2.0 Mecca and Kaaba
About eighty kilometers from the coast in the eastern mountain chain, surrounded by mountains on all sides except for three narrow passes , stood Mecca. It was on the caravan route of the tribes, but, having no water or plant life, was deserted except for an occasional passer-by. In this secluded place where not even a fly could live, Abraham was ordered to leave Hagar, his Egyptian wife and her young son, Ishmael, for in this valley where nothing could grow, Allah wanted men to go for the express purpose of worship and wanted the progeny of Abraham to cater to the needs of the worshipers. When the provisions Abraham had left them ran out, Hagar looked around for a way of obtaining food and water, for her little son was beginning to suffer from thirst. She could find nothing at all, so she went back and forth, scanning the horizon, hurrying between two prominences called Al-Safa and Al-Marwa in order to see as far as possible. Back and forth she went seven times, and when she returned to her son to see how he fared, the child was kicking the earth with his foot, and from under his foot water gushed out.Hajar remained with her son in this secluded valley surrounded by mountains. She began to give the passing tribes water in exchange for whatever she needed. The first tribe to be attracted to the waters of Zamzam were Banu Jurhum. Hagar allowed them to settle near her on condition that the water remained in her custody. When Ishmael grew up, he married a girl from this tribe.

On his travels, Abraham used to visit his son occasionally. On one of these visits, he was instructed to build a house of worship for Allah that would be a sanctuary for the worshipper, and so together Abraham and Ishmael built the first house for the worship of Allah on earth. They taught the people of those parts to worship one deity, Allah alone, unswervingly. To this day Muslims pray in the place where Abraham instructed the people at the Kaaba, or the Ancient House, as it is called.

With the passage of the centuries, the Meccans grew rich and influential through trade. They began to live a life of luxury and neglected to draw out enough water from Zamzam (the name of Hagar’s spring) to irrigate the land or attend to their stock. They also began to forget the teaching of Abraham and Ishmael and, when Zamzam started to dry up, they began to grow weaker. One of their great men, AI-Mudad ibn Amr of Jurhum, tried to warn them of the consequences but they would not listen to him. He knew that power would soon go out of their hands, so he took two gold statues in the form of gazelles and the money that was inside the Kaaba, lowered them deep down into the well of Zarnzam and covered it so that no one would know the place. Soon after he left Mecca with the descendants of Ishmael.

The tribe of Khuzaa, who had vied with Banu Jurhum for the honor of guarding the Sacred House, ousted them out and took over. They passed on the honorary offices associated with the guardianship for generation after generation, and it is believed that they had a hand in introducing idol worship in Meccaa. The Sabaeans who were star worshippers also influenced the Meccans in this.

Power remained in the hands of the Khuzaa until the time of Qusayy ibn Kilab, the great great great great grandfather of the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. He was known among his people for his good sense and judgment, and his trade prospered and his sons increased. The tribe of Quraysh, the descendants of Ishmael, rallied around him. The honorary offices of the Kaaba were still in the hands of Khuzaa. Qusayy had married a girl from this tribe and before her father died he had entrusted the keys of the Kaaba to her, but being a woman, she apologized and handed them to another man from her tribe called Abu Ghubshan. Abu Ghubshan was a man who liked to drink and one day, possibily when intoxicated, he sold the keys of the Kaaba to Qusayy for a chalice of wine. When Khuza'a saw that the honorary offices of the Kaaba had fallen into the hands of Qusayy, they decided to fight him for them, but all the Meccans, who held Qusayy in high esteem, rallied to him against Khuza'a and drove them out of Mecca and made Qusayy their king. Then all the offices of catering to the pilgrims, held to be the greatest of honors, became Qusayy's by right.

He was the first to make hospitality to the pilgrims the duty of the Meccans. Thus he addressed his people: “People of Quraysh, you are the neighbors of Allah and the people of His house and His holy precincts. The pilgrims are the guests of Allah, the visitors to His House. Of all guests they are the most worthy of your hospitality, so prepare food and drink for them on the days of pilgrimage until they leave the land.”

In those days when there were no hotels and few shops, the traveler relied solely on the hospitality of the people of the land. Hospitality to the stranger was one of the sacred duties, indeed the supreme duty, of the Arabs who lived in an environment where a man could perish from thirst and hunger if help was not forthcoming. After Qusayy, the honorary offices of catering to the pilgrims were divided among his sons, then their progeny. Hashim was the most capable of his brothers and, like his grandfather Qusayy, he called the Meccans to prepare food and drink for the pilgrims. He felt responsible for the people of Mecca and in years of scarcity he used to feed and care for the needy. On a trip to Medina (then known as Yathrib) he met a striking woman who was managing her trade and taking charge of her dependants. He admired her greatly and asked for her hand in marriage. Knowing his position among his people, she accepted. Her name was Salma and she was from the tribe of AI-Khazraj. This union produced a child whose maternal uncles were Medinans and whose paternal uncles were Meccans; his name was Shayba.