Considered to be the holiest place in Islam, the
Kaaba in Mecca is a huge cubical structure housed in the Al-Masjid
al-Haram Mosque. This mosque is the largest in the world and is said to have
been built around the original Kaaba.
All Muslims over the world face
the Kaaba during their daily prayers. This direction from their location to the
Kaaba in Mecca is known as the Qibla. During their Hajj
pilgrimage in Mecca, worshippers perform the rituals around the Kaaba itself.
As per the Holy Quran, the Kaaba was built by Prophet Ibrahim and his
son Ismael who were following orders by Allah himself. It is also believed to
be a replica of a similar house in the heavens.
The word Kaaba comes from 'mukaab' in Arabic, which
refers to a 'cube' - the shape of this structure. Standing on a ten-inch marble
base, the Kaaba is built of granite collected from the hills around Mecca.
The Kaaba in Mecca is approximately 15 meters in height, and has four
corners that face the four directions. On the eastern corner of Kaaba lies the
Black Stone, which is believed to have
been a remnant of a meteorite. The northern, western and southern corners of the
Kaaba in Mecca are known as the Iraqi Corner, Levantine Corner and Yemeni Corner
The Kaaba is covered by the Kiswah, a black silk curtain
which is decorated with fascinating gold-embroidered calligraphy. This curtain
is replaced every year. On the upper side of the Kaaba is a band embroidered in
gold that is covered with texts from the Holy Quran.
The Kaaba has floors
and walls made of marble. The upper halves of these walls are adorned with tablets
inscribed with Quranic texts. The structure is opened for cleaning two times in
a year. This
ceremony, known as the 'cleaning of the Kaaba', is held before the month of Ramadan
and before the start of the Hajj pilgrimage.
The most-visited attraction
of Saudi Arabia, the Kaaba in Mecca permits entry only to Muslims. Non-Muslims
found in the city or around the mosque face the risk of death penalty.