Q&A: Journey to Mecca

Journey to Mecca

Question

Islam interprets Psalm 84:6 as a journey to Mecca. Is this true?

Answer

Psalms 84:6 As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
Islam asserts that the word Baka' appears as a name for Mecca. They identify the well in the Psalm as Zam-zam in Mecca which has ritual significance during the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. They state:
Quran 3:96-97 The most important shrine established for the people is the one in Becca; a blessed beacon for all the people. In it are clear signs: the station of Abraham. Anyone who enters it shall be granted safe passage. The people owe it to GOD that they shall observe Hajj to this shrine, when they can afford it. As for those who disbelieve, GOD does not need anyone.

Footnote: 3:96 This is an M-initialed sura, and this peculiar spelling of "Mecca" as "Becca" causes the occurrence of "M" to conform to the Quran's mathematical code. The normal spelling "Mecca" would have increased the frequency of occurrence of "M." (www.masjidtucson.org)

First, we need to view the Psalm in context. The goal of the national pilgrimage was Zion, not the Valley of Baka' (Mecca?). We see this in Psalm 84:7 which states, "They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion." Accordingly, Islam's interpretation of the passage in not consistent with the passage itself.

Second, the word Baka' also occurs in 2 Samuel 5:23-24 and 1 Chronicles 14:14-15, where it is interpreted as "balsam trees" in the NIV or mulberry trees in KJV. This is the valley where David defeated Goliath, near the Valley of Rephaim. This is clearly stated in 2 Samuel 5:16, 22. The Valley of Rephaim descended southwest from Jerusalem to the Valley of Elah below (Josh. 15:8; 18:16). So, the Philistines encamped in Rephaim to attack Jerusalem (less than 5 miles away from Jerusalem), which reveals that Baka' is not in Arabia! It is a valley near Jerusalem.

Third, there is no historical or archaeological evidence that suggests Mecca ever existed prior to the 4th century AD. In his book Islam in Light of History Dr. Rafat Amari states: blockquote> There is no mention of Mecca in the writings of any classical writer or geographer. See (dates app.): (1) Alexander the Great (including the Expedition of Anaxicrates) - 4th century; (2) Theophrastos' survey - 4th century; (3) Eratosthenes' Survey - 275-195 B.C; (4) Agatharchides' Survey on Western Arabia - 145-132 B.C; (5) Artemidorus' Survey - 100 B.C.; (6) the Romans Exploration of Western And Southern Arabia - 30 B.C.; (7) Writings of Strabo - 64 B.C.-23 A.D.; (8) The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea - 60-62 A.D.; (9) Pliny's Survey 77 A.D.; (10) Ptolemy's Survey and the Location of Macoraba - 90 A.D.-168 A.D.; and (11) the absence of Mecca in the Ethiopian, Syrian, Aramaic and Coptic literature - 3rd century A.D.

The writers of history confirm Mecca was built long after Muslims claim it was. Jesus said, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).

Please see Christianity and Islam Contrasted

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).