Kaaba

Kaaba

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The Kaaba is a cuboid
Cuboid
In geometry, a cuboid is a solid figure bounded by six faces, forming a convex polyhedron. There are two competing definitions of a cuboid in mathematical literature...

-shaped building in Mecca
Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

, and is the most sacred site in Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

. The Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 states that the Kaaba was constructed by Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

, or Ibraheem, in Arabic, and his son Ishmael
Ishmael
Ishmael is a figure in the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, and was Abraham's first born child according to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Ishmael was born of Abraham's marriage to Sarah's handmaiden Hagar...

, or Ismaeel, as said in Arabic, after he (the son, Ismaeel) had settled in Arabia
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

. The building has a mosque
Mosque
A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam. The word is likely to have entered the English language through French , from Portuguese , from Spanish , and from Berber , ultimately originating in — . The Arabic word masjid literally means a place of prostration...

 built around it, the Masjid al-Haram
Masjid al-Haram
Al-Masjid al-Ḥarām is the largest mosque in the world. Located in the city of Mecca, it surrounds the Kaaba, the place which Muslims worldwide turn towards while performing daily prayers and is Islam's holiest place...

. All Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

s around the world face the Kaaba during prayer
Salat
Salah is the practice of formal prayer in Islam. Its importance for Muslims is indicated by its status as one of the Five Pillars of Sunni Islam, of the Ten Practices of the Religion of Twelver Islam and of the 7 pillars of Musta'lī Ismailis...

s, no matter where they are. This is called facing the Qiblah.

One of the Five Pillars of Islam
Five Pillars of Islam
The Pillars of Islam are basic concepts and duties for accepting the religion for the Muslims.The Shi'i and Sunni both agree on the essential details for the performance of these acts, but the Shi'a do not refer to them by the same name .-Pillars of Shia:According to Shia Islam, the...

 requires every Muslim to perform the Hajj
Hajj
The Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so...

 pilgrimage at least once in his or her lifetime if able to do so. Multiple parts of the Hajj require pilgrims to walk seven times around the Kaaba in a counter-clockwise direction (as viewed from above). This circumambulation
Circumambulation
Circumambulation is the act of moving around a sacred object.Circumambulation of temples or deity images is an integral part of Hindu ritual. It is also practised in Buddhism. In Islam, circumambulation is performed around the Kaaba in Mecca, in a counter-clockwise direction...

, the Tawaf
Tawaf
Tawaf is one of the Islamic rituals of pilgrimage. During the Hajj and Umrah, Muslims are to circumambulate the Kaaba seven times, in a counterclockwise direction...

, is also performed by pilgrims during the Umrah
Umrah
The Umrah or is a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, performed by Muslims that can be undertaken at any time of the year. In Arabic, Umrah means "to visit a populated place"...

 (lesser pilgrimage). However, the most dramatic times are during the Hajj, when, officially, about 6 million pilgrims gather to circle the building on the same day.

Location and physical attributes


The Kaaba is located at 21°25′21.15"N 39°49′34.1"E inside the Masjid al-Ḥarām ("The Sacred Mosque") in the center of Mecca
Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

. A large masonry structure in the shape of a cuboid, it is made of granite
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

 quarried from nearby hills. Standing upon a 25 cm (10 in) marble
Marble
Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite.Geologists use the term "marble" to refer to metamorphosed limestone; however stonemasons use the term more broadly to encompass unmetamorphosed limestone.Marble is commonly used for...

 base that projects outwards about 35 cm (13.8 in), it is approximately 13.1 m (43 ft) high, with sides measuring 11.03 m (36.2 ft) by 12.86 m (42.2 ft).

Al-Ħajaru l-Aswad, "the Black Stone
Black Stone
The Black Stone is the eastern cornerstone of the Kaaba, the ancient stone building towards which Muslims pray, in the center of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is revered by Muslims as an Islamic relic, which according to Muslim tradition dates back to the time of Adam and Eve.The...

", is located in the Kaaba's eastern corner. Its northern corner is known as the Ruknu l-ˤĪrāqī, "the Iraqi corner", its western as the Ruknu sh-Shāmī, "the Levantine corner", and its southern as Ruknu l-Yamanī "the Yemeni corner". The four corners of the Kaaba roughly point toward the four cardinal direction
Cardinal direction
The four cardinal directions or cardinal points are the directions of north, east, south, and west, commonly denoted by their initials: N, E, S, W. East and west are at right angles to north and south, with east being in the direction of rotation and west being directly opposite. Intermediate...

s of the compass
Compass
A compass is a navigational instrument that shows directions in a frame of reference that is stationary relative to the surface of the earth. The frame of reference defines the four cardinal directions – north, south, east, and west. Intermediate directions are also defined...

. Its major (long) axis is aligned with the rising of the star Canopus
Canopus
Canopus |Alpha]] Carinae) is the brightest star in the southern constellation of Carina and Argo Navis, and the second brightest star in the night-time sky, after Sirius. Canopus's visual magnitude is −0.72, and it has an absolute magnitude of −5.53.Canopus is a supergiant of spectral...

 toward which its southern wall is directed, while its minor axis (its east-west facades) roughly align with the sunrise of summer solstice
Summer solstice
The summer solstice occurs exactly when the axial tilt of a planet's semi-axis in a given hemisphere is most inclined towards the star that it orbits. Earth's maximum axial tilt to our star, the Sun, during a solstice is 23° 26'. Though the summer solstice is an instant in time, the term is also...

 and the sunset of winter solstice
Winter solstice
Winter solstice may refer to:* Winter solstice, astronomical event* Winter Solstice , former band* Winter Solstice: North , seasonal songs* Winter Solstice , 2005 American film...

.
The Kaaba is covered by a black silk and gold curtain known as the kiswah
Kiswah
Kiswah is the cloth that covers the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is draped annually on the 9th day of the month of Dhu al-Hijjah, the day pilgrims leave for the plains of Mount Arafat during the Hajj...

, which is replaced annually during the hajj. Two-thirds of the way up is a band of gold embroidered Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

ic text, including the Shahada
Shahada
The Shahada , means "to know and believe without suspicion, as if witnessed"/testification; it is the name of the Islamic creed. The shahada is the Muslim declaration of belief in the oneness of God and acceptance of Muhammad as God's prophet...

, the Islamic declaration of faith.

In modern times, entry to the Kaaba's interior is only permitted on rare occasions for a small number of guests. The entrance is a door set 2 m (7 ft) above the ground on the north-eastern wall of the Kaaba, which acts as the façade. In 1979 the 300 kg gold doors made by chief artist Ahmad bin Ibrahim Badr
Ahmad bin Ibrahim Badr
Ahmad bin Ibrahim Badr is the chief artist who recast the golden door of the Holy Kaaba.- Biography :Badr was born at his ancestral home in the Qashashiya quarter of Makkah in 1920...

, replaced the old silver doors made by his father, Ibrahim Badr in 1942. There is a wooden staircase on wheels, usually stored in the mosque between the arch-shaped gate of Banū Shaybah and the Zamzam Well
Zamzam Well
The Well of Zamzam is a well located within the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, east of the Kaaba, the holiest place in Islam...

. Inside the Kaaba, the floor is made of marble and limestone. The interior walls are clad with marble halfway to the roof; The marble is inset with Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

ic inscriptions. The wall directly adjacent to the entrance of the Kaaba has 5 tablets inlaid with inscriptions. The top part of the walls are covered with a green cloth embroidered with gold Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

ic verses. Caretakers anoint the marble cladding with scented oil used on the Black Stone outside.

There is also a semi-circular wall opposite, but not connected to, the north-west wall of the Kaaba known as the hatīm. This is 90 cm (35 in) in height and 1.5 m (4.9 ft) in width, and is composed of white marble
Marble
Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite.Geologists use the term "marble" to refer to metamorphosed limestone; however stonemasons use the term more broadly to encompass unmetamorphosed limestone.Marble is commonly used for...

. At one time the space lying between the hatīm and the Kaaba belonged to the Kaaba itself, and for this reason it is not entered during the tawaf
Tawaf
Tawaf is one of the Islamic rituals of pilgrimage. During the Hajj and Umrah, Muslims are to circumambulate the Kaaba seven times, in a counterclockwise direction...

. Some believe that the graves of prophet Ismail
Ishmael
Ishmael is a figure in the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, and was Abraham's first born child according to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Ishmael was born of Abraham's marriage to Sarah's handmaiden Hagar...

 and his mother Hajar
Hagar (Bible)
Hagar , according to the Abrahamic faiths, was the second wife of Abraham, and the mother of his first son, Ishmael. Her story is recorded in the Book of Genesis, mentioned in Hadith, and alluded to in the Qur'an...

 are located in this space.

Muslims throughout the world face the Kaaba during prayers
Salat
Salah is the practice of formal prayer in Islam. Its importance for Muslims is indicated by its status as one of the Five Pillars of Sunni Islam, of the Ten Practices of the Religion of Twelver Islam and of the 7 pillars of Musta'lī Ismailis...

, which they perform five times a day. For most places around the world, coordinates for Mecca
Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

 suffice. Worshippers in the Masjid al-Haram pray in Concentric
Concentric
Concentric objects share the same center, axis or origin with one inside the other. Circles, tubes, cylindrical shafts, disks, and spheres may be concentric to one another...

 circles around the Kaaba.
  1. Black Stone
    Black Stone
    The Black Stone is the eastern cornerstone of the Kaaba, the ancient stone building towards which Muslims pray, in the center of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is revered by Muslims as an Islamic relic, which according to Muslim tradition dates back to the time of Adam and Eve.The...

     on the south-east corner.
  2. Entry door, on the East wall 2.13 metres above ground level. It is accessed using a set of portable steps.
  3. Rainwater spout made of gold. This was added in the rebuilding of 1627 after the previous year's rain caused three of the four walls to collapse.
  4. Gutter, also added in 1627 to protect the foundation from groundwater.
  5. Hatim, a low wall originally part of the Kaaba. Pilgrims do not walk in the area between this wall and the Kaaba. Some believe this area contains the graves of Hajar
    Hagar
    -People:* Hagar , handmaid of Sarah and mother of Abraham's son Ishmael* Hagar Finer, Israeli WIBF bantamweight champion* Albert Hagar, Canadian politician* Mandy Hagar, New Zealand children's author...

     and Ismail
    Ishmael
    Ishmael is a figure in the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, and was Abraham's first born child according to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Ishmael was born of Abraham's marriage to Sarah's handmaiden Hagar...

    .
  6. Al-Multazam, the part of the wall between the Black Stone and the entry door.
  7. Post of Abraham. Abraham is said to have stood on this stone during the construction of the upper parts of the Kaaba, raising Ismail on his shoulders for the uppermost parts.
  8. Corner of the Black Stone (South-East).
  9. Corner of Yemen
    Yemen
    The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

     (South-West). Pilgrims traditionally acknowledge a large vertical stone that forms this corner.
  10. Corner of Syria
    Syria
    Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

     (North-West).
  11. Corner of Iraq
    Iraq
    Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

     (North-East).
  12. Kiswa, the embroidered covering, replaced annually.
  13. Marble stripe marking the beginning and end of each circumperambulation.
  14. Post of Mohammed Azzaam Ekkeri.

Black Stone




The Black Stone is a significant feature of the Kaaba, stated by Muslims to have been placed there by Ibrahim (Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

) and Ismail (Ishmael
Ishmael
Ishmael is a figure in the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, and was Abraham's first born child according to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Ishmael was born of Abraham's marriage to Sarah's handmaiden Hagar...

), a stone from paradise sent by the angels to Ibrahim. Located at the eastern corner of the Kaaba, it is about 30 cm (11.8 in) in diameter and surrounded by a silver frame. Although not strictly obligatory, pilgrims can kiss the Stone, as Muhammad is said to have done. Islamic sources do not consider kissing the black stone to be idolatry.

The following passage gives an insight into the significance of the Black Stone in Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

:
Large crowds can make kissing the Stone impossible, so as pilgrims walk round the Kaaba they point to the Stone on each pass.

In the Qur'an



The Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 states that Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

, together with Ishmael
Ishmael
Ishmael is a figure in the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, and was Abraham's first born child according to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Ishmael was born of Abraham's marriage to Sarah's handmaiden Hagar...

, raised the foundations of the holy house. God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 had shown Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

 the exact site, very near to the Well of Zamzam, where Abraham and Ishmael began work on the Kaaba's construction or, according to tradition, reconstruction as Muslims generally believe that Adam
Adam
Adam is a figure in the Book of Genesis. According to the creation myth of Abrahamic religions, he is the first human. In the Genesis creation narratives, he was created by Yahweh-Elohim , and the first woman, Eve was formed from his rib...

 had made it first and that it had been rebuilt by Noah
Noah
Noah was, according to the Hebrew Bible, the tenth and last of the antediluvian Patriarchs. The biblical story of Noah is contained in chapters 6–9 of the book of Genesis, where he saves his family and representatives of all animals from the flood by constructing an ark...

 after the Deluge
Noah's Ark
Noah's Ark is a vessel appearing in the Book of Genesis and the Quran . These narratives describe the construction of the ark by Noah at God's command to save himself, his family, and the world's animals from the worldwide deluge of the Great Flood.In the narrative of the ark, God sees the...

. After Abraham had built the Kaaba, an angel
Angel
Angels are mythical beings often depicted as messengers of God in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles along with the Quran. The English word angel is derived from the Greek ἄγγελος, a translation of in the Hebrew Bible ; a similar term, ملائكة , is used in the Qur'an...

 brought to him the Black Stone
Black Stone
The Black Stone is the eastern cornerstone of the Kaaba, the ancient stone building towards which Muslims pray, in the center of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is revered by Muslims as an Islamic relic, which according to Muslim tradition dates back to the time of Adam and Eve.The...

, a celestial stone that, according to tradition, had fallen from Heaven
Heaven
Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological or metaphysical term for the physical or transcendent place from which heavenly beings originate, are enthroned or inhabit...

 on the nearby hill Abu Qubays. According to a saying attributed to Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

, the Black Stone had "descended from Paradise whiter than milk but the sins of the sons of Adam had made it black".

After the placing of the Black Stone in the Eastern corner of the Kaaba, Abraham received a revelation, in which God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 told the aged prophet that he should now go and proclaim the pilgrimage to mankind, so that men may come both from Arabia and from lands far away, on camel and on foot. Going by the dates attributed to the patriarchs, Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

 is believed to have been born in roughly 2150 BCE, with Isaac
Isaac
Isaac as described in the Hebrew Bible, was the only son Abraham had with his wife Sarah, and was the father of Jacob and Esau. Isaac was one of the three patriarchs of the Israelites...

 being born a hundred years later. Therefore, Islamic scholars have generally assumed that the Kaaba was constructed by Abraham around 2130 BCE. The Kaaba is, therefore, believed by Muslims to be more than a millennium older than Solomon's Temple
Solomon's Temple
Solomon's Temple, also known as the First Temple, was the main temple in ancient Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount , before its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar II after the Siege of Jerusalem of 587 BCE....

 in Jerusalem, which is believed to have been finished in 1007 BCE. These dates remain consistent with the Muslim belief that the Kaaba is the oldest mosque in history.

After Abraham and Ishmael



The pilgrimage, as established by Abraham, is believed to have been uncorrupted in its early years. Then the faith of Abraham failed to grip too many devoted followers. It was because "it presupposed too much initial spirituality in its adherents to grip a large community". Although there were always a few people who continued to maintain Abraham's teachings, this minority gradually came to have less power in Mecca, and soon the Kaaba became a shrine devoted to idols
Cult image
In the practice of religion, a cult image is a human-made object that is venerated for the deity, spirit or daemon that it embodies or represents...

.

Qibla and prayer



The Qibla is the Muslim name for the direction faced during prayer. It is the focal point for prayer.

Before Muhammad


The early Arabian
Pre-Islamic Arabia
Pre-Islamic Arabia refers to the Arabic civilization which existed in the Arabian Plate before the rise of Islam in the 630s. The study of Pre-Islamic Arabia is important to Islamic studies as it provides the context for the development of Islam.-Studies:...

 population consisted primarily of warring nomadic tribes. When they did converge peacefully, it was usually under the protection of religious practices. Writing in the Encyclopedia of Islam, Wensinck identifies Mecca
Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

 with a place called Macoraba mentioned by Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

. His text is believed to date from the second century AD, about 500 years before the coming of Muhammad, and described it as a foundation in southern Arabia, built around a sanctuary. It probably did not become an area of religious pilgrimage until around 500 A.D. It was then that the Quraysh tribe (into which Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

 was later born) took control of Macoraba, and made an agreement with the local Kinana Bedouin
Bedouin
The Bedouin are a part of a predominantly desert-dwelling Arab ethnic group traditionally divided into tribes or clans, known in Arabic as ..-Etymology:...

s for possession. The sanctuary itself, located in a barren valley surrounded by mountains, was probably built at the location of the water source today known as the Zamzam Well
Zamzam Well
The Well of Zamzam is a well located within the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, east of the Kaaba, the holiest place in Islam...

, an area of considerable religious significance.

In her book, Islam: A Short History, Karen Armstrong
Karen Armstrong
Karen Armstrong FRSL , is a British author and commentator who is the author of twelve books on comparative religion. A former Roman Catholic nun, she went from a conservative to a more liberal and mystical faith...

 asserts that the Kaaba was dedicated to Hubal
Hubal
Hubal was a god worshipped in pre-Islamic Arabia, notably at the Kaaba in Mecca.-Hubal in Mecca:Hubal most prominently appears at Mecca, where an image of his was worshipped at the Kaaba. According to Karen Armstrong, the sanctuary was dedicated to Hubal, who was worshipped as the greatest of the...

, a Nabatean deity, and contained 360 idols that either represented the days of the year, or were effigies of the Arabian pantheon. Once a year, tribes from all around the Arabian peninsula, whether Christian or pagan, would converge on Mecca to perform the Hajj.

Imoti contends that there were multiple such "Kaaba" sanctuaries in Arabia at one time, but this was the only one built of stone. The others also allegedly had counterparts of the Black Stone. There was a "red stone", the deity of the south Arabian city of Ghaiman, and the "white stone" in the Kaaba of al-Abalat (near the city of Tabala, south of Mecca). Grunebaum in Classical Islam points out that the experience of divinity of that period was often associated with stone fetishes
Fetishism
A fetish is an object believed to have supernatural powers, or in particular, a man-made object that has power over others...

, mountains, special rock formations, or "trees of strange growth." The Kaaba was thought to be at the center of the world with the Gate of Heaven directly above it. The Kaaba marked the location where the sacred world intersected with the profane, and the embedded Black Stone
Black Stone
The Black Stone is the eastern cornerstone of the Kaaba, the ancient stone building towards which Muslims pray, in the center of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is revered by Muslims as an Islamic relic, which according to Muslim tradition dates back to the time of Adam and Eve.The...

 was a further symbol of this as a meteorite that had fallen from the sky and linked heaven and earth.

According to Sarwar, about 400 years before the birth of Muhammad, a man named "Amr bin Lahyo bin Harath bin Amr ul-Qais bin Thalaba bin Azd bin Khalan bin Babalyun bin Saba", who was descended from Qahtan and king of Hijaz (the northwestern section of Saudi Arabia, which encompassed the cities of Mecca and Medina), had placed a Hubal idol onto the roof of the Kaaba, and this idol was one of the chief deities of the ruling Quraysh. The idol was made of red agate, and shaped like a human, but with the right hand broken off and replaced with a golden hand. When the idol was moved inside the Kaaba, it had seven arrows in front of it, which were used for divination
Divination
Divination is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic standardized process or ritual...

.

To maintain peace among the perpetually warring tribes, Mecca was declared a sanctuary where no violence was allowed within 20 miles (32.2 km) of the Kaaba. This combat-free zone allowed Mecca to thrive not only as a place of pilgrimage, but also as a trading center.

Edward Gibbon
Edward Gibbon
Edward Gibbon was an English historian and Member of Parliament...

 suggested that the Ka'bah was mentioned by ancient Greek writer Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian who flourished between 60 and 30 BC. According to Diodorus' own work, he was born at Agyrium in Sicily . With one exception, antiquity affords no further information about Diodorus' life and doings beyond what is to be found in his own work, Bibliotheca...

 before the Christian era:
However, Gibbon had misinterpreted Siculus's text. Siculus described the location of this temple to be on a bay that extends deep in land to a distance of about 500 stades
Stadion (unit of length)
The stadion, Latinized as stadium and anglicized as stade, is an ancient Greek unit of length. According to Herodotus, one stade is equal to 600 feet. However, there were several different lengths of “feet”, depending on the country of origin....

 (about 80 km) and that the entrance of this bay is obstructed by a rock extending into the sea. Here is the description from Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian who flourished between 60 and 30 BC. According to Diodorus' own work, he was born at Agyrium in Sicily . With one exception, antiquity affords no further information about Diodorus' life and doings beyond what is to be found in his own work, Bibliotheca...

:
There is no bay that matches this description along the coast near Mecca. Furthermore, Siculus describes this area as lying between the Thamudites and the Nabataeans
Nabataeans
Thamudi3.jpgThe Nabataeans, also Nabateans , were ancient peoples of southern Canaan and the northern part of Arabia, whose oasis settlements in the time of Josephus , gave the name of Nabatene to the borderland between Syria and Arabia, from the Euphrates to the Red Sea...

, not the Thamudites and the Sabeans as Gibbon erroneously stated, which would put it much farther to the north, around the area of Tabuk. It is widely believed that this bay and temple described by Diodorus is in fact the bay adjacent to Ash-Sharmah in Tabuk Province.

In Makkan Trade and the Rise of Islam, Patricia Crone
Patricia Crone
Patricia Crone, Ph.D., is a scholar, author, Orientalist, and historian of early Islamic history working at the Institute for Advanced Study. She established herself as a major challenger to the established narrative of the early history of Islam.- Career :Patricia Crone completed her...

 argues that the identification of Macoraba with Mecca is false, and that Macoraba was a town in southern Arabia in what was then known as Arabia Felix
History of Yemen
Yemen is one of the oldest centers of civilization in the Near East. Its relatively fertile land and adequate rainfall in a moister climate helped sustain a stable population, a feature recognized by the ancient Greek geographer Ptolemy, who described Yemen as Eudaimon Arabia meaning "fortunate...

.

Crone was responded to by Dr. Amaal Muhammad Al-Roubi in his book "A Response to Patrica Crone's book".

G. E. von Grunebaum
Gustave E. Von Grunebaum
Gustave Edmund von Grunebaum was an Austrian historian and Arabist.Gustave had a Ph.D. in Oriental Studies at the University of Vienna...

 says,
Many Muslim and academic historians stress the power and importance of the pre-Islamic Mecca. They depict it as a city grown rich on the proceeds of the spice trade
Spice trade
Civilizations of Asia were involved in spice trade from the ancient times, and the Greco-Roman world soon followed by trading along the Incense route and the Roman-India routes...

. Crone believes that this is an exaggeration and that Mecca may only have been an outpost trading with nomads for leather, cloth, and camel butter. Crone argues that if Mecca had been a well-known center of trade, it would have been mentioned by later authors such as Procopius, Nonnosus, and the Syrian church chroniclers writing in Syriac. However, the town is absent from any geographies or histories written in the three centuries before the rise of Islam.

According to The Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica
The Encyclopædia Britannica , published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., is a general knowledge English-language encyclopaedia that is available in print, as a DVD, and on the Internet. It is written and continuously updated by about 100 full-time editors and more than 4,000 expert...

, "before the rise of Islam it was revered as a sacred sanctuary and was a site of pilgrimage." According to German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 historian Eduard Glaser, the name "Kaaba" may have been related to the southern Arabian or Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

n word "mikrab", signifying a temple. Again, Crone disputes this etymology.

Muhammad


At the time of Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

 (CE 570–632 A.D), his tribe, the Quraysh, was in charge of the Kaaba, which was at that time a shrine containing hundreds of idols representing Arabian tribal gods
Arabian mythology
Arabian mythology comprises the ancient, pre-Islamic beliefs of the Arabs. Prior to Islam the Kaaba of Mecca was covered in symbols representing the myriad demons, djinn, demigods, or simply tribal gods and other assorted deities which represented the polytheistic culture of pre-Islamic Arabia...

 and other religious figures. Muhammad earned the enmity of his tribe by claiming the Kaaba to be dedicated to the worship of the one God alone, and all the idols evicted. The Quraysh persecuted and harassed him continuously, and he and his followers eventually migrated to Medina
Medina
Medina , or ; also transliterated as Madinah, or madinat al-nabi "the city of the prophet") is a city in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia, and serves as the capital of the Al Madinah Province. It is the second holiest city in Islam, and the burial place of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, and...

 in 622.


Islamic histories also mention a reconstruction of the Kaaba around 600 A.D. A story found in Ibn Ishaq
Ibn Ishaq
Muḥammad ibn Isḥaq ibn Yasār ibn Khiyār was an Arab Muslim historian and hagiographer...

's Sirat Rasūl Allāh, one of the biographies of Muhammad (as reconstructed and translated by Guillaume), describes Muhammad settling a quarrel between Meccan clans as to which clan should set the Black Stone
Black Stone
The Black Stone is the eastern cornerstone of the Kaaba, the ancient stone building towards which Muslims pray, in the center of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is revered by Muslims as an Islamic relic, which according to Muslim tradition dates back to the time of Adam and Eve.The...

 cornerstone in place. According to Ishaq's biography, Muhammad's solution was to have all the clan elders raise the cornerstone on a cloak, and then Muhammad set the stone into its final place with his own hands. Ibn Ishaq says that the timber for the reconstruction of the Kaaba came from a Greek ship that had been wrecked on the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

 coast at Shu'ayba, and the work was undertaken by a Copt
Copt
The Copts are the native Egyptian Christians , a major ethnoreligious group in Egypt....

ic carpenter called Baqum.

After this migration, or Hijra
Hijra (Islam)
The Hijra is the migration or journey of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Medina in 622 CE. Alternate spellings of this Arabic word are Hijrah, Hijrat or Hegira, the latter following the spelling rules of Latin.- Hijra of Muhammad :In September 622, warned of a plot to...

, the Muslim community
Ummah
Ummah is an Arabic word meaning "community" or "nation." It is commonly used to mean either the collective nation of states, or the whole Arab world...

 became a political and military force, continuously repelling Meccan attacks. In 630 A.D, two years after signing the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah
Treaty of Hudaybiyyah
The Treaty of Hudaybiyyah is the treaty that took place between the state of Medina and the Quraishi tribe of Mecca in March 628CE .-Background:...

, the Meccan Quraysh attacked the Bedouin Khuza'a, thereby breaking the peace treaty. The Muslims emerged as victors in the battle that followed this incident and Muhammad entered Mecca with his followers; they proceeded to the Kaaba. However, he refused to enter the Kaaba while there were idols in it, and sent Abu Sufyan ibn Harb
Abu Sufyan ibn Harb
Sakhr ibn Harb , more commonly known as Abu Sufyan was a leading man of the Quraish of Mecca. He was a staunch opponent of the Islamic prophet Muhammad before accepting Islam later in his life.-Opposition to Islam:...

 and Mughira ibn Shu'ba
Mughira ibn Shu'ba
al-Mughīrah ibn Shuʿbah ibn Abī ʿĀmir ibn Masʿūd ath-Thaqafī was one of the more prominent companions of Muhammad.-Muqawqis:Mughira had a dialogue with both Muqawqis, Vicegerent of Egypt and Caesar.Mughira was impressed by the dialogue with Muqawqis...

 to remove them.

The Kaaba was re-dedicated as an Islamic house of worship
Place of worship
A place of worship or house of worship is an establishment or her location where a group of people comes to perform acts of religious study, honor, or devotion. The form and function of religious architecture has evolved over thousands of years for both changing beliefs and architectural style...

, and henceforth, the annual pilgrimage was to be a Muslim rite, the Hajj
Hajj
The Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so...

, with visits to the Kaaba and other sacred sites around Mecca.

It is also claimed by Muslims that the Kaaba is the birth place of ʿAlī ibn Abī Tālib
Ali
' |Ramaḍān]], 40 AH; approximately October 23, 598 or 600 or March 17, 599 – January 27, 661).His father's name was Abu Talib. Ali was also the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and ruled over the Islamic Caliphate from 656 to 661, and was the first male convert to Islam...

, the fourth caliph
Caliph
The Caliph is the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the Islamic Ummah, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word   which means "successor" or "representative"...

 and cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet
Prophets of Islam
Muslims identify the Prophets of Islam as those humans chosen by God and given revelation to deliver to mankind. Muslims believe that every prophet was given a belief to worship God and their respective followers believed it as well...

 Muhammad.

In Islamic history



The Kaaba has been repaired and reconstructed many times since Muhammad's day. Abd-Allah ibn al-Zubayr
Abd-Allah ibn al-Zubayr
`Abd Allah al-Zubayr or ibn Zubayr 624 - 692) was an Arab sahabi whose father was Zubayr ibn al-Awwam, and whose mother was Asma bint Abi Bakr, daughter of the first Caliph Abu Bakr. He was the nephew of Aisha, Prophet Muhammad's third wife....

, an early Muslim who ruled Mecca for many years between the death of ʿAli and the consolidation of Ummayad power, is said to have demolished the old Kaaba and rebuilt it to include the hatīm. He did so on the basis of a tradition (found in several hadith collections) that the hatīm was a remnant of the foundations of the Abrahamic Kaaba, and that Muhammad himself had wished to rebuild so as to include it.

This structure was destroyed (or partially destroyed) in 683 A.D, during the war between Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr and Umayyad forces commanded by Al-Hajjaj bin Yousef. Al-Hajjaj used stone-throwing catapults against the Meccans.

The Ummayads under [[ʿAbdu l-Malik ibn Marwan]] finally reunited all the former Islamic possessions and ended the long civil war. In 693 A.D he had the remnants of al-Zubayr's Kaaba razed, and rebuilt on the foundations set by the Quraysh. The Kaaba returned to the cube shape it had taken during Muhammad's time.

During the Hajj of 930 A.D, the Qarmatians
Qarmatians
The Qarmatians were a Shi'a Ismaili group centered in eastern Arabia, where they attempted to established a utopian republic in 899 CE. They are most famed for their revolt against the Abbasid Caliphate...

 attacked Mecca, defiled the Zamzam Well with the bodies of pilgrims and stole the Black Stone, taking it to the oasis region of Eastern Arabia known as al-Aḥsāʾ, where it remained until the Abbasids ransomed it in 952 A.D.

Apart from repair work, the basic shape and structure of the Kaaba have not changed since then.

The Kaaba is depicted on the reverse
Obverse and reverse
Obverse and its opposite, reverse, refer to the two flat faces of coins and some other two-sided objects, including paper money, flags , seals, medals, drawings, old master prints and other works of art, and printed fabrics. In this usage, obverse means the front face of the object and reverse...

 of 500 Saudi Riyal
Saudi riyal
The Riyal is the currency of Saudi Arabia. It is abbreviated as ر.س or SR . It is subdivided into 100 Halalas . The Saudi Ghirsh is 5 Halalas.-History:...

, and the 2000 Iranian rial
Iranian rial
The rial is the currency of Iran. It is subdivided into 100 dinar but, because of the very low current value of the rial, no fraction of the rial is used in accounting....

 banknotes.

Cleaning



The building is opened twice a year for a ceremony known as "the cleaning of the Ka'ba." This ceremony takes place roughly thirty days before the start of the month of Ramadan
Ramadan
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which lasts 29 or 30 days. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex during daylight hours and is intended to teach Muslims about patience, spirituality, humility and...

 and thirty days before the start of Hajj.

The keys to the Ka'ba are held by the Banī Shayba
Bani Shaiba
The Bani Shaiba are an Islamic tribe that hold the keys to the Kaaba. The members of the tribe greet visitors into the Kaaba during the cleaning ceremony and clean the interior together with the visitors.-History :...

 (بني شيبة) tribe. Members of the tribe greet visitors to the inside of the Kaaba on the occasion of the cleaning ceremony. A small number of dignitaries and foreign diplomats are invited to participate in the ceremony. The governor of Mecca leads the honoured guests who ritually clean the structure, using simple brooms. Washing of the Ka'ba is done with a mixture of water from the Zamzam Well
Zamzam Well
The Well of Zamzam is a well located within the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, east of the Kaaba, the holiest place in Islam...

and Persian rosewater.

External links