the prosperity, affluence, and luxury which makkah provided for its citizens, like an island in a large barren desert, confirmed the makkans in their parochial zeal. the makkans loved their wine and the revelry it brought. it helped them satisfy their passionate search for pleasure and to find that pleasure in the slave girls with which they traded and who invited them to ever-increasing indulgence. their pursuit of pleasure, on the other hand, confirmed their personal freedom and the freedom of their city, which they were prepared to protect against any aggressor at any cost. they loved to hold their celebrations and their drinking parties right in the center of the city around the ka'bah. there, in the proximity of three hundred or more statues belonging to about three hundred arab tribes, the elders of the quraysh and the aristocracy of makkah held their salons and told one another tales of trips across desert or fertile land, tales of the kings of hirah on the east or of ghassan on the west, which the caravans and the nomads brought back and forth. the tribes carried these tales and customs throughout their areas with great speed, efficiency, and application. makkan pastimes consisted of telling these stories to neighbors and friends and of hearing others, of drinking wine, and of preparing for a big night around the ka'bah or in recovering from such a night. the idols must have witnessed with their stone eyes all this revelry around them. the revelers were certain of protection since the idols had conferred upon the ka'bah a halo of sanctity and peace. the protection, however, was mutual, for it was the obligation of the makkans never to allow a scripturist, [literally, "man with a book or scripture," following the qur'anic appellation for jews and christians, "people of the book," or "scripturists."] i.e., christian or jew, to enter makkah except in the capacity of a servant and under the binding covenant that he would not speak in makkah either of his religion or of his scripture. consequently, there were neither jewish nor christian communities in makkah, as was the case in yathrib and najran. the ka'bah was then the holy of holies of paganism and securely protected against any attack against its authorities or sanctity. thus makkah was as independent as the arab tribes were, ever unyielding in its protection of that independence which the makkans regarded as worthier than life. no tribe ever thought of rallying with another or more tribes in order to form a union with superior strength to makkah, and none ever entertained any idea of conquering her. the tribes remained separated, leading a pastoral nomadic existence but enjoying to the full the independence, freedom, pride, and chivalry, as well as the individualism which the life of the desert implied.