HİSTORY OF KAABA

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What is the history of the Kabaa? What are the importance and history of the Kaaba and the black stone? You can read more detail about the history of Kabaa…

The Kaabah, mentioned twice in the Quran, literally means a cubic object. Notwithstanding its other famous synonyms referred to in the Quran like al-Bayt, Beytullâh, al-Baytu’l-Atîq, al-Baytu’l-Harâm, al-Baytu’l-Muharram, al-Masjidu’l-Harâm, it is often called the Kaabah-i Muazzama, the highly respected Kaabah.[1]

The story of the Kaabah begins with Prophet Adam, the first human being. Upon descending to the world, he was given the duty of building a place of worship on the grounds where the Kaabah stands today.[2] This is mentioned in the Quran in the following verse:

Most surely the first house appointed for men is the one at Bekka, blessed and a guidance for the nations.” (Âl-i İmrân, 96)

In response to a question posed by Abu Dharr[3], the Messenger of Allah (upon him blessings and peace) states the first building built on the face of the earth as the Kaabah, and the second as Masjid’ul-Aqsâ, the holy mosque of Jerusalem.[4] Hence the valley of Mecca was chosen as a holy place in the very beginning of human history.

After the Deluge of Nuh, the Kaabah remained for a long time under sand. It was rebuilt by Ibrahim many years after he left his son and wife in the land. Revisiting his family in Mecca years after, and seeing that his son was now a young man, Ibrahim told him:

“Our Lord commands us to build a house for him…and you will help me!”

The young Ismail carried stones while Ibrahim erected the walls of the Kaabah. The piece of marble carrying the footprints of Ibrahim was used as a lift to help him reach the higher places of the wall. [5] The Holy Quran narrates the event in the following words:

“And when Ibrahim and Ismail raised the foundations of the House: Our Lord! accept from us; surely Thou art the Hearing, the Knowing:” (al-Baqara, 127)[6]

The Kaabah is the House of Lord symbolically: that is to say, God does not live in it. Muslims pray to Allah, glory unto Him, by circumambulating it seven times, starting from the Black Stone placed by Ibrahim near one of the corners of the Kaabah. The Black Stone is descended from Paradise, and as reported by the Blessed Prophet (upon him blessings and peace), whiter than milk and snow at the time of its descension, though darkened in time by the sins of human beings. (Tirmidhî, Hajj, 49/877; Ahmad, I, 307)[7]

It has also been reported that fires before and after Islam had a part to do with the darkening of the Stone. But there are accounts that the side of the Stone installed onto the wall of the Kaabah still remained very white.

Mujahid narrates that when Abdullah ibn Zubeyr -Allah be well-pleased with him- demolished the walls of the Kaabah in order to renovate it he saw that the inner side of the Black Stone was white.

Present during the reinstatement of the Stone in the 339th year of Hegira after having been taken away by the heretic Qarmatîs was Muhammad ibn Nâfî el-Huzâî, who later gave the following testimony:

“I was there to inspect the Black Stone when it was removed from its case and I saw that only one side, the visible side of the Stone was black, while the other three sides were white.”

In the 1039th year of Hegira the Kaabah was demolished by a strong flood. During the rebuilding Imâm Ibn Allân al-Mekkî inspected the Black Stone, commenting that “the parts of the Black Stone installed facing the walls of the Kaabah are as white as the marble where Ibrahim –upon him peace- prayed (Maqâmu Ibrâhim)”[8]

The Quran narrates that once the building of the Kaabah was completed, the Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail prayed to Allah, glory unto Him, in the following manner:

“Our Lord! Make of us Muslims, bowing to Your (Will), and of our progeny a people Muslim, bowing to Your (will); and show us our place for the celebration of rites; and turn unto us in Mercy; for You art the Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.
Our Lord! Send among them a Messenger of their own, who shall rehearse Your Signs to them and instruct them in scripture and wisdom, and sanctify them: For You are the Exalted in Might, the Wise.” ” (al-Baqara, 128-129)

Upon the completion of the Kaabah, the Almighty commanded Ibrahim to invite people for pilgrimage:

And proclaim among men the Pilgrimage: they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, from every remote path. (al-Hajj, 27)

Heeding to this Divine commandment, Ibrahim –upon him peace- climbed the nearby Abu Qubais Mountain, and called out to all four directions with an audible voice, informing people of their obligation to visit the Kaabah.[9]

After this declaration the Archangel Jibril came and showed Ibrahim the borders of the Holy Mosque and the distances of Safâ and Marwâ, telling him to erect stones to mark these borders. The Archangel afterward taught him all the rituals and procedures of the pilgrimage. Thereafter people from far away lands began visiting the Kaabah for pilgrimage, making Mecca the center for the religion of God, and the town gained an important place in the hearts of people.

On the other hand, jealous of its sacredness and high esteem among people, many idolatrous tribes began attacking Mecca. Before Abraha, three idolater kings of Yemen had launched assaults on the Kaabah with the intention of demolishing it. Interestingly enough, the tribe of Huzayl had a way of getting rid of their enemies by encouraging them to attack the Kaabah, knowing that any army that tried to attack the Kaabah would be doomed to be demolished by Allah, glory unto Him. It is said that they told one of these kings of Yemen, the Tubba,[10] that if he were to invade the Kaabah he could lay claim to the supposed treasure hidden inside it. Encouraged, the King attacked the Kaabah, but his attempt was thwarted as the feet of his soldiers became buried in sand. The King was then warned by his knowledgeable advisors and persuaded to retreat. On the way back, the King pledged thereafter to treat the Meccans well, supplying them with generous donations, promising also to respect the Kaabah. The assailants were thus able to salvage themselves from destruction.[11]

News of such incidents spread fast among the people of the Arabian Peninsula and the Kaabah attained a great reputation and an esteemed place in people’s eyes. The idea that Mecca, the Kaabah and the tribe of Quraish were under Divine protection became an accepted norm among Arabs.

Worshipping in the House of Allah, glory unto Him, continued the way the Prophet Ibrahim had taught up until the spread of idolatry. When idol worshipping became widespread in Mecca, the idolaters filled inside and around the Kaabah with idols. But even then the Kaabah was not renamed after a certain idol, and it was continued to be called Baytullah, the House of Allah. [12]

When Mecca was opened to Islam by the Noble Prophet (upon him blessings and peace) all the idols were demolished, and under the inspection of the Prophet (upon him blessings and peace), both the inside and outside of the Kaabah were washed with Zamzam water. This initiated a custom of washing the Kaabah with Zamzam and rosewater every year, perfuming it with musk and amber, and renewing its cover.

The idolatrous practice of hanging upon the walls of the Kaabah the seven most eloquent poems, the Muallaqât al-Sab’a (literally ‘the seven hanged’), acclaimed in their literary contests, not to mention their hanging on the very same walls the declaration of their boycott of Muslims attest to the immense value that the Sacred House held for them.

Any service made to the Kaabah and its visitors was thus held in great esteem. First fulfilled by Ismail –upon him peace-, these noble duties passed on to his sons, then to the Jurhumites and finally to the tribe of Quraysh. Simultaneous to the establishment of the Meccan city-state we see the founding of the following duties:

  1. Sidânah or Hijâbah: The duty of covering the Kaabah and safeguarding its keys.[13]
  2. Siqâyah: Providing the pilgrims with water and beverages, and the maintenance of the Zamzam well.
  3. Ridânah: Feeding and hosting poor pilgrims.

Being entrusted with these duties was considered a great honor and privilege among Arabs. In the time of the Noble Prophet (upon him blessings and peace) these duties were shared among the leading families of the Mecca. Omar -Allah be well-pleased with him-, the second Caliph, allocated allowances for these purposes, which during the time of Muawiyah –Allah be well-pleased with him- became more organized. The Ottomans similarly considered the upkeeping of the Kaabah as being of great significance, providing sizeable allowances for tending to the Sacred House.

Source: Osman Nuri Topbaş, The Prophet Muhammed Mustafa the Elect, Erkam Publications

[1] the Kaabah was erected upon approximately 1.5 meter-wide columns. Its walls contain a total of 1614 basalt stones of various dimensions brought from around Mecca. On the east corner is the Hajar’ul-Aswad, the Black Stone. It is kept in a silver casing and marks the beginning and ending point of circumambulation. the Kaabah’s east corner is called Rukn’ul-Hajar’ul-Aswad or Rukn’us-Sharqi, its north corner Rukn’ul-Iraqi, its west corner Rukn’us-Shami, while its south corner Rukn’ul-Yamani. The drain channeling the rainwater from the roof of the Kaabah (Mizab’ul-The Kaabah) is known as the Golden Drain. Starting from the Kaabah, the first three meters of the area enclosed by a semicircular wall, standing at a height of 1.32 meters and width of 1.55 meters, that rises opposite the northwest corner of the Sacred House between Rukn’ul-Iraqi and Rukn’us-Shami, is known as Hatim. This section was included in the main building of the Kaabah put up by Ibrahim –upon him peace-. Restricted by to a lack of material, however, Quraysh, during their restoration, had no other choice but to leave it outside. The remaining 5.56 meter area known either as Hijrul-the Kaabah, Hijru Ismail or Hatira, the exact spot where Ibrahim –upon him peace- had made a shade for Hajar and his son Ismail from an araq tree. According to tradition, both are buried in the area of Hijr. It has thus been decreed obligatory to perform circumambulation from the outside of the Hijr. The door of the Kaabah, on the northeast of the House, stands at height of 2,25 meters from the ground. The section of the wall located between the door and the Hajar’ul-Aswad is known as Multazam. The exact height of the Kaabah is 14 meters. The length of Multazam is 12.84 meters, Hatim 11.28 meters. Between Hatim and Rukn’ul-Yamani there are 11.52 meters. Holding the roof inside the Sacred House are three pillars, lined in the middle, from the south wall to Hatim. A ladder to the roof is found on the right hand side of the entrance, which also has a door of its own, called Bab’utTawbah, the Door of Repentance. The inner walls of the Kaabah and its roof are covered with green fabric made of silk. (Muhammad Ilyâs Abdulghanî, p. 33-66; Kâmil Mîrâs, Tecrid Tercemesi, VI, 17-20)

[2] See Tabarî, Târih, I, 124

[3] Abu Dharr’s –Allah be well-pleased with him- real name is Jundab ibn Junada. He was known as Ghifari in reference to the tribe of Ghifar from where he originally sprung. The fifth Muslim, he was a man of piety, contentedness and abstinence, which lead the Blessed Prophet (upon him blessings and peace) to call him the Masih’ul-Islam, i.e. the Isa of Islam. Constantly by the side of the Noble Prophet (upon him blessings and peace), he would look to reap the greatest benefit from his presence, asking what he knew not to the Prophet (upon him blessings and peace) for clarification; accumulating so deep a knowledge in the end that Ali –Allah be well-pleased with him- is known to have called him ‘the repertoire of knowledge’. His hadith narrations total 281. Breathing his last in Rabaza near Mecca in the 31st year of Hegira, his funeral last was performed by a small group who laid him to rest.

[4] See Bukhari, Anbiyâ, 10.

[5] Said Bektash, Fadlu’l-Hajari’l-Aswad wa Maqâmi Ibrâhîm (a.s.), p. 108; Muhammad Ilyâs Abdulghanî, p. 71-73.

According to one source, Ibrâhîm –upon him peace- later stood up on the marble, the maqamu Ibrahim and invited people to hajj. (Said Bektash, p. 111) In declaration of the the maqamu Ibrahim, Allah, glory unto Him, says:

وَاِذْ جَعَلْنَا الْبَيْتَ مَثَابَةً لِلنَّاسِ وَاَمْنًا وَاتَّخِذُوا مِنْ مَقَامِ اِبْرٰه۪يمَ مُصَلًّى

And when We made the House a resort for mankind and sanctuary, (saying): Take as your place of worship the place where Ibrahim stood (to pray).(al-Baqara, 125)

[6] For the details of the incident, see Bukhari, Anbiya, 9.

[7] Scholars have commented that if sins can have so great an effect on even a stone so as to leave it black, who knows the intensity of a scar they can leave on the heart. Abstaining from sins with utmost effort is therefore a must.

[8] See Said Bektash, p. 36-38; Dr. Muhammad Ilyâs Abdulghanî, p. 43.

[9] See Kâmil Mîrâs, Tecrid Tercemesi, VI, 20-21; Said Bektash, p. 111.

[10] Tubba is a name formerly given to the kings of Yemen.

[11] See Ibn Hisham, I, 19-20; Abdurrazzaq, V,153.

[12] In spite worshipping various kinds of trees and stones stuck in the swamp of ignorance, they amazingly never worshipped the three things they valued the most: the Kaabah, Hajar’ul-Aswad and Maqam’u Ibrahim. This can only be an exclusive protection by the Almighty.

[13] Ismail –upon him peace- is recognized as the first person to drape the Kaabah. (Abdurrazzaq, V, 154) Throughout Islamic history, the preparation of the cover of the Kaabah would be seen to by the Caliph a sultan or the governor of Mecca. After the passage of the Caliphate to the Ottomans in 1517, the cover of the Sacred House continued to be woven in Egypt for a little while longer. During the reign of Kanuni Suleyman Istanbul became the center for weaving its inner cover, added to which was the outer cover, come the time of Ahmed III. The last cover woven in Ottoman hands to be sent was in 1916; the rebellion of Sharif Hussain preventing further attempts. Prepared for a period of time once again in Egypt thereafter, the cover is today is made in a factory in Mecca set up specifically for that purpose.

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