The Significance of Ka’aba in Mecca


Al-Azhar Magazine – December 1972

The Holy Quran proclaims the Ka’ba is the first House of Divine Worship on earth. In one place it is called Al-Bait al-Atiq or the ancient house. It is also called Al-Bait al-Haram, which carries the meaning of ‘forbidden’ in other words; a place where of the sanctity must not be violated. There is nothing in the Holy Quran to show wen and by whom the Ka’ba was first built. The Quran makes it clear that the Ka’ba was already there when Abraham left Ismael and his mother “Hajar’ in the wilderness of Arabia as the Quran said: “I have settled some of my offspring in a valley unproductive near Thy Sacred House”.

It also appears from this verse “…… And when Abraham and Ismail raised the foundation of the House…” that the Ka’ba was rebuilt by Abraham and Ismael. It appears from this that Ismael and ‘Hajar’ had been purposely left near the Sacred House. When Abraham left them in the wilderness of Arabia the Ka’ba was in a demolished condition. After that the father and the son rebuilt the house.

As the city of Ka’ba, which is the first sanctuary to be erected for mankind on earth, Makka is called in the Quran as “Mother of Villages”(6 :92). The eyes of the whole Muslim world fixed on that central spot which saw the first rays of the Divine Guidance.

It is also to this Holy Place of Mecca that all Muslims turn at the times of the prayers and make their pilgrimage. The Sacred House of Makka is called Ka’ba on account of its glory and excitation, for the root word Ka’ba means it became prominent, high or exalted.

All mosques of the world are built facing it. It should be born in mind that the clear object of Qibla is to bring about a unity of purpose. So as they have all one centre to turn to, they must set one goal before themselves. The city of Makka is situated in the centre of all great sacred places of the Muslim world.

The Prophet’s Mosque at Madinah, al-Aqsa mosque of Jerusalem, Umayyad mosque of Damscus, Al-Azhar Mosque of Cairo and all other Mosques of the world are connected with the Sacred House of Mecca, as it is the direction of all mosques of the world, and the central point of the muslims. The significance of this land and its connection with the Father of the prophets, Abraham, the ancestor of the Arabs, Ismael, and the last of the prophets, Muhammad ( peace be upon him) find clear mentions in the following verses. The Holy quran referred to the prayers offered

by Abraham and Ismael after the completion of the rebuilding of Ka’ba at Mecca:

رَبَّنَا وَٱجۡعَلۡنَا مُسۡلِمَيۡنِ لَكَ وَمِن ذُرِّيَّتِنَآ أُمَّةً۬ مُّسۡلِمَةً۬ لَّكَ وَأَرِنَا مَنَاسِكَنَا وَتُبۡ عَلَيۡنَآ‌ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ ٱلتَّوَّابُ ٱلرَّحِيمُ (١٢٨) رَبَّنَا

وَٱبۡعَثۡ فِيهِمۡ رَسُولاً۬ مِّنۡہُمۡ يَتۡلُواْ عَلَيۡہِمۡ ءَايَـٰتِكَ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبَ وَٱلۡحِكۡمَةَ وَيُزَكِّيہِمۡ‌ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ ٱلۡعَزِيزُ ٱلۡحَكِيمُ (١٢٩)

“Our Lord! And make us submissive unto Thee and of our seed a nation submissive unto Thee, and show us our ways of worship, and relent toward us. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Relenting, the Merciful. (128) Our Lord! And raise up in their midst a messenger from among them who shall recite unto them Thy revelations, and shall instruct them in the Scripture and in wisdom and shall make them grow. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Mighty, Wise.” (2: 128-129)

إِنَّمَآ أُمِرۡتُ أَنۡ أَعۡبُدَ رَبَّ هَـٰذِهِ ٱلۡبَلۡدَةِ ٱلَّذِى حَرَّمَهَا وَلَهُ ۥ ڪُلُّ شَىۡءٍ۬‌ۖ وَأُمِرۡتُ أَنۡ أَكُونَ مِنَ ٱلۡمُسۡلِمِينَ

“(Say): I (Muhammad) am commanded only to serve the Lord of this land which He hath hallowed, and unto Whom all things belong. And I am commanded to be of those who surrender (unto Him),” (Al-Naml – 91)

In one of the earliest revelations of the Quran Mecca is described as “the land made safe”. In another revelation it is referred to as the following:

لَآ أُقۡسِمُ بِہَـٰذَا ٱلۡبَلَدِ (١) وَأَنتَ حِلُّۢ بِہَـٰذَا ٱلۡبَلَدِ (٢) وَوَالِدٍ۬ وَمَا وَلَدَ (٣)

“Nay, I swear by this city – (1) And thou art an indweller of this city – (2) And the begetter and that which he begat, (3)” (Al Balad 1-3)

The name of the “Father of the Prophets”, Abraham and his son Ismael find clear connection with Mecca and its great Mosque: “….. make this city secure and save me and my sons from worshipping idols…o My Lord! I have settled a part of my offspring in a valley unproductive of fruit near Thy Sacred House, our Lord they may keep up prayer; therefore make the hearts of some people yearn towards them and provide them with fruits in Order that they may be thankful” (14 : 35-37)

In other verse of the Quran Abraham Is spoken of :

وَٱحۡلُلۡ عُقۡدَةً۬ مِّن لِّسَانِى (٢٧) يَفۡقَهُواْ قَوۡلِى (٢٨) وَٱجۡعَل لِّى وَزِيرً۬ا مِّنۡ أَهۡلِى (٢٩)

“And loose a knot from my tongue, (27) That they may understand my saying. (28) Appoint for me a henchman from my folk, (29)” (22: 27-29)

The Hajr- Al Aswad( the Black Stone) is built into the wall in the east corner of the Ka’ba at the height of five feet. It is of a reddish black colour about eight inches in diameter and is now kept in a silver band. Within the Sacred House is a small building called the MaqamIbrahim. It means the place of Ibrahim, and this name handed down from the antiquity as a decided proof of this connection of prophet Ibrahim with the Ka’ba.

As the Ka’ba is an inescapable part of the Islamic religion, and there is concentrated the adoration of millions, and the the chief features of the Hajj centre about it, something must be known about the history, name and description of this Sacred House. The root word Ka’ba means it became high and exalted or became prominent. This sacred house is called Ka’ba on account of its glory and exaltation. It is a rectangular building, almost the centre of ‘Masjid al haram”. It is to this Holy place of Mecca that all Muslims turn at the times of the Prayers and make their pilgrimage.