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The Holy Kaaba in Mecca

By Abdel Aziz Dimapunong


Imam, Masjid Alkhairi, Manila, Philippines

In the Islamic faith, the Holy Kaaba inside the Masjid al Haram is
the holiest place on earth. The Holy Kaaba, a cube-shaped
structure, is the focal point of the Muslim annual pilgrimage
known as Hajj and the visitation to the Kaaba known as Umrah.
The Hajj pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam.

The Holy Kaaba in Masjid al Haram is located in the holy city of


Mecca, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Haram is a holy land
area bounded by three sides: three miles on one side, seven
miles on the second and nine miles on the third side towards
Jeddah. The Holy City of Makkah lies 73 kilometers east of
Jeddah. Inside the Haram, it is forbidden to hunt or even bother
any living creature. It is not allowed to cut trees, not even grass.
It is only permitted to kill dangerous animals such as dogs with
rabies and the like of snakes, scorpions, rats, etc.

Mecca to the Muslim world is Makkah, the birthplace of prophet


Muhammad, peace is on him. It is also the place of revelation of many
chapters of the Muslim scripture, the Holy Quran. Mecca is Bacca in this
Holy Quran (3.96 Quran). Bacca is actually the entire valley of Makkah. The
Holy Kaaba in Makkah is popularly known as the Masjid al Haram. Actually,
the Kaaba is inside the Haram which is also inside the city of Mecca.

The Holy Kaaba By Abdel Aziz Dimapunong


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Background of the Holy Kaaba

It is believed that the Kaaba was built by the first man on earth, Adam. After
it was forgotten for a long long time, it was found and rebuilt by prophet
Ibrahim with his son, Ishmael (peace is upon them). That was more than
3,000 years ago. Today, the Kaaba stands in the middle of a complex that is
popularly known as Masjid al Haram. To some, the Kaaba itself is also
known as Masjid al Haram. It is the place which captures the hearts of more
than a billion Muslims all over the world. This number is ever increasing
because Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world today.

The Holy Kaaba was the first house ever built for the worship of One and
Only God, Allah. That is why it is called “Bait-ul-Ateeq”, meaning the oldest
house. It is also called “Bait-Ullah”, meaning House of Allah. Muslims all
over the world face towards Kaaba whenever and wherever they offer their
five daily prayers and supplications. Muslims have been commanded by
the Holy Quran to pay homage to the Holy Kaaba. Suratul Imran, the third
chapter of the Holy Quran says of the first House, thus: “Surely, the first
House founded for mankind is that at Becca, abounding in blessings and
guidance for all peoples. In it is manifesting signs; it is the place of
Abraham; and whosoever enters it, enters peace” (3:96-97). Other chapters
also mentioned the Kaaba. ”And when We assigned to Ibrahim the place of
the House (Kaaba), saying: Do not associate with Me aught, and purify My
House for those who make the circuit and stand to pray and bow and
prostrate themselves.” (Quran, 22:26). The circuit mention is the Hajj ritual
of simply walking around the Holy Kaaba in prayer. The Quran also says of
the builders of the Kaaba,”And when Ibrahim and Ishmael raised the
foundations of the House (Kaaba): Our Lord! Accept from us; surely Thou
art the Hearing, the Knowing.” (Quran, 2:127)

Prophet Ibrahim, peace be on him, founded a community of believers on a


valley of a desert land by command of the All-Mighty Allah. He settled on
this holy land with his wife, Hajira, and his son, Ishmael. From the progeny
of Ishmael would come the greatest prophet, Prophet Muhammad, peace is
on him. He was prophesized to be a mercy for all mankind. The teaching
that he brought down would be for the whole world and for all times.

Even though there was no sign of any provisions for food at Becca during
the time of settlement by prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon him, he settled
and relied on the merciful provisions of God-Allah. In due time the
provisions for food and water came in abundance. Slowly the place was
populated and was called Becca. This was the place where Prophet
Ibrahim, peace is upon him, found lost signs of the first House of Allah that
was originally built by Adam. It was built for worship of the one and only

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God-Allah. It was then re-built by Prophet Ibrahim with the help of his son.
Ishmael. He fervently prayed to Allah to make this house the Place for
Humanity. Yet, Prophet Ibrahim’s message of the One God was gradually
forgotten and pagan idolaters violated the sacred Kaaba. Only a few kept
the faith until Prophet Muhammad (peace is upon him) destroyed the
myriad of pagan idols in the Kaaba. The prophet restored order and
reestablished the manner of Umrah and Hajj. It should be noted here that
the worship of the one God-Allah, known today as Islam, predates the life
of Muhammad, peace is on him. Even the Holy Kaaba and the Hajj
pilgrimage predates the era of Muhammad, peace is on him. Indeed, the
worship of One Almighty God has been the religion of all prophets from
Adam to Noah, and to Ibrahim, Ishmael, Moses, and Isa the son of Maryam,
and Muhammad, peace is on them.

Around the Kaaba is referred to as Masjid el Haram which includes the


rectangular shape of the Kaaba. Pilgrims offer prayers here by facing
towards the Kaaba.

The black stone

There is a black stone in one of the corners of the Kaaba. This stone is
popularly known as Hajr-e-Aswad. It was probably part of a meteoroid that
fell near Mecca. When he was rebuilding the Kaaba, prophet Ibrahim
brought the black stone down and placed it inside the Holy Kaaba as a
monument. It was prophet Muhammad, peace is on him, and some
members of the family of Quraish who placed the black stone in one of the
corners of the Holy Kaaba, the place where it is found these days. Kissing

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the stone is not required but it is not also prohibited. It is optional for
anyone and it is not part of the legitimate rituals while performing the Hajj.
The stone has no power and it provides neither benefit nor harm to anyone.

There is a small well to the east of the Kaabba known as the Zamzam.
There is a small structure in front of the door of the Kaaba which was used
by prophet Ibrahim to stand on to complete the walls of the Kaaba. There
were two small hills that were located inside the Masjid al Haram. The small
hills were still noticeable when I first visited the Holy Kaaba in 1977. Some
big stones were still on the hills. I had stepped on them. In my pilgrimage in
1981, I did not notice the two small hills due to more improvements. In my
1986 pilgrimage, I realized that the two small hills were somewhat
smoothened if not flattened for convenience.

Improvements of the Masjid al Haram that houses the Holy Kaaba


continues through the years. I understand that work on a new project
began on September 1988. The project includes an expansion, an addition
of a new part to the Masjid al Haram. The area of the expansion floors
totaled 76,000 square meters, accommodating some 152,000 worshippers.
The expansion also includes furnishing the mosque’s outer yards for
prayer, an area totaling 85,000 sq. meters and accommodating 130,000
worshippers. This raised the Sacred Mosque’s total area to about 365,000
square meters, accommodating 773,000 worshippers on normal days and
more than one million during Hajj season and the holy month of Ramadan.
A new air-conditioning system has been devised with a total capacity of
13,500 cooling tons. New toilets were constructed covering an area of
14,000 sq. meters. The construction includes 1,440 toilets, 1,091 ablution
areas and 162 drinking water taps. Separate toilets have been set aside for
women.

The area of the basement expansion totaled 20,000 square meters


accommodating 33,000 worshippers. The area of the first floor totaled
47,000 square meters, accommodating 77,000 worshippers, the area of the
roof after improvements totaled 42,000 square meters, accommodating
90,000 worshippers. There are now 56 escalators. The Tawaf area was tiled
with heat-dissipating marble, doors were renewed and a library was
established. There are 55,000 lighting lamps. The connecting cables have a
combined length of 3.5 kilometers.

Further expansion areas towards Al-Souq includes: basement area 19,000


square meters, accommodating 35,000 worshippers; ground floor area
19,000 square meters, accommodating 35,000 worshippers and first floor
16,000 square meters, accommodating 27,000 worshippers.

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The current structure covers an area of 356,800 square meters including


the outdoor and indoor praying spaces and can accommodate up to
820,000 worshippers during the Hajj period.

It’s been eleven years since my last visit to the Holy Kaaba. How I long to
perform another Hajj pilgrimage again and visit the Holy Kaaba, the center
of the Muslim world.

xxxxx

Related article.

My previous blog entitled: “Eidul Adha, a global Muslim Holiday” is very


much related to this article. It is actually a part of the historical background
of the Kaaba inside Masjid al Haram.

The Holy Kaaba By Abdel Aziz Dimapunong