Sunday, July 4, 2021

Kaaba: Meaning, History and Significance

  Tim       Sunday, July 4, 2021

The Kaaba, also known as Baitullah (House of Allah), is a cube-shaped structure located in the Ka'aba Mosque in the centre of Makkah's Masjid al-Haram, a sacred site for Muslims. Muslims are expected to face it when performing Salah, and it is part of the Hajj and Umrah rites in which pilgrims perform circles around it, an activity known as Tawaf

Meaning

Even though the literal meaning of Kaaba is "cube", Allah has given following meanings to it in Quran

  • al-Bayt (Arabic: ٱلْبَيْت‎, lit. 'the house') in 2:125 by Allah[Quran 2:125]
  • Baytī (Arabic: بَيْتِي‎, lit. 'My House') in 22:26 by Allah[Quran 22:26]
  • Baytik al-Muḥarram (Arabic: بَيْتِكَ ٱلْمُحَرَّم‎, lit. 'Your Inviolable House') in 14:37 by Ibrahim[Quran 14:37]
  • al-Bayt al-Ḥarām (Arabic: ٱلْبَيْت ٱلْحَرَام‎, lit. 'The Sacred House') in 5:97 by Allah[Quran 5:97]
  • al-Bayt al-ʿAtīq (Arabic: ٱلْبَيْت ٱلْعَتِيق‎, lit. 'The Ancient House') in 22:29 by Allah[Quran 22:29]

Kaaba in 1908


Pre-Islam History and Non-Muslim's Historical Perspective

The majority of scholars disagree with Karen Armstrong's assertion in Islam: A Brief History that the Kaaba was officially dedicated to the deity Hubal, who was of Nabatean descent, and that it contained 360 idols representing the days of the year; however, Armstrong's assertion has not been backed up by other scholars. However, it appears that during the early days of the 7th century, the Kaaba was revered as the ultimate deity: Allah, the High God, and that this was the case until the end of the century. 

One of the most important aspects of the Hajj, a Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca that takes place only once a year, is that it is a testament to the common monotheistic belief held by tribes from all over the Arabian Peninsula. Even though Muslims are currently praying with their backs to Jerusalem, as instructed by Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), they are praying in a direction away from the Kabah, which was once a pagan temple dedicated to various gods. 

In the Ibn Ishaq seerah, according to Alfred Guillaume's translation, the Ibn Ishaq seerah claims that the Kaaba mosque is the place in which Muhammad travelled and found God, making it the oldest historical record. 

Walking in circles while completely naked was something that both men and women did quite frequently. Some believe that Allah and Hubal were one and the same deity, while others believe that they were two separate deities who were in conflict with one another. 

Uri Rubin, a former researcher, and Christian Robin, a contemporary author, have concluded that Hubal was worshipped only by the Quraysh and that the Kaaba was originally dedicated to Allah, the supreme god of all individuals belonging to various tribes, before the Quraysh dedicated the Kaaba to their pantheon of gods after conquering Mecca one hundred years before the Prophet's time.


Kaaba History: An Islamic Perspective 

Two alternative Islamic explanations have been proposed about the origins of the Kaaba. One version is that the site was once home to mala'i'kah angels. Noah's flood destroyed the temple after it was built on the site. According to the Quran, Ibrahim and Ismail constructed the structure. While several other locations could have already existed prior to the Kaaba, it was the first Bayt Allah ("House of God"), which was dedicated exclusively to Him, and built on His instructions. 

The Kaaba is also known as Bayt Allah, and is mentioned in the Quran as Bayt Allah (22:26–29). According to the hadith, the Kaaba was the first mosque on Earth and the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem was the second. (Reference:Book 55, Hadith 585) 

An angel delivered the Black Stone (Hajar al-Aswad) to Abraham while he was constructing the Kaaba, and he placed it in the eastern corner of the structure. Abraham's station, which allowed him to climb higher, was a second stone that was used during construction. 

The Black Stone and the Maqam Ibrahim are thought to be the only original remnants of Abraham's structure because the building had to be reconstructed several times throughout history for maintenance. God commanded that Ismail's descendants make an annual pilgrimage, known as the Hajj and the Qurban, in remembrance of the building for its sanctity. The zone surrounding the shrine was declared a sanctuary where the spilling of blood and the taking of life were both prohibited.

According to Islamic tradition, Ismail's descendants and the nearby tribes that settled around the Zamzam well eventually became polytheists and idolaters. The Kaaba contains many idols, each of which symbolises an aspect of nature or different tribes. The many unique rituals included having participants go naked while circumnavigating the temple. 


Kaaba's Significance in Islam

Muslims frequently refer to the Kaaba as "Allah's House" or "the House of Allah." Bayt Allah al-Haram (also known as The Sacred House of God) and Madinat al-Hosn (The City of Might).

As Qibla

Qibla can be described as position facing while praying. When praying, the direction is toward the Kaaba. Muslims believe that it is important in good Muslim etiquette to face Mecca while reciting the Quran.

Tawaf

Tawaf is one of the pilgrim rituals that must be done during the Hajj and Umrah. Pilgrims first circle the Kaaba seven times in a counterclockwise direction; after the third lap, they walk the remaining four times at a leisurely pace. Pilgrims circle the Kaaba, chanting as they go around the sacred cube, offering prayers. You must perform wudu (ablution) when performing tawaf (circumambulation).

Tawaf begins with the Black Stone in the Kaaba's corner. A Muslim must attempt to kiss or physically touch the Noble Qur'an. Due to the large crowds, this is often difficult. 

Architecture of Kaaba

The Kaaba is a simple, cuboid-shaped stone structure. This tall structure has sides that measure from 36 ft 2 in to 42 ft 2 in.The marble and limestone make up the Kaaba's floor. The marble walls are inlaid halfway up the building, and the floor is finished with darker trim. In tawaf, the ground is about 2.2 metres (7 feet 3 inches) off the ground.
Kaaba Interior Architecture

Drawing of the Kaaba. Labeled elements are as follows: 1 - The Black Stone; 2 - Door of the Kaaba; 3. Gutter to remove rainwater; 4 - Base of the Kaaba; 5 - Al-Hatim; 6 - Al-Multazam (the wall between the door of the Kaaba and Black Stone); 7 - The Station of Ibrahim; 8 - Corner of the Black Stone; 9 - Corner of Yemen; 10 - Corner of Syria; 11 - Corner of Iraq; 12 - Kiswa (black veil covering the Kaaba); 13 - marble band of marking the beginning and end of rounds; 14 - The Station of Gabriel.

Next to the Kaaba's entrance, there are six inscribed tablets on the wall. Several more tablets are surrounding the structure. Gold-embossed Islamic verse Qur'anic passages are located in the black cloth that is sewn along the room's walls. It is treated in the same way as the Black Stone: scented oil is applied to it. 

Three pillars surround the Kaaba. A small table or altar divides them. Several lamp-like objects are suspended from the ceiling. It is not completely black, but it is darker than the lower trim. To the right of the prayer hall is the Bb ut-Tawbah. This text's reading brings about an enclosed staircase, which eventually leads to a hatch, which leads to the roof. Teak-capped stainless steel forms the roof and ceiling.


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