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Inside View of Masjid-e-Haram Ka'aba Mecca

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Uploaded on Jan 28, 2009

The Kaaba (Arabic: الكعبة Al-Kaabah; IPA "Cube" is a cuboidal building in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and is the most sacred site in Islam.[2] The building is more than two thousand years old, and according to Islamic tradition the first building at the site was built by Abraham (Ibrahim). The building has a mosque built around it, the Masjid al-Haram. All Muslims around the world face towards the Kaaba during prayers, no matter where they are.

One of the Five Pillars of Islam requires every capable Muslim to perform the Hajj pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime. Multiple parts of the Hajj require pilgrims to walk several times around the Kaaba in a counter-clockwise direction (as viewed from above). This circumambulation, the Tawaf, is also performed by pilgrims during the Umrah (lesser pilgrimage).[2] However, the most dramatic times are during the Hajj, when two million pilgrims simultaneously gather to circle the building on the same day.

The Kaaba is a large masonry structure roughly the shape of a cube. It is made of granite from the hills near Mecca, and stands upon a 25 cm (10 in) marble base, which projects outwards about 35 cm (1 ft).[2] It is approximately 13.10 m (42.98 ft) high, with sides measuring 11.03 m (36.19 ft) by 12.86 m (42.19 ft).[3][4] The four corners of the Kaaba roughly face the four points of the compass.[2] In the eastern corner of the Kaaba is the Ruknu l-Aswad "Black Stone" or al-Ħajaru l-Aswad, possibly a meteorite remnant; at the northern corner is the Ruknu l-ˤĪrāqī "The Iraqi corner". The western corner is the Ruknu sh-Shāmī "the Levantine corner" and the southern is Ruknu l-Yamanī "the Yemeni corner".[2][4]

The Kaaba is covered by a black silk and gold curtain known as the kiswah, which is replaced yearly.[5][6] About two-thirds of the way up runs a band of gold-embroidered calligraphy with Qur'anic text, including the Islamic declaration of faith, the Shahadah.

Nowadays, entry to the Kaaba's interior is generally not permitted except for certain rare occasions and for a limited numbers 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.[2] There is a wooden staircase on wheels, usually stored in the mosque between the arch-shaped gate of Banū Shaybah and the well of Zamzam. Inside the Kaaba, there is a marble and limestone floor. The interior walls are clad with marble halfway to the roof; tablets with Qur'anic inscriptions are inset in the marble. The top part of the walls are covered with a green cloth decorated with gold embroidered Qur'anic verses. Caretakers perfume the marble cladding with scented oil, the same oil used to anoint the Black Stone outside.
Left: Conceptual representation of the Kaaba, as built by Abraham; Right: Representation of the Kaaba as it stands today

There is also a semi-circular wall opposite, but unconnected to, the north-west wall of the Kaaba known as the hatīm. It is 90 cm (35 in) in height and 1.5 m (4.9 ft) in length, and is composed of white marble. The space between the hatīm and the Kaaba was for a time belonging to the Kaaba itself, and so is generally not entered during the tawaf (ritual circumambulation). It is also thought by some that this space bears the graves of Abu Simbel, prophet Ishmael and his mother Hagar.[2]

Muslims throughout the world face the Kaaba during prayers, which are five times a day. For most places around the world, coordinates for Mecca suffice. Worshippers in the the Sacred Mosque pray in concentric circles around the Kaaba.

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