24 June 2008

Mecca name changed to Makkah

The holiest city for the Muslims is Makkah-tul-Mukarramah. It is not "Mecca". Saudi Arabia had officially changed the spelling of the name of this city to "Makkah" a few years ago after realizing the derogatory usage of the word by the Western media and Western authors. And that is the way it should be. We do not like it if our own name is misspelled or mispronounced. How can we then allow it when the same is done to any of our most important icons?

Unfortunately many people, even some Muslims are still careless about it. It is increasingly being observed with a degree of concern that all kinds of businesses are (mis-)using the name "Mecca". "Motor-Mecca", "The Mecca Group", etc. It should be respectfully pointed out to such persons that the usage of the word "Mecca" to name their businesses is offensive. A billion and a half Muslims the world over, hold this holy city in the highest regard and veneration. To desecrate the name of this holy city by abusing it in this fashion is not acceptable.

Recently, The British Rank Corporation, which owns a chain of gambling and entertainment shops under the name of "Mecca", removed the name from its shop fronts as a result of protests from British Muslims. Muslims of Luton in the UK had protested against the defamatory use of the name of this holy city.

In most cases it is done out of ignorance, not deliberately. If pointed out politely but firmly, most companies respond favorably by changing the name.

Muslims should also be encouraged to adopt the proper spelling of Makkah, rather than the old, incorrect "mecca" version. Madinah should rather be spelled as Madinah than being spelled as "medina". Principals and educators of educational institutions such as Madrasahs, Islamic Schools, academies, Muslim writers, authors, researchers, scholars are to be encouraged to use the correct spelling.

Muslims have a duty to be vigilant and decisive in acting against anything that may be deemed sacrilegious, blasphemous or disrespectful to Islam or Muslims, all over the world. Every town, city, province, country should have a dedicated and committed group of people to fulfil this important "watch-dog" role for the sake of the Ummah and Islam.

By Abu Atiyyah, South Africa