The English spelling of "Mecca"
heard that the etymology of the English spelling "Mecca" means "bar house". I heard that the only proper spelling of the city is Makkah. Is this true?
Answered by the Fatwa Department Research Committee - chaired by Sheikh `Abd al-Wahhb al-Turayr
Mecca is the standard English spelling for the name of the city in Western Arabia. This is the correct and only etymology of the word.
Since around 1850, the word "mecca" (with a lower case m) is sometimes used in English for any destination that people hold dear, sacred or highly desirable, especially if they are willing to travel to and assemble at such places. This is a customary and standard English usage and is permitted for Muslims to use the world in this way when they are speaking English.
The word is not used and to our knowledge has never been used to refer to a place of drinking, contrary to some recent rumors to that effect.
A more recent Roman-letter transliteration from the Arabic is Makkah. This Roman-letter rendering of the city's name employs academic norms of transliteration from Arabic into English. The pronunciation is virtually identical. The difference is of purely academic interest. This spelling is used in academic treatises whenever a specific and uniform system of indications for Arabic letters is needed. It is not regarded in English as being a spelling for general use.
There is no reason at all for people writing in English to shy away from the spelling Mecca.
And Allah knows best.