Maghazi, part ii, page 369

[xlviii] Procopius, History of the Wars, book II, xvi. 18-19

[xlix] Nonnosus cited by Photius, Bibliotheca, 1,5

[l] Crone, page 197

[li] Al Suheili, Al Ruth al Unf, I, page 423

[lii] Noted by Wellhausen, Reste, p.92, cited by Crone, page 197

[liii] Ibn Abbas in Tabari, Jami’, xxx,171, cited by Crone, page 205

[liv] Nonnosus cited by Photius, Bibliotheque, 1,5

[lv]W. M. Watt, Mohammed at Mecca, page 3

[lvi] Rasael al Jaheth, page 70; Al Thaalibi, Thimar al Qulub, page 115

[lvii] Al Zubeidi, Taj al Aruss, I, page 258

[lviii] Jawad Ali, al Mufassal Fi Tarikh al Arab Qabl al Islam, part 7, page 294

[lix] Al Asfahani, Al Aghani, 8, 50

[lx] Al Azruqi, Akhbar Mecca, pages 66, 67 and 69

[lxi] Sidney Smith, Babylonian Historical Texts, London 1924, Chapter III, page 27-97; Dougherty, Nab. And Bel., pages 105-11; cited by F.V.Winnett and W.L.Reed, Ancient Records from North Arabia, University of Toronto Press, 1970, page 89

[lxii] C.J.Gadd, The Harran Inscriptions of Nabonidus, ( Anatolian Studies, 8 (1958), page 59 ; cited by F.V.Winnett and W.L.Reed, Ancient Records from North Arabia, University of Toronto Press, 1970, page91

[lxiii] From book 5 of Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, excerption from Photius, Bibliotheca, cited by Burstein, page 152-fragment 92a

[lxiv] cf Woelk, p.223; quoted by Stanley Burstein, Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, The Hakluyt Society London, 1989, page 155

[lxv] H.Von Wissmann, Zaabram’, Pauly’s Realencyclopadie der Klassischen Altertumswissenschaft ( Stuttgart, 1894-1980) supp., XI (1968) col.1310 ; cited by Stanley Burstein, Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, The Hakluyt Society London, 1989 , page 155

[lxvi] Western Arabia and the Red Sea, 1946, Naval Intelligence Division, page 585.

[lxvii] See Stanley Burstein on his introduction to “Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea,” The Hakluyt Society, London, 1989, page 13

[lxviii] Leopoldi, Helmuthus, De Agatharchide Cnidio (Diss.Rostow, 1892) pp.13-17 ; cited by Burstein, page 39.

Strabo made abridgement of Agatharchides’s book, adding material from the lost book of Artemidorus. The work which Artemidorus developed, especially about Arabia, is contained in Strabo’s chapters, especially 16.4.5-20. See

Bunbury, E.H. A History of Ancient Geography, 2nd ed. (London 1883), pages 61-69; Burstein, page 38

[lxix] The Geography of Strabo, Book XVI .4.18

The Geography of Strabo, Volume VII, Harvard University Press, (London, 1966), page 343

[lxx] The Geography of Strabo, Book XVI .4.18

The Geography of Strabo, Volume VII, Harvard University Press, ( London, 1966), page345

[lxxi] Wilfred Schoff on his comment on The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, Munshiram Manoharial Publishers Pvt Ltd. ( New Delhi, 1995), page 101

[lxxii] The Geography of Strabo, Book XVI. 4 . 24

[lxxiii] Dio Cassius: History of Rome, Book LIII. xxix.3-8.

[lxxiv] The Geography of Strabo, Book XVI .4.20

The Geography of Strabo, Volume VII, Harvard University Press (London, 1966), page 349

[lxxv] The Geography of Strabo, Book XVI .4.2

[lxxvi] The Geography of Strabo, Book XVI .4.22

[lxxvii] The Geography of Strabo, Book XVI .4.22

[lxxviii] Wilfred Schoff on his introduction to The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, Munshiram Manoharial Publishers Pvt Ltd.(New Delhi, 1995), pages 14,15

[lxxix] Among the places where Josephus mentions Malchus are in “The Wars of the Jews,” Book 1, chapter 14 and “The Antiquities of the Jews,” Book 14, chapter 14.

[lxxx] The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, section 27

[lxxxi] The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, section 23

[lxxxii] Inscription No. 1619 by Glaser, cited by Wilfred Schoff, page 11

[lxxxiii] The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, section 4

[lxxxiv] H.Rackham, Introduction to Pliny, Natural History, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, William Heinemann Ltd. (London, 1979), page vii

[lxxxv]Tarikh al-Tabari, first volume, page 355

[lxxxvi] Josephi Fischer S.J., Commentatio de CL. Ptolemaci vita, operibus, influxu sacculari, pages 65-79 (in his introduction to Vatican publication of Ptolemy: Claudii Ptolemaci Geographiac Urbinas Codex graccus 82 phototypice depictus); the same mentioned by Josephi Fischer in his introduction to Claudius Ptolemy The Geography, translated by Edward Luther Stevenson, Dover Publications, INC, (New York, 1991, page 7

[lxxxvii]Josephi Fischer in his introduction to Claudius Ptolemy, The Geography , translated by Edward Luther Stevenson, Dover Publications , INC, (New York, 1991), page 5

[lxxxviii] Claudius Ptolemy, The Geography, Book II, Claudius Ptolemy, The Geography, translated by Edward Luther Stevenson, Dover Publications , New York, 1991, page 47

[lxxxix] Claudius Ptolemy, The Geography, book VI chapter VI, Claudius Ptolemy, The Geography, translated by Edward Luther Stevenson, Dover Publications , New York, 1991, page 137-138

[xc] Yaqut al-Hamawi, Mujam al-Buldan, iv, 587; quoted by Patricia Crone, Meccan Trade, Princeton University Press, 1987, page 136

[xci] ) The Geogrophy of Strabo, Book 16, chapter iv, 2 (The Geogrophy of Strabo, volume vii, translated by Horace L. Jones , 1966, page 311)

[xcii] Natural History of Pliny; Book VI, chapter 32

[xciii] Patricia Crone, Meccan Trade, Princeton University Press, 1987, pages 134,135

[xciv]Nallino Carlo Alfonso , Raccolta di Scritti editti E ineditti, Roma, Istituto per l’Oriente, 1939-48 , Vol.III, page 122 ; Caetani, Annali Dell’ Islam, I, (1907), page 125

 

….

 

Taken from: http://religionresearchinstitute.org/mecca/classical.htm

Islam’s false claim that Mecca is an ancient historical city

 

THE HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY OF ARABIA SHOW THAT MECCA DID NOT EXIST BEFORE THE ADVENT OF CHRISTIANITY.

By Dr. Rafat Amari

 

The richness of the archaeological findings and inscriptions of many regions of Arabia.

Islam claims that Mecca is an ancient historical city which existed long before Christ, dating as far back as the time of Abraham. A powerful argument against this claim is the absence of any inscriptions found on monuments, or in any archaeological records dating back to those times. The ancient cities and kingdoms of Arabia do have rich histories which survive to this day through monuments, the inscriptions they bear, and in other archaeological documents. These historical records have given archaeologists a highly-integrated and, in some cases, complete record of the names of kings who ruled these cities and kingdoms. These records have also given archaeologists important information about the history of the wars fought over the kingdoms and cities of Arabia. In most cases, inscriptions and monuments in various cities – especially in the western and southwestern portions of Arabia – even give the names of coregents who ruled with the kings. Yet, even with this rich collection of historical and archaeological information, there are no inscriptions or monuments, or other archaeological findings whatsoever, that mention Mecca.

Regarding the richness of the archaeological findings in Arabia, Montgomery says that Assyrian inscriptions did not provide as much detailed information as the Arabian inscriptions did.[1]

If Mecca existed in ancient times, it should have more archaeological findings than did regions south and north of it, whose history is richly documented through archaeology.

This lack of mention of Mecca is especially interesting, given the fact that Mecca was built on the caravan routes between the kingdoms of Arabia, and that these kingdoms had written historical records several centuries before Christ. In fact, Mecca is built on what was the famous commercial route between southern Arabia and the northern Arabian cities of Qedar and Dedan. In addition, Mecca was built alongside the Red Sea trading route.

It is claimed by archaeologists that the Sabaeans of southwestern Arabia had utilized the skill of writing since the 10th century B.C.[2] Inscriptions on rock formations in southwestern Yemen are among the richest archaeological finds among Middle Eastern civilizations. Many thousands of these ancient inscriptions are available to historians today. Most of these inscriptions have survived without serious degradation, due to the small amounts of rain in that area of the world.

In northern regions of Arabia, some hundreds of miles north of where Mecca was later built, many cities had rich inscriptions carved in stone, and the inscriptions give us the names of various dynasties which ruled those cities. Dedan and Teima are examples of cities situated on famous trade routes. Located north of what became the site of Mecca, their stone, rock and monumental inscriptions are enough to reflect their history since the 8th or 7th century B.C.

What about Mecca? Mecca was built on a location between the documented civilizations (the Sabaeans, Dedan and Qedar), yet these civilizations do not have any known inscriptions whatsoever which mention Mecca. Mecca, if it had existed at the time of those civilizations, would have contained more intact inscriptions than the civilizations which lived in the regions south of it – for example, in Yemen. The region around Mecca is known for its very low amounts of rain, even compared with the other regions of Arabia. The lands of Yemen have ten times more rainfall than the area around Mecca. Also, the cities of northern Arabia have much more rain than the region of Mecca. So, if Mecca existed several centuries before Christ, then its inscriptions in stone and rock would have been more intact than the thousands of inscriptions remaining from the cities to the north and south of it .

Over the years, historians and archaeologists have identified a series of rulers and kings for every Arabian kingdom before the 7th century B.C., and continuing through subsequent centuries. Based on thousands of inscriptions and other archaeological findings, historians have drawn tables listing the rulers, and the kingdoms which they controlled. We find such tables in the works of K. A. Kitchen, Von Wissmann and others.

Today, we can trace the history of each kingdom or city which existed in the first millennium before Christ, and in the years that followed. Although there are a few unattested names, for many locations we also can easily connect the names of the rulers with their cities, using virtually certain information.

NORTHWEST ARABIA IS ATTESTED TO IN ARCHAEOLOGY

The Cities of Qedar, Dedan and Teima

Let’s look first at northwest Arabia and the cities of Qedar, Dedan and Teima. The series of rulers over some of the northern cities of Arabia, such as Qedar, is almost completely documented as far back as the 9th century B.C. Major contributing factors to this are the many annals of the kings of Assyria and Babylonia who had relationships with the Arabian cities. The Assyrian and Babyl-onian kings traded with the cities of Arabia, and sometimes subdued them or had wars with them. Some of the Mesopotamian kings who occupied the cities of Qedar and Dedan had royal chronicles which provide detailed information. For example, we have the Nabonidus Chronicle, a history of the Babylonian king who occupied northern Arabia and made the city of Teima his residence for about ten years, from 550-540 B.C.

Some historical records were carved into bowls. We have one silver bowl dedicated to the shrine, Han Ilat, on which we see the name of King Qaynu of Qedar, who reigned between 430-410 B.C.[3] Other records are provided by graffiti, with writings on the walls, such as the Graffito of Niran at Dedan, at al-Ula, where we find mention of Gashmu I, son of Shahr I, King of Qedar.[4] This confirms the Biblical narration found in Nehemiah 6:6 about this king who opposed Nehemiah in the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem, after the Babylonian exile. In fact, the Hebrew Biblical name for this king is Gashem, a variation of the name Gashmu, who reigned from the Arabian city of Qedar from 450-430 B.C.,[5] at the same time that Nehemiah returned from the Babylonian exile to rebuild the walls of the city of Jerusalem. We know that Nehemiah took a small contingent of Jews and returned to Palestine around the year 445 B.C. This is one of hundreds of historical proofs of the accuracy of the Bible.

When we put the records together, we have a series of fourteen kings and queens who ruled in northern Arabia. Although historians are uncertain about the period between 644-580 B.C., there are no other gaps in the listing of rulers between 870-410 B.C.

The accuracy of inscriptions found at the archaeological site of El-Ula, in the area of the ancient city of Dedan, was written in Minaean language. It shows that the city was in subjection to the kings of Main. Many of these kings who were mentioned in the inscriptions were identical to the Minaean inscriptions of Yemen.[6]

In the old ruins of Teima, there are many inscriptions, showing the names of their gods, and their wars with other cities and tribes in the region, including their wars with the city of Dedan. The moon in Teima was represented by a crescent.[7] In the inscriptions of Teima, there is mention of a god called Lame’h. Lame’h is described as a brilliant shining star. One of their deities is given the title of Rahim, whom I believe is the star deity, Lame’h.[8] The same title is given to Allah in the Qur’an, which shows that Islamic worship has its roots in ancient pagan Arabian worship.

The North Arabian Tribes of Thamud, Lihyan and the Nabataeans are Richly Attested to in Archaeology

Next, I want to look at the Thamud tribe of north Arabia, which appeared for the first time in the 8th century B.C. and continued until the 5th century A.D. There are hundreds of Thamudic stone or rock inscriptions found in many places in north Arabia which tell about the life of the tribe, their deities and their wars.

Second, we have the Lihyan kingdom of northern Arabia. We have an abundance of records about this kingdom. With the exception of the founder of the Lihyanite line, we have complete documentation of the rulers and the periods in which they ruled; the inscriptions also chronicle other important information about historical events concerning their reigns and their gods. Some of these records are in royal monuments, statues, dedications, tomb inscriptions, tomb-building texts, stone texts, and graffiti.

The founder of the Lihyan kingdom reigned approximately from 330-320 B.C. Information concerning the kings which followed him is well-documented. King Shahru II reigned between 320-305 B.C. The line ended with the tenth king, Mas’udu, who reigned from 120-100 B.C. There are no historical gaps in the inscriptions in this series.[9]

The third kingdom we want to look at is the Nabataean Kingdom, which penetrated into many regions of Hijaz. It has special importance in the history of northern Arabia because it controlled the road used in the spice trade which connected the south of Arabia with Syria and other Mediterranean countries. This is the same route which passed through the region where Mecca was built in the 4th century A.D. Records of the Nabataean Kingdom are very complete, both externally and internally. In the external records, historians wrote about the Nabataeans. Some Jewish literature tells about them, and other works have been found in various archaeological sites outside Nabataean territories. Internally, an important means of identifying the rulers of the Nabataean Kingdom are from their many coins. Also, dedications of buildings, statues dedicated to kings, private and royal monuments, and tomb inscriptions all provide historical text. The inscriptions on tombs are abundant and are found in different sites, such as Petra, Madain Salih, and other places. Based on these records, historians came to understand with great detail about the series of rulers of the Nabataean Kingdom who ruled after 175 B.C. Rulers before this date are still unknown, though there are many records about the kingdom since the first stage of its dominion. With the exception of the second ruler in the series from 175 B.C., other rulers of the series are well-documented, starting from Aretas I, who ruled from175-150 B.C. until the twelfth (and last) ruler, Rabbel II, who reigned from 70-106 A.D.[10]

After examining all the records concerning the kingdoms and cities located north of Mecca, we conclude that the reigns of most of the rulers are well-documented. We know about the wars in which they were engaged, and the names of their gods. Mecca is conspicuous by its absence. Even though Muslims claim Mecca dates back to the time of Abraham, not one record indicates its existence at any time before Christ.

It is impossible to introduce a city like Mecca and claim that it has the longest life in the history of Arabian cities, unless you have some record. In this case, the region was well-documented, even for cities which lasted only a few centuries. But, there was no record of any city called Mecca.

Did you notice that none of the kingdoms which were north of Mecca had been in existence before the 10th century B.C.? Some of them, like the Lihyanite kingdom, first appeared in the 4th century B.C. and disappeared near the end of the 2nd century B.C. Some cities had limited roles in Arabian history. Many came into existence after the 10th century B.C. and disappeared around the beginning of the 4th century B.C. All of them had an abundance of records for most of their existence, but none of these records mentions Mecca.

Muslim tradition would give an early and long life to Mecca, from before the time of Abraham, who lived around 2080 B.C. If this claim were true, then there should be many more archaeological records surviving for Mecca than for any of the northern cities and kingdoms which we have examined. In reality, there is not one known record mentioning the existence of Mecca, even for a small time, before the time of Christ. We find this lack of historical records about Mecca, in spite of its proximity to regions where, because of lack of rain, archaeological records would not be eroded by water. We find this, in spite of Mecca supposedly existing in a region and time where the historical existence of cities and kingdoms is documented in more clarity than in any other place in the ancient world. There are very few regions in Europe which have clear documentation of their rulers as far back as the 1st millennium B.C. One reason for this could be the weather conditions. Heavy European rains tend to wash away valuable ancient inscriptions. This is in stark contrast to the regions of dryer Arabia surrounding the location of Mecca, where the lines of succession are well-documented. So, with these criteria, it is impossible to claim that a city like Mecca would have existed in Arabia throughout its ancient history, without any mention of it in any of the known historical records of the region. The real history in Arabia is abundantly expressed by its records. It is impossible to introduce a city like Mecca into a history so well-documented.

According to the Muslim claim, Mecca had the longest existence of any major city in Arabia; it is claimed to have existed as a major city since the 21st century B.C., and well into the Christian era. It means Mecca existed, without historical mention, in an area where even cities with a short existence are documented in the many historical records of the region. Every city in the region has abundant historical records, while Mecca is silent. To claim Mecca’s existence since the time of Abraham, without support of the historical record, is not logical. The dating of the city of Mecca may sound like a simple thing, but it should challenge Muslims today to ask if they are following other teachings which are inaccurate, misleading and untruthful. It should also challenge Muslims to read the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, and to ask themselves if what the Bible says about Jesus is true.

KINGDOMS AND CITIES SOUTH OF MECCA MAINTAINED PLENTY OF HISTORICAL RECORDS

We refer the reader to the book of Dr. Amari, Islam in light of History, for more arguments on the true history of Mecca.

Previously, we have examined the kingdoms and cities north of where Mecca was later built. We saw how some of these kingdoms as far as 500-600 miles away maintained plenty of historical records. What about the kingdoms and cities south of Mecca’s eventual location? The southwestern portion of Arabia has even clearer records than kingdoms to the north. In some cases, thousands of records, many of them stone inscriptions, have been discovered. This makes southwestern Arabia one of the most abundant archaeological regions in the world. In addition to stone inscriptions, writings have also been found on royal and private monuments, building texts, decrees, dedications, temples, and more. Based on such records, historians and archaeologists have followed the succession of rulers for each kingdom and each city. In most cases, these genealogies of the various rulers can be mapped without any gaps in the chronology.

The Rulers of the Kingdom of Main

A line of rulers for the kingdom of Main, in southern Arabia, starts with King Abkarib I, who reigned from 430-415 B.C. He began an unbroken line of 26 rulers, which ended with Ilyara’ Yashur II. He reigned from 65-55 B.C. Their records include the names of many of the kings’ brothers and sons who reigned alongside them. Consequently, we know for certain the names of rulers of the kingdom of Main for the time between 430 and 55 B.C.[11]

Small kingdoms south of where Mecca was eventually built are documented with great accuracy in the ancient history of Arabia, yet Mecca has no records to support the Islamic claim about its ancient existence.

Many small kingdoms near the kingdom of Main also have documented royal lines with very few gaps. Some of these small kingdoms are located close to where Mecca was later built. These small kingdoms existed in the centuries before Christ as modest, but not prominent, kingdoms. Yet, there are historical and archaeological records which clearly testify about their existence and their lines of kings.

These records present an obvious challenge to the claims that Mecca existed in the centuries before Christ – because there are no such similar records for Mecca. This challenge to the existence of Mecca is further supported by the fact which I emphasized previously: the lack of rain in Arabia allows archaeological records to remain intact for long periods of time. Therefore, no city or kingdom in southern Arabia is left without a wealth of inscriptions describing it. This is true, whether the kingdom had a short or long existence, and whether it was modest or important in the region. The inscriptions bring to light the nature of the cultures, the lines of rulers, and the main wars and events in which the kingdoms were involved.

Let us look at some of the small kingdoms. First, there was the kingdom of Haram, which had a line of rulers starting with King Yaharil in 600 B.C.,[12] and ending with King Maadikarib Raydan, who ruled from 190-175 B.C.[13] Next was the kingdom of Inabba. Its most prominent ruler was King Waqahil Yafush, who reigned from 550-530 B.C.[14] The kingdom of Kaminahu started with King Ammiyitha, who reigned from 585-570 B.C.[15] The line continued through eight more documented rulers to King Ilisami II Nabat, who reigned between 495–475 B.C.[16] Records show that this kingdom flourished under the rule of Wahbu, son of Mas’ud, around 160-140 B.C. Then there was the kingdom of Nashan, whose first documented ruler was King Ab’amar Saqid. He reigned around 760 B.C.[17] Another line of three kings is documented to have ruled between 520-480 B.C. The last of these three kings was Yadi’ab Amir, who reigned between 500-480 B.C.[18]

Thus, we see that there is substantial documentation of the chronology of these kingdoms, even though they were small and had little influence when compared to other kingdoms in the region. This shows that even small kingdoms near where Mecca was eventually built are documented with accuracy in the ancient history of Arabia. Islamic tradition claims that Mecca was a prestigious and pre-eminent religious city throughout the history of Arabia. The tradition also claims that this pre-eminence of Mecca extended back to even before the time of Abraham. Yet there are no historical records regarding Mecca, similar to the examples above, which can support these claims of the Islamic tradition. These claims about Mecca have absolutely no support in the historical and archaeological record.

We Have an Amazing Amount of Records for the Kingdom of Qataban

But our study doesn’t stop there. In the kingdom of Qataban, we find more proof that Mecca did not exist before Christ. This kingdom was located in southwestern Arabia. We have amazing amounts of knowledge about the sequence of events and the name of the rulers of this kingdom. There is line of 31 rulers whose reign started in 330 B.C. and continued through the last ruler, Marthadum, who reigned at the very end of the Qataban kingdom (150-160 A.D.). Historians have documented all but two of these 31 rulers: they are numbers 2 and 27. This reflects the completeness of the inscriptions and records of the kingdom of Qataban.[19]

SABA AND HIMYAR

Saba and Himyar present a series of 102 kings which started in the 9th century B.C. and ended in the 6th century A.D. This is a proof that Mecca did not exist in ancient times. If it had existed, it should have had archaeological documentation for each generation of its history.

Even more impressive than the kingdom of the north which we have studied, is the kingdom of Saba and its successor in the region, the kingdom of Himyar. Many archaeological records document a series of rulers, beginning with Karibil A., who ruled around 860 B.C. The series continues with 31 Makrab. The Makrab were kings who not only ruled Saba, but other nearby regions. The last Makrab king was Yitha’a Amar Bayyin II, who reigned between 360-350 B.C. Saba then lost control of its surrounding states, and its rulers could no longer enjoy the title of Makrab, but were kings, instead.

After the Makrab, the line of kings continued with number 32, Yadi’ubil Bayyin, who reigned between 350-335 B.C. And the line goes on to number 55, a king of Saba named Yada’il Dharih IV. He reigned between 0–15 A.D. The kings of Saba and Dhu-Radydan followed this series of rulers.

But the documentation doesn’t end here. We have continuing records of the kings of Himyar and Saba. King Dhamar’alay Warar Yahan’ifm was the 56th ruler in the series. He was followed by a line of kings which ended with ruler number 79, the last king of Saba. His name is Nasha’karib Yuhamin II Yuharhib, and he reigned between 260-275.

Then the line of rulers shifts to the first king of the empire of Himyar, Yasir Yuhan’im I, who reigned between 275-285 A.D. The kings of Himyar reigned over the kingdoms of Saba, Himyar and other states in the region. This series finally ends with Maadikarib III, who reigned between 575-577 A.D. Maadikarib was ruler number 102 in a long series of kings which covers a period of 1,437 years, starting in the 9th century B.C., just a few decades before the Queen of Saba had visited Solomon, and ending in the 6th century A.D.[20]

A study of these kings has something significant to tell us. The abundance of records over such a long period of time shows us that southern and western Arabia are some of the most well-documented regions in the ancient world. We could not document such a series of rulers for any European country in the 1st millennium B.C. with the same degree of accuracy. Here we have a series of kings in Yemen dating back to the 9th century B.C., with very few gaps in the lines of documented rulers, especially when we look at the long series of rulers in Saba and Himyar. Therefore, the claim that a central religious city, like Mecca, could have been present, without any records to substantiate it, is implausible and unacceptable.

The Kingdom of Kinda, East of Mecca, and its Archaeological Records

We’ve looked at the north and south, now let’s come to the regions east of Mecca. We have the kingdom of Kinda, which dominated central and northern Arabia. The capital was Dhu-Kahilum, known today as Qaryat al-Fau, near the old city of Yamama, about 500 miles from Mecca. The ancient site of Dhu-Kahilum is abundant in archaeological findings from which we can discern important information about the kings of Kinda and their wars. The first king was Rabi’a, who ruled from 205 to 230 A.D. He is mentioned in the Sabaean inscriptions as “King of Kinda and Kahtan.”[21] We know about the history of Kinda, particularly through inscriptions. For example, in the year 290 A.D., Kinda lost its domain to the kingdom of Saba. In fact, we read in Sabaean Inscriptions from Mahram Bilqis–Ma’rib, the following statement about a Sabaean king: “Saadta Iab Yatlaf, descendant of Gadanum, leader of the Arabs of the King of Saba and of Kindat …”[22]

It is illogical to claim that an ancient Mecca existed for 2,400 years without any record in a region where every kingdom which existed in history has been attested to.

We see that the closest cities to Mecca, whether in the north, south or east, are very well-documented through archaeological findings which allow us to discover the history of the region and a majority of the names of the rulers. With such complete records from kingdoms located less than 500 miles from the location of Mecca, we see that no city could have possibly existed in that area without leaving at least some records behind to tell us its history. To claim that Mecca existed in the region for at least 2,400 years, from the time of Abraham until the 4th century A.D., without any record, would be inconsistent with everything that has been recorded by archaeologists. Not only do Greek and Roman geographers and historians fail to mention Mecca, but the archaeologists of ancient Arabia exclude its existence prior to the 4th century A.D. How, then, can we insert Abraham and monotheism into Mecca if it did not exist, not just in one period, but also in all periods of Arabia? Yet, Muslims around the world believe that Abraham and his son, Ishmael, founded a temple in Mecca. No one can rewrite history, trying to convince humanity of things which he claims happened over a land or region, whose history already has been written by historians and attested to by archaeologists.

THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF EASTERN ARABIA NEGATES THE IDEA OF AN ANCIENT MECCA

The history of ancient cities in eastern and western Arabia which existed for many millennia before Christ, and even date back to the time of Abraham, have abundant archaeological findings which unveil their history. Yet, they also prove that Mecca, without any such record, could not have existed during Abraham’s lifetime.

Eastern Arabia has a well-documented history, and it is intimately tied to ancient Mesopotamia, which is present-day Iraq. The history of eastern Arabia, which includes the Persian Gulf coastal region, is totally independent of western Arabia, mainly because eastern and western Arabia are separated by two huge desert regions: Ar’ Rub’ al-khali in the south and An Nafud in the north. We find no communication in ancient history between eastern and western Arabia. We have many archaeological findings in the Persian Gulf region which help us understand the history of eastern Arabia and its relationship to Mesopotamian dynasties, which existed several millennia before Christ. We have also learned about eastern Arabia’s golden periods of self-dominion. For help in dating the archaeological findings of eastern Arabia, we have the chronology of the events in Mesopotamia.

Dilmun

One of the most important ancient kingdoms of eastern Arabia was Dilmun, which ruled over the land in what is present-day Bahrain. In many epochs, Dilmun’s control extended over most of the Persian Gulf region. Dilmun has flourished since 3000 B.C., due to its trade with the Indus valley (India and Pakistan) and Mesopotamia.

Archaeological findings, such as pottery and other wares, tell us that ancient eastern Arabian civilizations are as old as ancient Mesopotamian civilizations. Contacts between Dilmun and Mesopotamia are documented from the 4th millennium through the 3rd millennium B.C. Sumerian and Akkad inscriptions also mention Dilmun throughout early history.[23] The Dilmun Kingdom, especially in what is now Bahrain, has many archaeological sites abundant in findings which allow us, with help from the Mesopotamian inscriptions, to discover valuable information about the history of Dilmun. Scholars can attest to a line of Dilmun kings which began in 1800 B.C. Although the first king is unnamed, there are three kings documented in the line, with their names, between 1470-1320 B.C. Then the series appears again in 720 B.C. with King Uperi and continues with attested kings until the occupation of Dilmun by the Babylonian Nabonidus. Nabonidus appointed a governor over Dilmun between 550-540 B. C.

The occupation of the land of Dilmun by the Assyrians, Babylonians, Greek and Persians is attested to by the local archaeological findings, and by outside inscriptions.

Magan

Another important kingdom in eastern Arabia is Magan, the present location of Oman. From the Sumerian city of Ur we have inscriptions concerning Magan, dated somewhere between 2800-2500 B.C. We have additional Magan inscriptions from the Akkadic period which began with Sargon, the person who first conquered Sumerian states in Iraq. He established the Akkad Empire around 2340 B.C. Inscriptions of King Sargon mentioned that Sargon “caused ships from Meluhha (Pakistan), ships from Magan and ships from Dilmun to moor at quay of Agade.”[24]

Magan extended from Oman, across the Straits of Hormuz, into part of Iran, and also extended north toward what is now the United Arab Emirates in the Persian Gulf. There are many archaeological sites in Oman and the United Arab Emirates which furnish much data about the kingdom of Magan. Internal archaeological data with external inscriptions have provided scholars with valuable information. For example, there were three kings in Magan. The first was King Manitan, who ruled around 2240 B.C., 150 years before Abraham. The second was an unnamed king who ruled around 2060 B.C., and the third was King Nadubeli, who ruled around 2043 B.C. I mention these three kings because they were contemporaries of the patriarchs, especially Abraham and his sons. This is a significant finding, proving that the ancient civilizations in Arabia, at the time of Abraham and prior to his time, are not just names, but actually existed. Their ruins have remained as testimony to their presence in eastern Arabia, just like the ruins of other civilizations in the region of Mesopotamia. The ruins of these civilizations are a testimony to their existence, not just since the time of Abraham, but for thousands of years before Abraham, as we saw in the case of the civilizations of Dilmun and Magan.

As we have seen, even the names of kings of these civilizations are documented as far back as the time of Abraham, and his sons and grandchildren. As for Mecca, which is claimed by Muslims to be present at the same time as these civilizations, there are no known archaeological or historical records to vindicate such a claim.

The archaeology of Mesopotamia and Eastern Arabia demonstrates that western Arabia was unknown to the inhabitants of Mesopotamia and Eastern Arabia. How could Abraham, the inhabitant of Ur in Iraq, go to a place unknown in his time?

In the case of Dilmun in eastern Arabia, we see clear archaeological records of kings and related events dating from as far back as the 3rd millennium B.C., until its Islamic occupation in the 7th century A.D. On the other hand, in central western Arabia, where Mecca was eventually built, there is no record of any civilization until several centuries after the time of Christ, as we have seen from our study of the classical geographers and writers. The fact is that nobody in the ancient world recorded the existence of any civilization at the time of Abraham in western Arabia. The huge deserts which separate eastern Arabia from western Arabia were not crossable by humans at the time of Abraham. This made western Arabia a complete mystery to the inhabitants of eastern Arabia and Mesopotamia at that time. This case is similar to the way Europeans thought about what lay beyond the Atlantic Ocean before the Columbus Expedition.

Not only was western Arabia unaware of eastern Arabia, but it was also unknown to the people of Mesopotamia at the time of Abraham. You may remember from the Bible that Mesopotamia is where Abraham lived before he was called by God to set out for the Promised Land.

We have many inscriptions in the history of Mesopotamia about the Persian Gulf region in the east, including the Sumerian and Akkadic periods and their control of Abraham’s home, the city of Ur in Iraq. But we don’t have any records coming from Mesopotamia about central western Arabia, where Mecca was eventually built. The first historical records to mention western Arabia were about Yemen, located in southwestern Arabia. Yemen records have been found in Egyptian inscriptions from around the 14th century B.C., which was seven centuries after Abraham. Archaeological inscriptions in Mesopotamia, including Ur, the city of Abraham, make no mention of Yemen until the 8th century B.C. Then Assyrian inscriptions mention the king of Saba-Yemen, presenting tribute to the Assyrian king, Sargon II. This demonstrates that even Yemen, the oldest civilization of southwestern Arabia, was unknown in Mesopotamia at the time of Abraham. No Mesopotamian records at any time in ancient history mention the central western region of Arabia along the coast of the Red Sea. Why is there a lack of information about central western Arabia, where Mecca was eventually built? Simply because this region was completely uninhabited until the 3rd century B.C., when the trade routes of Yemen along the Red Sea began to flourish. Western Arabia, during the time of Abraham, was an unexplored area, and no known expeditions were made into it.

In addition to the historical events which we have been examining, there is an interesting novel written during that period. The Epic of Gilgamesh was written in the city of Uruk, in Mesopotamia, around the year 2000 B.C., about 100 years after the time Abraham lived in Ur, one of the main cities in Mesopotamia. The setting for the Epic of Gilgamesh gives us some insight into life in Mesopotamia. Hommel, a scholar commenting on the ninth canto of the Epic of Gilgamesh, says:

We are told how Gilgamesh set out for the land of Mashu in central Arabia, the gate of which was guarded by legendary scorpion-like men; hence, perhaps, the name “land of darkness” is applied to Arabia in early Hebrew annals.

For 12 miles the hero had to make his way through dense darkness. At length he came to an enclosed space by the seashore where dwelt the virgin goddess, Sabitu, who tells him that “no one since eternal days has ever crossed the sea, save Shamash, the hero. Difficult is the crossing, and extremely dangerous the way, and closed are the waters of death which bolt its entrance. How then, Gilgamesh, wilt thou cross the sea?”[25]

We understand from this epic, which came from the time of Abraham and the civilization of Mesopotamia, that men were not able to go into central Arabia because of “the gate of which was guarded by legendary scorpion-like men,” and nobody succeeded in crossing the waters that led to southwestern Arabia. So, western Arabia was an enigma to the inhabitants of Uruk and Ur (where Abraham lived), and no one had crossed to western Arabia before. If this were the case for Yemen, in southwestern Arabia, then it would be even more true in central western Arabia, the area where Mecca was built, which was not known in any Mesopotamian literature in any time.

If the area of Mashu, toward central Arabia, was an enigma for the Mesopotamians, and no one crossed this region, then west Arabia was non-existent for the inhabitants of Mesopotamia. How could a man like Abraham, who came from the city of Ur (which was one of the most civilized cities in the fertile land of Mesopotamia) leave Palestine to go into the deserts of Arabia to build a sanctuary in a place where no man in his time had ever gone to live? It’s like imagining that Napoleon went to the North Pole to build a church before anyone had yet reached the North Pole. Or, like imagining Napoleon reaching the top of Mount Everest to build a resting place there, when we know that the top of Mount Everest wasn’t even known to him. In the same way, claiming that a civilization in Yemen was in contact with kingdoms in Palestine at the time of Abraham is something we know could not have been true. The first kingdom in Yemen originated in the 14th century B.C., seven centuries after Abraham. Cities along the Yemeni trading route by the Red Sea, through central western Arabia, didn’t exist in the time of Abraham. These cities came into existence after Yemen began trading with Israel and Syria. In addition, we learned previously that Mecca was one of the later cities to be built by tribes from Yemen, several centuries after Christ.

The life of Abraham, as recorded by Moses, showed the desire of the patriarch to go to Egypt at the time of a famine which occurred in Palestine, and not in deserted and unknown places in his time, such as western Arabia.

Let us look at the history of Abraham, as revealed in the Bible. Abraham was a citizen of Ur of South Mesopotamia, who lived in one of the most fertile and civilized lands of the 21st century B.C. When a famine came to Canaan, Abraham did what any civilized man might do. He didn’t choose to travel to a land which was inferior to his homeland; instead he traveled to Egypt. Why? Because, at that time, Egypt was the only civilization which could compete with his homeland. Because of the Nile River, Egypt had an abundance of water and was known for its advanced civilization. After the famine ended, Abraham returned to Canaan, the beautiful land which God had promised to give to him and the descendants of Isaac as an inheritance. Abraham preferred the Egyptian civilization, even if it meant leaving Canaan. How, then, could he consider traveling to an unknown desert such as western Arabia, and the eventual location of Mecca?

The patriarchs who lived close to Abraham never mentioned a journey of Abraham to the unknown desert of western Arabia during his time. Neither any of the inspired prophets of the Bible, nor any literature of Abraham’s descendants, mentioned such a journey.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume Abraham would have chosen western Arabia. Why wouldn’t his descendants mention this historic journey? They recorded the rest of Abraham’s life in great detail, from the point when he began his journey to the Promised Land. Why would they omit something as important as this?

We know that Moses wrote about Abraham’s life in great detail. How could Moses have missed such a significant journey and fail to mention the Muslim claim that Abraham built a temple in Mecca? How could all the other prophets of Israel also be silent about such a significant event if it had actually occurred? Why don’t we find any clue to such a journey of Abraham anywhere in the ancient Hebrew writings? If Abraham had visited the desert, where Mecca was later built in the 4th century A.D., he would have been a pioneer. His descendants would have boasted of such an accomplishment through the prophets, historians and other writers. The temple at Mecca would have been a place of pilgrimage for the descendants of Isaac and Jacob because of the importance of Abraham as the father of their faith. Yet, we don’t see anyone in Israel, from the time of Moses through the prophets, traveling in search of a religious temple in Arabia or making a pilgrimage to Mecca.

To illustrate my point, let’s suppose the people of Alaska would claim that Shakespeare had lived among them and built a temple there. To prove such a claim, Alaskans would have to depend on historical evidence, not some claim made by a religious writer, or the testimony of someone who had lived many centuries after Shakespeare. The only authoritative source would be English history, since there are no documented writings of the Alaskan people at the time of Shakespeare which speak of a visit by Shakespeare to their land. As it is, English history has a complete account of the famous English poet, and it doesn’t mention a visit to Alaska. Therefore, we would conclude that historical resources confirm that Shakespeare never visited Alaska. The same is true in establishing if Abraham ever visited western Arabia. With the absence of documented writings in Arabia at the time of Abraham, mentioning a visit by Abraham, then it is logical that we look at all the writings of his descendants in Israel since the time of Moses. Nowhere is there any mention about this claim of Islam that Abraham visited Mecca and built a temple there. Therefore, we can see that Islamic claims about Mecca existing in the 21st century B.C., and Abraham building its temple, are fanciful and mistaken notions inserted into history. After examining the evidence, no intelligent and honest person would accept these Islamic claims.

Basing their religion on a false historical assertion, which is contradictory to true world history, is something Muslims should renounce. Muslims should be encouraged to stop trusting their eternal destiny to a religion which depends upon such enormous mistakes.

 

Absence of Mecca in Archaeological Records Found in the Other Ancient Cities and Kingdoms of Arabia

Although kingdoms and civilizations at the time of Abraham were few, and their inscriptions prove that they were well-known to each other, none of them mentions Mecca.

Previously, we discussed an important argument refuting the Islamic claim that Mecca has existed in Arabia since the time of Abraham. We saw that each civilization which appeared in Arabia left significant archaeological findings, proving its presence. Yet no such evidence can be found for Mecca before the 5th century A.D. We will now discuss another important archaeological argument against the idea of an ancient Mecca – namely, the absence of Mecca in archaeological records found in the other ancient cities and kingdoms of Arabia.

Abraham lived during the 21st century B.C. If Mecca had existed at the time of Abraham, it definitely would have been represented in the detailed inscriptions of the civilizations of eastern Arabia, such as inscriptions which come from the kingdoms of Dilmun and Magan, also called Oman. Furthermore, if Mecca were present in the 21st century B.C., it would have been the only kingdom to exist in western Arabia at that time. For thousands of years, Magan was known for its trade with Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley, which is modern-day India and Pakistan. Dilmun was known to have rich commerce with Asia, bringing its products to Mesopotamia as far back as 1,000 years before the time of Abraham. If Mecca had existed when Abraham lived, it would have been an important market for Magan and Dilmun trade, but no mention is made of Mecca in their inscriptions.

We also know that southwestern Arabian civilizations began to appear in Yemen in the 13th century B.C., causing us to conclude that no civilizations existed for Magan and Dilmun to trade with in western Arabia at the time of Abraham. Kingdoms and civilizations in the region at the time of Abraham were few, and were all known to each other. The kingdoms which appeared in Mesopotamia were known to each other and to the rest of Middle Eastern civilizations as far back as 3,000 B.C. Many inscriptions of the eastern Arabian kingdoms, such as Magan (Oman) and Dilmun, have been found which prove the claim that they were aware of these other Middle Eastern civilizations, such as those in Mesopotamia.

If Mecca had existed in the time of Abraham, it would have been impossible for civilizations in Eastern Arabia, some of which continued more than 3,000 years, not to have been aware of another old city which would have existed parallel to them in the western part of Arabia during all these thousands of years.

It is difficult to justify such a long span of time, from 3,000 B.C. to the 3rd century A.D., without any of these eastern Arabian kingdoms mentioning a city like Mecca in their inscriptions. To continue to claim that Mecca existed in ancient times, in spite of the evidence shown, is like claiming that the royal dynasties of northern Egypt had never heard of the royal dynasties of southern Egypt during thousands of years of history. In reality, the inscriptions found in northern Egypt are full of information about southern Egypt, and vice versa. This supports our claim that Mecca was not built until after the 3rd century A.D. It’s unreasonable to claim that two civilizations, existing in the same geographical region (e.g., India, Egypt, Mesopotamia, China) for several millennia, would never have heard of each other, and would never have made mention of each other in inscriptions or other archaeological records. How could Arabia be an exception? How could Mecca have existed in western Arabia and been totally unknown to eastern Arabia for at least 2,400 years?

THE ABSENCE OF MECCA IN THE INSCRIPTIONS OF OTHER ARABIAN REGIONS

Up till now, we have been looking at eastern Arabian civilizations. Now let’s turn our attention to the civilizations of northern, southern and central Arabia.

It is significant that we find inscriptions from the various Arabian kingdoms and cities mentioned in the inscriptions of other Arabian kingdoms and cities co-existing at the same time.

The Absence of Mecca in the Yemeni Inscriptions

As I mentioned previously, the Yemeni archaeological inscriptions are among the richest discoveries in the Middle East. In them we discover much information about their kings, wars and historical events. In addition, we learn a great deal about the surrounding civilizations in Arabia, and beyond.

From Yemeni inscriptions, we find a significant amount of information about the various kingdoms of southern Arabia. For example, Kinda was a kingdom in central Arabia located about 500 miles from where Mecca was later built. It is well-represented in the Yemeni inscriptions. Likewise, the northern Arabian cities of Qedar and Dedan, which are north of today’s Mecca, are also richly represented in the Yemeni inscriptions. They confirm the commercial relationships which existed between the Yemeni kingdoms, and the Arabian cities and kingdoms east and north of Mecca’s eventual location.

Even the city of Yathrib, also called Medina, is represented in the Yemeni inscriptions. As an example, the Sabaean inscriptions report the dedication of female slaves in a Sabaean temple. According to the inscriptions, the slaves were from Gaza, Yathrib, Dedan and Egypt.[26] So, if Yathrib (also called Medina), which did not exist before the 6th century B.C., is represented in the Yemeni inscriptions, how could Mecca have been in existence during the time of Abraham and never be found in any Yemeni inscription, even though Mecca is closer to Yemen than Yathrib is to Yemen?

We also find significant mention of the kingdoms of Axum and Habashat in the Yemeni inscriptions. These kingdoms existed in the region of Ethiopia to the west of Mecca, across the Red Sea.[27]We find more information in the Yemeni inscriptions about kingdoms situated to the north, east and west of the location where Mecca was eventually built. Yet, with all this rich detail, we still don’t find any Yemeni inscription mentioning Mecca. Once again, if Mecca were a major city in Arabia before the 4th century A.D., as Muslims claim, it would have been mentioned in the Yemeni inscriptions even more than any of the other Arabian and Ethiopian kingdoms to which I have referred.

Proximity is also important. If it existed at all, Mecca would have been closer to Yemen than any of the other kingdoms mentioned. For the Yemeni inscriptions to simply skip over Mecca is something that cannot be justified or explained logically. It would be like the Romans mentioning Spain and Britain in their chronicles, but failing to mention France, which is far closer to Rome than these two countries. It’s illogical to claim, without any archaeological evidence or support, that Mecca, which would have bordered on Yemeni territory, was a dominant city in the ancient history of Arabia before the 4th century A.D.

Mecca is Absent in the Inscriptions of the Northern Cities of Arabia

When we look at the inscriptions found in northern Arabian cities, such as Dedan, we see the same phenomena. Their inscriptions reveal aspects of their own history and mention civilizations of western and southern Arabia. For example, we find mention of some of the kings of the Main Yemeni kingdom of southern Arabia in the inscriptions of the northern Arabian city of Dedan.[28]

There is plenty of information about the western and southwestern Arabian kingdoms found in the northern cities’ inscriptions, yet we don’t find Mecca mentioned at all – even though it would be closer to the northern cities than the southern and western Arabian kingdoms which I mentioned. In light of this evidence, the Islamic tradition to claim that Mecca has been a major Arabian city since the 21st century B.C. is like Rome existing in Italy for centuries, but seeing no mention of it in any Italian inscriptions. In reality, Rome is the most-mentioned city in the ancient Italian inscriptions. The same logic holds true with the city of Athens in Greece, and Babel in Mesopotamia. So it would also be with Mecca, if the claims about Mecca from the Islamic tradition were true.

We have seen previously that some Muslims claim that Ptolemy’s mention of a city called Macoraba is actually a reference to Mecca. We have already proven, with Ptolemy’s longitudinal and latitudinal system, that Macoraba is not Mecca but, instead, a small settlement in Yemen, south of the old Yemeni city of Carna in the 2nd century A.D. To cling to such a claim as proof of Mecca’s existence as a major city since the time of Abraham is inadequate and illogical. So, to claim that Mecca has continually existed in Arabia since the time of Abraham, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, is inconsistent and illogical. It is a ridiculous claim. The truth is that clear archaeological and historical facts cannot be reinterpreted or ignored in order to support a claim which is inconsistent with archaeology and history.

Once again, we see the witness of history confirming our research which shows that Mecca was built long after Muslims claim it was.

 

The Absence of Mecca Through Studying the Records of the Nations who Occupied the Region

The absence of Mecca prior to the 4th century A.D. is a verifiable conclusion based upon the documented history and ruins of the many ancient civilizations which inhabited northern and central western Arabia, the region where Mecca was eventually built. Northern and central western Arabia was occupied by many nations throughout history, but nowhere in their chronicles do we find inscriptions and archaeological findings with any mention of Mecca.

The Kingdom of Ma’in’s Expansion

The Ma’in kingdom expanded to the north, colonizing regions and cities, but there is no mention of Mecca in their inscriptions, even though Mecca would have been the closest city to them.

Ma’in is among the kingdoms which colonized northern Arabia. It expanded from Yemen, in southwestern Arabia, to the north through their commercial colonies. These colonies facilitated their trade with Syria and Palestine. Ma’in’s colonies in northern Arabia were in existence from the Achaemenid era, which began around 559 B.C. In their northward colonization, the Minaeans occupied the northern Arabian city of Dedan. Dedan had a Minaean dynasty of kings or rulers and left a great collection of inscriptions. Minaean inscriptions are scattered in many places across northern Arabia. Minaean inscriptions were found at the site of al-Jawf, near the border with Iraq. [29] Minaean inscriptions are also scattered in the commercial colonies which the Minaeans established in Tran-Jordan. Minaean inscriptions were found in Jabal Ramm, about twenty miles from Aqaba.[30] There was a very well-known colony in the city of Maan, bearing their Minaean name, which is located in the south of Jordan. Clearly, the Minaeans occupied Hijaz (north and central western Arabia) for a long period of time. As we think about it, we ask ourselves how those Minaean people who occupied Hijaz could neglect the city of Mecca, for they would have encountered it on the trip between Yemen and northern Arabia. If Mecca had existed at the time the Minaeans colonized the cities of the north, then it would have been important for them to subdue and colonize Mecca in order to protect their trade route through central Arabia. Mecca would have been a convenient city in which caravans could rest while traveling through the desert, and would have been located on the most direct route between Yemen and the cities of northern Arabia. But Minaean caravans encountered no such settlement of any kind in the region where Mecca was eventually built. Instead, caravans traveled a longer route toward the interior of Arabia, reaching the city of Yathrib, and then the city of Dedan.

Lihyan Occupied the Area Without Mentioning Mecca

Lihyan was another tribe which controlled northwestern Arabia. Their kings ruled from the city of Dedan and controlled the trade routes of northwestern Arabia. Lihyan also controlled Hegra, which is also called “Madain Salih,” extending its control south toward the central western regions of Arabia. Yet, we don’t find any inscriptions or other mentions of Mecca among the abundant Lihyanite literature.

Mas’udu, who ruled over Dedan from around 120-100 B.C., was the last king of Lihyan, according to the inscriptions of Dedan.

The Nabataean Domain

The Nabataeans colonized along the land route toward the south including the desert of central western Arabia where Mecca was eventually built.

The Nabataeans expanded toward the south and occupied the territory held by the Lihyan kingdom. Their inscriptions in north Arabia continued to be written till the beginning of the 4th century A.D. [31]

The Nabataeans played an important part in the history of the region. From the Roman Expedition into Arabia in 24 and 23 B.C., we know that the village of Leuce Come, on the Red Sea, was under the control of the Nabataeans at the time of the expedition.[32] Strabo, the Greek geographer who accompanied the expedition, recorded that the control of the Nabataeans extended south to Leuce Come. In fact, he mentioned another region governed by Aretas who was related to Obodas, the king of the Nabataeans.[33] The Nabataean influence didn’t stop there. Strabo referred to “a village in the territory controlled by Obodas;” that village was Egra, close to the Red Sea,about 62 miles from Malathan.[34] Obodas was a Nabataean king, and Malathan, as we saw previously, was a port very close to where Mecca was later built. Strabo also reported on the size of the Nabataean caravans which came from Yemen, passing through Leuce Come on their way to Petra, the capital of the Nabataeans. Strabo wrote that these caravans traveled in such numbers that “men and camels differed in no respect from an army.”[35] Strabo’s comments reveal that the Nabataeans, who controlled northwestern Arabia and parts of central western Arabia at the time of the Roman Expedition, used to guard their caravans all the way to Yemen as they traveled the land route along the Red Sea.

Another ancient historian, Pliny, speaks about how the Nabataeans controlled the land route “through the Nabataean Troglodytae, a colony of the Nabataeans.”[36] This deserted segment of land in north and central Arabia lies opposite to the Troglodytic Land across the Red Sea on the African shore, confirming that the Nabataeans colonized along the land route toward the south. They controlled the central western Arabian desert, including the area where Mecca eventually was built.

Mecca was built on the heavily-traveled land route which was walked centuries before by the Nabataeans, yet the Nabataeans did not mention Mecca, even though they repeatedly mentioned the smaller cities under their control.

Considering the abundance of Nabataean inscriptions, and other archaeological findings, how could the Nabataeans have failed to mention a city like Mecca? Especially since it was claimed that Mecca was built along their heavily-traveled land routes in a territory which they controlled. Since the Nabataeans wrote in their inscriptions about even the smallest and most insignificant places under their control, how could they have missed Mecca? For a nation’s long historical records to neglect one city, when it repeatedly mentions the few villages and smaller cities under its control, is something implausible.

Kinda controlled central western Arabia. The study of their inscriptions excludes that Mecca existed during the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D.

Not only did the Nabataeans control Hijaz, but there were other nations in Arabia who, at one time or another controlled the region located in northwestern and central Arabia, where Mecca was eventually built. One of these kingdoms was Kinda, which formed a confederacy in central Arabia. Kinda, at times, dominated Hijaz, including the deserts where Mecca was later built. Through its inscriptions, the documented history of Kinda dates as far back as the 2nd century A.D. Their capital, Qaryat al-Fau, was located just 500 miles east of Mecca, near the city of Yamama. There is no mention of Mecca in their inscriptions, further supporting our conclusion that Mecca did not exist in the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D.

The inscriptions of the Himyarites, who occupied the area where Mecca was later built, confirm that Mecca did not exist during the 3rd century A.D.

Another kingdom to occupy Hijaz was the Himyar kingdom from Yemen, which started around 115 B.C. In 275 A.D., Himyar occupied Saba, and afterward it expanded northward toward the land of the Carnaites.[37] Himyar controlled the land route, then enforced its authority over most of Hijaz.

In spite of the abundance of Himyarite inscriptions, Mecca again is missing, suggesting that Mecca did not exist at the end of the 3rd century A.D. or at the beginning of the 4th century A.D.

It is illogical that all the nations who occupied central western Arabia would overlook Mecca, if it existed when these nations existed.

As we look at these facts, we come to the same conclusion which we reached as we examined the narrations of classical writers and others such as Ethiopians, Coptics and Christians. Mecca is missing in all the inscriptions and archaeological records of the Arabian nations who occupied Hijaz, or who controlled the land route where Mecca was eventually built. This means that Mecca did not exist prior to the 4th century A.D. It is an assertive fact. All nations which occupied central western Arabia were known for their numerous inscriptions. None of these nations failed to record a city in the area where they also mentioned smaller villages. So how can all of these nations have missed Mecca, which is closer to each of them than other small cities and villages which they recorded? It’s as though all the kingdoms in a land like Mesopotamia would fail to record the city of Babel. No one would accept this, because an ancient city of importance would have been evident, and impossible to exclude in the inscriptions of the kingdoms which occupied its territory. It would appear in their inscriptions, not only once from one nation, but hundreds of times in the inscriptions of each nation which occupied its territory, or even nations with which it came in contact.

Therefore, our Muslim friends should learn from the archaeology of the nations surrounding Arabia, even the archaeology of all countries of the world. How much proof is required to support the claim that a specific city existed 2,000 years before Christ? What are the archaeological conditions needed to make that claim acceptable? Especially in conditions like Arabia, where the area of Mecca was surrounded by kingdoms who occupied Hijaz in various eras, and whose archaeology and history are documented as well as, or better than, the surrounding countries of the Middle East.Mecca, if it existed, should surely have had a prominent place in history. But it did not. It should be the apparent reference and the essential base of its archaeology in all ages and history.

THE RECORDS OF THE GREAT NATIONS WHO OCCUPIED CENTRAL WESTERN ARABIA, AND THE ISLAMIC CASE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF MECCA

The Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians and Romans all had ancient empires which occupied northern and central western Arabia. None of them mentioned the existence of Mecca.

Many great empires throughout history annexed parts of Arabia and, in particular, northwestern and central western Arabia. Interest in this desolate area was primarily due to its strategic location on the trading routes between the Far East and the Mediterranean regions. Trade from the Far East crossed the Indian Ocean to ports in southern Arabia. The trading routes then proceeded across western Arabia toward Middle Eastern countries which lay along the Mediterranean. From these, trade reached the rest of the Mediterranean region. This made control of the area essential to ancient empires.

A secondary reason empires wanted to annex northwestern and central western Arabia was for their own protection. Tribal confederations from northern and anterior Arabia were known for frequent attacks on their neighbors. Annexations provided a buffer between the great empires and the hostile tribes of Arabia.

A third reason for interest in northwestern and central Arabia was the presence of gold and other important minerals. The region of central Arabia called Yamama, about 500 miles east of where Mecca was later built, was famous for its gold and copper mines. Arabia was also known for copper mines in Oman.

The Assyrian Control

Glaser, an expert scholar of Arabian history, maintains that the Assyrians extended their control over Yamama in the 8th and 7th centuries B.C. He identified locations which are referenced in the Assyrian inscriptions which tell about Assyrian wars against Arabian tribes. Of particular interest was King Assurbanipal’s campaign south of the cities of Teima and Khaybar.[38]

The Assyrian inscriptions are significant because many describe Arabian tribes, rulers and cities. These inscriptions are very important, for they are based on first-hand knowledge which the Assyrians gained during their occupation of the area during the 8th and 7th centuries B.C. It is assumed that the Assyrian control reached south to near the area where Mecca was built; yet, we don’t see any mention in the Assyrian inscriptions about Mecca or the tribes, such as the Jurhum tribe, which Islamic tradition claims inhabited Mecca as far back as the time of Abraham.

Assyrian inscriptions mention more than one king of Saba who controlled Yemen. We are told that the kings of Saba gave tribute to Assyrian kings as a symbol of cooperation in the land trading route which reached the Fertile Crescent, including: Mesopo-tamia, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Trans-Jordan, extending from the borders of Iraq and Iran to the Mediterranean Sea.

Once again, since the Assyrian inscriptions fail to mention Mecca, we can only conclude that Mecca did not exist between the 9th and 7th centuries B.C., or it would have been mentioned in the records.

The Babylonian Occupation of Hijaz

Nabonidus occupied the cities of the region close to where Mecca was eventually built. Although he lived for ten years in Teima, he never mentioned Mecca.

Not only did the Assyrians occupy northern and central Arabia, but so did the Babylonians. They occupied these portions of Arabia during the reign of Nabonidus, the king of Babylon, who reigned from 556-539 B.C. Information about this king and his occupation is found in the Harran Inscriptions (known as H2), Nabonidus and the Royal Chronicles, and the so-called Verse Account of Nabonidus.

Nabonidus left the empire to the control of his son, Belshazzar, and Nabonidus traveled to the Arabian city of Teima. Once there, he killed its king, occupied the city, made Teima his residence, and built a palace.[39] From The Harran Inscriptions of Nabonidus, we know that during his sojourn in Teima, Nabonidus went further south to conquer the cities of Dedan, Fadak, Khaybar, Yadi and Yathrib (which is the Medina).[40] The city of Yathrib, about 200 miles from Mecca’s eventual location, later played an important part in the rise of Islam.

Since Nabonidus controlled the whole region, he was assured of dominating all three land routes from Yathrib. Though he controlled the whole region, he does not mention Mecca in the inscriptions he left behind. If Mecca had existed in his time, it would have been an important target for his attacks, because it would have been the only city in the region around Yathrib which was not under his control ( see Fig. 4).

If Mecca were the influential city Islamic tradition claims, it would have been an even more important target than the other cities which Nabonidus conquered. So why would he conquer all the other cities in the region, many of which were less important than Mecca, and fail to even mention Mecca? There should have still been some mention of it, since he ruled in the area for ten years and reached the other cities nearest its location. This shows that Mecca did not exist in the area around the 6th century B.C.

The Persian Occupation

The Persians occupied many parts of Arabia and had alliances with tribes and states, but Mecca is absent in their records.

Following the Babylonians, the same area came under the control of the Persians. An examination of inscriptions found near Dedan show that they subjugated northern Arabia in the Achaemenid period at the end of the 6th century B.C. The Persians also appointed a governor to oversee Dedan. This occurred before the Lihyanite kings dominated the cities of Qedar and Dedan, and some other regions in northwestern Arabia.

In the 5th century B.C., Herodotus, the Greek historian, tells us that the Persians made alliances with the Arabians. Centuries later, the Persians occupied the region of Oman at the time of the writing of the The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea.[41] I previously mentioned that the date of the writing of The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea was about 62 A.D. In fact, in the 1st century A.D., the whole Persian Gulf area, including Oman, was under the Parthian empire, a ruling dynasty of old Iran (Persia).[42] The land of Jerra, near the Persian Gulf, became Persian territory around 320 A.D. Today, Jerra is known as al-Qatif.[43] The Persians made alliances with many Arabian tribes. Among them was the tribe of Kinda, which once extended its domain over central Arabia and part of Hadramaut, south of Yemen, in South Arabia.[44] The Persians held mines in Yamama, even up until the time of Mohammed. Yamama was the area where Kinda’s capital was situated, about 500 miles from today’s Mecca. This reflects just how far the Persians penetrated and influenced the region. The Persians used the Lakhmids, who were a tribe of al-Hira situated on their borders in Mesopotamia, to protect the borders. The Lakhmids became vassal governors during the Sasanian periods. Al-Tabari says that the Arabian tribes settled in the area of Hira at the time of Ardashir, son of Papak .[45] Ardashir was the founder of the Sassanian Kingdom. He is also known by the name “Artaxerxes.” He reigned between 226-240 A.D. Through the Lakhmids, the Persians formed tight relationships with other tribes and cities in southern and southwestern Arabia. This was in addition to their continuing influence in central Arabia.

If Mecca had existed in the 3rd century A.D., Persian records would certainly have mentioned it. Although the Persians penetrated into many parts of Arabia, we don’t find Mecca mentioned in any Persian record or literature. This is significant, because the Persians were interested in controlling all the land routes between southern Arabia and the Fertile Crescent, and Mecca was eventually built on one of the most important branches of these trading routes. Even more significant is the fact that the Persians were interested in extending their influence all over Arabia, whether through direct conquest or through alliances with existing states. We find that Mecca is absent in any official Persian records relating to the Persian plan of conquest over Arabia. This indicates that Mecca did not exist until at least the beginning of the 4th century A.D.

The Roman Expedition Into Western Arabia

During the Roman Expedition to western Arabian, they accurately documented all the villages and cities of the area. Their work demonstrates that Mecca was not in existence around the Christian era and the 1st century A.D.

We’ve written about the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and the Persians. Now we turn to the last ancient empire to occupy northern and central western Arabia, the Roman Empire. The Romans conquered this area of Arabia during their expedition under Gallus around 23 B.C. I have already discussed this expedition in detail, as to how Gallus first occupied northwestern Arabia, and then conquered all the cities in central western Arabia as far south as the city of Najran, on the border of Yemen. From there Gallus conquered cities in Yemen until he reached Ma’rib. We saw how this expedition was historically documented by Strabo, an important historian and geographer of the time. In detail, he recorded the contents of the regions of northwestern Arabia and central western Arabia, where Mecca was eventually built. But even though Strabo’s survey mentioned tiny and seemingly insignificant villages in northwestern and central western Arabia, he never mentioned Mecca.

In addition to Strabo’s writing, we have other Roman records which Pliny consulted in his survey of northwestern and central western Arabia. As in Strabo’s work, Mecca was absent from Pliny’s survey. The Romans have a reputation for great accuracy in reporting the places, cities and villages in any region which they conquered or even visited. Their work assures us that Mecca did not exist in the 1st century B.C. during the times of Strabo and Pliny.

Great empires who covered spans of thousands of years, or more, occupied central western Arabia, and mentioned the tiny villages without mentioning Mecca. How can Muslims disregard the records of these great empires?

We have examined the records of the great ancient empires who occupied portions of north and central western Arabia over the years. We’ve tried to find a case for the existence of Mecca in the writings and inscriptions of the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians and Romans, but to no avail.

Although Mecca would have been situated at a strategic location between the northern cities of Arabia and Yemen in southern Arabia, we have no record of its existence. These regions were well known to these empires. Although controlling of the area around Mecca was strategic to controlling the trade routes and caravans traveling between Yemen, the Fertile Crescent and the rest of the Mediterranean region, we have no record of Mecca’s existence. Yemen was astrategic point in the marine trade with the Far East, especially India. It is difficult to believe that all four of these empires would neglect to mention a city like Mecca in the area, considering all of their ambitions to control this trade. To not study the records of such great empires, who all occupied and penetrated this region, is to abandon the most important historical records we have. If we were to make our judgment without taking into consideration the records of these great empires, we would certainly be amiss. By what criteria then, do Muslims assert that Mecca existed during the reign of these empires which covered the thousands of years they dominated the Middle East? What support does the Islamic claim have that Mecca actually existed? The answer is simple: Muslims do not have any historical documents from this long period which show that Mecca existed when they claim it did, yet they tenaciously hold to their teachings.

THE STUDY OF THE ASSYRIAN INSCRIPTIONS ALSO EXCLUDES AN ANCIENT MECCA

Although Muslims contend otherwise, the land along the Red Sea, containing the place where Mecca was eventually built, was uninhabited until land trading routes were established through that region in the 3rd century B.C. I mentioned previously about the absence of Mecca in the records of the nations and cities of Arabia that existed prior to the 4th century A.D. I also showed how four foreign empires occupied northwestern and central western Arabia and yet made no mention of Mecca within their records. I now will show how Mecca is absent from the records of the Mesopotamia civilizations, especially the Assyrians. I mentioned the Assyrians previously as one of the four empires which occupied northwestern and central western Arabia in the 8th and 7th centuries B.C.

Mecca is Excluded From the Reports of the Second Millennium B.C.

The civilizations of Mesopotamia were very aware of the cities and the respective kingdoms which dotted the Middle East, such as Egypt and Syria. They were equally aware of those which lined eastern Arabia, such as Dilmun and Magan. The ancient nations that existed in the region are represented in their inscriptions and records. Previously, I had mentioned the connections between the civilizations of Mesopotamia and those of eastern Arabia, connections which go as far back as 3,000 B.C. For example, Magan, also called Oman, as far back as 2800 B.C. is mentioned in Akkadic inscriptions.[46] Any western Arabian kingdom or city that existed at that time was sure to be mentioned in Mesopotamian inscriptions. History confirms that kingdoms in southwestern Arabia, such as Yemen, were represented by the Saba Kingdom, which didn’t exist before the 13th century B.C. Some scholars contend it was the 12th century B.C., and others say it was the 11th century B.C. In any case, in the 14th century B.C., the Egyptians mentioned Yemen before any kingdom or city was established and known in that region. So the silence of the Mesopotamian inscriptions pertaining to southwestern Arabia is because there were no kingdoms there to make themselves known in the area.

The cities of north Arabia began to appear after the 10th century B.C. That’s when the kingdoms of Yemen began to communicate with the Fertile Crescent through the oases of northern Arabia, where cities like Dedan, Qedar, and other cities were built. It was only in the 6th century B.C., and later, that the city of Yathrib was built, in addition to other cities. Although Muslims contend otherwise, the land along the Red Sea, containing the place where Mecca was eventually built, was uninhabited until land-trading routes were established through that region, starting from the 3rd century B.C. These coastal trading routes, which ran parallel to pre-existing inland trading routes, connected Yemen with the oases of northern Arabia, which had been established in the 8th century B.C. During these ancient times, Mecca was not mentioned among the many cities known to lie along these Arabian trading routes. We already saw this when we studied the ancient Greek and Roman geographers, and other nations which occupied north and central western Arabia.

We have constructed a historically-accurate picture of south-western Arabia, principally Yemen, and its expansion through north and central western Arabia as it traded with other Middle Eastern kingdoms such as Mesopotamia, Syria and Palestine. It’s important to have a historically-accurate picture if we are to discount the Qur’an’s claim that Hagar, the mother of Ishmael, traveled to Mecca, and that Abraham also visited Mecca and built a temple there. It’s abundantly clear from the history of western Arabia that there were no cities in that region which would interest Abraham, nor were there any caravans traveling through that area at the time of Abraham, Ishmael and Hagar.

The study of the ancient Assyrian inscriptions is very important because Assyria had existed in northern Iraq since the 3rd millennium B.C., along with the other kingdoms of Mesopotamia. Yet, there is no mention of western Arabia in their records and inscriptions, since there were no kingdoms in existence in western Arabia at that time.

Let us look at the history of the region. Assyria grew powerful under King Adad-Nirari II, who reigned from 911-891 B.C. Under his rule, the Assyrians occupied Babylonia, Anatolia and part of Syria. Following Adad-Nirari II, King Tukulti-Ninurta II ruled from 890-884 B.C. Then King Ashurnasirpal II reigned from 883-859 B.C. He extended Assyrian domination as far as the Mediterranean Sea. What is of interest to us is that southern and northern Arabia are not mentioned at all during the reigns of these kings who ruled while Assyria’s sphere of influence bordered on Arabia.

It is not until the reign of Shalmaneser III that we have inscriptions concerning Arabia in Assyrian records. Shalmaneser III reigned from 858-824 B.C. This is because only in the 9th century B.C. were the cities of northern Arabia constructed in the oases. Let’s look at those inscriptions. Shalmaneser III, in the inscriptions called the Monolith Inscriptions from Kurkh, mentioned that the Assyrians engaged an alliance formed of many kings in battle at Qarqar. Among the kings he lists in the alliance are: Hadadezer, king of Damascus; Ahab, the king of Israel; and Gindibu’, the Arab, whose army had 1,000 camels.[47] In the inscriptions of Tiglath-Pileser III, who reigned from 744-727 B.C., we also find a reference to the kingdoms of northern Arabia. In these inscriptions, particularly in the annals which were removed from the walls of the palace of Shalmaneser III at Nimrud – also called Calah, the old capital of the Assyrians – we see that tribute was paid by Queen Zabibe, “Queen of the Arabs” to Shalmaneser III, around 738 B.C. More information about Queen Zabibe’s tribute is given in a stele found in Iran. (A stele is a carved stone monument, much like our grave markers.) The Qedarites are mentioned in the stele as being separated from the Arabs. By this, we assume that the Qedarites, an Ishmaelite tribe, preserved its ethnic identity as Ishmaelites until it was invaded by other Arabian tribes. As the Qedarites intermingled with other tribes, they lost their independence. However, in a short time, the invaders also took the name Qedarites. The inscriptions of Tiglath-Pileser III also mention the subduing of another Arabian queen named Samsi.

It is clear that the kingdom of Qedar in northern Arabia did not appear until the 8th century B.C. Although early inscriptions from Mesopotamia don’t mention any kingdoms in northern Arabia, the 858-824 B.C. inscriptions of Shalmaneser III do mention “Gindibu, the Arab.” Gindibu might be the chief of the Arabian tribe whose one thousand camels were rented by King Ahab of Israel and the King of Damascus, along with the other kings who were engaged in battle against the Assyrians.

That takes us to Sargon II, who reigned over Assyria from 721-705 B.C. Egypt was among the nations he captured. He also enforced Assyrian control over the Babylonians. From the time of Sargon II, information about Arabians increases in frequency. The inscriptions of Sargon II are famous because they contain information about tribute given to Assyria by several kings, including the King of Saba. Also, the inscriptions mention some tribes of northern Arabia.

Following Sargon II come the inscriptions of Sennacherib, who reigned from 704-681 B.C. Sennacherib is best remembered for destroying the city of Babylon. Prominent inscriptions from the time of Sennacherib were the Herper Letters, which date to the epochs of Sennacherib and Assurbanipal.

Following Sennacherib come the inscriptions of Esarhaddon, who reigned from 680-669. Then come the inscriptions of Assurbanipal, who reigned from 668- 627 B.C. Assurbanipal defeated Elam, Egypt and Lydia. The inscriptions of Assurbanipal, which concern the Arabs, date back to the year 649 B.C.[48]

There are also many letters which furnish information about Arabs. Among them are the Herper Letters, mentioned before, and the Nimrud Letters. Nimrud Letters can be dated back to the end of the 8th century B.C.[49] We also have other resources like the Babylonian Chronicles, which speak about the campaign of Esarhaddon in the land of Bazu in central Arabia. The Babylonian Chronicles also speak about a Babylonian attack in the Arabian desert at the time of Nebuchadnezzar. The Nabonidus Chronicle speaks about Nabonidus’ campaign in Arabia and his sojourn in Teima.

We see that Assyrian and Babylonian records contain information about west, north and central Arabia from the end of the 9th century B.C. until the 6th century B.C. This is a long period of time that exposed the tribes and kingdoms, and reigning cities in that part of Arabia to the Assyrians and Babylonians. Yet no mention of Mecca, or the tribes which Islamic tradition claims to have lived in Mecca, are found in any of these Assyrian and Babylonian records. The Assyrian and Babylonian inscriptions give us five centuries of contact between this area of Arabia and these two Mesopotamian nations. Their records date from the 9th century B.C. Between the northern tribes and Saba, there is no city like Mecca mentioned in the Assyrian or Babylonian records. While in each century many records tell about nations and tribes in western and north Arabia, none mention a city like Mecca.

Mecca is absent from the Assyrian political, military and commercial scene, while other tribes of western Arabia are mentioned in the Assyrian records.

In the second part of the 8th century B.C., Assyria began to exert more influence over the Arabian tribes – tribes which attempted to avoid Assyrian occupation by paying tribute. Other Arabian tribes wanted to ensure that their trade would be protected along the spice route. This route connected Assyrian-controlled territory in Sinai and south Jordan with the regions of the Fertile Crescent, which were also under their control. All the kingdoms and cities in western Arabia were dependent upon trade for their wealth and livelihood. To maintain this trade, they paid tribute to the kings of Assyria. This was especially important for cities in this region because they had no rain to support agriculture, and they needed to trade for food. The region where Mecca was built is one of those regions with little rain. Therefore, Mecca began as a city of trade in the 4th century A.D. Its existence depended on the continuity of its trade, especially with the countries of the Fertile Crescent, such as Mesopotamia, Syria and Palestine. Thus, the main concerns of the commercial cities of Arabia was to build relationships with these countries where their trade was destined, and to find markets.

The Assyrians received tribute from the Qedarites, one of many historically-documented nations which presented tribute to Tiglath-Pileser III around 738 B.C.[50] The kings of Saba also paid tribute to the Assyrians to ensure their trade. To ensure their influence and protect their trade in the region, many Arabian tribes attempted to create alliances with each other. This often led to wars and campaigns.

We find that Mecca is absent in the trade–relation records between the people who dominated the Fertile Crescent from ancient times through the time of the Assyrians and Babylonians. Not only is Mecca absent from trading records, but it is also absent in any alliance which listed the tribes and cities of western Arabia through these same eras.

In the inscriptions of Tiglath-Pileser III, dated 744-727 B.C., we find information about the wars fought by him against many of the Arabian tribes. He mentions his campaign against Samsi, “Queen of the Arabs,” in northern Arabia. Other inscriptions speak about campaigns in which the Assyrians fought against Arabian tribes. Tiglath-Pileser, in an early record, wrote :

10,000 warriors, I made bow down to my feet. The people of Massa, Teima, Saba, Hayappa, Badanu, Hatte, Idiba’ilu [I-di-ba’-il-a-a], On the border of the countries of the setting sun Of whom not one of my predecessors knew and whose place is remote, praise of my lordship.

….Camels, she camels, all kind of spices, their tribute as one, they brought before me and kissed my feet.

I appointed Idibi’ilu for the wardenship of the entrance of Egypt.[51]

In analyzing the list of people mentioned in the Tiglath-Pileser III inscriptions, we find they lead with the names Massa, Teima and Saba. Massa is known to be an Ishmaelite tribe which existed in the Syro-Arabian desert. Teima was a northern Arabian tribe and city. Saba is well known as a kingdom that dominated Yemen at the time of Tiglath-Pileser III in the 8th century B.C. Many scholars consider Badanu as the tribe of Bdn, which is found in Thamud and Safaitic inscriptions.[52] In my research, I found that Pliny mentions the city of Badanatha as located in the area of the Thamud tribe.[53] I conclude that Badanatha may have been named after the tribe of Badanu which united with, and then was integrated into the Thamud tribe in the 8th century B.C. I assume that they were located in the same area where the city, Badanatha, was eventually built.

The I-di-ba’-il-a-a tribe is identified by many scholars as the tribe of Adbeel. Adbeel was one of the sons of Ishmael. In the Tiglath-Pileser III inscriptions, we learn that he appointed this tribe as the warden of the entrance to Egypt. The inscription says: “I appointed Idibi’ilu for the wardenship of the entrance to Egypt.” This inscription suggests that this Ishmaelite tribe was still living in the Sinai around the 8th century B.C.

A study of inscriptions confirms the accuracy of the Bible when it talks about the origin of the tribes and nations mentioned in the book of Genesis. It’s logical that people like the Assyrians would write down tribal names as they pronounced them in their own language. Thus, we have Adbeel (written as I-di-ba’-il-a-a), and Saba (written as Saab’-a-a).

In the inscriptions of the 8th and 7th centuries B.C., we encounter many of the tribes about which Moses wrote in the Bible. However, we don’t see any mention of Mecca or the other tribes, such as Jurhum, which Islamic tradition claims lived in Mecca as far back as the time of Abraham. Many of the tribes mentioned in the Bible since the 15th century B.C. are mentioned again later in other books of the Bible, shedding light on their existence, as well as their historical activities. One such tribe is Ephah, which evolved from the sons of Abraham and Keturah, the wife Abraham took after Sarah died.

The scholars think that the tribe of Hayappa, mentioned in the inscriptions of Tiglath-Pileser III and Sargon II, was the tribe of Ephah. In the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, the tribe is called Ghaiphah. The Bible helps us locate this tribe, since Genesis gives us the genealogy of the sons of Keturah. Ephah was the elder son of Midian, the father of the Midianites. Ephah became the strongest tribe of the Midianites, often representing all the Midianites. The Midianites lived in northwestern Arabia, near the Aqaba region. They united with the Ishmaelites at the time of Gideon, whose battle with the Midianites occurred around 1170 B.C. Midianite pottery has been found in Negev-Sinai, south of Jordan, and in many parts of north Arabia. It has been found as far south as Teima. The Midianite pottery in Teima is dated between the beginning of the 13th century B.C. and the middle of the 12th century B.C.[54] We don’t find Midianite pottery south of Teima. This demonstrates that the Midianites and Ephah never reached central western Arabia, where Mecca was eventually built.

In the Bible, the book of Isaiah, we see Ephah and Midian as one group. We read in Isaiah, chapter 60, verse 6:

The multitude of camels shall cover your land. The dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come; they shall bring gold and incense.

Ephah was located in northwestern Arabia around the Gulf of Aqaba. This verse shows Ephah had a role in the trade between Yemen’s Saba, here called Sheba, and Palestine. Knowing that Isaiah began to prophesy in 739 B.C., the year that King Uzziah died, and that Tiglath-Pileser III began to reign as King of Assyria in 745 B.C., we can conclude that the Bible confirms the presence of Ephah as a trading people between Saba and Israel around the last quarter of the 8th century B.C. We read about Saba elsewhere in the Bible, as well. Some scholars think that there might have been a Sabaean tribe in the north of Arabia, toward Dedan. Those who support this idea base their hypothesis on Job 1:15, where it says that the Sabaeans raided the sons of Job and killed his servants. Other scholars think that Saba was a northern colony of the Saba of Yemen. Other Biblical verses show the existence of Saba of Yemen. The Lord Jesus Christ shows that the Queen of Sheba came from the uttermost region of the south (Matthew 12:42). Jeremiah 6:20 says:

for what purpose to me comes frankincense from Sheba, and sweet cane from a far country?Here we see a kind of poetic parallelism in which Jeremiah also speaks of Saba. First, he describes it as a place where frankincense comes from, which is historically true that Saba in Yemen was a great trader of frankincense. Then he describes it as a far off country. Even in the book of Job itself, Saba is mentioned again as a country from which travelers come, as we read in Job 6:19, “the caravans of Teima look, the travelers of Saba hope for them.” It is known that Sabaeans of Yemen were merchants who accompanied the caravans across the desert toward Palestine and Syria, and other Mediterranean countries.

Job, chapter 1, records that the Sabaeans attacked the possessions of Job. These Sabaeans are thought to be a tribe of northern Bedouins, located in the Syro-Mesopotamian desert. They were descendants of Keturah, the second wife of Abraham. Other scholars believe that the Sabaeans mentioned in Job could have been a colony of Sabaeans from Yemen who tried to control the spice trade route. They reached the place where Job lived, as they are seen in the inscriptions of Tiglath-Pileser III, having connections with areas of northern Arabia and the Sinai. Inscriptions show that Tiglath-Pileser III forced 10,000 Sabaean warriors to bow at his feet. Then he demanded “all kind of spices” in tribute, confirming that he dealt with people on the spice route, especially Saba, Teima and Ephah. The three were known for controlling the spice land route. Tiglath-Pileser III says that their lands were remote, and none of his predecessors knew about these places. Tiglath-Pileser III said in one inscription, “I made bow down to my feet the people of Massa’, Teima, and Saba” may indicate that the Assyrians were engaged in wars against these tribes. Just how much the Sabaeans were engaged is not clear from the inscriptions. Whether the Sabaeans were a colony of the Saba of Yemen, or Bedouins from the north, is not easy to establish. In either case, we know that in later times the kings of Saba offered tribute to the Assyrian kings, a sign that they recognized the supremacy of Assyrians in the region. They were also willing to allow their trade to pass through the lands under the Assyrian control.

With this historical picture at the time of Tiglath-Pileser III, who ruled from 744-727 B.C., we find historical documentation about the tribes that dominated the commercial, political and military scene in western Arabia. We saw Qedar paying tribute to the Assyrians. We also saw Ephah, the dominant Midianite tribe, paying tribute. In addition, the tribe of Badanu, which was associated with the Thamud, the tribe that appeared a decade after at the time of Sargon II (who reigned from 721-705 B.C.) paid tribute. Then we find Teima, and finally the tribe of Saba, which dominated Yemen. Also, after examining the important records of Sargon II, which I will discuss later, we find many other tribes, yet there is no mention of a city like Mecca between the northwestern tribes and Saba. Nor do we find any mention of any other tribe, like Jurhum, which Islamic tradition claims lived in Mecca and became the dominant tribe in western Arabia. Mecca is absent from the records of the nations in the beginning of the 1st millennium B.C., like it is absent from the classical records in the last half of the 1st millennium B.C. It is implausible to believe that less important tribes, like the Badanu and others in western Arabia, were recorded by the Assyrians while the city which Islamic tradition makes the center of faith and supremacy is forgotten. The Assyrian leaders recorded movements of armies and commerce in their ancient records, but they never mentioned Mecca. Muslims need to challenge their knowledge, and question the things on which they base their religious hope.

THE REIGN OF SARGON II AND ARABIA

Mecca, if existing at the time of Sargon II, would have been mentioned with the various Arabian tribes including Saba, which were all mentioned in the inscriptions of that period.

Sargon II was one of Assyria’s greatest kings. As the successor to Shalmaneser V, he reigned from 722-705 B.C., and consolidated the conquests made by Tiglath-Pileser III. Philistia, Babylonia, Kurdistan and Israel were among the lands he conquered. In 717 B.C., he deposed the king of the Hittite city of Karkemish and made the city an Assyrian colony. He put down rebellions in many cities, such as Arpad, Damascus and Hamath, and he defeated the plans of the Egyptians who supported these rebellions. After conquering a nation, Sargon would deport some of the inhabitants and mix the remnant of the population with inhabitants from other regions. Samaria is one example of this. Sargon II deported Israelites living in Samaria to the north of Assyria and then brought some Arabian tribes that were threatening his border to live in Samaria.

Excavations in Sargon’s palace and capital at Dur Sharrukin have uncovered his annals. Among the events recorded in these annals is his triumph over several Arabian tribes, such as Thamud, Marsimani, Ephah and Ibadidi. He deported part of their populations to Samaria. His annals also record tribute given to him by Pir’u, the King of Egypt; by Samsi, the Queen of northern Arabia and the desert between Arabia and Palestine; and by Ita’amra, King of Saba, who is known in the Saba inscriptions as Yathi’ amar.[55] We also find this information about the defeat of the Arabian tribes in other Assyrian records, namely the Cylinder inscription. We also find the tributes of the kings in the Display inscription. We see that the historical events during this period are confirmed from more than one record.

The tribe of Marsimani is identified as the tribe of Mesamanes, mentioned by Ptolemy in the sixth book and seventh chapter of his work simply titled Geography.[56] Ptolemy placed the location of this tribe close to the area of the Thamud. Thamud is mentioned in the inscriptions and is an Arabian tribe in northwestern Arabia. It’s also mentioned by Greek and Roman classical writers, and richly documented in northern Arabian inscriptions. Thamud is located between Teima and the region where Mecca was eventually built.

Ephah, which we saw participating at the time of Tiglath-Pileser III with the other Arabian northwestern tribes in an alliance against the Assyrians, is seen again here in a new alliance.

Considering the events of the 8th century B.C., including the things already recorded in inscriptions by Tiglath-Pileser III and Sargon II, we have a clear picture of which nations and tribes dominated the scene in western Arabia. This picture contains both the military point of view and the trading activity point of view. Mecca is absent from all these records, even though it would have been near the location of tribes mentioned in the inscriptions of the 8th century B.C., like the tribes of Thamud and Mesamanes. Mecca, if it had existed at that time, would have been located between the aforementioned tribes and Saba.

THE REIGN OF SENNACHERIB

Mecca is absent from the military, trade and religious scene during Sennacherib’s reign.

Sennacherib, who ruled from 705-681 B.C., fought to maintain the empire established by his father, Sargon II. Among Sennacherib’s actions was a campaign against Babylonia. Later, he initiated campaigns against countries located on the Mediterranean coast, and supported by Egypt, two of which were Phoenicia and Philistia. Next, Sennacherib campaigned against Jerusalem. Then, he defeated the Egyptians around 701 B.C. Another important campaign that Sennacherib conducted targeted Elam around 691 B.C.

Sennacherib defeated the Arabs, who took sides with Merodach Baladan, the Babylonian king who rebelled against the Assyrians. Another campaign was against the queen of northern Arabia named Te’lhunu. The queen was defeated and she was pursued to the city of Adummatu, identified with the Dumah. Classical authors mention Dumahas. Domatha, a city of north Arabia built on an oasis. Dumahis located between al-Medina and Syria. It was known also as Dumaht al-Jandal. Dumah was known to be an important religious center for Arabian tribes. A temple to the god, Wadd, was located in Dumah. We know that in later times, a temple in the Aqaba Gulf region replaced Dumah, an important religious center. The Greek geographer, Agatharchides, attests to this religious center. We know that Sennacherib’s army captured images that the Arabians had veneered in Dumah and brought to Assyria. Later, Esarhaddon returned them to Dumah.

According to Assyrian inscriptions, around 689 B.C. the Assyrians conducted a campaign in northern Arabia against Adummatu. They fought against an alliance of two northern Arabian rulers: Telehunu, Queen of the Arabs; and Hazael, King of Qedar. The inscriptions tell us the alliance was defeated, and Hazael resumed sending tribute to Sennacherib. Through these wars, Sennacherib established himself in the lands that his father, Sargon II, had captured. Sennacherib gained notoriety beyond his borders by defeating the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Arabian Queen Te’lhunu, and Dumah. Sennacherib was also known for gaining control of the spice land routes. His fame had spread to the point that Herodotus, the Greek historian, called him “king of the Arabs and Assyrians.”[57]

Arabian cities like Teima regularly paid tribute to Sennacherib. There was an inscription at Nineveh which describes a gate in Nineveh as “the desert gate through which gifts from the people of Teima enter.”[58] This indicates how much the trade cities, like Teima, were at the mercy of the Assyrians if they wanted their trade to continue. These cites needed to have the favor of the Assyrians to survive.

The Assyrian annals mention gifts or tributes paid by the King of Saba named Kariba’ilu. This king is Karib’il Water, well known in the Saba inscriptions. This is because of the Assyrian control of the land route boundaries of the Fertile Crescent. King Hazael of Qedar paid tributes to the Assyrian king, Sennacherib. After the defeat of his alliance with Queen Telehunu, Hazael resumed paying tributes to Sennacherib.

Mecca, which depended for its survival upon its trade with markets controlled by Assyrians, could not have been silent in the trade relationships with the Assyrians if Mecca had existed in the 8th and 7th centuries B.C.

Many nations in western Arabia are mentioned by Sennacherib, especially kingdoms trading along the spice route. Among them were Dumah, Qedar, Teima, and Saba in Yemen. Sargon II also mentions spice route cities such as Saba, Teima and Ephah. Cities which depended on their relationships with other nations couldn’t be silent in the history of empires like Assyria, when it dominated the routes that led to the markets.

Since the construction of Mecca in the 4th century A.D. in an arid area of Arabia, Mecca bought goods from Yemen and marketed them to Palestine, Syria and Mesopotamia in the Fertile Crescent. Assyria controlled that land beginning with the end of the 8th century B.C. and recorded tribes of secondary importance in its trading records. How, then, could the most important and ancient city in the region, according to the Islamic claim, be missed if it existed in the 8th century B.C. and in the beginning of the 7th century B.C.?

The Religious Center of Dumah

Mecca is absent from the religious scene, when a religious city of that time like Dumah was the place of attention for the Arabian tribes.

Another important observation we also see in the Assyrian inscriptions is about Dumah, the religious center for tribes of northern Arabia. The images and gods of Dumah were of such primary importance to the Arabians that they went to Assyria begging Esarhaddon for their return. This was many years after Esarhaddon’s father had taken the images to Assyria. Dumah had religious preeminence during the Assyrian period before the Arabians built another temple in the Aqaba Gulf region. Knowing that the Arabians of the desert are faithful to the religious center they revere, if Mecca had existed in Assyrian times, then it could not have been hidden. Mecca would have been the city where people went to worship and consult their gods before battle. Mecca would have been their refuge when they suffered military defeat. Kings would have fled there like they used to flee to Dumah. They would have gone to their holy city to invoke the protection of their gods.

Yet, we see once more that Mecca is absent from the trade, military and religious records of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires. To affirm a claim, like Mecca being the center of monotheism established by Abraham, and continuing to be the place where the Arabian tribes tried to have the prerogative and privilege to control through all history of Arabia, as it claimed by the Islamic tradition, is something that would make Mecca the center of interest and contentions for all Arabian tribes. It would consequently have been obvious in all epochs, and recorded historically in each of these eras. The fact of the matter is, if Mohammed had selected any city as his religious claim other than Mecca, he could have made connections to the old local pagan Arabian religious centers of the 7th century B.C., like Dumah. But Mecca has no history to support these ancient connections beyond the pagan star worship of Yemen in the 4th century A.D., for which, historically, the temple of Mecca was built.

THE REIGN OF ESARHADDON

As we continue our quest to understand the dating of the founding of the city of Mecca, we come to the reign of Esarhaddon, who followed his father Sennacherib. Esarhaddon reigned from 680-669 B.C. Among his campaigns, the most important were his invasions of Egypt, Ethiopia and the Arabian desert. Near the river Kalb, which is near Beirut, Lebanon today, one of his inscriptions was found. It records his campaigns into Egypt and Ethiopia. Egypt was under the rule of the Ethiopians when Esarhaddon invaded it. He eventually conquered all the kingdoms along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean, and he brought their kings to Nineveh.

The inscriptions of Esarhaddon provide us with a lot of information about his wars with the Arabs, reflecting just how much land the Assyrians controlled in some parts of Arabia at the beginning of the 7th century B.C. The annals of Nineveh reveal many such events. One event was the return of the images of the Arabian gods to Dumah. Dumah became a religious center for the Arabian tribes since the 9th century B.C.

Esarhaddon also rescued Tabua. She had been taken as a small girl from her own people, and she grew up in the court of the Assyrian kings. Then the Assyrians appointed her to be the queen of the Arabs in Dumah. For Assyrian kings to appoint rulers for some of the Arabian lands shows the influence they had over parts of Arabia at the time of Esarhaddon.

The Annals of Nineveh also report the tribute that Hazael, King of Qedar, paid to Assyria. Assyrian records describe Hazael as he came to Nineveh to express his submission to Esarhaddon:

As for Hazael, king of Arabia, the splendor of my majesty overwhelmed him, and with gold, silver, and precious stones he came into my presence and also kissed my feet.[59]

The Annals of Nineveh also tell us about Hazael’s son, Ia’-hi-u’, who was also called Yauta’. He became king of Qedar after Hazael’s death. The Assyrian army intervened to help Ia’-hi-u’ defeat a revolt conducted by U-a-bu. U-a-bu led an Arabian alliance against Yauta’, but the Alliance was defeated by the Assyrian army. Later IA’-hi-u’ became disloyal to the Assyrians who, in turn, attacked IA’-hi-u’, who was defeated and fled. He later returned and swore a loyalty oath to Assurbanipal, the next king of the Assyrians.

These, and other examples from the inscriptions of Esarhaddon show that northern Arabia, especially Qedar, was under Assyrian rule. The Assyrians appointed kings, took tributes, and suppressed any revolts directly against them, or against any Arabian rulers who were loyal to them. The aforementioned episodes are also found in other Assyrian inscriptional documents.[60] Also, there are other inscriptions in Nineveh and Assur reporting these same episodes. These examples testify as to how the historical events occurring during the reign of Esarhaddon are well-attested in the archaeological records. We find an interesting fact in the so-called “Fragment F” from Nineveh. When Esarhaddon’s army crossed the Sinai desert to suppress a revolt in Egypt, they used Arabian camels to supply them with water.[61] This suggests that through the domain of Esarhaddon over the many Arabian lands, through the Arabs’ experience in the deserts, and with their camels, the Assyrian army was capable of crossing huge deserts to attack distant lands. In fact, among the episodes recorded in Esarhaddon’s inscriptions was his campaign into the land of Bazu.

The Land of Bazu

Another important argument (for the case against the existence of Mecca at the time of Esarhaddon) hinges on the fact that there were no more cities for Assyrian to conquer in northwestern Arabia, so they marched in profundity into central Arabia to the land of Bazu.

Ba’zu is considered by many scholars to have been located in central Arabia, or toward the Persian Gulf region. This supports the idea that the Assyrians controlled parts of northern and central Arabia. Details about this campaign are found in Esarhaddon’s Inscriptions, his Chronicles and some Babylonian Chronicles. Ba’zu is described as:

A distant country, beyond a salt desert, beyond sandy and thorny land, beyond the sphere of military activity of earlier Assyrian kings.[62]

The same records describe Ba’zu as: “An arid land, saline ground, a waterless region.” Heidel Prism III speaks of a march of about 140 beru (which corresponds to 1,500 kilometers) through a region “covered with sand, thorny plants, snakes and scorpions cover the land like ants.”[63]Another description of the land of Ba’zu says: “A district located afar off, a desert stretch of alkali, a thirsty region of sand, thorn brush and gazelle mouth, stones, 20 double hours of serpents and scorpions, with which the plain was covered as with ants.”[64] Inscriptions name nine places the Assyrians conquered in the land of Ba’zu, and give the names of eight of their kings. Assyrian records tell us that the Assyrian army burned seven walled cities in Ba’zu. Then they appointed a local king by the name of Layale’ to rule the country. He was the king of a land near Ba’zu under the name of Ia-di.[65]

These episodes reflect how deep the Assyrian influence was in Arabia at the time of Esarhaddon. They were able to march across a desert over a distance of 1,500 kilometers. Scholars suggest two places for the location of Ba’zu: One is in central Arabia, near the city of Khaybar and beyond,[66] and the other is west of the Persian Gulf.[67] The events involving Ba’zu reflect the depth of the Assyrian influence in Arabia at the time of Esarhaddon. It is significant that the Assyrian army conquered a distant and arid land like Ba’zu, instead of going west toward the area where Mecca was eventually built. This supports the fact that the classical writers found that the area in which Mecca was eventually built was uninhabitable at that time. The area divided northern Arabia from Yemen, to the point that the Assyrians possessed no more cities or kingdoms in that area. Instead, they proceeded into central and eastern Arabia to conquer new lands, such as the land of Ba’zu.

ASSURBANIPAL’S REIGN

Although Assurbanipal had many contacts with Arabian tribes, and had reached the area of Teima, Mecca is absent in the Assyrian records which talk about him.

Our argument doesn’t stop with Esarhaddon. When he died, he divided the Mesopotamian territory between his two sons. He gave Babylonia to his eldest son, Shamash-shum-ukin, and he gave the throne of Assyria to his second son, Assurbanipal, who ruled Assyria from 669-626 B.C. Assurbanipal drove the Ethiopian king, Taharka, out of Egypt and appointed Necho to replace him. Then, around 660 B.C., during Assurbanipal’s campaign against Elam and the Chaldeans, Psamtik, son of Necho, rebelled and separated Egypt from Assyria. Then Shamash-shum-ukin, Assurbanipal’s elder brother and King of Babylonia, formed an alliance with several nations to make war against his brother, Assurbanipal. Assyrian records list the Arabian tribes which joined Shamash-shum-ukin. The Assyrian record reads like this:

In these days Shamash-shum-ukin, the faithless brother of mine, king of Babylon, stirred to revolt against me the people of Akkad, Chaldea, the Arameans… the Sealand from Akaba to Bab-Salimeti.[68](Akaba may be the actual name of Aqaba.)

He also mentioned tribes of Arabia which rebelled with Shamash-shum-ukin against Assurbanipal. Around 648 B.C., when Assurbanipal defeated the alliance and annexed Babylonia to his empire, his brother killed himself. Some years later, Nabopolassar, the leader of Chaldean dynasty, rebelled against Assurbanipal.

The inscriptions of Assurbanipal present information about the Arabs. The annals of Assurbanipal record a treaty that he made with the Qedarites prior to year 652 B.C.[69] The annals also provide us with information about the revolt of Yauta’, the son of Hazael and King of Qedar. He attacked regions in Trans Jordan before the hostilities between Assurbanipal and his brother, Shamash-shum-ukin, King of Babylonia, began. Yauta’ was defeated and fled to the land of Nebaioth to seek refuge under their king, Natnu. Assurbanipal replaced Yauta’ with Abiyate’, son of Te’ri, who submitted to Assurbanipal and paid tribute to him. Also Natnu, King of Nebaioth, did the same. The Assyrian inscriptions show that the Qedarites had more than one leader. One of them was called Ammuladi. Ammuladi attacked the western border of the Assyrian empire and was defeated.

According to Shamash-shum-ukin’s Chronicles, the siege of the city of Babylon was in the year 650 B.C. Among the Arabians who helped Shamash-shum-ukin was Abiyate’, son of Te’ri.[70] There was another Arabian called Uaita’, son of Birdada, king of a tribe called Su-mu-An, who sent forces to help Shamash-shum-ukin. The Su-mu-An tribe is considered one of the Qedar tribal confederations.[71] The reason that Arabian tribes took sides with Shamash-shum-ukin against Assurbanipal was that Babylonia was closer to them, and they thought that Babylonia would win the conflict and control the land routes to the markets in the Fertile Crescent. They also thought the Babylonians would not impose heavy tributes like Assyria did.

Around the year 645 B.C., an Assyrian campaign took place against the tribes of Qedar, Su-mu-An and Nebaioth. This campaign came after the Assyrian victory against Elam. So Assurbanipal was now ready to punish the tribes who gave aid to his rebellious brother, Shamash-shum-ukin. Before Assurbanipal’s Assyrian empire declined, and was superseded by the Babylonians, Assurbanipal waged many other campaigns against the Arabs. He fought them in the Syro-Arabian desert, starting from Tadmur and moving south. In the final stage of his campaigning, according to the historian Glaser (as we mentioned previously), Assurbanipal penetrated the Arabian desert as far as Teima.

Mecca was a city built on the spice route, and it depended on the markets of the Fertile Crescent which, before the 7th century B.C., was under the Assyrian occupation for centuries. To survive, Mecca would have made itself known to traders and other cities if it had existed during that long time span.

From the study of Assyrian inscriptions of the 7th century B.C., we see in all of this that Mecca is conspicuously absent, just as it is absent from all the other Assyrian inscriptions. This long period of time spans several centuries. Each king documented his conquests and kept meticulous records. Some events appear in not only one inscription, but in many. We have seen how each tribe in north and western Arabia, even as far away as Saba, was eager to please the Assyrians in order to protect their interests. Many paid tribute annually. Some Assyrian-controlled tribes and cities at times rebelled and were punished. Still others formed alliances, hoping to occupy new regions, or have more influence over the land trading routes which influenced their markets.

Yet, there’s no explanation for the absence of Mecca in all the Assyrian records during this long period of history. The names of kingdoms and cities on the spice route appear many times, but the city of Mecca is never among them. If it had existed, as Muslims claim, Mecca would have had more reason than any other nation to build a strong relationship with the Assyrians. Mecca would need to gain Assyrian favor with tributes and gifts, because Mecca’s location would require it to be dependent on trade in order to survive.

Much later in history, the city of Mecca does appear in central western Arabia, but that’s not until the 4th century A.D. Like the nations before it, the historical record shows that Mecca was dependent on trade (after its appearance) because of its location on the spice-trading route. The silence of Mecca during the Assyrian domination of the Fertile Crescent, and its preeminence over the tribes of northern Arabia, points once again to the fact that Mecca could not have existed during the era of Assyrian control. This information would have importance only for historians who study this time period, if it were not for one thing: The followers of Islam claim that the city of Mecca began long before the time of Assurbanipal. They claim that it was founded by Abraham and Ishmael, his son by Hagar. They claim that these two men built a temple in Mecca as early as 2050 B.C. We have shown this cannot be true.

CHALDEAN RECORDS ALSO EXCLUDE ANY RECORD OF MECCA DURING THE 7TH AND 6TH CENTURIES B.C.

The Chaldeans were people of Arabian origin who settled in the region of Babylonia. After the death of Assurbanipal, the Chaldean, Nabopolassar, the ruler of Babylonia, established his independence in 625 B.C. Nabopolassar occupied the Assyrian provinces and destroyed Nineveh in the year 605 B.C. with the help of Manda, a nomad tribe from Kurdistan, which many scholars identify with the Medes. The Assyrian dynasty of Harran asked for help from Pharaoh Necho II, the ruler of Egypt who controlled Syria at that time. Nabopolassar placed his son, Nebuchadnezzar, in command of the Babylonian army. They encountered and defeated the Egyptians in the old Hittite city of Carchemish in 604 B.C. When Nebuchadnezzar heard that his father had died, he returned to Babylonia and became the king of one of the most powerful empires in the Middle East. In 586 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar occupied and destroyed Jerusalem, forcing the Jews into exile.

When Nebuchadnezzar ruled the Chaldeans, he fought many wars with Arab countries. Information regarding the Chaldean period can be found in the Babylonian Chronicles, as well as other resources. According to the Babylonian Chronicles, Nebuchadnezzar raided the Arabs several times between 599-598 B.C. The echo of such raids was recorded in the Bible by the prophet Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 49: 28, he writes:

Concerning Qedar, and concerning the kingdoms of Hazor which Nebuchadnezzar the King of Babylon shall smite, thus says the Lord: “ Arise and go to Qedar…”

Another of Nebuchadnezzar’s raids is confirmed in the apocryphal book of Judith, which was written in the 4th century B.C. In the second chapter of that book, Midian is mentioned among the tribes. It says:

he compassed about all the children of Midian and set on fire their tents, and spoiled their sheepcotes.[72]

Some scholars think that Nebuchadnezzar reached further than Midian, all the way to Teima.[73]

The last king of Babylonia was Nabonidus. We already have dealt, in part, with the campaigns Nabonidus waged in Arabia. He reigned from 556-539 B.C., and occupied the Arabian city of Teima, to which he transferred his residency. Nabonidus was from Harran. His mother, Addagoppe, who was a priestess of the god-moon, Sin, had a special relationship with Nebuchadnezzar. It is thought that this is the reason Nabonidus ascended to the throne of Babylon after Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson, Labasi-Marduk, had been killed in his palace as a result of a conspiracy.

Addagoppe was born in 649 B.C., lived for 102 years, and died around 547 B.C. From Nabonidus’ Inscriptions, we learn that Addagoppe was mourned as a great queen. This incident, along with other details, supports the idea that she was married to Nebuchadnezzar.

The Inscriptions of Harran mention that Addagoppe was brought to the Babylonian court around 610 B.C., where she became very influential. When Labasi-Marduk was assassinated, and the throne became empty, she found herself in the position to name a successor, largely due to her status as the widow of Nebuchadnezzar. She replaced Labasi-Marduk with her son, Nabonidus. Some scholars believe that Nabonidus was married to the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar. If so, Nebuchad-nezzar would have been a stepfather to Nabonidus and step-grandfather to Nabonidus’ son, Belshazzar; and, perhaps, the father-in-law of Nabonidus, as well. Belshazzar and his father would have been considered members of the family of the great King Nebuchadnezzar. This justifies their ascensions to the throne of Babylonia.

Nabonidus, who controlled north and central western Arabia, including the area where Mecca was eventually built, mentioned all the cities there, but he did not mention Mecca.

Nabonidus left the affairs of the kingdom to his son, Belshazzar, and traveled in Arabia to control north and central western Arabia. He marched toward Edom in southern Jordan, and then to Teima. He killed the king of Teima, subdued the inhabitants, and built a royal palace for himself. After establishing himself in Teima, Nabonidus launched campaigns to ensure his control over all northern and central western Arabia. He eventually occupied the cities of Dedan, Fadak, Khaybar, Yadi, and Yathrib, which is also called al-Medina. (See Fig. 4.)

Inscriptions which date back to the 6th century B.C. were found in Teima. These inscriptions describe wars between Teima and Dedan.[74] This may suggest that people of Teima were used by Nabonidus in his campaigns against Dedan and other cities in the region. Historians believe cities like Khaybar and Yathrib were most probably built during the 6th century B.C. The city of Qedar, prior to the time of Nabonidus, had been subdued by Nebuchadnezzar. Thus, Nabonidus eventually controlled all the existing cities in the area. He controlled all the routes which branch from Medina to the north with the cities of Yathrib, Teima and Dedan; to the east with the city of Yathrib-Hail; and to the south of Yathrib, which is only 200 miles from where Mecca was built.[75]

Since Nabonidus wished to control the whole area, Mecca would have been one of his main goals, if it had existed then. Nabonidus was in the area a long time. His military activity was more than one campaign lasting a few days or months. Nabonidus traveled the area for ten years. All north and central western Arabia was his province. He was there so long that he couldn’t have missed Mecca, if it were there at the time.

We see that Mecca is not mentioned at any time during the Chaldean period, even when Nabonidus made all of northern and central western Arabia, which included the area where Mecca was eventually built, into another province of his empire. This is significant, because cities that would have been less important than Mecca were mentioned as part of this province, but Mecca was not mentioned.

THE MISSING MERCHANTS OF MECCA

While the merchants of the Arabian routes were discussed in many places, no merchant from Mecca is ever mentioned.

Not only is Mecca absent from all the military campaign records during the Chaldean period, but it is also missing from the records of trading activity. Trade was important to the Babylonians as early as the 6th century B.C. We know that there was an increase in trade along the Arabian land routes to the Fertile Crescent. Babylonian records reflect increased trade activity and Babylon’s relationship with Arabian merchants, but these records don’t mention Mecca. Arab merchants were known for their trade with the Babylonians. The records show Nabonidus sending a letter to one of his assistants, instructing him to give an Arabic merchant of the tribe of Thamud (Te-mu-da-a Ar-ba-a-a) several talents of silver.[76]

Some documents before Nabonidus show people arriving from Teima in Babylonia, mainly as merchants. Other documents also mention the Qedarites. Travelers from Teima also appear in the Assyrian and Babylonian records. One example is a letter mentioning Am-me-ni-ilu tamkaru Te-ma-a-a, and his journey to the King of Babylonia.[77] Yet, in all these records, we see no one coming from Mecca. If Mecca had existed during the Chaldean period, it indeed would be strange not to have been listed in the Chaldean trade records of the time, especially since other cities on the northern and central western Arabian spice route were recorded as a testimony to their trade activity. The fact of the matter is that, in all historical documents, we do not see a merchant of Mecca in any place in the Middle East, while the trace of merchants of cities of western Arabia are found even as far away as Sinai. In Sinai, for example, inscriptions have been found identifying merchants belonging to the Thamud tribe. We also find Minaean merchants in various epochs traveling to the Fertile Crescent. The Minaean merchants were also involved in trade with Egypt in the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C. There has been a sarcophagus found of a Minaean merchant who supplied the Egyptian temples with incense.[78] Minaean inscriptions found in Memphis, Egypt and Delos give us more activities of Minaean merchants.[79] Minaean and Dedanite inscriptions in Jordan reflect the activity of their merchants in the Fertile Crescent.[80] Saba merchants are mentioned in the book of Job, around the 9th through 7th centuries B.C. These merchants were traveling in the area of Palestine. Inscriptions telling us about Sabaean merchants were found in northeastern Arabia.[81] Scholars confirm the presence of Sabaeans near Yathrib, also called Medina, in a place called Wady ash Sheba, which means the Valley of Saba. There is also a village named in a Greek inscription as “Pool of the Sabaeans.” [82]

With all these trade records, it is unreasonable to suggest that Mecca had existed since the time of Abraham, and was located on an ancient trading route. No archaeological or documented testimony is found anywhere which refers to even one merchant from Mecca. Yet, each kingdom and city on the same land route has many well-documented testimonies of its trade, including in places where it used to trade, or in places the caravan used to pass through. All the historical facts we have tell us that Mecca could not have existed prior to the Christian era. We hold our Muslim friends in high regard, but it is time for them to see that they have been taught a serious mistruth.

 

Religion Research Institute- Home

 

[1] James Montgomery, Arabia and the Bible, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1934, page 131

[2] K.A. Kitchen, Documentation For Ancient Arabia, Part I, Liverpool University Press, 1994, page 135

[3] Rabinowitz, Journal of Near Eastern Studies 15 (1956),1-9, pls.6-7, quoted by K.A. Kitchen, Documentation For Ancient Arabia, Part I, Liverpool University Press, 1994, page 169

[4] Reed, Ancient Records from North Arabia, Toronto, 1970, 50 f., 115-117 quoted by K.A. Kitchen, Documentation For Ancient Arabia, Part I, Liverpool University Press, 1994), page 169

[5] K.A. Kitchen, Documentation For Ancient Arabia, Part I, Liverpool University Press, 1994, page 237

[6] James Montgomery, Arabia and the Bible, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1934, page 138

[7] F.V. Winnett and W.L. Reed, Ancient Records from North Arabia, University of Toronto Press, 1970, page 104

[8] F.V. Winnett and W.L. Reed, Ancient Records from North Arabia, page 103

[9] K.A. Kitchen, Documentation For Ancient Arabia, Part I, Liverpool University Press, 1994, page 237

[10] K.A. Kitchen, Documentation For Ancient Arabia, Part I, pages 170-175;238

[11] K.A. Kitchen, Documentation For Ancient Arabia, Part I, pages 175-180; 238

[12] C.Robin, Inventair des Inscriptions Sudarabiques, 1ff. Paris/Rome, 1992 ff.1, 67-68, Haram 3 & 4; Repertoire d’Epigraphie Semitique, esp.V-VIII, Paris, 1929-1968, 2751/M.15; quoted by K.A. Kitchen, page 180

[13] K.A. Kitchen, Documentation For Ancient Arabia, Part I, pages 181; 239

[14] C.Robin, Inventair des Inscriptions Sudarabiques, 1ff. Paris/Rome, 1992 ff.,1, 5-6, pls.2b,3a; Inabba; quoted by K.A. Kitchen, Documentation For Ancient Arabia, Part I, page 181; see also K.A. Kitchen, page 239

[15] Private building-dedication, al-Harashif 3 (C.Robin, Inventair des Inscriptions Sudarabiques,1ff. Paris/Rome, 1992 ff., 1, 200-201, pl.59b); quoted by K.A. Kitchen, page 182

[16] K.A. Kitchen, Documentation For Ancient Arabia, Part I, Liverpool University Press, 1994, pages 181, 182; see also K.A. Kitchen, page 239

[17] Comptes-rendus de l’académie des Inscriptions et Belleslettres, 1992, 68; cf.C.Robin in Robin(ed.), L’Arabie Antique de Karib’il à Mahomet, Aix-en-Provence, 1993,55,128, fig.20; quoted by K.A. Kitchen, page 183

[18] K.A. Kitchen, Documentation For Ancient Arabia, Part I, pages 181, 182; see also K.A. Kitchen, page 240

[19] K.A. Kitchen, Documentation For Ancient Arabia, Part I, pages 181, 182; see also K.A. Kitchen, pages 183-188

[20] See K.A. Kitchen, Documentation For Ancient Arabia, Part I, pages 181, 182; see also K.A. Kitchen, pages 90-222

[21] A.Jamme, W.F., Sabaean Inscriptions from Mahram Bilqis (Ma’rib), the Johns Hopkins Press,Baltimore, 1962, Volume III, page 137

[22] A.Jamme, W.F., Sabaean Inscriptions from Mahram Bilqis (Ma’rib), the Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore, 1962, Volume III, page 169

[23] R.W. Ehrich, Chronologies in Old World Archaeology, 3rd Edition, I-II, Chicago, 1992, I, pages 67-68; see also D.T. Potts, Dilmun, New Studies in the Archaeology and Early History of Bahrain, (BBVO2), Berlin, 1983, quoted by K.A. Kitchen, Documentation For Ancient Arabia, Part I, page 145

[24] J.B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, Princeton, 268

[25] Hommel, Ancient Hebrew Tradition, pages 35-39, cited by Wilfred Schoff on his comment on The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, Munshiram Manoharial Publishers Pvt Ltd., 1995, page 134

[26] Halevy, nos.190, 231-234 ; Hommel, Chrestomathie, page 117; Hartmann, Die arabische Frage, pp. 206: cited by James Montgomery, Arabia and the Bible, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1934, page 182

[27] A. Irvine, Journal of Semitic Studies 10, (1965), pages 178-196; A.F.L.Beeston, Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 17 ( 1987), pages 5-12; quoted by K.A. Kitchen, Documentation For Ancient Arabia, Part I, Liverpool University Press, 1994, page 39

[28] James Montgomery, Arabia and the Bible, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1934, page138

[29] F.V. Winnett and W.L. Reed, Ancient Records from North Arabia, University of Toronto Press, 1970, page 75

[30] Revue Biblique, 43( 1934) pp.578-9 and 590-1; quoted by

F.V. Winnett and W.L. Reed, Ancient Records from North Arabia, University of Toronto Press, 1970, page 75

[31] F.V. Winnett and W.L. Reed, Ancient Records from North Arabia, page 130

[32] The Geography of Strabo, Book XVI .4.23

The Geography of Strabo, Volume V, Harvard University Press, 1966, page 357

[33] The Geography of Strabo, Book XVI .4.24

The Geography of Strabo, Volume V, page 359

[34] The Geography of Strabo, Book XVI. 4 . 24

The Geography of Strabo, Volume V, page 363

[35] The Geography of Strabo, Book XVI .4.23

The Geography of Strabo, Volume VII, page 357

[36] Pliny XII, 44

[37] D. H. Mullar in his article Yemen, Encyclopaedia Brittanic, 9th edition;

Weber, Arabien vor dem Islam in Der alte Orient, III, Leipzig, 1901; cited by Wilfred Schoff, The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, Munshiram Manoharial Publishers Pvt Ltd., 1995, page 109

[38] See I. Eph’al, E.J.Brill, The Ancient Arabs, Leiden, 1982, page 161, note 161

[39] For “Verse Account of Nabonidus,” see Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, ed. J.B. Pritchard, 2nd edition, Princeton, 1955, page 313; Sidney Smith, Babylonian Historical Texts, London, 1924, Chapter III, pp. 27-97 ;quoted by F.V. Winnett and W.L. Reed, Ancient Records from North Arabia, University of Toronto Press, 1970, page 89

[40] See C.J. Gadd “The Harran Inscriptions of Nabonidus,” Anatolian Studies, 8 ( 1958) page 59; cited by F.V. Winnett and W.L. Reed, Ancient Records from North Arabia, University of Toronto Press, 1970, page91; The exact part in the Harran Inscriptions is (Nab. H2 I 26; ii 11) see I. Eph’al, The Ancient Arabs, 180

[41]The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, 33;The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, Translated by Wilfred Schoff, Munshiram Manoharial Publishers Pvt Ltd, 1995, page 35

[42] Wilfred Schoff, in his introduction to The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, page 16

[43] Hirschfeld, New Researches, 6. Frankel, Aramaisch. Fremdworter; quoted by De Lacy O’Leary, Arabia before Muhammed, D.D., London, New York: Dutton & CO., 1927, page 181

[44] De Lacy O’Leary, Arabia Before Muhammed, page 19

[45] Tarikh al-Tabari, I, page 360

[46] P. Michalowski, Journal of Cuneiform Studies, 40 (1988), pages 156-164; citation, p. 163; cited by K.A. Kitchen, Documentation For Ancient Arabia, Part I, Liverpool University Press, 1994, page 159

[47] Luckenbill, Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia, I, Chicago, page 223 ; Rogers, Cuneiform Parallels to the Old Testaments, page 296; Barton, Archaeology and the Bible, edition 6, 1933, page 457; cited by Arabia and the Bible, James Montgomery, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1934, page 58

[48] A.C. Piepkorn, Historical Prism of Assurbanipal, Chicago-USA, 1933, pages 19-20

[49] Saggs, Iraq 17, ( 1955), pages 142-143; Von Soden, Orientalia 35, (1966), page 20; cited by I. Eph’al, The Ancient Arabs, E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1982, page 94

[50] P. Rost, Die Keilschrifttexte Tiglat-Pilesers III, Leipzig, 1893, pages 150-170; quoted by I. Eph’al, The Ancient Arabs, page 82 [51] The Ancient Arabs, I. Eph’al, page 36

[52] Winnett, Safaitic Inscriptions from Jordan, 1957, Nos. 87, 237

[53] Pliny, Natural History, book VI, Chapter 32

[54] Sawyer John and Clines David, Midian, Moab and Edom, JSOT Press , Department of Biblical Studies,University ofSheffield, 1984, page 101

[55] Luckenbil, op. cit., vol. II, 7; Rogers, op. cit., page 331; Barton, op. cit., page 463; quoted by James Montgomery, Arabia and the Bible, page 59

[56] Claudius Ptolemy, The Geography, Book vi, chapter VII, translated by Stevenson, Dover Publications, 1991, page 139

[57] Herodotus II, page 141

[58] Tablet of the British Museum, 103,000 vn 96-viii 1(Luckenbill, Sennacherib, 113); quoted by I. Eph’al, E.J. Brill, The Ancient Arabs, page 41

[59] Luckenbill, Records of Assyria II. 551.

[60] One such example is the Cylinder inscriptions found in the city of Nimrud, the most important of which is called Klch. A; there is also an inscription called “Trb.A- a,” cylinder inscription from Tarisu (see E. Nassouhi, Mitteilungen der altorientalischen Gesellschaft,III, 1-2, (1927), pages 22-28; quoted by , I. Eph’al, page 45

[61] Inscriptions from Nineveh (K 3082+ K 3086+ Sm 2027); see R. Borger, Die Inschriften Asarhaddons, Konigs von Assyrien, Graz 1956, pages 112-113, quoted by I. Eph’al, The Ancient Arabs, page 46

[62] Heidel Prism iii, 9-18, quoted by Eph’al, page 130

[63] The Ancient Arabs, I. Eph’al, E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1982, page 132

[64] Luckenbill, Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia, Vol. II, page 214

[65]Nin. A.; Heidel Prism iii 21;quoted by Eph’al page 131

[66] Hommel, Ethnologie und Geographie des alten Orients, Munchen, 1926, pages 558-559; quoted by Eph’al.

[67] Eph’al, The Ancient Arabs, E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1982, page 137

[68] Luckenbill, op. cit., page 301; Doughty, Arabia Deserta, Volume I, page 51; quoted by Arabia and the Bible, James Montgomery, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1934, page 62

[69] Annals of Assurbanipal; R.F. Harper, Assyrian and Babylonian Letters, I XIV,(London-Chicago, 19140), 350; cited by Eph’al, page 55 [70] A.R. Millard, Iraq ( 1964), cit. 28 ; quoted by

Eph’al, The Ancient Arabs, page 154

[71] The Ancient Arabs, I. Eph’al, E.J. Brill,Leiden, 1982, page 168

[72] Judith 2:26

[73] Arabia and the Bible, James Montgomery, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1934, page 64

[74] Inscriptions found on Jabal Ghunaym, about 10 miles from Teima. See F.V. Winnett and W.L. Reed, Ancient Records from North Arabia, University of Toronto Press, 1970, page29

[75]Harran Inscriptions Nab. H2 I 26 and Nab. H2 I 24-25; quoted by Eph’al, pages 180 and 181 [76] E. Ebeling, Neubabylonnische Briefe, Munchen 1949, No. 276; E.W. Moore, Neo-Babylonian Documents in the University of Michigan Collection, Ann Arbor, 1939, No. 67; cited by I. Eph’al, The Ancient Arabs, page 189 [77] R. F. Harper, Assyrian and Babylonian Letters, I, XIV, ( London – Chicago 1892-1914) quoted by Eph’al , page 190 [78] Abdel Monem Sayed, “Reconsideration of the Minaean Inscription of Zayd ‘il bin Zayd,” Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, XIV, (1984), pp.93-99; qouted by Stanley Burstein on his comment on Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, The Hakluyt Society London, 1989, page 149 [79] Memphis text was published by Rhodokanakis in Zeitschr.f.Semitistik, II, (1924), 113 ff; cited by James Montgomery, Arabia and the Bible, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1934, page 135; there is a dedication by two merchants of Main to the god Wadd on Delos, see Felix Durrbach, ed., Choix d’Inscriptions de Delos, (Paris, 1921-1922), page 129; cited by Stanley Burstein on his comment on Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, page 150; [80] See David Graf, Dedanite and Minaean (South Arabia) Inscriptions from the Hisma’, Annual of the Department of Antiqueties, XXVII (Amman-Jordan, 1983,) pp. 563-5; cited by Stanley Burstein on his comment on Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, page 149

[81] Two inscriptions were found at Taj in Kuweit, Geog. Journal, 1922, page 59; cited by James Montgomery, Arabia and the Bible, page 166

[82] A village named in a Greek inscription as ” Pool of the Sabaeans ” of Leja, Dussaud, Les Arabes en Syrie, page 10; quoted by James Montgomery, Arabia and the Bible, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1934, page 181

Copyright ã 2004 by Dr. Rafat Amari. All rights reserved

 

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Taken from: http://religionresearchinstitute.org/mecca/archeology.htm

 

 

“I, the one speaking to you—I am He.”

 

Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman

4 Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

The Disciples Rejoin Jesus

27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”

32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”

34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

Many Samaritans Believe

39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.

42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

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Taken from: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+4

Has political Islam failed?

Last updated: 21 Mar 2014 20:03

For video, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=cpmsqABAmCo

Islamic intellectual Tariq Ramadan discusses Islamism and the rise and fall of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Has the Arab Spring turned into an Islamist winter?

Mehdi Hasan challenges Islamic intellectual Tariq Ramadan on the principles and practice of political Islam.

Together they dissect the Arab revolts, focusing on Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise and demise, and the subsequent military coup.

So, has political Islam failed in Egypt? Did the Muslim Brotherhood miss its chance? And should the West be wary of Islamism?

Joining the discussion are: Anas Altikriti, a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and president and founder of the Cordoba Foundation; Yasmin Alibhai Brown, a journalist and the founder of British Muslims for Secular Democracy; and Professor Alan Johnson, from the pro-Israeli lobby group, BICOM.

….

Taken from: http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/headtohead/2014/03/political-islam-failed-20143814278619177.html

“[Nehemiah] was as sensitive as a woman, and he was as iron in resolution as a prophet of God”.

[The AMAIC may have cause later to question the actuality of the supposed Greek contemporaries of Nehemiah]

NEHEMIAH BUILDS THE WALL

Dr. W. A. Criswell

…. Nehemiah Builds the Wall.  And let us turn now to Nehemiah, chapter 4, and we shall read together the first six verses.  Nehemiah—1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, right in the middle of the Old Testament—the Book of Nehemiah, and we are going to read the first six verses.  In the eighth chapter of this book, in the fifth verse it says, “When Ezra opened the book, all the people stood up,” and that is what we do.  All the people stood up in the presence of the Lord and His holy and heavenly Word. Nehemiah, chapter 4; we read out loud the first six verses.  Now together:

But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and he took great indignation, and mocked the Jews.  And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews?  will they fortify themselves?  will they sacrifice?  will they make an end in a day?  will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned?  Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall.  Hear, O our God; for we are despised:   and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity:  And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before Thee: for they have provoked Thee to anger before the builders.  So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.

Now, let’s read that last verse again, verse 6.  Let’s read it out loud again, “So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.”

Now, we’ll be seated.  There are several most interesting things about this Book of Nehemiah and about the man who inspired it.  First, he was a layman.  He was not a professional religionist.  He didn’t make his living by serving in the house of the Lord.  He was a layman.  He was the cupbearer of the king.  We would say in our modern political nomenclature, he was the prime minister of the Persian Empire.  He was a layman.

Another thing about him, he lived in an era of the greatest men who have ever existed in this earth.  He was the prime minister under Artaxerxes Longimanus.  Longimanus means “long hands.”  Longimanus was born with a deformed right hand.  And as the emperor and king of the Persian Empire, he was known as Longimanus.  He reigned over forty years, and under him the Persian Empire reached its highest glory.

He lived in the era of the greatest men of the ancient Greek kingdom.  In the days of Nehemiah, Pericles flourished in Athens.  Their military leader and ruler and philosopher, Pericles was doubtless the greatest Greek who ever lived.

In the days of Nehemiah, Herodotus, the father of history, began to write.  And Thucydides, the incomparable historian and Xenophon, who wrote the March of the Ten Thousand, all of them lived in the days of Nehemiah.

In the days of Nehemiah, Socrates was teaching Plato.  In the days of Nehemiah, Aeschylus was writing his incomparable tragedies, and Aristophanes was writing his brilliant comedies.  In the days of Nehemiah, Democritus was propounding his atomic theory of the nature of matter, of existence.  You’d think he lived in this modern day, Democritus.

In the days of Nehemiah, Ezra the scribe and Malachi the prophet were flourishing.  It was a marvelous era in the history of men.  Nehemiah himself is one of the most unusual men to whom you could ever be introduced.  He was a contrasting personality.  He was as sensitive as a woman, and he was as iron in resolution as a prophet of God.  When Hanani, his brother, came back from Judah and gave a report to Nehemiah, it says that Nehemiah prayed and wept from Chisleu, when Hanani came to Shushan, the summer palace of the Persian king, from Chisleu—that’s November, December—until Nisan. That’s in April.  That’s how long this great man wept and prayed before the Lord [Nehemiah 1].

He did not say: “Don’t tell me of my people and don’t burden my heart with the tragedy of their captivity and servitude.”  Rather, he opened his heart to their need and to their cry—the sensitivity of this layman to his people.

On the other hand, he was an iron resolute.  He jeopardized his life in making an appeal for his people, but like Esther! “If I die, I die.”  And when the king was moved by his request and appeal, he made tremendous preparations for the purpose to which he was dismissed for a while to go to Jerusalem in Judea.

When he arrived, when Nehemiah arrived, he saw the city in ruins.  And the wall had lain in rubbish for one hundred and fifty years, as it had been torn down by the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar.  And the people—the little struggling band that had returned from Babylon to Judea, the little struggling band that lived there were subject to raid, and pillage, and violence, and robbery by all of their hostile neighbors.

Nehemiah then dedicated himself to the building of the wall.  And he accomplished it miraculously within fifty-two days.  His dedication of the wall was, was wonderful.  That’s when Ezra read the Bible, read the Book.  “And when he opened the Book, when he opened the Book, all the people stood up” [Nehemiah 8:5].

It is wonderful to see people in a deeply reverent attitude toward the Word of God, not taking it flippantly or lightly or indifferently, but reverently and earnestly and prayerfully.  “When Ezra opened the Book, all the people stood up.”  And the record of their dedication is just simply, incomparably great.  “And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out all the Levites in all of the places and brought them to Jerusalem, to keep the dedication with gladness, with thanksgiving, with singing, with cymbals, and psalteries and with harps” [Nehemiah 12:27].

Verse 35: “And the priests’ sons sounded the trumpets.”

Verse 36: “And they played with the musical instruments of David the man of God.”

So they stood there and gave thanks to the Lord, and the singers sang loud.  “And they rejoiced for God had made them rejoice with great joy.  The wives also and the children rejoiced so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off [Nehemiah 12:43]… For as in the days of David and Asaph of old, they were the singers.  And songs of praise and thanksgiving, they offered unto the Lord” [Nehemiah 12:46].

Now, that’s what I like, too.  It says here in the Bible: “And they sang loud!”  I like that.  When you sing, don’t sing apologetically, as though you wish you were hidden in a corner or something.  Sing it out, my brother.  Make it known.  And when the trumpets play, play them.  And when the trombones play, outshine the trumpets.  Don’t let them give you a complex.  And when these flutists flout, when the flutists play the flute—oh, it’s wonderful!  I can’t tell you how I rejoice in you.  A wonderful music program, that’s God.

Can you imagine what they sounded like?  In the days of David, there were over four thousand Levites that sang.  Think of it a choir of over four thousand singers and two hundred and ninety-seven instrumentalists, all of them playing to the ability of their souls and lives and love and glory to God.  Well that’s the way they dedicated that wall.

The assignment that Nehemiah had, we also have.  We have a building to receive from the hands of God and to prepare for the use of our young people.  This is a providence and a gracious one of the Lord.  On that corner, beyond the Plaza where Federal and Ervay streets come together, God hath given us a building that we are dedicating to our young people.  It costs four million, six hundred thousand dollars.  It costs one million dollars to remodel it for their use.  And it will cost a hundred thousand dollars to furnish it.

Part of that we have already paid.  We lack four million dollars, and in the precious providence of God, Mrs. Ruth Ray Hunt has given us two million dollars, half of it, and asked that all the rest of us match the two million dollars, dollar for dollar.  For every dollar we give, she gives a dollar.  This is our assignment; our building program in this moment and day of our blessedness and remembrance from God.

In the Arabian Nights, the wall rises by magic in one night.  You’ll find nothing of that in the Bible.  Nothing!  When you read of the building of the wall in Nehemiah, it is in prayer and in dedicated labor, in whole-hearted devotion.

In prayer:  when I look at the first chapter of Nehemiah, in verse 4: “I prayed before the God of heaven.”

In verse 6: twice it says that he prays.

In verse 11: three times he is described as praying.

In verse 4: “So I prayed to the God of heaven.”

In chapter 4:9 and chapter 11:17: he is bowed before God in prayer.

They did it in praying.  First, he prayed; they prayed.  Then when I turn to the third chapter of the Book of Nehemiah, they all shared in the labor, all of them.  It starts off with the priests, with the pastors.  They builded, and next under them builded; then, they and next under them repaired, and next under them repaired.  Then next under them; and next under them; and next under them; and next under them; and next under them; and that entire third chapter—and it’s a long chapter with thirty-two verses—everyone of those verses begins with, “And next unto them repaired.  And next unto them builded.”

They all shared in it; it was something in which each took a part, and each one builded over against his own house.  And I can just hear the shout as they complete this section of the wall and the trumpet sounds and the people sing and rejoice; and then this one—and then that one and that one—until the whole sacred circle is complete.  They prayed unto the God of heaven, and they poured their devoted labor into the task.

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Taken from: http://www.wacriswell.org/printTranscript.cfm/SID/409.cfm

Jesus Christ Tops Wikipedia Popularity List

Christ is most significant person in history, according to analysis of Wiki’s 3 million pages

| Jan 31, 2014 2:22 pm |

What do Jesus, Napoleon and the prophet Muhammad all have in common? They are the top three most significant historical figures, according to new analysis of online encyclopedia Wikipedia’s three million pages. Computer scientists Steven Skiena and Charles B Ward have studied the Wiki pages of more than 800,000 people to come up with a list of the world’s most important figures. Jesus is the most famous person in history according to a software programme that scours the internet to rank people’s importance+5 Jesus is the most famous person in history according to a software programme that scours the internet to rank people’s importance Using a ‘ranking algorithm’, the pair looked at the length of a person’s Wikipedia page, how many times it was read and the number of links from the pages of other major figures. Jesus came out at number one, while French Emperor was ranked at number two and the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, was at number three. The rankings are also compared against public opinion polls, Hall of Fame voting records, sports statistics, and the prices of paintings and autographs. William Shakespeare was in fourth place+5 Napoleon Bonaparte was in second place+5 Lasting impression: William Shakespeare was in fourth place while Napoleon was deemed the second most important person in history Other figures who ranked among the top ten include William Shakespeare, Adolf Hitler and Aristotle. The list appears in a new book called ‘Who’s Bigger: Where Historical Figures Really Rank’ and also includes separate rankings for artists and literary figures. The top pre-20th century artist is Leonardo da Vinci, with Michelangelo at number two and Raphael at number three. Vincent van Gogh topped the list for the modern-era artists with Picasso second and Monet third. The highest ranked literary figure is Shakespeare, followed by Charles Dickens and then Mark Twain.
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