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Understanding Mecca – for cricket and Islam

by Barbados Today
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With the refreshing of Kensington Oval came the resurgence of the word ‘mecca’. Prime Minister Mottley has recently used this description several times for our Oval. Kensington Oval has the distinction of being known as the ‘mecca’ of cricket in the West Indies. What is the word ‘mecca’? Do our younger generation understand or appreciate its meaning?

As a Muslim, Mecca (Makkah) means a great deal to me. The city of Mecca is the holiest of places for Muslims in this world. It is the place where millions will assemble each year for the Hajj (pilgrimage) retracing the footsteps of the Prophet Abraham, his wife Hajar and their son Ishmael (peace be upon them all). Hajj 2024 will take place in a few weeks. It is the direction that Muslims the world over will face in their daily prayers. And it is referenced in the Holy Quran as the mother of cities.

It is from this sacred city and its huge importance to Muslims that the etymology of ‘mecca’ is best understood. The definition given in the dictionary, apart from “a city in Saudi Arabia that was the birthplace of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and is the holiest city of Islam, is “a place that attracts many people”.

And so, our Kensington Oval is often described as this region’s mecca for cricket. Barbadians are proud of their Oval and the many triumphs of the West Indies team there over the glorious and not-so-glorious years. While some Muslims will shy away from using the word ‘mecca’ outside of its sacred meaning, others will accept that it’s an expression that’s transcended the specific reference to the city. An expression that describes a place that many visit or hope to visit.

We look forward to welcoming the thousands who will come to our Kensington Oval in its glorious rejuvenation.

Sulieman Bulbulia

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