Souq Okaz (عكاظ)
Places where activities took place in ancient times are considered of high importance by historians and archeologists. They use traces of those localities to study how past human societies lived. Middle Eastern countries have many places of archeological significance because the entire human breed has been evolved in this part of the earth.
Quran and other Heavenly Books narrate history of many Prophets, to name some Nuh (عليه السلام), Hud (عليه السلام), Salih (عليه السلام), Ibrahim (عليه السلام), Lut (عليه السلام), Younus (عليه السلام). Tracing back to history one can find people of all those Prophets were inhabited in present day Arabian counties like Saudi, Yemen, Oman, Jordan, Palestine, Iraq etc.
Sayyiduna Ibrahim (عليه السلام) moved his wife Hajar (رضي الله عنها) and eldest son Sayyiduna Ismael (عليه السلام) to Makkah which marked a new chapter in history. Jurhum tribe from Yemen met the mother and the son lonely in Makkah and asked their permission to settle in there. Ismael (عليه السلام) married from Jurhum tribe and he learned Arabic language from them. All his offspring and tribes to follow settled in and around Makkah, a place mentioned in History as Hijaz. Quraish, the tribe of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم) is the prominent among tribes originated from Sayyiduna Ismael (عليه السلام).
Arabs especially Quraish tribe was excellent in Arabic literature and poetry. They used to assemble in market areas to read poems and admire its harmony and beauty. For an instance Quran’s unparalleled supremacy in literal content is attributed as a challenge to literature savvy Arab people.
Souq Okaz is such a historic place where poets will gather in evenings and compete with their wordings. It was an old market place popular in dark ages (قرون الجاهلية) where people used to trade goods. Sayyiduna Muhammad Rasoolullah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) occasionally visited there to preach Islam in public with in His attractive style and voice.
Souq Okaz is situated some 45 KM away from Taif towards Riyad (old Najd). It is marked as a tourist attraction place with some ancient looking structures build over there. The area is around 2KM x 1KM is well compounded and maintained by the authorities. On the way we found a few people at the backdrop of their 4 wheel drives having some chats little far from main road. Other than this the place was deserted without a single soul is seen in nearby vicinity.