Friday 20 July 2018

Holy Places of Islam: Ka'bah - The House of Allah

The most revered and sacred holy place of Islam and Muslims is a cubical stone structure draped in black covering, called "Kiswah" with verses of Holy Qur'an inscribed on it with golden threads is the Ka'bah or the Bayṫ Allāh, the House of Allāh, situated right in the center of the courtyard of Masjid Al-Ḥarām (The Sacred Mosque). It is also called Al-Kaʿbah al-Musharrafah (the Holy Ka'bah). The word Ka'bah in Arabic means a cube, thus this stone structure which is 60 x 60 x 60 feet in length, width and height is known by this name all over the Muslim world. 

Located in the city of Makkah and the Hijaz province of Saudi Arabia, it is the the "Qiblah" (direction of prayer) and Muslims from all over the world face toward the direction of Ka'bah while offering their five daily prayers. They also take seven rounds around it during Hajj and Umra, as was done by Prophet Abraham after he completed the construction of Ka'bah. 

The original foundations of the Hose of Allah are said to have been laid by Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) and it became the first ever place of worship of Allah. However the structure only comprised of four walls with no roof. It was The Prophet Ibrahim (the biblical Abraham) who was later instructed by Allah to build a house for Him at the exact location of the earlier structure erected by Prophet Adam. Prophet Ibrahim was assisted by his son Ismael (Ishmael)

It may be added for information that right directly above the Ka'bah in Makkah, there is a similar structure up in the heavens called Al-Bait-al-Ma’mur (i.e. Allah’s House). During the famous "ascent (Mairaj)" of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to the heavens, he was shown the same by Angel Gabriel:
Then I was shown Al-Bait-al-Ma’mur. I asked Gabriel about it and he said, This is Al Bait-ul-Ma’mur where 70,000 angels perform prayers daily and when they leave they never return to it (but always a fresh batch replaces them).”
Herein under are references from Holy Qur'an about Prophet Ibraheem (Abraham, peace be upon him) when ordered to build the Ka'bah:
And [mention, O Muhammad], when Abraham was tried by his Lord with commands and he fulfilled them. [ Allah ] said, "Indeed, I will make you a leader for the people." [Abraham] said, "And of my descendants?" [ Allah ] said, "My covenant does not include the wrongdoers."
And [mention] when We made the House a place of return for the people and [a place of] security. And take, [O believers], from the standing place of Abraham a place of prayer. And We charged Abraham and Ishmael, [saying], "Purify My House for those who perform Tawaf (circumambulation) and those who are staying [there] for worship and those who bow and prostrate [in prayer]."
And [mention] when Abraham said, "My Lord, make this a secure city and provide its people with fruits - whoever of them believes in Allah and the Last Day." [ Allah ] said. "And whoever disbelieves - I will grant him enjoyment for a little; then I will force him to the punishment of the Fire, and wretched is the destination."
And [mention] when Abraham was raising the foundations of the House and [with him] Ishmael, [saying], "Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the Hearing, the Knowing.
Our Lord, and make us Muslims [in submission] to You and from our descendants a Muslim nation [in submission] to You. And show us our rites and accept our repentance. Indeed, You are the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful.
And in Surah Ale Imran (3:96), Allah makes a direct reference to Ka'bah: 
Indeed, the first House [of worship] established for mankind was that at Bakkah (Makkah) - blessed and a guidance for the worlds.
The four corners of Ka'bah roughly face the four points of the compass. At the East is the Black stone (Rukn el Aswad), at the North is el Ruken el Iraqi, at the west al Rukne el Shami and at the south al Rukne el Yamani. These directions point towards towards Syria, Jordan and Palestine from northern corner; the east corner (where the Hajar al-Aswad is) faces towards Oman, Pakistan and Malaysia; the south corner (Rukun Yamani) faces towards Yemen, Mauritius and Kenya; and the west corner faces towards Egypt, Morocco and Spain. Other countries in relation to Ka'bah are as under:

Map courtesy Islamiclandmarks

A door is fixed about 7 feet above ground level facing North East. In front of the building was Maqame Ibrahim (the place of Prophet Abraham where he stood and undertook Ka'bah's construction) , the arch shape gate known as that of Banu Shayba and the Zam Zam Well.

Hajar el Aswad (the Blackstone, a stone that was sent down from the Heavens above) is fixed on the Eastern corner about 5 feet above ground, with a diameter is around 12 inches.

At a distance of about 500 yards are located the famous twin hills called Safa and Marwa. These were the two hills tops between which Hajra, wife of Prophet Abraham ran for seven times to find water for his newly born son Ismael. It was on the seventh run that a stream erupted from the dry desert where little Ismael was kicking his feet out of extreme thirst. It is a miracle of Allah that since over four thousand years, the Zam Zam well produces thousands of gallons of water every day and has never since dried. 

Ka'bah has been used as a House of Allah for quite a long time after Prophet Ismael, but slowly and gradually the pagans took control over it and made it a house of wordily idols where other tribes of Arabia came for annual pilgrimage. 

Ka'bah has undergone many reconstruction efforts and one important reconstruction is worth mentioning when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was in his prime youth. The Blackstone which had been taken out to allow the construction work became a bone of contention among the pagan tribes as every tribe elder wanted to place the Blackstone by hand. It was thus decided by elders that anyone who enters Ka'bah the next morning will decide how to reinstall the Blackstone. And it so happened next morning that young Muhammad walked into Ka'bah courtyard and was chosen to give out the solution. He asked the Blackstone be placed in the center of a cloth and to be carried near the place of installation by all tribal chief holding the cloth from all sides. And then he picked up the stone and placed it at its designated place. Hence with the foresight of Muhammad, tension was defused and everyone accepted the arrangements so suggested.

The Ka'bah continued to be used by the pagans of Makkah and Arabia as site of annual pilgrimage until 631 CE, when the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) destroyed all the idols, including the huge idol named Hubbal placed inside the Ka'bah and others outside of the Ka'bah after the fall of Makkah and brought it back to its original glory as House of Allah. And designated it for the annual pilgrimage of Muslims from all over the world, in step with Prophet Ibrahim's footsteps.

While clocks and all motions are described in the world are Clockwise, the circumambulation around Ka'bah is anticlockwise. This may sound strange to many but if we study astronomy,  movement of electrons and circulation of blood in human body, we would find that all movements and motions are anticlockwise.

The circumambulation has been anticlockwise ever since even when no one knew the celestial and astronomical movements. It is only now we know that moon rotates around earth in anticlockwise motions, while earth rotates around its axis anticlockwise, and so do all planets of our solar system rotate around sun in anticlockwise direction. Even our blood inside our bodies circulates anticlockwise. So when we take circumambulation around Ka'bah anticlockwise, we in fact follow the same anticlockwise rotation of the entire universe - all following Allah's prescribed anticlockwise path.

Every year, millions of Muslims from all over the globe come to Makkah and perform the annual Hajj pilgrimage, the fifth pillar of Islam, beside performing voluntary Umra other than the Hajj season. Umra is performed exactly like Hajj excluding sacrificing the animals which is obligatory in Hajj only. Performance of these obligatory and voluntary rituals bring Muslims from all over the world where everyone perform the Hajj and Umra in uni-some without caring for one's colour or creed. This is what unity is and it is hoped one day all Muslims will join hands to be one as desired by Allah and which in fact is the essence of Islam. 

Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 |
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