Kaaba (Ka’ba, Kaabeh, Caaba) (cube) In Islam, a cube-shaped shrine located at Mecca. It contains Al-hajar al-aswad, the Black Stone, which may be a meteorite. The stone was located in the shrine before Muhammad destroyed the idols there when he captured the city. An Arabic historian recorded the worship
of a four-sided stone, called allat or alilat, in the Assyrio-Bablylonian kingdom of Nabataea. The pagan Arabs used to worship the Black Stone, and Muhammad accommodated them by making it part of the sacred site. According to some Islamic legends, the site was chosen because of its connection with the prophet Abraham. Abraham was led to Arabia by a stormy wind sent by Allah. The storm was in the shape of two heads (in one account, it had the head of a snake). Allah told Abraham to build a shrine at a site to which the storm would direct him. When the wind reached the site of the Kaaba, it wound itself around and said: “Build on me.” When Abraham was constructing the building, he stood on one of its stones, and his footprint, Makam Ibrahim, is shown to pilgrims to this day. The Black Stone in the shrine was once white but, according to Islamic legend, turned black because of the sins of man. It had been brought to the shrine by the archangel Gabriel. In another, entirely different Islamic legend regarding the foundation of the Kaaba, it was Adam, not Abraham, who was responsible. After the Fall Adam went to Mecca. The archangel Gabriel with his massive wings uncovered a foundation. Angels then threw blocks on it from various places until the ground was level. Allah sent from paradise a tent of red jacinth in which Adam was to live. The tent, which was an angel, later became the Black Stone. When Adam made a covenant with men, they signed it on paper, and it was fed to the Black Stone, which ate it up. At the end of the world the Black Stone will sprout a tongue and name all of the good men and all of the sinners. The Black Stone has been damaged several times. In the 11th century a man was sent by alHakim, Fatimid caliph in Egypt, to destroy it, but he succeeded only in splintering it slightly. The Black Stone is now in a silver casing about 10 feet across. The practice of kissing the stone is inherited from pagan times, although Muslims deny that any worship is paid to the stone.
Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow
Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante