Stephen J. Shoemaker

Stephen J. Shoemaker is professor at the University of Oregon, and a specialist in the history of Christianity and the beginnings of Islam. His most recent book is A Prophet Has Appeared: The Rise of Islam through Christian and Jewish Eyes. 

The making of Mecca

Later this year, over two million Muslims will travel to Mecca, Islam’s holiest city, for the Hajj, one the five pillars of Islam. Yet the historical basis for the Meccan pilgrimage is far from clear. During Muhammad’s lifetime, Mecca was literally off the map for most of the world. No pre-Islamic source so much as mentions its