By Ishola Balogun
In the heart of western part of Saudi Arabia, not far from the Red Sea, there lies the town of Makkah. In the center of this town there is a small square building of about 60 x 60ft.
The small, cubed building may not rival skyscrapers in height or mansions, but its impact on human beings is unmatched. This Baytullah, the House of Allah\Kaaba is the building towards which Muslims face five times daily in prayer since the prophethood of Muhammad (s.a.w) 1432 years ago.
Literally, Kaaba in Arabic means a high place with respect and prestige. The word Kaaba may also be derivative of a word meaning a cube which also symbolises the cubic structure it was built. It could also be called Bait-ul-Ateeq – which means, the earliest and ancient or called Bait-ul-Haram – the honorable house.
The Kaaba was ordained by Allah to be built in the shape of the House in Heaven called Baitul Ma’amoor. Allah in his infinite mercy ordained a similar place on earth and Prophet Adam (p.b.u.h.) was the first to build this place. The Bible, in Genesis describes its building when God ordained Abraham (p.b.u.h.) to erect a Shrine for worship when Abraham (p.b.u.h.) was ordered to go to the southern desert with his wife Hagai (p.b.u.h.) and infant son Ishmael (p.b.u.h.). The Old Testament describes this building as the Shrine of God at several places. There is no doubt that it was referring to the stone built house at Makkah.
Holy Qur’an brought this story into the full light of history. Say: “Allah spoken the Truth: follow the religion of Abraham, the sane in faith; he was not of the Pagans.” The first House (of worship) appointed for men was that at Bakkat: Full of blessing and of guidance for all kinds of beings. (Holy Qur’an 3:95-96)
From the above verses Holy Qur’an firmly establishes the fact that Abraham (p.b.u.h.) was the real founder of the Holy Kaaba.
When Prophet Abraham (p.b.u.h.) built the Holy Kaaba in Makka, his prayers were that this place should remain a center of worship for all good and pious people; that Allah should keep his family the custodians of the Holy place. Ever since, Ishmael (p.b.u.h.) the son of Abraham (p.b.u.h.) who helped his father to build this place and his descendants remained the custodians of the Holy Shrine. History tells us that centuries passed and the guardianship of the Kaaba remained in the family of Ishmael (p.b.u.h.) until the name of Abde Manaf came into the limelight. He inherited this service and made it much more prominent.
His son Hashim took this leadership and extended it to many other towns of Hijaz, (a province where Kaaba is located) so much so that many pilgrims flocked annually to this place and enjoyed Hashim’s hospitality. A feast was given in honor of the pilgrims, the family of Hashim served food and water to all guests. This prominence created envy and his brother Abdusham’s adopted son Omayya tried to create trouble. There was a dispute in which Omayya failed and left Makka to settle down in the Northern provinces of Syria (Sham). After Hashim his brother Muttalib and after him Hashim’s son Shyba who became known as Abdul Muttalib assumed the leadership of the family. He organized feasts and supplied water to the pilgrims during the annual festival of pilgrimage to the Holy Shrine.
Prophet Abraham (p.b.u.h.) built this House for devout worship to the only God. But within his lifetime people disobeyed his orders and began to put idols inside the Kaaba. Abraham (p.b.u.h.) had to clean the House of these idols and of idle worshippers. He told the people that this was a symbolic house of God. God does not live there; He is everywhere.
People did not understand this logic and after the death of Abraham (p.b.u.h.), the people, out of ignorance, filled the place with idols again. They thronged to this place annually and worshipped their personal gods, It was over four thousand years later that the last of the line of prophets Muhammad Ibn Abdullah (p.b.u.h.) entered Makka triumphantly, went inside the Kaaba and, with the help of his cousin and son-in-law Ali Ibn Abi Talib (p.b.u.h.) destroyed all the idols of Kaaba with their own hands. At one stage of this destruction of idols, the tallest of the idol Hubbol was brought down after Ali had to stand on the shoulders of the Prophet to carry out God’s orders. The Prophet of Islam (p.b.u.h.) was reciting the verse from the Holy Qur’an “Truth hath come and falsehood hath vanished”. This was done in the 8th year of Hijra, January 630 AD after the bloodless victory at Makka by the Prophet of Islam (p.b.u.h.).
Historically when Abraham (p.b.u.h.) was ordered by Allah to build the Kaaba, he uncovered the original foundations of the Kaaba built by Adam (p.b.u.h.). Abraham (p.b.u.h.) with the help of his son Ishmael (p.b.u.h.) erected the new place of worship on the same foundations. Originally it contained only four walls without a roof.
Centuries later during the time of Khusayi who was the leader of the Tribe of Quraish in Makka a taller building was completed with a roof and a quadrangle wall around it to give it the shape of a sanctuary and doors all around the sanctuary walls. People entered through these doors to come to the Kaaba for worship.
It is now about 60 feet high, 60 feet wide from east to west and 60 feet from north to south. A door is fixed about seven feet above ground level facing Northeast. A Black stone (Hajar al-Aswad) was fixed into its eastern corner. In front of the building was Maqam-e-Ibrahim, the arch shape gate known as that of Banu Shayba and the Zamzam Well. Just outside are the Hills called Safa and Marwa and the distance between the hills is about 500 yards. Modern touch has made both hills enclosed into the sanctuary walls with a roof over it with beautiful architectural masterpeice.