The Kaaba (Arabic: al-Ka’bah, “The Cube”), also known as the Sacred House (Baytul-haram) and the Ancient House (Baytul-‘Atiq), is a cuboid building in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is the most sacred site in Islam.
Al-Masjid al-Haram, the most sacred mosque in Islam, is built around the Kaaba. Muslims are expected to face the Kaaba during prayers, no matter where they are. From any given point in the world, the direction facing the Kaaba is called the Qibla.
The Kaaba is a cuboid-shape structure which is made of granite quarried from nearby hills. Standing upon a 250 cm (98 in) marble base that projects outwards about 35 cm (14 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). 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’anic inscriptions.
Each numbered item in the following list corresponds to features called out in the diagram image, on right.
- Al-Hajaru l-Aswad, “the Black Stone”, is located in the Kaaba’s eastern corner. Its northern corner is known as the Ruknu l-iraqi, “the Iraqi corner”, its western as the Ruknu sh-Shami, “the Levantine corner”, and its southern as Ruknu l-Yaman? “the Yemeni corner”. The four corners of the Kaaba roughly point toward the four cardinal directions of the compass. Its major (long) axis is aligned with the rising of the star Canopus toward which its southern wall is directed, while its minor axis (its east-west facades) roughly align with the sunrise of summer solstice and the sunset of winter solstice.
- The entrance is a door set 2.13 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 artistAhmad bin Ibrahim Badr, 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 Ban? Shaybah and the Zamzam Well.
- Meezab-i Rahmat, rainwater spout made of gold. Added in the rebuilding of 1627 after the previous year’s rain caused three of the four walls to collapse.
- Gutter, added in 1627 to protect the foundation from groundwater.
- Hatim, a low wall originally part of the Kaaba. It is a semi-circular wall opposite, but not connected to, the north-west wall of the Kaaba known as the hatim. This is 90 cm (35 in) in height and 1.5 m (4.9 ft) in width, and is composed of white marble. At one time the space lying between the hatim and the Kaaba belonged to the Kaaba itself, and for this reason it is not entered during the tawaf. Some believe that the graves of Ismail and his mother Hagar are located in this space.
- Al-Multazam, the part of the wall between the Black Stone and the entry door.
- The Station of Abraham, a glass and metal enclosure with what is said to be an imprint of Abraham’s foot. 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.
- Corner of the Black Stone (East).
- Corner of Yemen (South-West). Pilgrims traditionally acknowledge a large vertical stone that forms this corner.
- Corner of Syria (North-West).
- Corner of Iraq (North-East). This inside corner, behind a curtain, contains the Babut Taubah, Door of Repentance, which leads to a staircase to the roof.
- Kiswa, the embroidered covering. Kiswa is a black silk and gold curtain which is replaced annually during the Hajj pilgrimage. Two-thirds of the way up is a band of gold-embroidered Quranic text, including the Shahada, the Islamic declaration of faith.
- Marble stripe marking the beginning and end of each circumperambulation.
- The station of Gabriel.
One of the Five Pillars of Islam requires every Muslim to perform the Hajj pilgrimage at least once in his or her lifetime if able to do so. Multiple parts of the Hajj require pilgrims to make Tawaf, the circumambulation seven times around the Kaaba in a counter-clockwise direction. This circumambulation is also performed by pilgrims during the Umrah (lesser pilgrimage). However, the most dramatic times are during the Hajj, when millions of pilgrims gather to circle the building on the same day. In 2013, the number of pilgrims coming from outside the kingdom of Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj was officially reported as 1,100,544.
History of Kaaba
According to Quran and Islamic tradition the Kaaba was rebuilt by Ibrahim (Abraham). It is stated in the Qur’an that this was the first house that was built for humanity to worship Allah.
The Quran states that Ibrahim, together with his son Ishmael, raised the foundations of the holy house.[Quran 2:127] Allah had shown Ibrahim the exact site, very near to the Well of Zamzam, where Ibrahim and Ishmael began work on the Kaaba’s construction in circa 2130 BC. After Ibrahim had built the Kaaba, an angel brought to him the Black Stone, a celestial stone that, according to tradition, had fallen from Heaven on the nearby hill Abu Qubays. According to a saying attributed to Muhammad, the Black Stone had “descended from Paradise whiter than milk but the sins of the sons of Adam had made it black“. The Black Stone is believed to be the only remnant of the original structure made by Ibrahim.
After the placing of the Black Stone in the Eastern corner of the Kaaba, Ibrahim received a revelation, in which Allah 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.[Quran 22:27] Going by the dates attributed to the patriarchs, Ishmael is believed to have been born around 2150 BC, with Isaac being born a hundred years later.
Therefore, Islamic scholars have generally assumed that the Kaaba was constructed by Ibrahim around 2130 BC. The Kaaba is, therefore, believed by Muslims to be more than a millennium older than Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, which is believed to have been finished in 1007 BC. These dates remain consistent with the Muslim belief that the Kaaba is the first and thus oldest mosque in history.
In Samaritan literature, the Samaritan Book of the Secrets of Moses (Asatir) claims that Ishmael and his eldest son Nebaioth built the Kaaba as well as the city of Mecca. “The Secrets of Moses” or Asatir book was suggested by some opinion to have been compiled in the 10th century, while another opinion in 1927 suggested that it was written no later than the second half of the 3rd century BC. (source, id.wikipedia.org)
See video of Kaaba on YouTube.