Whenever the Qur’an is challenged some Muslims claim that ‘historical context’ helps to explain the difficulty. The problem is that this ‘history’ is based exclusively on oral sources written down 200 years after the events they describe. This ‘history’ is also totally at odds with documentary and archaeological evidence. Many scholars are, therefore, convinced that Islam was ‘invented’ generations after Muhammad lived and the stories then back-projected to his time and to the location where Mecca is today. This was probably done from a location far to the north.
Consider the following:
1) No archaeological evidence exists of an ancient city at the location of modern Mecca
2) The first reference to Mecca outside the Qur’an is from the year 740 CE (more than 100 years after Muhammad’s death). The first time it appears on a map is about 900 CE!
3) The Romans and Persians kept detailed records of the Arabian Peninsula. Mecca and the Quraysh are completely absent from these records
4) The idea that Mecca was on a trade route is ridiculous as this would have necessitated a tortuous detour through empty desert for no benefit
5) Many of Muhammad’s enemies are described as livestock and arable farmers in the Qur’an (cf. 4:119) . Occupations impossible in the middle of the desert
6) The Qur’an describes two high mountains (Al-Safa and Al-Marwah) at the location of Mecca (2:158). This is absent from modern Mecca where the ‘mountains’ given these names are so small that they are inside a mosque!
7) The Qur’an states that the Meccans pass by the location of Sodom and Gomorrah every day (37:137). This is hundreds of miles from modern Mecca.
8) The earliest mosques that have been excavated (Kufa, Fustat and Wasit) are all oriented not towards Mecca but to a location in the region of Syria. Again, hundreds of miles from modern Mecca.
I look at all of these issues listed above (and many more) in-depth in my book ‘The Mecca Mystery – Probing the Black Hole at the Heart of Muslim History’, It will cause you to view Islam, and its truth claims, in an entirely new light!