Makkah is the chief city of Arabia. It derives its wealth from the remarkable gathering of people who assemble there yearly as pilgrims from all parts of the world where Islam flourishes.
Advantage is taken of this to hold a great fair for all kinds of merchandise. The possession of Al-Ka‘bah gave Makkah special sanctity and predominance over all the other cities of the peninsula. The soil about Makkah is so infertile that it produces nothing but what grows in the desert. Having, therefore, no corn or grain of their own growing, the Makkahns are obliged to bring it from other places, and Hashim, Muhammad’s great grandfather, then prince of his tribe, in order to secure adequate supply of provisions for his tribe, appointed two caravans to set out yearly for that purpose, one in summer and the other in winter.
These caravans of purveyors are referred to in the Qu’ran. This Makkah from the earliest time was the centre, not only of the religious associations of pagan Arabia, but also of its commercial activity.
During the period prior to the birth of Muhammad, the government of Makkah was an oligarchy composed of the leading members of the house of Kossay, the Prophet’s ancestor. The governing body consisted of ten senators who were styled Sheriffs. They occupied the first place in the state, and their offices were inherited in favour of the eldest member of each family. “Kossay however enjoyed the following privileges of leadership and honour:
1) Guardianship of the keys of Al-Ka‘bah and the door keeping of Al-Ka‘bah: He was the only one eligible to open its gate, and was responsible for its service and protection.
2) Administration of water supplied by wells in Makkah and its neighbourhood, providing water for the Pilgrims; this means that he used to fill basins sweetened by dates and raisins for the pilgrims to drink.
3) Civil and criminal magistracy.
4) Control of foreign affairs.
5) Custody of the standard he monopolized in his hand, issues relevant to war launching under which the nation marched against its enemies.
6) Administration of the poor–tax derived from the alms of the nation and employed in providing food for the poor pilgrims.
7) Presidency of the national assembly, presiding over An-Nadwa House meetings where consultations relating to serious issues were conducted, and marriage contracts were announced.
8) Guardianship of the council chamber which office conferred upon its holders the right of convoking the assembly.
9) Administration of the public finances and
10) Guardianship of the divining arrows, by which the judgment of the gods and goddesses was obtained. At the same time, it was an established custom that the oldest member exercised the greatest influence, and bore the little of chief and lord par excellence. At the time of the Prophet, his uncle Abbas was the senior member of these Senators.” 
 The Sealed Nectar.
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