The Ka’bah, also known as Baytullah (The House of Allah) is the first house built for humanity to worship Allah (ﷻ). The small, cubed building may not rival other famous buildings in terms of size but its impact on history and human beings is unmatched. It functions as the Qibla, the direction to which all Muslims pray five times a day.
Mention in the Quran
- Regarding the Ka’bah, Allah (ﷻ) mentions in the Quran in Surah Al-Ma’idah: “Allah has made the Ka’bah – the Sacred House – a means of support for people.” [5:97]
The development of the Ka’bah
- The Ka’bah has been built or adjusted on several occasions throughout history. The most famous builders are; the angels who originally constructed it; the first man and prophet, Adam (عليه السلام); Ebrahim (عليه السلام) with the help of his son Ismail (عليه السلام); by the Quraysh during the Jahiliyyah period (this was witnessed by the Prophet (ﷺ) when he was 35 years old) and by Abdullah bin Zubair (رضي الله عنه) in 65 AH who rebuilt it according to the wish of the Prophet (ﷺ).
- During the era of Abdullah bin Zubair (رضي الله عنه) the Ka’bah was damaged by catapult fire in 64 AH when the army of Yazeed-bin-Muawaiya laid siege to Makkah. One of Abdullah bin Zubair’s companions lit a fire, a spark flew off and set alight the kiswah (covering) of the Holy Ka’bah. The wooden portions of the Ka’bah were burned which necessitated its demolition and reconstruction. Abdullah bin Zubair (رضي الله عنه) reconstructed it on the foundations of Ebrahim (عليه السلام), thus fulfilling what the Prophet (ﷺ) had wished for, as the construction made by the Quraysh was about three meters short because they had run out of lawful earnings to finance the build.
- When Hajjaj-bin-Yusuf had the governership over Makkah he informed the Ummayad Khalifah Abdul Malik Ibn Marwan that Abdullah bin Zubair had changed the Ka’bah to something that was different to how it was in the lifetime of the Prophet (ﷺ). He gave permission to change it again and in 73 AH it was changed to its previous state. However, when Abdul Malik came to know the Hadith of the Prophet (ﷺ) of how he had desired the Ka’bah to have been on the original foundations of Ebrahim (عليه السلام) he was full of remorse about what he had done.
- Directly above the Ka’bah, at its zenith, there is a corresponding place in the heavens called the Baytul Ma’moor which holds the same status there as the Ka’bah does here on earth. Each day seventy thousand angels engage in worship there and none of them get a second opportunity to present themselves there again. The Baytul Ma’moor is such a sacred and honoured place that Allah (ﷻ) takes an oath on it in the Holy Quran in Surah Toor:“ And I swear by the Baytul Ma’moor. (The much visited house)” [52:4]
- During the Night of Ascension (mi’raj) when the Prophet (ﷺ) reached the seventh level of heaven, he met the Prophet Ebrahim (عليه السلام) resting against the Baytul Ma’moor. Ebrahim (عليه السلام) returned the greeting of his descendant and testified that Muhammed (ﷺ) was the Prophet of Allah.
Virtues of the Ka’bah
- Hadhrat Abdullah bin Abbas (رضي الله عنه) reports that the Prophet (ﷺ) said:“One hundred and twenty mercies descend upon the Ka’bah every day and night; sixty for those performing tawaf, forty for those engaged in salah and twenty for those who are merely looking at the Ka’bah.” [Bayhaqi]
- The noblest shade on earth is that of the Holy Ka’bah. Khabbab (رضي الله عنه) reports, “We once approached the Prophet (ﷺ) with a difficulty and found him sitting in the shade of the Ka’bah, leaning on his shawl.”
Orientation of the Ka’bah
- The north corner of the Ka’bah faces towards Syria, Jordan and Palestine; the east corner (where the Hajar al-Aswad is) faces towards Oman, India and Malaysia; the south corner (Rukun Yamani) faces towards Yemen, Mauritius and Kenya; and the west corner faces towards Egypt, Morocco and Spain.
- The infographic below shows how some of the main countries around the world are approximately orientated towards the Ka’bah:
- The covering of the Ka’bah is known as the Kiswah and was first placed by the prophet Ismail (عليه السلام).
Function of the Ka’bah
- Muslims do not pray to the Ka’bah, it functions merely as a unifying direction point. During his time in Makkah, the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) used to pray towards Bayt-al-Maqdis (Jerusalem), with the Ka’bah in front of him.
- When he (ﷺ) migrated to Madinah, he prayed towards Jerusalem for 16 months, but he hoped it would be changed to the Ka’bah. Allah (ﷻ) then revealed the following verse in the Quran in Surah al-Baqarah: “Verily, We have seen the turning of your (Muhammad’s) face towards theheaven. Surely, We shall turn you to a Qibla (prayer direction) that shall please you, so turn your face in the direction of al-Masjid al-Haram (at Makkah). And wheresoever you people are, turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction.” [2:144 ]
The Ka’bah will be destroyed towards the end of times
- There are Ahadith that confirm that the Ka’bah will be destroyed towards the end of time. Abu Hurairah (رضي الله عنه) narrated that the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “The Ka’bah will be destroyed by Dhus-Suwaiqatain (a man with thin legs) from Abyssinia (Ethiopia).” [Bukhari]
Infographic of the Ka’bah
- Click on the image to enlarge.
References: The History of Makkah Mukarramah– Dr Muhammad Ilyas Abdul Ghani, Holy Makkah – Shaikh Safiur-Rahman Mubarakpuri, Kabahinfo.com