I am Muslim and teach Eastern History.
While Mohammad, the Kaaba and the Islamic religion seems to be very well documented in religious sources, I regret to say that there are few authentic Historical sources of Mohammad and Mecca. Of course, New Age Historians have come up with theories including a story of communication between the Pope and Mohammad but these theories are unfounded.
The earliest and most famous biography of Mohammed is, "Sirat Rasul Allah" (The Life of the Prophet of God) of Ibn Ishaq. The dates given for Mohammed's life are 570-632 AD. Ibn Ishaq was born about 717 and died in 767. He thus wrote his biography well over 100 years after Mohammed lived, precluding his gaining any information from eyewitnesses to the Sira, as they would have all died themselves in the intervening years.
However, no copies exist of Ibn Ishaq's work. We know of it only through quotations of it in the History of al-Tabari, who lived over 200 years after Ibn Ishaq (al-Tabari died in 992). Thus, the earliest biography of Mohammed of which copies still exist was written some 350 years after he lived.
It is curious, therefore, that there seems to have been so little serious scholarly research of the historical evidence for how Islam came to be. Yet what seems to be isn't so. A number of professional academic historians, both Western and Moslem, have produced a large body of research on the origins of Islam. For reasons best known to the pundits and reviewers who should be aware of it, this research remains publicly unknown.
Mecca is another problem; authentic, non Islamic Historians cannot find the City of Mecca before 400 AD and many experts seem to think it was not anywhere near the Arabian trade route.
The famous greek geographer Ptolemy mentioned Macoraba as a city in the Arabian interior. Some people wanted to assume that Macoraba was actually Mecca. Macoraba had appeared recently, with respect to Ptolemy’s time. This assumption would result in the conclusion that Mecca was built around the middle of the 2nd century A.D. However, even if this were true, it wouldn’t support the claim that Mecca was an old city existing from the time of Abraham.
Upon further study of the facts concerning Macoraba, we can conclude with certainty that Macoraba can’t be Mecca, and we can refute the idea that Mecca was built in the 2nd century A.D. All the facts point to the historical argument that Mecca was constructed in the 4th century A.D. Since Macoraba is not pronounced similar to Mecca, the scholar Crone suggested that the location of Maqarib, near Yathrib, was actually Macoraba. Maqarib is mentioned by Yaqut al-Hamawi, an Arab geographer who lived from 1179 to1229 A.D., in his geographical dictionary Mujam al-Buldan.[lx] This location is more acceptable than Mecca for the modern-day location of Macoraba, because Maqarib is closer in pronunciation to Macoraba than Mecca. Another reason is that Maqarib, though it does not exactly fit the documented location of Macoraba, is closer to the location, according to the latitude and longitude of Ptolemy, than Mecca is to the documented location of Macoraba.
So what can I say?
As a Muslim, I believe in the spiritual revelations of Islam but as a History teacher, unless more authentic Historical proof is found, I will keep religious History and authentic History separate.
It should be noted that the same can be said about both Christianity and Judaism; the authentic Historical sources are also shady. In fact there are more authentic Historical mention of Jesus than the more recent Great Prophet Mohammad himself.
However, History is an ongoing science and experts are always at work trying to dig up the truth.
Sorry if I offend fellow Muslims who think differently.
Jim L, While diodorus siculus mentioned a shrine in Arabia, no one knows the location; he never called it Mecca. Remember there were many shrines all over Arabia and each had a black stone and gods.
However that's a good discussion; please feel free to Email me.