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Mecca (فتحة or truck stop in Arabic) is the holiest city in the religion of Islam (except for Boston, and then only if you are looking for lax airport security and an ample selection of prostitutes on that eve of your big day). Millions of Muslims make pilgrimages (the hajj) to Mecca. Unlike the Pilgrims who settled around that other city, these do not burn witches. This is generally a result of the lack of combustible materials in Mecca.
Mecca is the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammed and the place where he revealed the Koran and, like Moses with the stone tablets, spent the next ten years explaining why "God" wrote in the prophet's own handwriting.
Mecca is in the Hejaz region of Saudi Arabia. That is why its sports teams are nicknamed "the Jazz." The city is surrounded by a gigantic ocean. Unfortunately for swimmers, the ocean is filled with sand and oil.
The location of Mecca is important, because Muslims are supposed to face it when praying, and face away from it when on the toilet. Happily, the Obama administration is renovating all the lavatories at the Guantanamo "detention" facility, even though it is scheduled to be closed in 2009, in the interest of happier inmates. New smartphone apps conveniently tell Muslims which direction Mecca is, right after they view a short television ad and answer a few personal questions.
Facing away from Mecca while relieving oneself becomes problematic once pilgrims arrive at Mecca, as there is Mecca in all directions. These devotees have to take a bus outside the city several times each day.
When pilgrims arrive at Mecca, the thing to do is to go straight to the Kaaba (pictured) and contemplate its perfect, cubical structure and other mysteries of the universe. Then leave and try to find a place to eat dinner that won't make you sick.
Non-Muslims do not have to worry about where Mecca is at all. Because you won't be allowed in. Homosexuals should give thought to where Mecca is, in order to be sure not to be there.
Mecca is also written Makkah, a word that is closer to its pronunciation in Arabic. Many Muslims view the more common spelling of the name as offensive, as they also view anyone who can spell at all, and anyone who lives in any other country or believes in anything else.
Makkah used to be known as Bakkah, proving that it is indeed possible to catch cold even in the desert. The word Bakkah is used in the Quran in 3:96, but it is spelled Mecca when we get to 48:24. Many Muslims view the notion that Allah makes typos as offensive, also that a foreign-language wiki edited by infidels revels in them.
Psalm 84:3–6 mentions a pilgrimage at the Valley of Baca, which many Muslims interpret as referring to Mecca (if they risk amputation by bringing a Bible into Mecca in the first place). Ptolemy may have called the city "Macoraba". Or he may have been referring to Macadamia nuts.
Muhammad and the conquest of Mecca
Muhammad was born in Mecca in 570 (pbuh) in a minor faction of the ruling Quraysh tribe. At the age of 40, he began to receive divine revelations through the Prophet Gabriel. As neither Ritalin nor psychotherapy had been invented yet, people just humored him for 13 years (between occasional armed conflicts). In 622, he moved to Medina with his companions, the Muhajirun. Mecca and Medina spent the next few years continuing to do what Muslims do best: trying to wipe each other out.
The fighting was inconclusive, and in 628, Muhammad and the Muhajirun went to Mecca, saying, "Let us in! we are on pilgrimage!" (which was, even then, the oldest trick in the book). The city fathers refused them admittance but signed a ten-year cease-fire. However, the first time they used the treaty's fine print to slaughter a bunch of Muslims, Muhammad and an army of 10,000 entered Mecca and took it over (not knocking first, this time). Now both Mecca and Medina were forever linked to Muhammad. Also a bunch of motels on the way with neon signs that say, "Muhammad once slept here."
Change of administration
Up through 1925, Mecca was independently governed by the sharifs. The most famous of these was Omar Sharif. His mayoralty culminated with the 1916 "urban renewal" program administered from without, by the armies of the Ottoman Empire, which had previously been otherwise occupied in that dispute now known as the Furniture War. This miscalculation (and the ensuing "Battle of Mecca") resulted in Omar abdicating, and moving to Hollywood to begin the acting career for which he is much better known.
Mecca was then annexed by Saudi Arabia. Under the governance of the House of Saud, the schools now teach the Blood Libel and hatred of Israel and the West, funded by U.S. foreign aid sent in the interest of supporting the moderate face of Islam.
Under Saudi rule, the city has become a bustling metropolis and seen intense new construction projects (pictured). About 95% of Mecca's historic buildings have been demolished, including five of the renowned "Seven Mosques." This is all just as well, as they suffered from numerous Code violations that it would have been expensive to remedy.
Thus, the house of Khadijah is now an IHOP pancake house; the house of Abu Bakr is an Exxon filling station; and the birthplace of Muhammed itself (pbuh) has been turned into the headquarters of the Ministry of Culture [sic]. The destruction of historic sites is intensely annoying to the editors of Mecca's article on Wikipedia, as the city's sputtering, seasonal tourist economy would surely be better off with more crumbling historical relics that these British swells would, in any case, never be allowed to get close to.
Mecca (or "Mexicana") is also a small, sleepy farm town in California, home to hotel workers and landscapers of beautiful Palm Springs. It was made famous by a cool chemical spill from a knocked-over railroad train, whose enduring smell is sometimes mistaken for that of the Salton Sea.
Various other cities are often referred to as a tourist Mecca, as the entire state of New Hampshire touts itself as a shopping Mecca, also a tax-evasion Mecca for citizens of Massachusetts with a vacation home. Calling something a Mecca means it is a place you would want to go — rather ignoring the beheadings, stonings, and wrapping of women in overcoats, year-round, of the original place.