November 15th, 2010
09:36 AM ET

Adventurer's photos capture a bygone Mecca

By Barry Neild for CNN

He was an adventurer, a scholar, and possibly a spy - but as Dutchman Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje proved with his rare 1885 photographs and sound recordings of Mecca, he was also a pioneering multimedia journalist.

Snouck's extraordinary collection of sepia-tinted images of Mecca in a bygone age have gone on display in Dubai ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage that originally drew him to the heart of Islam.

Accompanied by crackling, eerie soundscapes captured by Snouck using Thomas Edison's newly-invented wax cylinders, the exhibition paints a very different picture from the ornate and built-up Mecca familiar to modern visitors.

Among the newly-restored platinum prints, one image taken from a nearby hillside shows the Kaaba, the instantly recognizable cubic building considered by Muslims to be the holiest place on the planet.

But though the galleried compound which surrounds it is echoed by Mecca's contemporary architecture, the sparsely-built city of Snouck's era bears only a passing resemblance, as do the rudimentary travelers' tents on the dusty plains outside the city.

Read the full story here from CNN's Inside the Middle East Blog.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Holidays • Houses of worship • Islam • Mosque • Muslim

soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Muneef

    This is one of those books to read for proper guidance:

    The Bible, The Qur'an and Science
    by Dr. Maurice Bucaille
    Translated from French
    by Alastair D. Pannell and The Author


    November 21, 2010 at 7:31 pm |
  2. Nadia

    Beatiful recitation and portraits.... wish people knew about the truth regarding Islam and the beauty of the hajj where every person black or white, rich or poor, dresses in white garb and becomes one in the eyes of God (as it should be on a daily basis)...

    November 15, 2010 at 10:52 pm |
    • Reality

      The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:

      ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

      Nadia, are you ready?

      Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

      "1. Belief in Allah"

      aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your cleansing neurons.

      "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

      Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

      "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

      A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

      "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

      Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

      Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

      Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

      "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) alone."

      Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave attended to by his wives before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

      Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

      November 16, 2010 at 1:00 am |
    • Muneef


      Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, `Atiq ibn Abi Quhafa, Shaykh al-Islam, `
      Prophet Muhammad named him Al-Siddiq for his Truthfulness and he was amongst the first to be trusted to write the Quran verses for the Prophet Muhammad.

      November 16, 2010 at 9:31 pm |
  3. Gary

    watching muslims in their pilgramige to Mecca is such a great example of sheeple blindly following a lame ass religion.

    November 15, 2010 at 9:45 pm |
    • Muneef


      You said Sheeply Blind about Muslims and seen it being used for Christians and it must being addressed to all believers of Ibrahim God...so if we are sheep? What do you think you are??
      Check the difference here:

      Ya-Seen Sura 36: 
      In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
       Sin. (1) By the wise Qur'an, (2) Lo! thou art of those sent (3) On a straight path, (4) A revelation of the Mighty, the Merciful, (5) That thou mayst warn a folk whose fathers were not warned, so they are heedless. (6) Already hath the word proved true of most of them, for they believe not. (7) Lo! We have put on their necks carcans reaching unto the chins, so that they are made stiff-necked. (8) And We have set a bar before them and a bar behind them, and (thus) have covered them so that they see not. (9) Whether thou warn them or thou warn them not, it is alike for them, for they believe not. (10) Thou warnest only him who followeth the Reminder and feareth the Beneficent in secret. To him bear tidings of forgiveness and a rich reward. (11) Lo! We it is Who bring the dead to life. We record that which they send before (them), and their footprints. And all things We have kept in a clear Register. (12).

      November 16, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
    • Muneef


      Al-Baqara- Sura 02:
      In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
      Alif. Lam. Mim. (1) This is the Scripture whereof there is no doubt, a guidance unto those who ward off (evil). (2) Who believe in the Unseen, and establish worship, and spend of that We have bestowed upon them; (3) And who believe in that which is revealed unto thee (Muhammad) and that which was revealed before thee, and are certain of the Hereafter. (4) These depend on guidance from their Lord. These are the successful. (5)

      Ibrahim Sura 14:
      In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
      Alif. Lam. Ra. (This is) a Scripture which We have revealed unto thee (Muhammad) that thereby thou mayst bring forth mankind from darkness unto light, by the permission of their Lord, unto the path of the Mighty, the Owner of Praise, (1) Allah, unto Whom belongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth. and woe unto the disbelievers from an awful doom; (2) Those who love the life of the world more than the Hereafter, and debar (men) from the way of Allah and would have it crooked: such are far astray. (3) And We never sent a messenger save with the language of his folk, that he might make (the message) clear for them. Then Allah sendeth whom He will astray, and guideth whom He will. He is the Mighty, the Wise. (4). 

      November 16, 2010 at 7:26 pm |
    • Muneef


      Ibrahim Sura 14:
      In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
      Seest thou not how Allah coineth a similitude: A goodly saying, as a goodly tree, its root set firm, its branches reaching into heaven, (24) Giving its fruit at every season by permission of its Lord? Allah coineth the similitudes for mankind in order that they may reflect. (25) And the similitude of a bad saying is as a bad tree, uprooted from upon the earth, possessing no stability. (26) Allah confirmeth those who believe by a firm saying in the life of the world and in the Hereafter, and Allah sendeth wrong-doers astray. And Allah doeth what He will. (27) 

      November 16, 2010 at 7:33 pm |
    • Muneef


      Ta-Ha Sura 20:
      In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
      Ta Ha. (1) We have not sent down the Qur'an to thee to be (an occasion) for thy distress (2) But only as an admonition to those who fear (Allah)― (3) A revelation from Him Who created the earth and the heavens on high. (4) (Allah) Most Gracious is firmly established on the Throne (of authority). (5) To Him belongs what is in the heavens and on earth, and all between them, and all beneath the soil. (6) If thou pronounce the word aloud, (it is no matter): for verily He knoweth what is secret and what is yet more hidden. (7) Allah! there is no god but He! To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names. (8) 

      November 16, 2010 at 7:49 pm |
  4. Dan Arey

    Can't we all believe what we want and not be the target of others? Why can't we have a Bill of Rights Amendment to both the Bible and Koran. 1.) Thou shalt allow others to believe as they will, since faith is a worthy attribute of humanity and tool of survival.

    November 15, 2010 at 9:39 pm |
    • Muneef

      @Dan Arey.

      Al-E-Imran Sura 03
      In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
      Say: O People of the Scripture! Come to an agreement between us and you: that we shall worship none but Allah, and that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside Allah. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered (unto Him). (64) O People of the Scripture! Why will ye argue about Abraham, when the Torah and the Gospel were not revealed till after him? Have ye then no sense? (65) Lo! ye are those who argue about that whereof ye have some knowledge: Why then argue ye concerning that whereof ye have no knowledge? Allah knoweth. Ye know not. (66) Abraham was not a Jew, nor yet a Christian; but he was an upright man who had surrendered (to Allah), and he was not of the idolaters. (67) Lo! those of mankind who have the best claim to Abraham are those who followed him, and this Prophet and those who believe (with him); and Allah is the Protecting Guardian of the believers. (68) A party of the People of the Scripture long to make you go astray; and they make none to go astray except themselves, but they perceive not. (69) O People of the Scripture! Why disbelieve ye in the revelations of Allah, when ye (yourselves) bear witness (to their truth)? (70) O People of the Scripture! Why confound ye truth with falsehood and knowingly conceal the truth? (71).

      Ibrahim Sura 14:
      In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
      Seest thou not how Allah coineth a similitude: A goodly saying, as a goodly tree, its root set firm, its branches reaching into heaven, (24) Giving its fruit at every season by permission of its Lord? Allah coineth the similitudes for mankind in order that they may reflect. (25) And the similitude of a bad saying is as a bad tree, uprooted from upon the earth, possessing no stability. (26) Allah confirmeth those who believe by a firm saying in the life of the world and in the Hereafter, and Allah sendeth wrong-doers astray. And Allah doeth what He will. (27)

      November 16, 2010 at 7:54 pm |
  5. Americanbornmuslim

    that was awesome!

    November 15, 2010 at 3:16 pm |
  6. Reality

    Muslims demonize themselves via the history of Islam as seen in their founder, an illiterate, hallucinating, warmongering, greedy and lust-filled, long-dead Arab. As long as the Worst Book Ever Written aka the koran is the operating manual of Islam, no Muslims of any stripe or segment can be trusted.

    To be fair, the OT is the Second Worst Book Ever Written. It differs from the koran in being mostly fiction. The Ten Commandments are its only saving grace.

    The NT has a small bit of wholesome history but 70% of the passages are myths and embellishments added to create a deity out of a simple preacher man. Said authentic passages would fill less than fifty pages making it simply a very short story of the life of said simple preacher man. And most of these storyline ideas were borrowed from the ancients and that includes the Golden Rule.

    November 15, 2010 at 2:59 pm |
    • David

      Reality I will pray for you in your relationship with a risen Lord.

      The Bible has been proven to be very accurate through archeology and other studies for hundreds of years. If people felt the same way as you when these texts were written, they never would have passed through the passage of time. Instead they would have been lost to history including many of the references to the witness of a risen Jesus Christ. If that was written and it was not true at the time it was written (AD 60) then it would have been debunked then and not made it out of the first century.

      The Bible is completely true and I would recommend everyone read it for themselves instead of going off the beliefs of others.

      November 15, 2010 at 3:11 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      Sorry, man, the Bible has been proven almost completely false. Evolution is real, the universe is real, your delusions are mostly crap.

      November 15, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
  7. Mark from Middle River

    The crazy thing is that folks such as Reality do more to keep hate alive then anyone. If he were black or African American or Native American he would start off every post with the evils that whites have done throughout time. Hmm.... Or if Reality were a woman.... forget Obama, Kennedy and Limbaugh.... all threads concerning men would get a diatribe of the bad things that men have done to women.

    In the end it is sad when folks take and judge a entire group on the actions of a segment.

    November 15, 2010 at 2:45 pm |
  8. Reality

    Truth in advertising:

    From the studies of many contemporary NT exegetes, one is now able to update the Apostle's Creed

    The Apostles' Creed 2010:

    I might believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created state of bliss called heaven.

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary.

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under under Pontius Pilate,
    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many non-witness, semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
    ascension story was promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.


    November 15, 2010 at 12:59 pm |
    • Muneef

      Like these days last sermon by Prophet Muhammed upon Muslims;


      November 15, 2010 at 4:48 pm |
    • Muneef

      Prophet Muhammed has gathered and delivered the Miraculous Quran teaching believers and that was the core project for science and scientists to avail and contribute in creation,invention,innovations under the Islamic Rule while in some religions those were treated as witches..?


      November 15, 2010 at 4:58 pm |
  9. Mark from Middle River

    Jonas, He can not. Its the battle of a losing man. His voice and words will not reach those who are Muslim so we are left with him. We keep him around as an example of futility.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:45 am |
  10. Jonas

    Why can't you just look at a piece of history as intriguing and beautiful? These pictures and the sound are phenomenal, yet you have to taint them with your diatribe.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:42 am |
    • Reality

      What historical Islam has brought to us:

      1a) 179 killed in Mumbai/Bombay, 290 injured

      1b) Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh

      2) 9/11, 3000 mostly US citizens, 1000’s injured

      3) The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US Troops killed in action, 3,481 and 924 died in non-combat, 98,691 – 107,707 Iraqi civilians killed as of 11/9/2010, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ and defenselink.mil/news/casualty.pdf

      4) Kenya- In Nairobi, about 212 people were killed and an estimated 4000 injured; in Dar es Salaam, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85.[2]

      5) Bali-in 2002-killing 202 people, 164 of whom were foreign nationals, and 38 Indonesian citizens. A further 209 people were injured.

      6) Bali in 2005- Twenty people were killed, and 129 people were injured by three bombers who killed themselves in the attacks.

      7) Spain in 2004- killing 191 people and wounding 2,050.

      8. UK in 2005- The bombings killed 52 commuters and the four radical Islamic suicide bombers, injured 700.

      9) The execution of an eloping couple in Afghanistan on 04/15/2009 by the Taliban.

      10) – Afghanistan: US troops 1,116 killed in action, 902 killed in non-combat situations as of 08/10/2010. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror

      11) The killing of 13 citizen soldiers at Ft. Hood by a follower of the koran.

      12) 38 Russian citizens killed on March 29, 2010 by Muslim women suicide bombers.

      13) The May 28, 2010 attack on a Islamic religious minority in Pakistan, which have left 98 dead,

      14) Lockerbie is known internationally as the site where, on 21 December 1988, the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 crashed as a result of a terrorist bomb. In the United Kingdom the event is referred to as the Lockerbie disaster, the Lockerbie bombing, or simply Lockerbie. Eleven townspeople were killed in Sherwood Crescent, where the plane's wings and fuel tanks plummeted in a fiery explosion, destroying several houses and leaving a huge crater, with debris causing damage to a number of buildings nearby. The 270 fatalities (259 on the plane, 11 in Lockerbie) were citizens of 21 nations.

      15) Followed by the daily suicide and/or roadside and/or mosque bombings every day in the terror world of Islam.

      16) Bombs sent from Yemen by followers of the koran which fortunately were discovered before the bombs were detonated.

      17) The killing of 58 Christians in a Catholic church in one of the latest acts of horror and terror in Iraq.

      November 15, 2010 at 1:02 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Agreed. I really enjoy 'snapshots' into the past. This was some pretty cool shots of history.


      November 15, 2010 at 2:19 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      @Jonas – If you were to examine the photographs and recordings in person, I think you would find that they have not been "tainted" by Reality's "diatribe". This is a blog. We make comments. You made a "diatribe" against Reality. The pictures are nice. They remain elsewhere and are not incontrovertibly embedded within the CNN article in question. Get a grip on yourself.

      Hey, brah! Isn't it amazing that this thing predates Islam yet is such a big part of it? A meteorite, isn't it? Slobbered on by millions of faithful pilgrims. If a pandemic starts from all that unsanitary business, they'd better not ask me what to do. 😛
      Good to see you're still being peaceful. That way I don't have to wish any at you. ha ha!

      November 15, 2010 at 3:28 pm |
    • Muneef

      What about those?


      November 15, 2010 at 4:41 pm |
    • Muneef

      Or those ??


      November 15, 2010 at 4:45 pm |
    • Muneef

      What about Muslims in far east?


      November 15, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
  11. Reality

    The basics of Mecca:

    "In Islam, the pilgrimage to Mecca required of all Muslims at least once in their lifetime, provided they are physically and financially able. It is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. By tradition the pilgrimage is undertaken between the 7th and 12th days of the last month of the Islamic year. At Mecca, the pilgrims are obliged to perform several rituals, including walking seven times around the Ka'bah shrine. They must also visit holy places outside Mecca and sacrifice an animal in honor of Abraham's near-sacrifice of Isaac. In conclusion, they return to Mecca and perform a farewell circling of the shrine."

    The reality:

    origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

    New Torah For Modern Minds

    Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment. "

    With respect to "laws" of Islam,

    From Sir Salman Rushdie's book "Satanic Verses", p. 376, paperback issue – for those 1 billion Muslims to read as they are forbidden to purchase or read said book:

    One of the passages that prompted the crazy Ayatollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa against Sir Rushdie:

    Mahound = Mohammed
    Gibreel = Gabriel

    "The faithful lived by lawlessness, but in those years Mahound – or should one say the Archangel Gibreel? – should one say Al-Lah? – became obsessed by law.

    Amid the palm-trees of the oasis Gibreel appeared to the Prophet and found himself spouting rules, rules, rules, until the faithful could scarcely bear the prospect of any more revelation, Salman said, rules about every da-mn thing, if a man farts let him turn his face to the wind, a rule about which hand to use for the purpose of cleaning one's behind.

    It was as if no aspect of human existence was to be left unregulated, free. The revelation – the recitation- told the faithful how much to eat, how deeply they should sleep, and which se-xual positions had received divine sanction, so that they leamed that so-domy and the missionary position were approved of by the archangel, whereas the forbidden postures included all those in which the female was on top.

    Gibreel further listed the permitted and forbidden subjects of conversation, and earmarked the parts of the body which could not be scratched no matter how unbearably they might itch.

    He vetoed the consumption of prawns, those bizarre other-worldly creatures which no member of the faithful had ever seen, and required animals to be killed slowly, by bleeding, so that by experiencing their deaths to the full they might arrive at an understanding of the meaning of their lives, for it is only at the moment of death that living creatures understand that life has been real, and not a sort of dream.

    And Gibreel the archangel specified the manner in which a man should be buried, and how his property should be divided, so that Salman the Persian got to wondering what manner of God this was that sounded so much like a businessman.

    This was when he had the idea that destroyed his faith, because he recalled that of course Mahound himself had been a businessman, and a damned successful one at that, a person to whom organization and rules came naturally, so how excessively convenient it was that he should have come up with such a very businesslike archangel, who handed down the management decisions of this highly corporate, if noncorporeal, God."

    November 15, 2010 at 11:07 am |
    • Jeanine

      They are not commemorating Abraham's near sacrifice of Isaac, they are commemorating the near sacrifice of his elder son Ishmael

      November 16, 2010 at 3:27 pm |
    • Muneef


      As-Saaffat Sura 37
      In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
      My Lord! Vouchsafe me of the righteous. (100) So We gave him tidings of a gentle son. (101) And when (his son) was old enough to walk with him, (Abraham) said: O my dear son, I have seen in a dream that I must sacrifice thee. So look, what thinkest thou? He said: O my father! Do that which thou art commanded. Allah willing, thou shalt find me of the steadfast. (102) Then, when they had both surrendered (to Allah), and he had flung him down upon his face, (103) We called unto him: O Abraham! (104) Thou hast already fulfilled the vision. Lo! thus do We reward the good. (105) Lo! that verily was a clear test. (106) Then We ransomed him with a tremendous victim. (107) And We left for him among the later folk (the salutation): (108) Peace be unto Abraham! (109) Thus do We reward the good. (110) Lo! he is one of Our believing slaves. (111) And we gave him tidings of the birth of Isaac, a prophet of the righteous. (112) And We blessed him and Isaac. And of their seed are some who do good, and some who plainly wrong themselves. (113). 

      November 16, 2010 at 8:53 pm |
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.