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City (pop., 2004: 1,294,106), western Saudi Arabia. The holiest city of Islam, it was the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad. It was his home until AD 622, when he was forced to flee to Medina (see alsoHijrah); he returned and captured the city in 630. It came under the control of the Egyptian Mamluk dynasty in 1269 and of the Ottoman Empire in 1517. King Ibn Sa'ud occupied it in 1925, and it became part of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is a religious centre to which Muslims must attempt a pilgrimage (seehajj) once during a lifetime; only Muslims may enter Mecca. Services related to pilgrimages are the main economic activity. It is the site of the Haram Mosque, which contains the Ka'bah.
Variants of MECCA
Mecca Arabic Al-Makkah
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Mecca, visit Britannica.com.