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Question (from a reader):
In a report I want to do about Bible & Quran, i want to know if there is any connection between what we know in the Bible about Abraham and his wife Hagar and their son going off to Arabia to a place called "Bacca" (Bible) or is it related to the place called "Mecca" (Arabic?)
My friend tried to tell me it is in the Quran and a place of prophets of Israel or something. Please clarify if you can. Thanks.
Answer (from Yusuf Estes):
Here is what we find on your subject of the words 'Bakkah' and 'Makkah'. Let us know if it helps you or if you have other questions. We are here to help clear up misunderstandings and misconceptions about Islam and the Muslims.
BAKKAH - MAKKAH
Bacca - Mecca
Bakkah (Arabic: بكة) is one of the ancient names for what we call today: Mecca [Makkah].
This is now the most holy city of Islam. Most people believe they are synonyms, but for Muslim scholars there is a distinction: Scholars have said 'Bakkah' refers to the Kaaba and the sacred site immediately surrounding it, while 'Mecca' is the name of the city in which they are both located. The word 'Bakkah' is actually mentioned in chapter 3 (Surah Al Imran), ayah 96 of the Quran. It says it is very location of the first place of worship to the One God (Allah). It is also identified with the Biblical "valley of Baca" from Psalms 84 (Hebrew: בך).
Photo Inside Kaba
Actually Bakkah (also transliterated Baca, Baka, Bakah, Bakka, Becca, Bekka, etc.) is the ancient name for the site of today's Mecca. An Arabic language word, its etymology, like that of Mecca is still preserved for us today.
One meaning suggested is; "narrow". This was seen as descriptive of the area in which the valley of the holy places and the city of Mecca are located, pressed in upon as they are by mountains.
Widely believed and accepted to be a synonym for Mecca, it is said to be more specifically the early name for the valley located therein, while Muslim scholars generally use it to refer to the sacred area of the city that immediately surrounds and includes the Holy Kabbah.
Inside Haram Facing Kabbah
The form Bakkah is used for the name Mecca in the Quran in chapter 3 (Surah Al Imran), ayah 96, while the form Makkah is used in chapter 48, ayah 24.
Regarding the usage of the two different letters, 'B' And 'M' one opinion says, the language in use in the southern portion of the Arabian Peninsula at the time of Muhammad, the letter 'B' and the letter 'M' were sometimes interchangeable.
The Quran uses 'Bakkah' as "The first sanctuary appointed for mankind was that at Bakkah, a blessed place, a guidance for the peoples." Other references to Mecca in the Quran (6:92, 42:5) call it Umm al-Qura, means "mother of all settlements."
According to Islamic teachings, Bakkah is where Hajjar and Ishmael (Arabic: Ismail) settled after being taken by Abraham (Arabic: Ibrahim) into the wilderness.
This story is narrated in the beginning of the Old Testament of the Bible, in the Book of Genesis (21:14-21).
We learn from Islam what happened when Hajjar and Ishmael ran out of water to drink.
In hadith (narration of prophet Muhammad), Hajjar runs back and forth between two elevated points of Safa and Marwa seven (7) times in search of help from anyone, or a caravan of people, in any way possible to get some water and she is praying to God (Allah) for help.
At this same time the angel Gabriel (Jibril in Arabic) appears and speaks as recorded in Genesis 21:17-19:
God hears the cry of the boy, and the angel of God calls to Hjjar from heaven and said to her, 'What troubles you, Hajjar?
Fear not, for God has heeded the cry of the boy where he is. Come, lift up the boy and hold him by the hand, for I will make a great nation of him.
' Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water (Zam Zam).
Hajjar (Hagar) went to the well and filled the skin with water and let the boy drink.
Zam Zam Well
Hadith (narration) of the prophet, peace be upon him, tells us a spring gushed forth from the spot where Hajjar (Hagar) had laid her son, Ismael (Ishmael). After the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) had left his wife, Hajjar and Ismael in the Valley of Baca (Bakkah), Hajjar ran up and down between the mountains of Safa and Mara looking for a caravan or travelers who might have water. She did this seven times, eagerly searching for anyone with water. The angel Gabriel (Jibril) appeared, opened the ground and water came rushing out. Some say it was so much water, she feared they might drown and said to the well, "Zam! Zam!" -- In her language it meant, "Go back! Go back!" [unconfirmed narration]
This spring came to be known as the Well of Zamzam.
When Muslims on hajj (pilgrimage), they walk back and forth between the hills of Safa and Marwah seven times. This is to commemorate Hajjar's search for help and the resulting revelation of the well of Zamzam.
It is also believed Hajjar and Ishamel stayed there in Bakkah. The Quran tells us Abraham came to Mecca (Bakkah) to help his son Ishmael build the Kabbah near to the well of Zam Zam.
Lord of Bakka (in Hebrew)
Ibn Ishaq, the 8th century Arab Muslim historian, relates that during the renovation of Kaaba undertaken during the time of Muhammad, peace be upon him, in 605 CE, the Quraysh found an inscription in one of the corners of the foundation of the building that mentions Bakkah.
The inscription was composed in Syriac, it was not understood by the people of Quraysh until a Jew translated it for them as follows:
"I am Allah, the Lord of Bakka. I created it on the day I created heaven and earth and formed the sun and the moon, and I surrounded it with seven pious angels.
It will stand while its two mountains stand, a blessing to its people with milk and water."
The name Bakkah is woven into the kiswa, a black cloth covering the Kaaba that is replaced each year just before the time of Hajj (pilgrimage).
Valley of Baca (Bakkah)
The Valley of Baca is mentioned in Psalm 84 of the Bible in the following passage:
How lovely is Your dwelling-place, O Lord of Hosts. I long, I yearn for the courts of the Lord; my body and soul shout for joy to the living God ... Happy are those who dwell in Your house; they forever praise You. Happy is the man who finds refuge in You, whose mind is on the [pilgrim] highways. They pass through the Valley of Baca, regarding it as a place of springs, as if the early rain had covered it with blessing ... Better one day in Your courts than a thousand [anywhere else]; I would rather stand at the threshold of God's house than dwell in the tents of the wicked. [Psalms 84]
The original Hebrew language phrase for the Valley of Baca is: emeq ha-Baka.
It can also be translated as "Valley of the Balsam Tree" or "Valley of the Weeper".
This otherwise unidentified valley has been connected to Bakkah by Muslim writers.
If you would like to know more about Islam, what it really teaches and how we can best communicate it to others, please visit www.WhatsIslam.com and you are welcome to use these videos and articles to help your presentation in English.
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