The Muslim Observer, Vol II, Issue Eleven, March 17-23, 2000.
cubed building known as the Kaba [Ka'bah] may not rival
skyscrapers in height or mansions in width, but its impact on
history and human beings is unmatched. The Kaba is the building
towards which Muslims face five times a day, everyday, in
prayer. This has been the case since the time of Prophet
Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) over 1400 years ago.
The Size of the Kaba
height of the Kaba is 39 feet, 6 inches and total size comes to
627 square feet. The inside room of the Kaba is 13 x 9 meters.
The Kaba's walls are one meter wide. The floor inside is 2.2
meters higher than the place where people perform Tawaf. The
ceiling and roof are two levels made out of wood. They were
reconstructed with teak which is capped with stainless steel.
The walls are all made of stone. The stones inside are
unpolished, while the ones outside are polished.
building has been constructed and reconstructed by Prophets
Adam, Ibrahim [Abraham], Ismail [Ishmael] and Muhammad (peace be
upon them all), [Prophets of Allah]. No other building has had
this honor. Yet, not very much is [commonly] known about the
details of this small but significant building. Did you know the
Kaba was reconstructed as recently as close to four years ago?
Did you know that the Kaba has been subjected to danger by
natural disasters like flooding, as well as human attacks? If
you didn't keep reading, you'll find some rarely heard of
information discussed below and discover facts about the Kaba
many are unaware of.
Names of the Kaba
Kaba in Arabic means a high place with respect and prestige. The
word Kaba may also be a derivative of a word meaning cube. Some
of these other names include: Bait ul Ateeq which means,
according to one meaning, the earliest and ancient. According to
the second meaning, it means independent and liberating. Both
meanings could be taken.
of the Kaba
historians say that the Kaba has been reconstructed between five
to 12 times. The very first construction of the Kaba was done by
Prophet Adam. Allah [swt, glory be to Him] says in the Quran
that this was the first house that was built for humanity to
worship Allah. After this, Prophet Ibrahim and Ismail rebuilt
measurements of the Kaba's/ Ibrahimic foundation are as follows:
- the eastern wall was 48 feet and 6 inches
- the Hateem side wall was 33 feet
- the side between the black stone and the Yemeni corner
was 30 feet
- the Western side was 46.5 feet
this, there were several constructions before Prophet Muhammad's
Muhammad participated in one of its reconstructions before he
became a Prophet. After a flash flood, the Kaba was damaged and
its walls cracked. It needed rebuilding. This responsibility was
divided among the Quraish's four tribes. Prophet Muhammad helped
with this reconstruction.
the walls were erected, it was time to place the Black Stone,
(the Hajar ul Aswad) on the eastern wall of the Kaba.
erupted about who would have the honor of putting the Black
Stone in its place. A fight was about to break out over the
issue, when Abu Umayyah, Makkah's oldest man, proposed that the
first man to enter the gate of the mosque the following morning
would decide the matter. That man was the Prophet. The Makkans
were ecstatic. "This is the trustworthy one (Al-Ameen),"
they shouted in a chorus. "This is Muhammad". He came
to them and they asked him to decide on the matter. He agreed.
Muhammad proposed a solution that all agreed to putting the
Black Stone on a cloak, the elders of each of the clans held on
to one edge of the cloak and carried the stone to its place. The
Prophet then picked up the stone and placed it on the wall of
the tribe of Quraish did not have sufficient funds, this
reconstruction did not include the entire foundation of the Kaba
as built by Prophet Ibrahim. This is the first time the Kaba
acquired the cubical shape it has now unlike the rectangle shape
which it had earlier. The portion of the Kaba left out is called
After the Prophet's Time
Syrian army destroyed [damaged] the Kaba in Muharram 64 (Hijri
date, 683 C.E.) and before the next Hajj Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr,
may Allah be pleased with him, reconstructed the Kaba from the
az-Zubayr wanted to make the Kaba how the Prophet Muhammad
wanted it, on the foundation of the Prophet Ibrahim. Ibn
az-Zubayr said, "I heard Aisha (may Allah be pleased with
her) say, 'The Prophet said: "If your people had not quite
recently abandoned the Ignorance (Unbelief), and if I had
sufficient provisions to rebuild it [the Kaba], I would have
added five cubits to it from the Hijr. Also, I would make two
doors: one for people to enter therein and the other to
exit." (Bukhari). Ibn az-Zuhayr said, "Today, I can
afford to do it and I do not fear the people."
az-Zuhayr built the Kaba on Prophet Ibrahim's foundation. He put
the roof on three pillars with the wood of Aoud (a perfumed wood
with aroma which is traditionally burned to get a good smell out
of it in Arabia). In his construction he put two doors, one
facing the east the other facing the west, as the Prophet wanted
but did not do in his lifetime. He rebuilt the Kaba on the
Prophet Ibrahim's foundation, which meant that the Hateem area
was included. The Hateem is the area adjacent to the Kaba
enclosed by a low semi-circular wall. Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr
also made the following additions and modifications:
- put a small window close to the roof of the Kaba to
allow for light. moved the door of the Kaba to ground level
and added a second door to the Kaba.
- added nine cubits to the height of the Kaba, making it
twenty cubits high.
- its walls were two cubits wide.
- reduced the pillars inside the House to three instead of
six as were earlier built by Quraish.
reconstruction, ibn az-Zubayr put up four pillars around Kaba
and hung cloth over them until the building was completed.
People began to do Tawaf around these pillars at all times, so
Tawaf of the Kaba was never abandoned, even during
Abdul Malik bin Marwan's time
74 Hijri (or 693 according to the Gregorian calendar), Al-Hajjaj
bin Yusuf al-Thaqafi, the known tyrant of that time, with the
approval of Umayyad Khalifa Abdul Malik bin Marwan, demolished
what Ibn az-Zubayr had added to it from the older foundation of
Prophet Ibrahim, restored its old structure as the Quraish had
of the changes he made were the following:
- he rebuilt it in the smaller shape which is found today
took out the Hateem walled up the western door (whose signs
are still visible today) and left the rest as It was pulled
down the wall in the Hateem area.
- removed the wooden ladder Ibn az-Zubayr had put inside
- reduced the door's height by five cubits.
Abdul Malik bin Marwan came for Umra and heard the Hadith that
it was wish of Prophet for the Kaba to be constructed the way
Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr had built it, he regretted his actions.
Malik's advice to the Khalifa Harun al Rasheed
Khalifa Harun al Rasheed wanted to rebuild the Kaba the way the
Prophet Muhammad wanted and the way Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr built
it. But when he consulted Imam Malik, the Imam asked the Khalifa
to change his mind because constant demolition and rebuilding is
not respectful and would become a toy in the hands of kings.
Each one would want to demolish and rebuild the Kaba. Based on
this advice, Harun al Rasheed did not reconstruct the Kaba. The
structure remained in the same construction for 966 years, with
minor repairs here and there.
during Sultan Murad Khan's time
the year 1039 Hijri, because of heavy rain, flood and hail, two
of the Kaba's walls fell down. The flood during which this
occurred took place on the 19th of Shaban 1039 Hijri [April 2,
1630] which continued constantly, so the water in the Kaba
became almost close to half of its walls, about 10 feet from the
ground level. On Thursday the 20th of Shaban 1039 Hijri, the
eastern and western walls fell down. When flood receded on
Friday the 21st of Shaban, the cleanup started.
Again, a curtain, the way Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr established on
4 pillars, was put up, and the reconstruction started on the
26th of Ramadan [May 9, 1630]. The rest of the walls except for
the one near the Black Stone, were demolished.
the 2nd of Zul-Hijjah 1040 [July 2, 1631] the construction was
taking place under the guidance of Sultan Murad Khan, the
Ottoman Khalifa. From the point of the Black Stone and below,
the current construction is the same as that done by Abdullah
ibn az-Zubayr. The construction which was done under the
auspices of Murad Khan was exactly the one done at the time of
Abdul Malik ibn Marwan which is the way the Quraysh had built it
before Prophet hood.
Rajab 28 1377 [Feb. 17, 1958], One historian counted the total
stones of the Kaba and they were 1,614. These stones are of
different shapes. But the stones which are inside the outer wall
which is visible are not counted in there.
of the Kaba in 1996
major reconstruction of the Kaba took place between May 1996 and
October 1996. This was after a period of about 400 years (since
Sultan Murad khan's time). During this reconstruction the only
original thing left from the Kaba are the stones. All other
material has been replaced including the ceiling and the roof
and its wood.
is inside the Kaba?
Muzammil Siddiqi is the president of the Islamic Society of
North America (ISNA). He had the opportunity to go inside the
Kaba in October 1998. In an interview with Sound Vision, he
described the following features:
- there are two pillars inside (others report 3 pillars)
- there is a table on the side to put items like perfume
- there are two lantern-type lamps hanging from the
- the space can accommodate about 50 people
- there are no electric lights inside
- the walls and the floors are of the marble
- there are no windows inside
- there is only one door
- the upper inside walls of the Kaba were covered with
some kind of curtain with the Kalima written on it.