Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The mysterious images of the Mecca flood

There is a very nice article about the Mecca flood of 1969 at Mischievous Peeps.

There is also a nice page on Mecca at Meher Baba Travels, including images of flooding at the bottom of the page.

In brief, there was a flood in Mecca in 1969 at the time Baba dropped his body that made it impossible to enter the Kaaba.

I have very little to add to what information is on these excellent sites.

But I would like to bring attention to some enigmas about pictures of floods at Mecca available on the internet.

For some reason the flood of 1941 (or 1942 in some sources) is the most famous. Post cards of the 1941 flood of Mecca, that inundated the Kaaba, are regularly sold in Mecca and can be found all over the internet. These sites refer to all these images as the 1941 flood of Mecca. Not one mentions the 1969 flood.

Here are some typical images that do in fact appear to be from 1941.

Note that the caption reads 1941

However, I do believe there are images of the flood of 1969. The first three images below show automobiles dating from the 1960s. Yet websites with these images label them as 1941. It seems to me that images from 1969 gradually became mixed in with images of the 1941 flood that sprinkle the internet.

The photos below with the emblem '' give the Muslim calendar date of 'Thursday 12 Muharram 1388 AH,' saying this corresponds to 1968. I do not know enough about such calendars to judge. However, news reports (such as the one below from the Kabul Times) indicate the rain and flooding occurred in January 1969.

The following image does not include cars to date the picture, but is in color. While color film for still photography had been introduced as early as 1936 by Kodak of the U.S.A. and Agfa of Germany, it was not in broad use until the 1960s, and even then most photography remained black and white. It is possible then that this image was actually taken during the January 1969 flood. It also is commonly on sites labeled 1941.

Below is a Kabul Times article that covered the story in 1969. It is dated Febrary 11, 1969.

Click image to read date

Both of the Meher Baba sites mentioned at the start of this post pointed out that 1969 was not the first time in history that the Kaaba was flooded. But I don't think either of them mentioned that one of the most famous occurrences of the Kaaba being flooded was during the lifetime of the Prophet. In fact the Kaaba was partially destroyed, and the Prophet Mohammed was personally instrumental in its reconstruction.

Illustration from the Persian Jami al-Tawarikh, inspired by
the story of Muhammad and the Meccan clan elders lifting the Black Stone
into place when the Kaaba was rebuilt in the early 600s
Websites referring to the Great flood of Mecca

Update 7.11.13

A friend of mine, Romney Meyran, pointed out to me that 1941 was the year Baba's own principle master Upasni Maharaj dropped his body (December 24, 1941). (See here) Baba met with Upasni Maharaj for the last time on October 17, 1941. The date corresponds with the Hindu holy day, "Day of the Master." I do not know the date of the 1941 flood.

Update 2.21.14

Here is one additional photo I found that appears to clearly be from a flood in the 1960s, as one can see from the Volkswagen bus.


  1. Great piece. But I don't think I'd put too much significance on the Day of the Master, or Guru's Day, because it occurs every Thursday.