History of the Holy City of Makkah
In its long history Makkah has also been known as Bakkah. In ancient times, Makkah was chiefly notable as a staging post on the trade route linking the spice producers of the east with Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean. Makkah lay about midway between Marib, one of the main cities, perhaps the capital, of the kingdom of Sheba (Yemen) and Petra (in Jordan), a city founded by Nabatean Arabs around the 6th century CE and which became a thriving center with commercial interests spreading into Syria. The religious significance of Makkah was established long before Islamic times. It was in Makkah that Allah commanded Ibrahim to leave Haajar and his young son Ishmael; it was in Makkah that Allah brought forth water from the Well of Zamzam which saved the life of Ishmael and his mother and then allowed Makkah to develop as a habitable place; it was in Makkah that Allah instructed Ibrahim to build "the House of God" (the Holy Kaaba).
According to Islamic tradition, the history of Mecca goes back to Ibrahim who built the Kaaba with the help of his eldest son Ishmael in around 2000 BCE when the inhabitants of what was then known as Bakkah had fallen away from the original monotheism of Abraham through the influence of the Amelkites.
Medina [Al Madinah, Yathrib] is the second most important holy city of Islam, Prophet Muhammed is also buried in Madina. Noted for its mosque enclosing the tomb and its palaces and fountains, the city was the refuge of Muhammad after his flight from Mecca. The Arabic word for city, medina, connotes the center of political or economic power.
Considered to be the second most important holy city of Islam, the city of Medina is located in a well-watered oasis 110 miles (180 km) inland (east) of the Red Sea. Much fruit and some grain are raised in and around the city. The chief building is the large mosque.