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QINGDAO TODAY
在线翻译:
szdaily -> Speak Shenzhen -> 
The Conquest of Mecca
    2019-01-08  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

James Baquet

If you’ve heard anything at all about Islam, the religion of the Muslims, you’ve probably heard of Mecca. Pious Muslims are to pray five times a day facing Mecca, wherever they are in the world, and are expected to make a pilgrimage there at least once in their lives, if at all possible.

But what, exactly, is Mecca’s significance? This question unfolds a rich story of an ancient shrine, and of the life of Islam’s founder, prophet, and messenger Muhammad.

He was born in Mecca in 570. Orphaned at 6, he was raised by his aunt and uncle, under whose guidance he worked as a notably honest trader and merchant.

As a young man, he began to visit a nearby cave, where he received messages from Allah which were ultimately assembled into Islam’s holy book, the Quran. Sharing these insights with his neighbors, he came to be seen by many as a prophet. But others objected to this challenge to their polytheistic beliefs and plotted his assassination.

So, in 622, he slipped away in the night with his followers to the city of Medina, about 320 kilometers to the north. This is called the Hegira (or Hijra); the founding of Islam, as well as the Islamic calendar, dates to this event.

Incidentally, Medina was then called “Yathrib.” It later came to be called “Madinat al-Nabi” — “city of the Prophet” in Arabic — which was later shortened to just “Medina.”

But by 629, it was time to return to Mecca. It is the site of the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest shrine, dedicated to Allah, and it was, after all, Muhammad’s hometown. So he organized an army that swelled to some 10,000 men — the largest assemblage of Muslim soldiers to that time — and attacked the city through four different passes, figuring that if one or even two assaults failed, the others would be successful. This strategy would also dissipate the defending forces.

As it turned out, three of the four columns entered Mecca peacefully. Only one faced any resistance, and that resulted in only 12 losses by the defenders, and two by the Muslims.

Mecca was won, and remains to this day the primary focus of Muslims the world over.

Vocabulary:

Which word above means:

1. one who engages in buying and selling goods

2. reveals, displays

3. scatter, disperse

4. believing in many gods

5. one who speaks for God

6. faithful, following a religious practice

7. planned, schemed

8. became larger

9. left without parents

10. trip undertaken for religious reasons

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