The Kaaba (or Qaaba; Arabic: الكعبة al-Kaʿbah IPA: [ʔælˈkæʕbɐ]; English: The Cube) is a cuboid-shaped building in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and is the most sacred site in Islam. The Qur'an states that the Kaaba was constructed by Abraham (Ibrahim in Arabic), and his son Ishmael (Ismaeel in Arabic), after the latter had settled in Arabia. The building has a mosque built around it, the Masjid al-Haram. All Muslims around the world face the Kaaba during prayers, no matter where they are. This is called facing the Qiblah.
One of the Five Pillars of Islam requires every Muslim to perform the Hajj pilgrimage at least once in his or her lifetime if able to do so. Multiple parts of the Hajj require pilgrims to walk seven times around the Kaaba in a counter-clockwise direction. This circumambulation, the Tawaf, is also performed by pilgrims during the Umrah (lesser pilgrimage). However, the most dramatic times are during the Hajj, when about 6 million pilgrims gather to circle the building on the same day.
The Kaaba is located at
21°25′21.15″N 39°49′34.1″ECoordinates: 21°25′21.15″N 39°49′34.1″E inside the Masjid al-Ḥarām (A.: المسجد الحرام, the "Sacred Mosque") mosque in the center of Mecca (A.: كة Makkah). A large masonry structure in the shape of a cuboid, it is made of granite quarried from nearby hills. Standing upon a 25 cm (10 in) marble base that projects outwards about 35 cm (14 in), it is approximately 13.1 m (43 ft) high, with sides measuring 11.03 m (36.2 ft) by 12.86 m (42.2 ft)..
Al-Ħajaru l-Aswad, "the Black Stone", is located in the Kaaba's eastern corner. Its northern corner is known as the Ruknu l-ˤĪrāqī, "the Iraqi corner", its western as the Ruknu sh-Shāmī, "the Levantine corner", and its southern as Ruknu l-Yamanī "the Yemeni corner". The four corners of the Kaaba roughly point toward the four cardinal directions of the compass. Its major (long) axis is aligned with the rising of the star Canopus toward which its southern wall is directed, while its minor axis (its east-west facades) roughly align with the sunrise of summer solstice and the sunset of winter solstice.
Technical drawing of the Kaaba showing dimensions and elements The Kaaba is covered by a black silk and gold curtain known as the kiswah, which is replaced annually during the Hajj pilgrimage. Two-thirds of the way up is a band of gold embroidered Qur'anic text, including the Shahada, the Islamic declaration of faith.
In modern times, entry to the Kaaba's interior is only permitted on rare occasions for a small number of guests. The entrance is a door set 2 m (7 ft) above the ground on the north-eastern wall of the Kaaba, which acts as the façade. In 1979 the 300 kg gold doors made by chief artist Ahmad bin Ibrahim Badr, replaced the old silver doors made by his father, Ibrahim Badr in 1942. There is a wooden staircase on wheels, usually stored in the mosque between the arch-shaped gate of Banū Shaybah and the Zamzam Well. Inside the Kaaba, the floor is made of marble and limestone. The interior walls are clad with marble halfway to the roof; The marble is inset with Qur'anic inscriptions. The wall directly adjacent to the entrance of the Kaaba has six tablets inlaid with inscriptions. The top part of the walls are covered with a green cloth embroidered with gold Qur'anic verses. Caretakers anoint the marble cladding with scented oil used on the Black Stone outside. Three pillars stand inside the Kaaba, with a small altar set between one and the other two. Lamp-like objects (possible crucible censers) hang by a rope above the platform.
There is also a semi-circular wall opposite, but not connected to, the north-west wall of the Kaaba known as the hatīm. This is 90 cm (35 in) in height and 1.5 m (4.9 ft) in width, and is composed of white marble. At one time the space lying between the hatīm and the Kaaba belonged to the Kaaba itself, and for this reason it is not entered during the tawaf. Some believe that the graves of prophet Ismail and his mother Hajar are located in this space.
Muslims throughout the world face the Kaaba during prayers, which they perform five times a day. For most places around the world, coordinates for Mecca suffice. Worshippers in the Masjid al-Haram pray in Concentric circles around the Kaaba.
Location & physical attributes
Drawing of the Kaaba. See key at left for details 1.Black Stone on the south-east corner. 2.Entry door, on the East wall 2.13 metres above ground level. It is accessed using a set of portable steps. 3.Rainwater spout made of gold. This was added in the rebuilding of 1627 after the previous year's rain caused three of the four walls to collapse. 4.Gutter, also added in 1627 to protect the foundation from groundwater. 5.Hatim, a low wall originally part of the Kaaba. Pilgrims do not walk in the area between this wall and the Kaaba. Some believe this area contains the graves of Hajar and Ismail. 6.Al-Multazam, the part of the wall between the Black Stone and the entry door. 7.Station of Abraham, a glass and metal enclosure with what is said to be an imprint of Abraham's foot.Abraham is said to have stood on this stone during the construction of the upper parts of the Kaaba, raising Ismail on his shoulders for the uppermost parts.
8.Corner of the Black Stone (South-East). 9.Corner of Yemen (South-West). Pilgrims traditionally acknowledge a large vertical stone that forms this corner. 10.Corner of Syria (North-West). 11.Corner of Iraq (North-East). 12.Kiswa, the embroidered covering, replaced annually. 13.Marble stripe marking the beginning and end of each circumperambulation. 14.Post of Mohammed Azzaam Ekkeri.
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