Kaa’ba The House Of Allah
In the province of Hejazin the western part of Arabia, not far from the Red Sea, there lies the town of Mecca. In the centre of this town there is a small square building made of stones, about 60 feet long, 60 feet wide and 60 feet high. Since time immemorial this town and this stone built house has been known to world travelers. This is Baitullah( the House of Allah). Its sanctity and antiquity is older than history itself.
Tradition goes that the Kaa’ba was ordained by Allah to be built in the shape of the House in Heaven called Baitul Ma’amoor(the House of Allah). Allah in his infinite Mercy ordained a similar place on earth and Prophet Adam was the first to build this place. The Bible, in the Chapter of Genesis describes its building when God ordained Abraham to erect a Shrine for worship when Abraham was ordered to go to the Southern desert with his wife Hagar and infant son Ismail(Ishmael). The Old Testament describes this building as the Shrine of God at several places, but the one built at Ma’amoor is very much similar to the one at Mecca. There is no doubt that it was referring to the stone built house at Mecca.
The first house established for the people was at Mecca, a Holy place and a guidance to all beings. Qur’an firmly establishes the fact that Ibrahim was the real founder of the Holy Shrine.
When Prophet Ibrahim built the Holy Shrine in Mecca, his prayers were that this place should remain a centre of worship for all good and pious people; that Allah should keep his family the custodians of the Holy place. Ever since, Ismail(Ishmael) the son of Ibrahim 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 Kaa’ba remained in the family of Ismail 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 Hejaz so much so that many pilgrims flocked annually to this place and enjoyed Hashims’s hospitality. A feast was given in honor of the pilgrims, food and water was served to all guests by the family of Hashim. This prominence created jealousies and his brother Abdushams’ adopted son Ummayya tried to create trouble. There was a dispute in which Umayya failed and left Mecca to settle down in the Northern provinces of Syria(Sham,Suria). 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 supplies of water to the pilgrims during the annual festival of Pilgrimage to the Holy Shrine.
Prophet Ibrahim built this House for devout worship to one God. But within his lifetime people disobeyed his orders and began to put idols inside the Kaa’ba. Ibrahim 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 for He is everywhere. People did not understand this logic and no sooner had Ibrahim died the people, out of reverence, 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 prophet Muhammad Ibne Abdullah(pbuh) entered Mecca triumphantly, went inside the Kaa’ba and, with the help of his cousin and son in law Ali Ibne Abi Talib, (AS) destroyed all the idols of Kaa’ba 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 was reciting the Verse from the 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 Mecca by the Prophet of Islam.
Historically when Ibrahim was ordered by Allah to build the Shrine for worship over a small he uncovered the original foundations of the Kaa’ba built by Adam. Ibrahim with the help of his son Ismail erected the new shrine on the same foundations. Originally it contained only four walls without a roof. Centuries later during the time of Kusayi who was the leader of the Tribe of Quraish in Mecca 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 Kaa’ba 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 7 feet above ground level facing North East. A Black stone (Hajar al Aswad) was fixed into its eastern corner. In front of the building was Maqame Ibrahim(Place of Abraham), 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. These days both of the hills are enclosed into the sanctuary walls with a roof over it.
The whole building is built of the layers of grey blue stone from the hills surroundingMecca. The four corners roughly face the four points of the compass. At the East is the Black stone (Rukn el Aswad), at the North is “Al Ruken al Iraqi”, at the west “Al Rukne al Shami” and at the south “Al Rukne el Yamani”. The four walls are covered with a curtain (Kiswa). The Kiswa is usually of black brocade with the Shahada(Testimony of faith) outlined in the weave of the fabric. About 2/3rd’s of the way up runs a gold embroidered band covered with Qur’anic text.
In the Eastern corner about 5 feet above ground the Hajar el Aswad (the blackstone) is fixed into the wall. Its real nature is difficult to determine, its visible shape is worn smooth by hand touching and kissing. Its diameter is around 12 inches. Opposite the North westwall but not connected with it, is a semi circular wall of white marble. It is 3 feet high and about 5 feet thick. This semi circular space enjoys an especial consideration and pilgrims wait in queue to find a place to pray there. The graves of Ismael(Ishmael) and his mother Hajera(Hagar) are within this semi circular wall. Between the archway and the facade (N.E.) is a little building with a small dome, the Maqame Ibrahim(place of Abraham). Inside it is kept a stone bearing the prints of two human feet. Prophet Ibrahim(Abraham) is said to have stood on this stone when building the Kaa’ba, he would stand in this place for long periods of time looking at the walls to make sure they are perfect and straight, and the marks of his feet are miraculously preserved in this location.
On the outskirts of the building to the North East is the ‘Zamzam Well’ (this is now put under ground).
History of the Well Of Zam Zam
For a period of time, Prophet Ibrahim resided with his wife Sarah in Palestine. At 70 years of age, Sarah was an infertile old lady who was so keen to see her 86 years old husband Prophet Ibrahim become a father. For that reason, Ibrahim Married Hagar. By the Will of Allah, Hagar became pregnant with Prophet Ibrahim’s son Ismail who also became a prophet and was honoured to be the grandfather of Prophet Muhammad may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon them all.
Prophet Ibrahim had left his two dear ones, Hagar and Ismail in a barren area in Mecca. Mecca at the time was completely isolated with no evident buildings or people living there since there was no water for survival. There, Prophet Ibrahim left them with only a bag of dates and a leather bag filled with water. When Hagar noticed that Prophet Ibrahim was about to make his way back to Palestine alone, she followed him saying: “O Ibrahim, are we to be left alone in this valley with no water, or food or companions?” To that Prophet Ibrahim did not respond. So she kept posing the question repeatedly without getting an answer from Prophet Ibrahim, therefore, she said, “Did Allah order you to do this?” He replied, “Yes.” Upon hearing this, eloquently and with a complete reliance on Allah she said: “Then we will not be lost.”
Following the order of Allah, Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) left and when he was a fair distance away from Hagar and their son, he looked back at the Sacred House (Al-Bayt) and as mentioned in the Quran Verse 37 , chapter of Ibrahim, he made the following supplication to Allah:
“O Lord! I have settled some of my offspring in a barren valley by Your Sacred House so that they would perform the Prayer. O Lord, make the hearts of some people yearn towards them and provide them with fruits for which they would give thanks”.
Hagar, the mother of Ismail settled with her son where Ibrahim peace be upon him left them. She breast-fed him and drank from the water that Ibrahim had left for them. This water eventually ran out as the water container dried up. Consequently, Hagar became thirsty, and so did her son who started crying and became unsettled due to his extreme thirst. Hagar hated seeing him in that state and she set forth looking for water. As-Safa being the mountain closest to her, she climbed it and looked down at the valley to see if she could find anyone to assist her. She found no one and so she descended from the mountain until she reached the valley. Then she climbed Al-Marwah Mountain in keeping her search for water but she found none, She went back to As-Safa then back again to Al-Marwah for many times. On her last arrival to Al-Marwah, she heard a voice which prompted her to call out: “Help, if you can”. There was Angel Jibril peace be upon him, who hit the ground with his wing, and fresh and pure water emerged. That became known as Zamzam water. The mother of Ismail gathered the water with her hands and collected it in her container while it was springing out. Jibril said:“Do not fear loss, for there is a sacred House here which will be built by this child and his father”, meaning Ismail and his father Ibrahim peace be upon them both.