The Holy Kaaba

The Kaaba is the sacred house of Allah located inside Masjid Al-Haram in the holy city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. It was first built by Prophet Abraham and his son, Ismail. Sometime after Prophet Ibrahim died, people started filling the Kaaba with idols. It was Prophet Muhammad (SAW) who destroyed all the idols inside the Kaaba and restored it for the true worship of only one God, like Prophet Abraham intended it to be.

Some facts about the Kaaba: #
  • Prophet Abraham set up the first boundary markers for the Haram.
  • Muslims worldwide must face the Kaaba during prayers, no matter where they are. This is called facing the Qiblah.
  • The Kaaba is usually covered with a cloth called the ‘Kiswah”. The Kiswah is changed every year on the 9th of Dhul Hijjah during Hajj, when the pilgrims are at Mount Arafat.
  • The Kaaba is about 60 feet high, 60 feet wide from east to west, and 60 feet from north to south. It has only one door, about 7 feet above ground level, and no windows.
  • There are four corners of the Holy Kaaba:

Muslims did not always face the Kaaba for prayers. In the early period of Islam, they used to face Jerusalem. Then Allah revealed this verse to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in the 2nd year of the Hijri Calendar (Chapter 2: verse 144):

قَدْ نَرَىٰ تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِى ٱلسَّمَآءِ ۖ فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبْلَةًۭ تَرْضَىٰهَا ۚ فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ ٱلْمَسْجِدِ ٱلْحَرَامِ ۚ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنتُمْ فَوَلُّوا۟ وُجُوهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُۥ ۗ وَإِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ أُوتُوا۟ ٱلْكِتَـٰبَ

لَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ ٱلْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ ۗ وَمَا ٱللَّهُ بِغَـٰفِلٍ عَمَّا يَعْمَلُونَ

Translation: We have certainly seen the turning of your face, [O Muḥammad], toward heaven, and We will surely turn you to a qiblah with which you will be pleased. So turn your face [i.e., yourself] toward al-Masjid al-Ḥarām. And wherever you [believers] are, turn your faces [i.e., yourselves] toward it [in prayer]. Indeed, those who have been given the Scripture [i.e., the Jews and the Christians] well know that it is the truth from their Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what they do.

This above verse was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) while he was leading a congregational prayer, and he immediately turned towards the Kaaba in the middle of the prayer, and all the followers did the same.

Maqam-e-Ibraheem (Station of Abraham)

Maqam-e-Ibrahim, or the ‘Station of Abraham’ is a place right in front of the Kaaba located in the ‘Mataf’. The ‘Mataf‘ is the circular area around the Kaaba where pilgrims perform Tawaf.

Maqam-e-Ibraheem has a blackish-red stone with a little bit of whiteness. It has the footprints of the Prophet Abraham. The stone is placed in a glass dome, encased in a golden cage through which it is visible to the pilgrims.

It is believed that this is the stone on which Prophet Abraham stood to build the Kaaba.

The Black Stone

Located in the south eastern corner of the Kaaba is a Black Stone called ‘Al-Hajar al-Aswad’. The Angel Jibreel brought it from Paradise and placed it in a corner of the Kaaba.

Around 600 CE, the Quraysh tribe, decided to rebuild the Kaaba. The structure had been weakened by periodic floods. The new structure was built out of wood and stone in alternate layers.

When the time came to position the Black Stone back in its place, an argument broke out. All the tribes wanted the honor of placing it back on the wall. To resolve this issue, it was agreed among all of the tribes that the first man to enter the Haram should make the decision. Coincidentally, the first man to enter the Haram was Prophet Muhammad (SAW). He asked them to get a piece of cloth and put the Black Stone in the middle of it. A representative from each tribe then took hold of the edge of the cloth and raised the stone. Once raised in this way by all the tribes, the Prophet (SAW) himself fixed the Black Stone in its position.

The Year of the Elephant #

In the year 570 AD, the same year Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was born, there was a ruler in Yemen named ‘Abraha’. He had a powerful army, and he was very greedy. He was jealous that all the Arabs wanted to visit the Kaaba in Mecca for pilgrimage and nowhere else. He wanted all the visitors to come to Yemen instead. And so he ordered a big and beautiful church to be constructed that would attract visitors to Yemen.

When the people did not respond well to his imposing church, he got angry and upset and decided to destroy the Kaaba in Mecca.

At that time, the Quraysh tribe was responsible for protecting and taking care of the Kaaba. The tribe’s leader was Abdul-Mutallib, who was also the Prophet’s (SAW) grandfather. When the Quraysh found out about Abaraha’s evil plan, they were worried.

Abdul-Mutallib was very confident that Allah Almighty would protect his sacred house. He told the Quraysh to not worry.

When Abraha arrived with his soldiers, they also had an army of elephants with them. The biggest and strongest elephant in the army was called Mahmoud.

When Abraha commanded his army to go forward and charge, Mahmoud did not charge and instead sat down in front of the Kaaba. Another miracle from Allah Almighty happened, and Abraha’s entire army was pelted with stones and rocks by a flock of flying creatures (birds or flying insects). His army was destroyed, and Abraha himself died on his journey back home.

No harm came to the sacred house of Allah Almighty (Kaaba). Such was the promise of Allah Almighty to keep it safe.

This entire incident is recited in Surah Al-Fil, (Chapter 105) of the Holy Quran:

أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ فَعَلَ رَبُّكَ بِأَصْحَـٰبِ ٱلْفِيلِ ١

Have you not seen (O Prophet), how your Lord dealt with the Army of the Elephant?

أَلَمْ يَجْعَلْ كَيْدَهُمْ فِى تَضْلِيلٍۢ ٢

Did He not frustrate their scheme?

وَأَرْسَلَ عَلَيْهِمْ طَيْرًا أَبَابِيلَ ٣

For He sent against them flocks of birds,

تَرْمِيهِم بِحِجَارَةٍۢ مِّن سِجِّيلٍۢ ٤

that pelted them with stones of baked clay,

فَجَعَلَهُمْ كَعَصْفٍۢ مَّأْكُولٍۭ ٥

leaving them like chewed up straw.


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