Did Makkah Exists Before 4th Century
Among the many things that Christian (missionaries or otherwise) argue about is that there is no evidence that Makkah existed before the 4th Century. What I usually say is that absence of evidence does not mean that it did not exist. It simply means that the evidence has not been discovered yet.
However, Ka’abah which is in Makkah DID exist long before the Prophet Muhammad (p).
The Greek historian, Diodorus Siculus has written historical documents in the 1st century BC and is known for his Biblitheca Historica. Siculus is the first historian to mention Makkah long before Islam. He wrote: ”And a temple has been set up there, which is very holy and exceedingly revered by all Arabians”. Siculus died in 30 BC.
In his book, Siculus wrote (translated from Greek writing and quoted by Edward Gibbon “Diodorus of Sicily”):
“And a temple has been set-up there, which is very holy and exceedingly revered by all Arabians.” (Translation by C H Oldfather, Diodorus Of Sicily, Volume II, William Heinemann Ltd., London & Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, MCMXXXV, pg. 217)
Reverend Charles Augustus Goodrich, a Christian writer and church minister wrote in his book “Religious Ceremonies and Customs”:
“Among the variety of fabulous traditions which have been propagated by the followers of Mahomet, concerning the origin of this building, we find it asserted, that its existence is coeval with our parents, and that it was built by Adam, after his expulsion from paradise, from a representation of the celestial temple, which the almighty let down from heaven in curtains of light and placed in Mecca, perpendicular under the original. To this the patriarch was commanded to turn his face when he prayed, and to compass it by way of devotion, as the angels did the heavenly one. After the destruction of this temple by the deluge, it was rebuilt by Abraham and his son Ishmael on the same spot, and after the same model, according to directions, which they received by revelation; and since that time, it has continued to be the object of veneration to Ishmael’s descendants. Whatever discredit we may give to these, and other ravings of the Moslem imposter concerning the Caaba its high antiquity cannot be disputed; and the most probable account is, that it was built and used for religious purposes by some of the early patriarchs; and after the introduction of idols, it came to be appropriated to the reception of the pagan divinities. Diodorus Siculus, in his description of the cost of the Red Sea, mentions this temple as being, in his time, held in great veneration by all Arabians; and Pocoke informs us, that the linen or silken veil, with which it is covered, was first offered by a pious King of the Hamyarites, seven hundred years before the time of Mahomet.” (Religious Ceremonies and Customs, Charles Augustus Goodrich, Hartford: Published by Hutchinson and Dwine 1834, pg 124)
Encyclopedia Britannica makes a similar mention:
“Each tribe, each family, each independent warrior, created and changed the rites and the object of this fantastic worship; but the nation in every age has bowed to the religion as well as to the language, of Mecca. The genuine antiquity of the Caaba extends beyond the Christian era: in describing the coast of the Red Sea, the Greek historian Diodorus has remarked, between the Thamaudites and the Sabeans a famous temple, whose superior sanctity was revered by ALL THE ARABIANS: the linen or silken veil, which is annually renewed by the Turkish Emperor, was first offered by a pious King of the Homerites, who reigned 700 years before the time of Mahomet.” (Encyclopedia Britannica: Or, A Dictionary of Arts, sciences and Miscellaneous Literature Constructed on a Plan Volume 2, by Colin Macfarquhar pg 183 – 184)
Sir William Muir writes in “Life of Muhammad“:
“A very high antiquity must be assigned to the main features of the religion of Mecca… Diodorus Siculus, writing about half a centruy before our era, says of that part of Arabia washed by the Red Sea, ‘there is in this country a temple greatly revered by all thr Arabs’, These words must refer to the holy house of Mecca, for we know of no other which ever commanded the universal homage of Arabia. …Tradition represents the Ka’bah as from time immemorial the scene of pilgrimage from all quarters of Arabia: from Yaman, Hadzramaut, and the shores of the Persian Gulf, from the desret of Syria, and from the distand environs of Hirah and Mesopatamia, men yearly flocked to Mecca. So extensvie a homafe much have had its beginning in an extemely remore age.”
Another 2nd century writer by the name of Claudius Ptolemy from Alexandria, also mentioned Makkah in his writings. Ptolemy was well known mathematician, geographer, astronomer and a writer. In his writings, he mentions Makkah as “Makoraba”:
“Mecca (Makkah al-Mukarramah, lit ‘Mecca the blessed’). For thousands of years Mecca has been a spiritual center. Ptolemy, the second century Greek geographer, mentioned Mecca, calling it ‘Makoraba’. Some have interpreted this to mean temple (from Maqribah in south Arabian) but it may also mean ‘Mecca of the Arabs’.” (The New Encyclopedia of Islam By Cyril Glassé pg 302)
Another writer, IIya Pavlovich (1898-1977) who was also a History professor at University of Leningrad talks about Ptolemy in his book:
“On the caravan route from Syria to the Yemen, in the Hijaz neighbourhood, lay Mecca. Ptolemy, the Greek geographer, mentions it as early as the second century calling it Makoraba, which is derived from the south Arab word Maqrab meaning ‘sanctuary’. (Islam in Iran by I. Pavlovich Petrushevsky pg 3)
Interestingly, Ptolemy, not only wrote about the temple in Makkah but he made several maps showing more than a hundred villages in Arabia Felix.
Names of places from Ptolemy map
Ptolemy World Map Showing Makkah in Hejaz )
Other ancient writers who mentioned Makkah are Ammianus Marcellinus in 2 AD and Pliny the Elder in 1 AD.