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What Is Mecca?
Mecca is a city in Saudi Arabia, regarded as the holiest meeting site in Islam, closely followed by Medina.
For Muslims, Mecca is a very important and sacred place. Muslims face Mecca during their daily prayers and all able-bodied Muslims must travel to Mecca during their lifetimes to fulfil Hajj, or pilgrimage, one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Approximately two million Muslims arrive in Mecca during the last month of the Islamic calendar for the Hajj.
The city is holy for a number of reasons. The primary reason for most Muslims is that Mecca is the birthplace of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. Many of his revelations also occurred within the confines of Mecca.
Born in 570 in Mecca, Muhammad was orphaned at an early age and brought up under the care of his uncle Abu Talib. He later worked mostly as a merchant, as well as a shepherd, and was first married by age 25. Discontented with life in Mecca, he retreated to a cave in the surrounding mountains for meditation and reflection. According to Islamic beliefs it was here, at age 40, in the month of Ramadan, where he received his first revelation from God. Three years after this event Muhammad started preaching these revelations publicly, proclaiming that "God is One", that complete "surrender" to Him (lit. islam) is the only way (din) acceptable to God, and that he himself was a prophet and messenger of God, in the same vein as other Islamic prophets.
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