Makkah is a city in Saudi Arabia. Home to the Masjid al-Haram, it is the holiest city in Islam . Islamic tradition attributes the beginning of Mecca to Prophet Ismail's descendants. In the 7th century, the Islamic prophet Muhammad proclaimed Islam in the city, by then an important trading center, and the city played an important role in the early history of Islam. After 966, Mecca was led by local sharifs, until 1924, when it came under the rule of the Saudis.In its modern period, Mecca has seen a great expansion in size and infrastructure.
The modern day city is located in and is the capital of Saudi Arabia's Makkah Province. The Kaaba is the ancient stone building towards which all Muslims pray. All Muslims believe that it dates back to the time of Abraham in 2000 BC. All pilgrims are required to walk counter-clockwise around the Kaaba seven times starting at the Black Stone, in a ritual called the Tawaf.
Muslims believe that the Zamzam Well was revealed to Hagar, mother of Ismail. She was desperately seeking water for her infant son, but could find none. Mecca is located in a hot dry valley with few other sources of water. The water of the Zamzam well is divinely blessed. It is believed to satisfy both hunger and thirst, and cure illness. The water is served to the public through coolers stationed throughout the Masjid al-Haram and the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina. All pilgrims make every effort to drink of this water during their pilgrimage.