Last updated

Kaaba Masjid Haraam Makkah.jpg
The Kaaba surrounded by pilgrims
Affiliation Islam
Location Great Mosque of Mecca,
Mecca, Hejaz, Saudi Arabia
Geographic coordinates 21°25′21.0″N39°49′34.2″E / 21.422500°N 39.826167°E / 21.422500; 39.826167 Coordinates: 21°25′21.0″N39°49′34.2″E / 21.422500°N 39.826167°E / 21.422500; 39.826167
Height (max)13.1 m (43 ft)

The Kaaba (Arabic : كَعْبَةkaʿbahIPA:  [kaʕ.ba] , "Cube"), also referred to as al-Kaʿbah al-Musharrafah (Arabic: ٱلْكَعْبَة ٱلْمُشَرَّفَة, lit. 'Honorable Ka'bah'), also spelled Ka'bah, is a building at the center of Islam's most important mosque, Great Mosque of Mecca (Arabic: ٱلْمَسْجِد ٱلْحَرَام, lit. 'The Sacred Mosque '), in the Hejazi city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. [1] It is the most sacred site in Islam. [2] It is considered by Muslims to be the Bayt Allāh (Arabic: بَيْت ٱللَّٰه, "House of God"), and has a similar role to the Tabernacle and Holy of Holies in Judaism. Its location determines the qiblah (Arabic: قِبْلَة, direction of prayer). Wherever they are in the world, Muslims are expected to face the Kaaba when performing Salah , the Islamic prayer.


One of the Five Pillars of Islam requires every Muslim who is able to do so to perform the Hajj (Arabic : حَجّ, Pilgrimage) at least once in their lifetime. Multiple parts of the hajj require pilgrims to make Tawaf (Arabic: طَوَاف, Circumambulation) seven times counter-clockwise around the Kaaba, the first three times fast, at the edge of the courtyard, and the last four times slowly, nearer the Kaaba. Tawaf is also performed by pilgrims during the ʿUmrah (Arabic: عُمْرَة, Lesser Pilgrimage). [2] However, the most significant time is during the hajj, when millions of pilgrims gather to circle the building during a 5-day period. [3] [4] In 2017, the number of pilgrims coming from outside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to perform hajj was officially reported as 1,752,014 and 600,108 Saudi Arabian residents bringing the total number of pilgrims to 2,352,122. [5] In the 2019 hajj, The Kingdom reported 2,489,406 foreign pilgrims and 634,379 domestic pilgrims (total 3,123,785). [6]


The literal meaning of the Arabic word kaʿbah (كَعْبَة) is 'cube'. [7] In the Quran, the Kaaba is also mentioned as al-Bayt (Arabic: ٱلْبَيْت, lit. 'the house') and Baytī (Arabic: بَيْتِي, lit. 'My House') [2:125, 22:26], Baytik al-Muḥarram (Arabic: بَيْتِكَ ٱلْمُحَرَّم, lit. 'Your Inviolable House') [14:37], al-Bayt al-Ḥarām (Arabic: ٱلْبَيْت ٱلْحَرَام, lit. 'The Sacred House') [5:97], al-Bayt al-ʿAtīq (Arabic: ٱلْبَيْت ٱلْعَتِيق, lit. 'The Ancient House') [22:29], and. The mosque surrounding the Kaaba is called al-Masjid al-Haram ("The Sacred Mosque").

Architecture and interior

Kaaba during expansion phase in 2013 Kaaba during expansion in 2013.jpg
Kaaba during expansion phase in 2013

The Kaaba is a cuboid 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). [8] [9] 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. Kaaba.png
A drawing of the Kaaba. See key in text.
A technical drawing of the Kaaba showing dimensions and elements Kaaba-plan.svg
A technical drawing of the Kaaba showing dimensions and elements
Rukn al-Yamani Rukn al-Yamani 01.jpg
Rukn al-Yamani

Each numbered item in the following list corresponds to features noted in the diagram image.

  1. 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" taught by Imam Ali. [2] [9] The four corners of the Kaaba roughly point toward the four cardinal directions of the compass. [2] 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. [10] [11]
  2. 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. [2] 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. [12] There is a wooden staircase on wheels, usually stored in the mosque between the arch-shaped gate of Banū Shaybah and the Zamzam Well. The oldest door that still survives dates back to 1045 CE. [13]
  3. 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.
  4. Gutter, added in 1627 to protect the foundation from groundwater.
  5. 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 131 cm (52 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.
  6. Al-Multazam, the roughly 2 m (6.6 ft) 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 here.
  7. 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 uppermost parts. [14]
  8. Corner of the Black Stone (East).
  9. Corner of Yemen (South-West), Rukan e Yamani. Pilgrims traditionally acknowledge a large vertical stone that forms this corner.
  10. Corner of Syria (North-West), Arabic Rukn e Shaami.
  11. 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.
  12. Kiswah, the embroidered covering. Kiswa is a black silk and gold curtain which is replaced annually during the Hajj pilgrimage. [15] [16] Two-thirds of the way up is a band of gold-embroidered Quranic text, including the Shahada, the Islamic declaration of faith.
  13. Marble stripe marking the beginning and end of each circumambulation. [17]

Religious significance

The Kaaba and the Sacred Mosque during Hajj, 2008 Al-Haram mosque - Flickr - Al Jazeera English.jpg
The Kaaba and the Sacred Mosque during Hajj, 2008

The Kaaba is the holiest site in Islam, [18] and is often called by names such as the House of God. [19] [20]


The Qibla is the direction faced during prayer.[Quran   2:143–144] It is the focal point for prayer. The direction faced during prayer is the direction of where the Kaaba is.


The Sacred Mosque is the focal point of the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages [21] 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. [22]

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.

The Hajj is associated with the life of the Islamic prophet Muhammad from the 7th century, but the ritual of pilgrimage to Mecca is considered by Muslims to stretch back thousands of years to the time of Prophet Ibrahim.


View of the Kaaba, 1718. Adriaan Reland: Verhandeling van de godsdienst der Mahometaanen Adriaan-Reland-Verhandeling-van-de-godsdienst-der-Mahometaanen MG 0723.tif
View of the Kaaba, 1718. Adriaan Reland: Verhandeling van de godsdienst der Mahometaanen

Islamic views on origin

The 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 Ibrahim and Ismail on Allah's instructions. [23] [24] [25]

Verily, the first House (of worship) appointed for mankind was that at Bakkah (Makkah), full of blessing, and a guidance for mankind.

Quran, Surah Al Imran (3), Ayah 96 [26] [27] [28]

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, Surah Al-Hajj (22), Ayah 26 [29] [30] [31]

And remember Ibrahim and Ismail 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, Al-Baqarah (2), Ayah 127 [32] [33] [34]

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 house of worship was built on the location which was lost during the flood in Noah's time and was finally rebuilt by Abraham and Ishmael as mentioned later in the Quran. Ibn Kathir regarded this tradition as weak and preferred instead the narration by Ali ibn Abi Talib that although several other temples might have preceded the Kaaba, 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. [35] A Hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari states that the Kaaba was the First Mosque on Earth, and the Second Mosque was the Temple in Jerusalem. [36]

While 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) where Abraham stood for elevation while building the structure. 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 Ishmael to 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.[Quran   22:26–33]

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 rituals were adopted in the Pilgrimage (Hajj) including doing naked circumambulation. [37] A king named Tubba is considered the first one to have a door be built for the Kaaba according to sayings recorded in Al-Azraqi's Kitab Akhbar Makka. [38]

Independent views on origin

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 which probably represented the days of the year. [39] However, by the time of Muhammad's era, 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 Allah was the same deity worshiped by monotheists. [39] Alfred Guillaume, in his translation of the sira of Ibn Ishaq, an early biographer of Muhammad, says that the Kaaba itself might be referred to in the feminine form. [40] Circumambulation was often performed naked by men and almost naked by women. [37] It is disputed whether Allah and Hubal were the same deity or different. Per a hypothesis by Uri Rubin and Christian Robin, Hubal was only venerated 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 Quraysh was installed in Kaaba after they conquered Mecca a century before Muhammad's time. [41]


Writing in the Encyclopedia of Islam , Wensinck identifies Mecca with a place called Macoraba mentioned by Ptolemy. [42] [43] 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. [44] 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. [45] A recent study has revisited the arguments for Macoraba and found them unsatisfactory. [46]

Ottoman tiles representing the Kaaba, 17th century. Turkish - Tile with the Great Mosque of Mecca - Walters 481307 - View A.jpg
Ottoman tiles representing the Kaaba, 17th century.

Diodorus Siculus

Based on an earlier report by Agatharchides of Cnidus, Diodorus Siculus mentions a temple along the Red Sea coast, "which is very holy and exceedingly revered by all Arabians". [47] Edward Gibbon believed that this was the Kaaba. [48] However, Gibbon had misread the source: Diodorus puts the temple too far north for it to have been Mecca. [49]


Imoti contends that there were numerous such Kaaba sanctuaries in Arabia at one time, but this was the only one built of stone. [50] 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 growth." [51]

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; the embedded Black Stone was a further symbol of this as a meteorite that had fallen from the sky and linked heaven and earth. [52]

According to Sarwar, [53] 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. [54]

To maintain peace among the perpetually warring tribes, Mecca was 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. [55]

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. 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, 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. [56]

According to the Encyclopædia Britannica , "before the rise of Islam it was revered as a sacred sanctuary and was a site of pilgrimage." [57] According to German historian Eduard Glaser, the name "Kaaba" may have been related to the southern Arabian or Ethiopian word "mikrab", signifying a temple. [43] Again, Crone disputes this etymology.

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. [58] "The Secrets of Moses" or Asatir book was suggested by some opinion to have been compiled in the 10th century, [59] while another opinion in 1927 suggested that it was written no later than the second half of the 3rd century BCE. [60]

Pre-Islamic Era

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 the Kaaba and trade with each other in the city. [61] Various sculptures and paintings were held inside the Kaaba. A statue of Hubal, the principal idol of Mecca, and other pagan deities were in or around the Kaaba. [62] There were paintings of idols decorating the walls. A picture of the Prophet Isa and his mother, Maryam, was situated inside the Kaaba and later found by the Prophet Muhammad after his conquest of Mecca. The iconography portrayed a seated Maryam with her child on her lap. [62] This description, which would later become a universal iconography in later times, is similar to Christian art and its portrayal of the seated Virgin Mary holding a young Jesus in her lap. The iconography in the Kaaba also included paintings of other prophets and angels. It is possible the paintings of the prophets and angels were figures associated with the Prophet Isa and Maryam. Inside the Kaaba, undefined decorations, money and a pair of ram's horns were recorded to be there. The pair of ram's horns were said to have belonged to the ram sacrificed by the Prophet Ibrahim in place of his son, the Prophet ismaeel.

Al-Azraqi provides the following narrative on the authority of his grandfather, whose own source was Da'ud b.'Abd al-Rahman, who said that Ibn Jurayj had said that Sulayman b.Musa al-Shami asked 'Ata' b. Abi Rabah the following: [62]

I have heard that there was set up in al-Bayt (the Ka'ba) a picture (timthal) of Maryam and Isa. ['Ata'] said: "Yes, there was set in it a picture of Maryam adorned (muzawwaqan); in her lap, her son Isa sat adorned." [1]

-al-Azraqi, Akhbar Mecca: History of Mecca

Muhammad's era

The Black Stone is seen through a portal in the Kaaba The Blackstone.jpg
The Black Stone is seen through a portal in the Kaaba

During Muhammad's lifetime (570–632 CE), the Kaaba was considered a holy site by the local Arabs. 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. [64] [65] 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. [66] Muhammad's night journey is said to have taken him from the Kaaba to the Al-Aqsa Masjid and heavenwards from there.

Muslims initially considered Jerusalem as their qibla, or prayer direction, and faced toward it while offering prayers; however, pilgrimage to the Kaaba was 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 was changed from Jerusalem to the Kaaba in Mecca. [67] In 628 CE, Muhammad led a group of Muslims towards Mecca with the intention of performing the minor pilgrimage (Umrah) at the Kaaba, although he wasn't allowed by the people of Mecca. He secured a peace treaty with them, the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, which allowed the Muslims to freely perform pilgrimage at the Kaaba from the following year. [68]

At the culmination of his mission, [69] in 630 CE, Muhammad conquered Mecca. His first action was to remove statues and images from the Kaaba. [70] According to reports collected by Ibn Ishaq and al-Azraqi, Muhammad spared a painting of Mary and Jesus, and a fresco of Abraham; but according to Ibn Hisham, all pictures were erased. [71] [70] [72]

Narrated Abdullah: When the Prophet entered Mecca on the day of the Conquest, there were 360 idols around the Ka'bah. The Prophet started 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, Hadith 583

al-Azraqi further conveys how Muhammad, after he entered the Kaaba on the day on the conquest, ordered all the pictures erased except that of Maryam.

...Shihab (said) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) entered the Ka'ba the day of the conquest, and in it was a picture of the angels (mala'ika) and others, and he saw a picture of Ibrahim and he said: "May Allah kill those representing him as a venerable old man casting arrows in divination (shaykhan yastaqsim bi 'l-azlam)." Then he saw the picture of Maryam, so he put his hands on it and he said: "Erase what is in it [the Ka'ba] in the way of pictures except the picture of Maryam." [62]

-al-Azraqi, Akhbar Mecca: History of Mecca

After the conquest Muhammad restated the sanctity and holiness of Mecca, including its Great Mosque, in Islam. [73] He performed a lesser Pilgrimage (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. [74]

After Muhammad

The site of Kaaba in 1880 Kaba.jpg
The site of Kaaba in 1880
The Kaaba in 1907 Masjid al-Haram 1.jpg
The Kaaba in 1907
Kaaba 1910 Kaaba (1910)-2.jpg
Kaaba 1910

The 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, [75] an early Muslim who ruled Mecca for many years between the death of ʿAli and the consolidation of Umayyad power. Ibn al-Zubayr rebuilt it to include the hatīm. [76] [ failed verification ] He did so on the basis of a tradition (found in several hadith collections [77] )[ failed verification ] 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.

The Kaaba was bombarded with stones in the second siege of Mecca in 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 under ʿAbd al-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. [78] [ failed verification ] The Kaaba returned to the cube shape it had taken during Muhammad's time.

During the 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.[ citation needed ] The basic shape and structure of the Kaaba have not changed since then. [79] [ failed verification ]

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. [80] The Kaaba's appearance has not changed since then.

The Kaaba is depicted on the reverse of 500 Saudi Riyal, and the 2000 Iranian rial banknotes. [81]


The Kaaba during Hajj

The building is opened twice a year for a ceremony known as "the cleaning of the Kaaba." This ceremony takes place approximately 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 Shaybah (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 guests who ritually clean the structure, using a broom. [82] [ better source needed ]

See also

Related Research Articles

The Five Pillars of Islam are some basic acts in Islam, considered mandatory by believers, and are the foundation of Muslim life. They are summarized in the famous hadith of Gabriel. The Sunni and Shia agree on the essential details for the performance and practice of these acts, but the Shia do not refer to them by the same name. They make up Muslim life, prayer, concern for the needy, self-purification, and the pilgrimage, if one is able.

Muhammad Founder of Islam

Muhammad was an Arab religious, social, and political leader and the founder of Islam. According to Islamic doctrine, he was a prophet, sent to preach and confirm the monotheistic teaching preceded by Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets. He is viewed as the final prophet of God in all the main branches of Islam, though some modern denominations diverge from this belief. Muhammad united Arabia into a single Muslim polity, with the Quran as well as his teachings and practices forming the basis of Islamic religious belief. He is referred to by many appellations, including Messenger of Allah, The Prophet Muhammad, Allah's Apostle, Last Prophet of Islam, and others; there are also many variant spellings of Muhammad, such as Mohamet, Mahamad, Muhamad, and many others.

Mecca Saudi Arabian city and capital of the Makkah province

Mecca, also spelled Makkah, is a city in the Hejazi region of Saudi Arabia. The city is located 70 km (43 mi) inland from Jeddah, in a narrow valley 277 m (909 ft) above sea level and 340 kilometres (210 mi) south of Medina. Its population in 2012 was 2 million, although visitors more than triple this number every year during the Ḥajj ("Pilgrimage"), held in the twelfth Muslim lunar month of Dhūl-Ḥijjah.

Medina City in Al Madinah, Saudi Arabia

Medina, also transliterated as Madīnah, is the capital of the Al-Madinah Region in Saudi Arabia. At the city's heart is al-Masjid an-Nabawi, which is the burial place of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. Medina is one of the three holiest cities in Islam, the other two being Mecca and Jerusalem.

Hejaz Place

The Hejaz is a region in the west of Saudi Arabia. The name of the region is derived from the Arabic root Ḥ-J-Z, meaning "to separate," and it is so called as it separates the land of the Najd in the east from the land of Tihamah in the west. It is also known as the "Western Province." It is bordered on the west by the Red Sea, on the north by Jordan, on the east by the Najd, and on the south by the 'Asir Region. Its largest city is Jeddah, the second largest city in Saudi Arabia, with Mecca and Medina being the fourth and fifth largest cities respectively in Saudi Arabia.

Black Stone rock set into the eastern corner of the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia

The Black Stone is a rock set into the eastern corner of the Kaaba, the ancient building 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.

Quba Mosque mosque in Saudi Arabia

The Quba Mosque is a mosque located on the outskirts of Medina, Saudi Arabia. Initially, the mosque was built 6 kilometres off Medina in the village of Quba, before Medina expanded to include this village. Depending on whether the Mosque of the Companions in the Eritrean city of Massawa is older or not, it may be the first mosque in the world that dates to the lifetime of the Islamic Nabi (Prophet) Muhammad in the 7th century CE. According to legend, its first stones were positioned by Muhammad as soon as he arrived on his emigration from the city of Mecca to Medina, and the mosque was completed by his companions. Muhammad spent 14 days in this mosque praying qaṣr while waiting for Ali to arrive in Medina, after the latter stayed behind in Mecca to carry out a couple of tasks entrusted to him by the Prophet. Also going along with traditional saying, this mosque is said to be where the first Friday prayer was held, led by the Prophet Muhammad.

Treaty of Hudaybiyyah treaty between Muhammad, representing the state of Medina, and the Quraish tribe of Mecca

The Treaty of Hudaybiyyah was an event that took place during the time of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It was a pivotal treaty between Muhammad, representing the state of Medina, and the Qurayshi tribe of Mecca in January 628. It helped to decrease tension between the two cities, affirmed peace for a period of 9 years, 9 months and 9 days, and authorised Muhammad's followers to return the following year in a peaceful pilgrimage, later known as The First Pilgrimage.

Umrah Islamic pilgrimage

The ʿUmrah is an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca that can be undertaken at any time of the year, in contrast to the Ḥajj, which has specific dates according to the Islamic lunar calendar.

In Twelver Shia Islam, the ten Ancillaries of the Faith are the ten practices that Shia Muslims have to carry out.

<i>Tawaf</i> in Islam, the ritual sevenfold counterclockwise circumambulation of the Kaaba (the first thrice hurriedly in the outer part of the crowd, the latter four times slowly in the inner part), symbolizing the unity of the believers in worship

Ṭavaf is one of the Islamic rituals of pilgrimage in Mecca, the Hejaz, Saudi Arabia. During the Hajj and Umrah, Muslims are to go around the Kaaba seven times, in a counterclockwise direction; the first three circuits at a hurried pace on the outer part of the crowd, followed by four times closer to the Kaaba at a leisurely pace. The circling is believed to demonstrate the unity of the believers in the worship of the One God, as they move in harmony together around the Kaaba, while supplicating to God.

Muhammad in Mecca part of Muhammads life in Mecca, traditionally dated as the first 52 years of his life (570–622 CE), prior to leaving for Medina (the Hijra)

The Islamic prophet Muhammad was born and lived in Mecca for the first 52 years of his life. Orphaned early in life, he became known as a prominent merchant, and as an impartial and trustworthy arbiter of disputes. He married his first wife, the wealthy 40-year-old widow Khadijah at the age of 25. He would also marry Aisha and many others later in his life.

Masjid al-Qiblatayn Mosque in Medina

The Masjid al-Qiblatayn is a mosque in Medina that is historically important for Muslims as the place where, after the Islamic Nabi (Prophet) Muhammad received the command to change the Qiblah from Jerusalem to Mecca, the entire congregation led by a companion changed direction in prayer. Thus it uniquely contained two Mihrabs. Recently, the mosque was renovated; the old prayer niche facing Jerusalem was removed, and the one facing Mecca was left. The Qiblatayn Mosque is among the earliest mosques that date to the time of Muhammad, along with the Quba Mosque and Prophet's Mosque, considering that the Great Mosques of Mecca and Jerusalem are associated with earlier Prophets in Islamic thought.

Holiest sites in Shia Islam Wikimedia list article

In addition to the three mosques accepted by all Muslims as holy sites, Shi'ite Muslims consider sites associated with Muhammad, his family members and descendants, to be holy. After Mecca and Medina, Najaf, Karbala and Jerusalem are the most revered by Shias.

Holiest sites in Sunni Islam

According to Sahih al-Bukhari, Muhammad said "Do not prepare yourself for a journey except to three Mosques: Masjid al-Haram, the Mosque of Aqsa (Jerusalem) and my Mosque." In the Islamic tradition, the Kaaba is considered the holiest site, followed by the Al-Masjid an-Nabawi and Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Hajj Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca

The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest city for Muslims. It is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and can support their family during their absence.

Qusai ibn Kilab ibn Murrah, also spelled Qusayy, Kusayy or Cossai, born Zayd, was an Ishmaelite descendant of the Prophet Abraham, orphaned early on he would rise to become King of Makkah, and leader of the Quraysh tribe. He is best known for being an ancestor of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.

Great Mosque of Mecca Grand Masjid in Saudi Arabia, Al-Masjid al-Ḥarām

The Great Mosque of Mecca, commonly known as al-Masjid al-Ḥarām, is a mosque that surrounds the Kaaba in the city of Mecca, in the Hejazi region of Saudi Arabia. It is a site of pilgrimage for the Hajj, which every Muslim must do at least once in their lives if able, and is also the main phase for the ʿUmrah, the lesser pilgrimage that can be undertaken any time of the year. The rites of both pilgrimages include circumambulating the Kaaba within the mosque. The Great Mosque includes other important significant sites, including the Black Stone, the Zamzam Well, Maqam Ibrahim, and the hills of Safa and Marwa.

History of the Hajj

Islamic writers claim it started from the time of Abraham through the establishment of the Islamic Hajj by Islamic prophet Muhammad, to the present-day hajj where millions of Muslims perform their pilgrimage annually. In Islamic tradition, pilgrimage was introduced during the time of prophet Ibrahim (Abraham). Upon God's command, he built Kaaba which became the destination of pilgrimage. For the pagan Arabs in the Pre-Islamic Arabia, Kaaba was still the center of their worshiping. The present pattern of the Islamic Hajj was established by Muhammad, around 632 CE, who made reforms to the pre-Islamic pilgrimage of the pagan Arabs. During the medieval times, pilgrims would gather in chief cities like Basra, Damascus, and Cairo to go to Mecca in groups and caravans comprising tens of thousands of pilgrims.


Manasik is the whole of rites and ceremonies that have to be performed by Islamic pilgrims in and around Mecca. The Qur'an differentiates between two manasiks: The Manasik of Hajj, has to be donein the month Dhu al-Hijjah and The Manasik of ʿUmra, which can be performed any time of the year. The knowledge of manasik is an independent part of Fiqh.


  1. 1 2 Al-Azraqi (2003). Akhbar Mecca: History of Mecca. p. 262. ISBN   9773411273.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Wensinck, A. J; Kaʿba. Encyclopaedia of Islam IV p. 317
  3. "In pictures: Hajj pilgrimage". BBC News . 7 December 2008. Retrieved 8 December 2008.
  4. "As Hajj begins, more changes and challenges in store".
  5. "Haj Statistics". General Authority for Statistics, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 2017. Archived from the original on 20 June 2018.
  6. "Limited to Actual Haj". General Authority for Statistics. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  7. Hans Wehr, Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, 1994.
  8. Peterson, Andrew (1996). Dictionary of Islamic Architecture. London: Routledge. Archived from the original on 20 May 2010.
  9. 1 2 Hawting, G.R.; Kaʿba. Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an p. 76
  10. Clive L. N. Ruggles (2005). Ancient astronomy: an encyclopedia of cosmologies and myth (Illustrated ed.). ABC-CLIO. p. 202. ISBN   978-1-85109-477-6.
  11. Dick Teresi (2003). Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science—from the Babylonians to the Maya (Reprint, illustrated ed.). Simon and Schuster. p. 137. ISBN   978-0-7432-4379-7.
  12. "Saudi Arabia's Top Artist Ahmad bin Ibrahim Passes Away". Khaleej Times. 9 November 2009. Archived from the original on 30 September 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2010.
  13. "IN PICTURES: Six doors of Ka'aba over 5,000 years". Al Arabiya. 26 December 2018. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  14. According to Muslim tradition: "God made the stone under Ibrahim's feet into something like clay so that his feet sunk into it. That was a miracle. It was transmitted on the authority of Abu Ja'far al-Baqir (may peace be upon him) that he said: Three stones were sent down from the Garden: the Station of Ibrahim, the rock of the children of Israel, and the Black Stone, which God entrusted Ibrahim with as a white stone. It was whiter than paper, but became black from the sins of the children of Adam." (The Hajj, F.E. Peters 1996)
  15. "'House of God' Kaaba gets new cloth". The Age Company Ltd. 2003. Retrieved 17 August 2006.
  16. "The Kiswa – (Kaaba Covering)". Al-Islaah Publications. Archived from the original on 22 July 2003. Retrieved 17 August 2006.
  17. Key to numbered parts translated from, accessed 2 December
  18. Wright, Lyn. Kramer, John. Fusco, Angela. (2012), Dad's house, mom's house, National Film Board of Canada, OCLC   812009749 CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  19. The Basis for the Building Work of God p. 37, Witness Lee, 2003
  20. Al-Muwatta Of Iman Malik Ibn Ana, p. 186, Anas, 2013
  21. Mohamed, Mamdouh N. (1996). Hajj to Umrah: From A to Z. Mamdouh Mohamed. ISBN   0-915957-54-X.
  22. "Saudi Arabia says Hajj 2016 receives 1.8 million pilgrims". Al Arabiya English. 12 September 2016. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  23. Michigan Consortium for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (1986). Goss, V. P.; Bornstein, C. V. (eds.). The Meeting of Two Worlds: Cultural Exchange Between East and West During the Period of the Crusades. 21. Medieval Institute Publications, Western Michigan University. p. 208. ISBN   0918720583.
  24. Mustafa Abu Sway. "The Holy Land, Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Qur'an, Sunnah and other Islamic Literary Source" (PDF). Central Conference of American Rabbis. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 July 2011.
  25. Dyrness, W. A. (29 May 2013). Senses of Devotion: Interfaith Aesthetics in Buddhist and Muslim Communities. 7. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 25. ISBN   978-1620321362.
  26. Quran   3:96  (Translated by  Yusuf Ali)
  27. Pickthall, Ed., Muhammad M. "The Quran" . Retrieved 10 January 2018. Another version: "[96] Lo! the first Sanctuary appointed for mankind was that at Becca, a blessed place, a guidance to the peoples;"
  28. Shakir, Ed., M. H. "The Quran" . Retrieved 10 January 2018. And another version: "[96] Most surely the first house appointed for men is the one at Bekka, blessed and a guidance for the nations."
  29. Quran   22:26  (Translated by  Yusuf Ali)
  30. Pickthall, Ed., Muhammad M. "The Quran" . Retrieved 10 January 2018. Another version: "[26] And (remember) when We prepared for Abraham the place of the (holy) House, saying: Ascribe thou no thing as partner unto Me, and purify My House for those who make the round (thereof) and those who stand and those who bow and make prostration."
  31. Shakir, Ed., M. H. "The Quran" . Retrieved 10 January 2018. And another version: "[26] And when We assigned to Ibrahim the place of the House, saying: Do not associate with Me aught, and purify My House for those who make the circuit and stand to pray and bow and prostrate themselves."
  32. Quran   2:127  (Translated by  Yusuf Ali)
  33. Pickthall, Ed., Muhammad M. "The Quran" . Retrieved 10 January 2018. Another version: "[127] And when Abraham and Ishmael were raising the foundations of the House, (Abraham prayed): Our Lord! Accept from us (this duty). Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Hearer, the Knower."
  34. Shakir, Ed., M. H. "The Quran" . Retrieved 10 January 2018. And another version: "[127] And when Ibrahim and Ismail raised the foundations of the House: Our Lord! accept from us; surely Thou art the Hearing, the Knowing:"
  35. Tafsir Ibn Kathir on 3:96.
  36. Sahih Bukhari. Book 55, Hadith 585.CS1 maint: location (link)
  37. 1 2 Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad (1955). Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah – The Life of Muhammad Translated by A. Guillaume. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 88–9. ISBN   9780196360331.
  38. "IN PICTURES: Six doors of Ka'aba over 5,000 years". Al Arabiya. 26 December 2018. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  39. 1 2 Karen Armstrong (2002). Islam: A Short History. p. 11. ISBN   0-8129-6618-X.
  40. Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad (1955). Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah – The Life of Muhammad Translated by A. Guillaume. The text reads "O God, do not be afraid", the second footnote reads "The feminine form indicates the Ka'ba itself is addressed". Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 85 footnote 2. ISBN   9780196360331.
  41. Christian Julien Robin (2012). Arabia and Ethiopia. In The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity. OUP USA. pp. 304–305. ISBN   9780195336931.
  42. Neuwirth, Angelika; Nicolai Sinai, Michael (2010). The Qur'an in context historical and literary investigations into the Qur'anic milieu (PDF). Leiden: Brill. pp. 63, 123, 83, 295. ISBN   9789047430322. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 October 2015.
  43. 1 2 Wensinck, A. J; Kaʿba. Encyclopaedia of Islam IV p. 318 (1927, 1978)
  44. G. E. Von Grunebaum. Classical Islam: A History 600–1258, p. 19
  45. Crone, Patricia (2004). Makkan Trade and the Rise of Islam. Piscataway, New Jersey: Gorgias. pp. 134–37
  46. Morris, Ian D. (2018). "Mecca and Macoraba" (PDF). Al-ʿUṣūr Al-Wusṭā. 26: 1–60. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 November 2018. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  47. Siculus, Diodorus. Bibliotheca Historica. Book 3 Chapter 44.CS1 maint: location (link)
  48. Gibbon, Edward. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Book 5 pp. 223–224.CS1 maint: location (link)
  49. Morris, Ian D. (2018). "Mecca and Macoraba" (PDF). Al-ʿUṣūr Al-Wusṭā. 26: 1–60, pp. 42–43, n. 200. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 November 2018. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  50. Imoti, Eiichi. "The Ka'ba-i Zardušt", Orient, XV (1979), The Society for Near Eastern Studies in Japan, pp. 65–69.
  51. Grunebaum, p. 24
  52. Armstrong, Jerusalem, p. 221
  53. Hafiz Ghulam Sarwar. Muhammad the Holy Prophet. pp. 18–19.
  54. Francis E. Peters, Muhammad and the origins of Islam, SUNY Press, 1994, p. 109.
  55. Armstrong, Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths, pp. 221–22
  56. Crone, Patricia (2004). Makkan Trade and the Rise of Islam. Piscataway, New Jersey: Gorgias. p. 137
  57. Britannica 2002 Deluxe Edition CD-ROM, "Ka'bah."
  58. Gaster, Moses (1927). The Asatir: the Samaritan book of Moses. London: The Royal Asiatic Society. pp. 262, 71. Ishmaelites built Mecca (Baka, Bakh)
  59. Crown, Alan David (2001). Samaritan Scribes and Manuscripts. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. p. 27.
  60. M. Gaster, The Asatir: The Samaritan Book of the "Secrets of Moses", London (1927), p. 160
  61. Timur Kuran, “Commercial Life under Islamic Rule,” in The Long Divergence : How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East. (Princeton University Press, 2011), 45-62.
  62. 1 2 3 4 King, G. R. D. (2004). "The Paintings of the Pre-Islamic Kaʿba". Muqarnas. 21: 219–229. JSTOR   1523357.
  63. University of Southern California. "The Prophet of Islam – His Biography". Archived from the original on 21 July 2006. Retrieved 12 August 2006.
  64. Guillaume, A. (1955). The Life of Muhammad. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 84–87
  65. Saifur Rahman al-Mubarakpuri, translated by Issam Diab (1979). "Muhammad's Birth and Forty Years prior to Prophethood". Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum (The Sealed Nectar): Memoirs of the Noble Prophet. Retrieved 4 May 2007.
  66. Cyril Glasse, New Encyclopedia of Islam, p. 245. Rowman Altamira, 2001. ISBN   0-7591-0190-6
  67. Saifur Rahman. The Sealed Nectar. pp.  130.
  68. Saifur Rahman. The Sealed Nectar. pp.  213.
  69. Lapidus, Ira M. (13 October 2014). A history of Islamic societies. ISBN   9780521514309. OCLC   853114008.
  70. 1 2 Ellenbogen, Josh; Tugendhaft, Aaron (18 July 2011). Idol Anxiety. Stanford University Press. p. 47. ISBN   9780804781817. When Muhammad ordered his men to cleanse the Kaaba of the statues and pictures displayed there, he spared the paintings of the Virgin and Child and of Abraham.
  71. Guillaume, Alfred (1955). The Life of Muhammad. A translation of Ishaq's "Sirat Rasul Allah". Oxford University Press. p. 552. ISBN   978-0196360331 . Retrieved 8 December 2011. Quraysh had put pictures in the Ka'ba including two of Jesus son of Mary and Mary (on both of whom be peace!). ... The apostle ordered that the pictures should be erased except those of Jesus and Mary.
  72. Rogerson, Barnaby (2003). The Prophet Muhammad: A Biography. Paulist Press. p. 190. ISBN   9781587680298. Muhammad raised his hand to protect an icon of the Virgin and Child and a painting of Abraham, but otherwise his companions cleared the interior of its clutter of votive treasures, cult implements, statuettes and hanging charms.
  73. W.M. Flinders Petrie; Hans F. Helmolt; Stanley Lane-Poole; Robert Nisbet Bain; Hugo Winckler; Archibald H. Sayce; Alfred Russel Wallace; William Lee-Warner; Holland Thompson; W. Stewart Wallace (1915). The Book of History, a History of All Nations From the Earliest Times to the Present. The Grolier Society.
  74. Saifur Rahman. The Sealed Nectar. p.  298.
  75. "On this day in 683 AD: The Kaaba, the holiest site in Islam, is burned to the ground".
  76. Sahih Muslim , 7:3083
  77. Sahih Bukhari 1506, 1508;Sahih Muslim 1333
  78. Sahih Bukhari 1509; Sahih Muslim 1333
  79. Javed Ahmad Ghamidi. The Rituals of Hajj and ‘Umrah Archived 7 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine , Mizan, Al-Mawrid
  80. "History of the Kaba".
  81. Central Bank of Iran. Banknotes & Coins: 2000 Rials. – Retrieved on 24 March 2009.
  82. "Kaaba". Archived from the original on 7 July 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2010.