By the Editors of the Madain Project

The Kaaba (Arabic: ٱلْـكَـعْـبَـة‎ al-kaʿbah IPA: [alˈkaʕba], "The Cube"), also referred to as al-Kaʿbah al-Musharrafah (Arabic: ٱلْـكَـعْـبَـة الْـمُـشَـرًّفَـة‎, the Holy Ka'bah), is a building at the center of Islam's most important mosque, that is al-Masjid al-Ḥarām. It is considered by Muslims to be the Bayt Allah (بَيْت ٱللَّٰه‎, lit. 'House of God') and is the qibla (قِبْلَة‎, direction of prayer) for Muslims around the world when performing salah.


The Kaaba is located in almost the center of the Mataf area.

The Kaaba is the holiest site in Islam. The Qur'an contains several verses regarding the origin of the Kaaba. It states that the Kaaba was the first House of Worship for mankind, and that it was built by Ibrahim and Ismail on Allah's instructions.

Brief History

circa 600 CE

Pre-Islamic Era
Islamic tradition asserts that the Kaaba was first built by prophet Adam. It is said to have been lost over time until prophet Ibrahim re-built it with his son prophet Isamil. Since then the Kaaba has been the focul point of religious activity. Not much is known regarding the histoy of Kaabah before the advent of Islam, but what is for certain is that prior to 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 gods in the Kaaba and trade with each other in the city. Various sculptures and paintings were held inside the Kaaba. A statue of Hubal (the principal idol of Mecca) and statues of other pagan deities are known to have been placed in or around the Kaaba.


The Kaaba is a cuboid stone structure made of granite. It is approximately 13.1 meters (43 feet) high (some claim 12.03 meters (39.5 feet)), with sides measuring 11.03 meters (36.2 feet) by 12.86 meters (42.2 feet). Constructed of gray stone and marble, it is oriented so that its corners roughly correspond to the points of the compass. During most of the year the Kaaba is covered with an enormous cloth of black brocade, the kiswah.

The interior of the Kaaba contains nothing but the three pillars supporting the roof and a number of suspended silver and gold lamps. The floor is made of marble and limestone. The interior walls 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 meters (7.2 feet) above the ground area where tawaf is performed. One of these pillars dating back to the time of Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr, circa 670 CE, is preserved in Two Holy Mosques' Exhibition in Mecca.

Notable Architectural Elements

Door of the Kaaba
The entrance the Holy Kaaba is through a large door set 2.13m (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 CE.

al-Ḥajar ul-Aswad
al-Ḥajar ul-Aswad, "the Black Stone", is located on the Kaaba's eastern corner. It is revered by Muslims as an Islamic relic which, according to Muslim tradition, dates back to the time of Adam and Eve. According to Islamic tradition, it was set intact into the Kaaba's wall by the prophet Muhammad in 605 CE, five years before his first revelation. Since then it has been broken into fragments and is now cemented into a silver frame in the side of the Kaaba.

The Hatīm also known as the Hajr e Ismail (stone of Ishmael), a low semi-circular wall originally part of the Kaaba, 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.

Mīzāb al-Raḥmah
The Mīzāb al-Raḥmah, is the rainwater spout, made of gold, located in the upper part of the Kaaba's north-western wall. Added in the rebuilding of 1627 after the previous year's rain caused three of the four walls to collapse. It is reported that the Prophet Muhammad supplicated under the Meezab. The first roof over Kaaba was installed during the building by Quraish. Before their construction, there was neither a roof nor a downpipe. Over the years the gutter of Kabah has been remodled, adorned but the dimensions of Sultan 'Abdul Majeed were retained.

Rukan-e Yamani
The Yemenite corner (الركن اليمني‎), Rukan e Yamani. Pilgrims traditionally acknowledge a large vertical stone that forms this corner. This corner of the Ka’bah is called the Rukan Yamani because it is situated on the side of the Ka’bah facing Yemen. It is on the wall opposite to that of the Hajar al-Aswad. According to Muhammad Taahir al-Makki "the stone in the Yemeni Corner goes back to the time of 'Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr, and that it has remained until our own times".

Access Stairway
The entry door into the Kaaba is approximately three meters above ground level. A removable stairway is needed to access the Kaaba during cleaning and for occasional visits. Jay Bonner was contracted to design the ornament for this ceremonial portable stairway. The work was produced in carved high relief teak wood with inlaid lapis lazuli stone.

Reconstructions and Restorations

circa 1957 CE

Restoration During the Reign of al-Saud
In 1957 (Muharram 1377 Hj.), King Saud ordered the restoration of the roof of the Kaaba. A wooden curtain was installed during the restoration work, which covered the entire Kaaba except the Hijr Ismail and the Hijr al-Aswad so the pilgrims could continue the Tawaf. The restoration work commenced on February 8, 1958.

circa 1996 CE

Reconstruction During the Reign of Shah Fahad
In 1996 CE (1417 Hj.) the work began on the walls of the holy Kaaba. The reconstruction project included renovation of the roof, replacement of the three internal pillars, reconstruction of the walls, flooring and roof marble. During the entire reconstruction and restoration period, Kaaba was surrounded by a white barrier.


See Also


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