Yousef Meri

in Islamic Studies

ISBN: 9780195390155
Published online December 2009 | | DOI:


A cubical structure located in the Sacred Mosque (Masjid al-Haram) in Mecca which Muslims venerate as the original sanctuary established by the patriarch Abraham. Metaphorically referred to as the “navel of the earth,” the Ka`aba is the focal point of the qiblah, the direction of prayer for Muslims. Mentioned by name in the Qurʾan in Surah al-Maʾida (5:95, 96) and also referred to as al-Bayt al-Haram (the Inviolable Sanctuary) and al-Bayt al-ʿAtiq (the Ancient House), the Ka`aba’s cornerstone is known as the Black Stone (al-hajar al-aswad). Although the Ka`aba has been damaged and repaired throughout history, Muslims believe the Black Stone is the original cornerstone. According to tradition Adam built the first Ka`aba, and it was subsequently rebuilt by Abraham. In pre-Islamic times the Ka`aba was a center for the veneration of idols until the Prophet Muhammad destroyed them after the conquest of Mecca in 630. Muslims circumambulate the Ka`aba seven times and kiss the Black Stone as part of the rites of the Hajj and ʿUmra.

Article.  1243 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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