Why do camels always run towards Mecca?

1375 years ago the Prophet Muhammad destroyed the idols of the Kaaba in Mecca

The Arab biographer of the prophets Ibn Ishaq describes the events of January 11th, 630. For centuries, the Kaaba in the trading city of Mecca has been a supraregional center of religious veneration for rich merchants, including Muhammad, and for the Bedouin tribes of the Arabian desert. Around the Kaaba stood another 360 idols, which Muhammad knocked from the pedestal with his staff. The interior of the cube-shaped stone building was decorated with frescoes of the earlier prophets. Muhammad ordered the pictures to be washed down, with one exception: He saved the picture of Jesus from destruction - out of awe of the Christian religion, which Muhammad had already got to know earlier. The Islamic scholar Stefan Reichmuth from the University of Bochum:

As far as one can see from tradition, that was a very syncretistic sanctuary with diverse deities. The groups of pilgrims who came there also worshiped their own deities there. The arrow oracle was located in the Kaaba. Arrows were thrown, like mikado sticks, so to speak. And you connected certain messages, yes or no, with individual arrows and asked certain questions and then threw those arrows and how they came out, the answer was then taken.

In pre-Islamic times, nomads who raised camels, goats or sheep lived on the Arabian Peninsula. Agriculture was only practiced in the few oases. Mecca was the most important trading center in the region. The city merchants controlled the spice and incense business from Yemen to Damascus. The traders had come to terms with the warlike Bedouins and paid tribute to protect their caravans. The Meccans worshiped Allaah as a kind of chief god among local idols. Visiting the place of worship was considered a pilgrimage even before Islam and was associated with special rites such as walking around the Kaaba or animal sacrifices.

Muhammad received the first Quranic revelation around the year 610. From then on he appeared as a prophet. He began promoting Islam in his hometown of Mecca and won many young men over to his cause. The powerful Meccan merchants did not follow him, however, because the Koran rejected many of their trading practices. The traders saw Muhammad as a threat to their political power. Under pressure from his opponents, the Prophet had to flee to Medina in 622, where Islam now had many followers. This flight, the hijra, marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar. There was also a large Jewish community in Medina and the Muslims there prayed like the Jews towards Jerusalem. This changed in the spring of 624 when the Prophet changed the direction of prayer after a Koranic revelation.

Quran 2, 144: We see that you are unsure of where to turn your face while praying. That is why we want to point you in a direction of prayer that you will gladly agree to: Turn your face towards Mecca! And wherever you are believers, turn your face in that direction!

Reichmuth: You bring this together with what is called the "break with the Jews". There is apparently a phase in which Muhammad tried to gain acceptance among the Jews. And when that failed and he received incomprehension and ridicule there, he distanced himself from the Jews.

In the following years the following of Islam also grew in Mecca, which Muhammad was able to win back almost without a fight on January 11, 630. Soon the Prophet forbade all polytheistic practices and the Kaaba became a purely Islamic pilgrimage center. Shortly before his death in 632, Muhammad undertook his last Hajj, which became the model for all subsequent pilgrimages. Since then, Muslim pilgrims have circled the Kaaba seven times counterclockwise, symbolically stone Satan in Mina, pray and rest on Mount Arafat and slaughter sacrificial animals - just like the Prophet Muhammad back then.


Literature and CDs:
- Ibn Ishaq: The Life of the Prophet, trans. v. Gernot Rotter, Tübingen / Basel 1976.
- The Koran, translated by Rudi Paret, 5th edition Stuttgart / Berlin / Cologne 1989.
- CD: The Musicians of the Nile: Luxor to Isna, Real World / Virgin 0777 7861442 5, from it: Ya Tir `Ala Shadjarah (by Murad / Hilali), and Kol Elle Qalboh Ankawa (by Abd Al` Aziz)
- CD: Musique andalouse d’Alger, al-Djazairiya al-Mossiliya, Institut du Monde Arabe 321031, from it track 3: Da´u muqlati tabki