The KAABA (Arabic : ٱلْكَعْبَة al-kaʿbah IPA: ,
"The Cube"), also referred as AL-KA`BAH AL-MUSHARRAFAH (The Holy
Kaaba), is a building at the center of
Islam 's most sacred mosque ,
that is Al-Masjid Al-Ḥarām (Arabic : الـمَـسـجِـد
الـحَـرَام, The Sacred
Mosque ), in
Saudi Arabia . It is the most sacred site in
Islam . It is
considered by Muslims to be the bayt Allāh, the "House of God", and
has a similar role to the
Holy of Holies in
Wherever they are in the world, Muslims are expected to face the Kaaba
when performing salat (prayer). From any point in the world, the
direction facing the
Kaaba is called the qibla .
One of the Five Pillars of
Islam requires every
Muslim who is able to
do so to perform the hajj pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime.
Multiple parts of the hajj require pilgrims to make tawaf , the
circumambulation seven times around the
Kaaba in a counter-clockwise
Tawaf is also performed by pilgrims during the umrah
(lesser pilgrimage). However, the most significant times are during
the hajj, when millions of pilgrims gather to circle the building
within a 5-day period. In 2013, the number of pilgrims coming from
outside the Kingdom of
Saudi Arabia to perform hajj was officially
reported as 1,379,531. In 2014,
Saudi Arabia reported having
Hajj permits for 1,389,053 international pilgrims and 63,375
* 1 Lexicology
* 2 Architecture and interior
* 3 Religious significance
* 3.2 Pilgrimage
* 4 History
* 4.1 Islamic views on origin
* 4.2 Modern independent views on origin
* 4.2.3 Others
* 4.3 Pre-Islamic Era
* 4.4 Muhammad\'s era
* 4.5 After
* 5 Cleaning
* 6 See also
* 7 Notes
* 8 References
* 9 External links
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The literal meaning of the Arabic word ka`bah (كَعْبَة) is
Mecca is called by many names in the Quran
and Hadith, such as al-bayt (the house), al-bayt al-ḥarām (the
sacred house), bayt Allāh (the house of God), al-bayt al-`atīq (the
ancient house), and ’awwal bayt (the first house).
ARCHITECTURE AND INTERIOR
Kaaba is a cubical stone structure made of granite . It is
approximately 13.1 m (43 ft) high (some claim 12.03 m (39.5 ft)), 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,
measuring 13 m (43 ft) by 9 m (30 ft), are clad with tiled, white
marble halfway to the roof, with darker trimmings along the floor. The
floor of the interior stands about 2.2 m (7.2 ft) above the ground
area where tawaf is performed.
The wall directly adjacent to the entrance of the
Kaaba has six
tablets inlaid with inscriptions, and there are several more tablets
along the other walls. Along the top corners of the walls runs a green
cloth embroidered with gold Qur'anic verses. Caretakers anoint the
marble cladding with the same scented oil used to anoint the Black
Stone outside. Three pillars (some erroneously report two) stand
inside the Kaaba, with a small altar or table set between one and the
other two. (It has been claimed that this table is used for the
placement of perfumes or other items.) Lamp -like objects (possible
lanterns or crucible censers ) hang from the ceiling. The ceiling
itself is of a darker colour, similar in hue to the lower trimming. A
golden door—the bāb al-tawbah (also romanized as Baabut Taubah, and
meaning "Door of Repentance")—on the right wall (right of the
entrance) opens to an enclosed staircase that leads to a hatch, which
itself opens to the roof. Both the roof and ceiling (collectively
dual-layered) are made of stainless steel-capped teak wood. A
drawing of the Kaaba. See key in text. A technical drawing of
Kaaba showing dimensions and elements
Each numbered item in the following list corresponds to features
noted in the diagram image.
* Al-Ḥajaru al-Aswad, "the
Black Stone ", is located on 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 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 artist
Ahmad 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 Banū Shaybah and the Zamzam
* Mīzāb al-Raḥmah, 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.
* Hatīm (also romanized as hateem), 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. 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 hatīm and the
Kaaba belonged to the Kaaba
itself, and for this reason it is not entered during the tawaf.
* Al-Multazam, the roughly 2 meter space along the wall between the
Black Stone and the entry door. It is sometimes considered pious or
desirable for a hajji to touch this area of the Kaaba, or perform dua
* The Station of
Ibrahim (Maqam Ibrahim), a glass and metal
enclosure with what is said to be an imprint of
Abraham 's feet.
Ibrahim 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
* Corner of the
Black Stone (East).
* Corner of
Yemen (South-West). Pilgrims traditionally acknowledge a
large vertical stone that forms this corner.
* Corner of
* 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.
Kiswah , the embroidered covering. Kiswa is a black silk and gold
curtain which is replaced annually during the
Two-thirds of the way up is a band of gold-embroidered Quranic text,
Shahada , the Islamic declaration of faith.
* Marble stripe marking the beginning and end of each
The interior can be seen on Google Streetview.
Entrance, golden door—the bāb al-tawbah
The Station of
Ibrahim (Maqam Ibrahim)
Kaaba during Hajj, 2008
Kaaba is the holiest site in Islam, and is often called by names
such as the House of God.
Qibla is the direction faced during prayer. It is the focal point
for prayer. The direction faced during prayer is the direction of
Mosque is the focal point of the
Hajj and Umrah
pilgrimages that occur in the month of
Dhu al-Hijjah in the Islamic
calendar and at any time of the year, respectively. The Hajj
pilgrimage is one of the Pillars of Islam, required of all able-bodied
Muslims who can afford the trip. In recent times, about 1.8 million
Muslims perform the
Hajj every year.
Some of the rituals performed by pilgrims are symbolic of historical
incidents. For example, the incident of Hagar's search for water is
emulated by Muslims as they run between the two hills of Safa and
Marwah whenever they visit Mecca.
Hajj is associated with the life of the Islamic prophet Muhammad
from the 7th century, but the ritual of pilgrimage to
considered by Muslims to stretch back thousands of years to the time
Pre-Islamic Arabia and
ISLAMIC VIEWS ON ORIGIN
Quran contains several verses regarding the origin of the Kaaba,
it states that the
Kaaba was the first House of Worship, and that it
was built by
Ishmael on God's instructions.
Verily, the first House (of worship) appointed for mankind was that
Bakkah (Makkah), full of blessing, and a guidance for mankind.
— Quran, Chapter 3 (Aale-Imran) verse 96
Behold! We gave the site, to Ibrahim, of the (Sacred) House,
(saying): "Associate not anything (in worship) with Me; and sanctify
My House for those who compass it round, or stand up, or bow, or
prostrate themselves (therein in prayer). — Quran, Chapter 22 (Al
Hajj) verse 26
Ishmael raised the foundations of the House
(With this prayer): "Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us: For Thou
art the All-Hearing, the All-knowing. — Quran, Chapter 2 (Al
Bakarah) verse 127
Ibn Kathir , the famous commentator on the Quran, mentions two
interpretations among the Muslims on the origin of the Kaaba. One is
that the shrine was a place of worship for Angels before the creation
of man. Later, a temple was built on the location by
Adam and Eve
which was lost during the flood in
Noah 's time and was finally
Ishmael as mentioned later in the Quran. Ibn
Kathir regarded this tradition as weak and preferred instead the
Ali ibn Abi Talib that although several other temples
might have preceded the Kaabah, it was the first "House of God",
dedicated solely to Him, built by His instruction and sanctified and
blessed by Him as stated in
Quran 22:26–29. A
Hadith in Sahih
al-Bukhari states that the
Kaaba was the First
Mosque on Earth, and
Mosque was the Temple in
Abraham was building the Kaaba, an angel brought to him the
Black Stone which he placed in the eastern corner of the structure.
Another stone was the Maqam-e-
Ibrahim (literally the Station of
Abraham stood for elevation while building the
Black Stone and the Maqam-e-
Ibrahim are believed by
Muslims to be the only remnant of the original structure made by
Abraham as naturally the remaining structure had to be demolished and
rebuilt several times over history for maintenance purposes. After the
construction was complete, God enjoined the descendants of
perform an annual pilgrimage: the
Hajj and the
Korban , sacrifice of
cattle. The vicinity of the shrine was also made a sanctuary where
bloodshed and war were forbidden.
According to Islamic tradition, over the millennia after Ishmael's
death, his progeny and the local tribes who settled around the oasis
of Zam-Zam gradually turned to polytheism and idolatry. Several idols
were placed within the
Kaaba representing deities of different aspects
of nature and different tribes. Several heretical rituals were adopted
in the Pilgrimage (Hajj) including doing naked circumambulation.
In her book, Islam: A Short History,
Karen Armstrong asserts that the
Kaaba was officially dedicated to
Hubal , a
Nabatean deity, and
contained 360 idols that probably represented the days of the year.
But by Muhammad's day, it seems that the
Kaaba was venerated as the
shrine of Allah, the High God. Once a year, tribes from all around the
Arabian peninsula, whether
Christian or pagan, would converge on Mecca
to perform the Hajj, marking the widespread conviction that
the same deity worshiped by monotheists. Guillaume in his translation
Ibn Ishaq , an early biographer of Muhammad, says the Ka'aba itself
was addressed using a feminine grammatical form.
often performed naked by men and almost naked by women, and linked to
ancient fertility rites . It is disputed whether
the same deity or different. Per a hypothesis by
Uri Rubin and
Hubal was only venetrated by
Quraysh and the Kaaba
was first dedicated to Allah, a supreme god of individuals belonging
to different tribes, while the pantheon of the gods of
Kaaba after they conquered
Mecca a century before
MODERN INDEPENDENT VIEWS ON ORIGIN
Writing in the Encyclopedia of
Islam , Wensinck identifies
a place called Macoraba mentioned by
Ptolemy and found in a
3rd-century BC map which suggests that Macoraba was Mecca. G. E. von
Grunebaum states: "
Mecca is mentioned by Ptolemy. The name he gives it
allows us to identify it as a South
Arabian foundation created around
a sanctuary. In Meccan Trade and the Rise of
Islam , Patricia Crone
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 . Her point of view was supported by some Islamic
scholars and challenged by others. Ottoman tiles representing
The Greek historian
Diodorus Siculus is believed to have mentioned
the Kaabah in 60–30 BC while describing the coast of
Jeddah and its
surrounding areas mentioned:
The inhabitants of the land about the gulf, who are known as
Banizomenes, find their food by hunting the land animals and eating
their meat. And a temple has been set up there, which is very holy and
exceedingly revered by all Arabians. —
Diodorus Siculus ,
Bibliotheca Historica, Book 3 Chapter 44
Edward Gibbon suggested that the
Kaaba was mentioned by ancient Greek
Diodorus Siculus , before the
The genuine antiquity of Caaba ascends beyond the
Christian era: in
describing the coast of the Red sea the Greek historian Diodorus has
remarked, between the Thamudites and the Sabeans, a famous temple,
whose superior sanctity was revered by all the Arabians; the linen or
silken veil, which is annually renewed by the Turkish emperor, was
first offered by the Homerites, who reigned seven hundred years before
the time of Mohammad. — Edward Gibbon, Decline And Fall Of The
Roman Empire , Volume V, pp. 223–24
Imoti contends that there were numerous 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 , mountains, special rock formations, or "trees of strange
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; the embedded Black Stone
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 was the king of
Hijaz had placed a
Hubal idol onto the roof of the
Kaaba. This idol was one of the chief deities of the ruling tribe
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 .
To maintain peace among the perpetually warring tribes,
declared a sanctuary where no violence was allowed within 20 miles (32
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.
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 . 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
Nonnosus , or the
Syrian church chroniclers writing in Syriac. The town is absent,
however, from any geographies or histories written in the three
centuries before the rise of Islam.
According to the
Encyclopædia Britannica , "before the rise of Islam
it was revered as a sacred sanctuary and was a site of pilgrimage."
According to German historian Eduard Glaser, the name "Kaaba" may have
been related to the southern
Arabian or Ethiopian word "mikrab",
signifying a temple. Again, Crone disputes this etymology.
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 BCE.
Prior to the spread of
Islam throughout the
Arabian Peninsula, the
Kaaba was a holy site for the various Bedouin tribes of the area. Once
every lunar year, the Bedouin tribes would make a pilgrimage to Mecca.
Setting aside any tribal feuds, they would worship their pagan gods in
Kaaba and trade with each other in the city.
Islam would later
adopt the established traditions of the Bedouin tribes, such as
encouragement of trade during the Hajj, but replacing the worship of
their pagan gods with
An illustration from the early 14th-century 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
During Muhammad's time (570–632 CE), the
Kaaba was considered a
holy and sacred site by the local
Arabs and later
Islam recognized it.
Muhammad took part in the reconstruction of the
Kaaba after its
structure was damaged due to floods around 600 CE.
Ibn Ishaq '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
cornerstone in place.
According to Ishaq's biography, Muhammad's solution was to have all
the clan elders raise the cornerstone on a cloak, after which 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 coast at Shu'ayba and
that the work was undertaken by a Coptic carpenter called Baqum.
Muhammad\'s night journey is said to have taken him from the
the Temple Mount and heavenwards from there.
Muslims initially considered
Jerusalem as their qibla and faced that
direction while offering prayers; however, pilgrimage to the
considered a religious duty though its rites were not yet finalized.
During the first half of Muhammad's time as a prophet while he was at
Mecca, he and his followers were severely persecuted which eventually
led to their migration to
Medina in 622 CE. In 624 CE the direction of
the Qiblah (Prayer Direction) was changed from
Jerusalem to the Kaabah
in Mecca. In 628CE
Muhammad led a group of Muslims towards
the intention of performing the minor pilgrimage (Umrah) at the Kaaba,
though he wasn't allowed by the people of
Mecca to do so, he secured a
peace treaty with them called the
Treaty of Hudaybiyyah , which
allowed the Muslims to freely perform pilgrimage at the
Kaaba from the
At the culmination of his mission, in 629 CE,
Mecca with a
Muslim army. His first action was to remove statues and
images from the Kaaba. According to reports collected by Ibn Ishaq
and al-Azraqi ,
Muhammad spared a painting of Mary and
Jesus , and a
Abraham ; but according to
Ibn Hisham all pictures were
Narrated Abdullah: When the
Mecca on the day of the
Conquest, there were 360 idols around the Ka'bah. The
striking them with a stick he had in his hand and was saying, "Truth
has come and Falsehood has Vanished.. (Qur'an 17:81)" — Sahih
Al-Bukhari , Book 59,
After the conquest
Muhammad restated the sanctity and holiness of
Mecca, including its Great
Mosque , in Islam. He performed a lesser
Umrah ) in 629 CE, followed by the Greater
Pilgrimage(Hajj) in 632 CE called the
Farewell Pilgrimage since
Muhammad prophesied his impending death on this event.
The site of
Kaaba in 1880 The
Kaaba in 1907
Kaaba has been repaired and reconstructed many times since
Muhammad's day. The structure was severely damaged by fire on 3 Rabi I
(Sunday, 31 October 683 CE), during the first siege of
Mecca in the
war between the
Umayyads and Abd-
Allah ibn al-Zubayr , an early Muslim
Mecca for many years between the death of ʿAli and the
consolidation of Umayyad power. Ibn al-Zubayr 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.
Kaaba was bombarded with stones in the second siege of
692, in which the Umayyad army was led by al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf . The
fall of the city and the death of Ibn al-Zubayr allowed the Umayyads
ʿAbdu l-Malik ibn Marwan to finally reunite all the Islamic
possessions and end the long civil war. In 693 CE, ʿAbdu l-Malik 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.
Hajj of 930 CE, the
Qarmatians 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 CE. The basic
shape and structure of the
Kaaba have not changed since then.
After heavy rains and flooding in 1629, the walls of the Kaaba
collapsed and the
Mosque was damaged. The same year, during the reign
of Ottoman Emperor
Murad IV , the
Kaaba was rebuilt with granite
stones from Mecca, and the
Mosque was renovated. The Kaaba's
appearance has not changed since then.
Kaaba is depicted on the reverse of 500
Saudi Riyal , and the
Iranian rial banknotes.
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Play media The
The building is opened twice a year for a ceremony known as "the
cleaning of the Kaaba." This ceremony takes place roughly thirty days
before the start of the month of
Ramadan and thirty days before the
start of Hajj. The keys to the
Kaaba are held by the Banī Shayba
(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 a simple broom.
Saudi Arabia portal
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Quraysh had put pictures in the
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Jesus son of Mary and Mary (on both of whom be
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Muslim , 7:3083
Sahih Bukhari 1506, 1508;Sahih
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