The Kaaba is Islam's holiest site and, as such, knowing more about it is critical to knowing more about Islam itself. The history of the Kaaba is intertwined with the origin of Islam because it appears that Muhammad used the Kaaba for political purposes, promoting new stories about the Kaaba's history in order to connect his new created religion with ancient Judaism. These efforts failed, but the stories remain and continue to feed the idea that Islam is the most valid religion. Knowing more about the Kaaba thus means knowing that not everything Muslims believe about Islam and Muhammad is true.
The Kaaba (Kaaba, Kabah, Cube, House of God) is a shrine located in a square adjacent to the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islams holiest city. The Kaaba itself is Islams holiest site. The surrounding square has been enlarged to over 16,000 square meters and can accommodate over 300,000 Muslim pilgrims. When Muslims pray the required five times each day, they face not simply Mecca, but the Kaaba in Mecca; Muslims praying in Mecca turn towards the Kaaba instead of facing just any direction.
The name Kaaba means cube, but the structure isnt a cube: it measures 12m long, 10m wide, and 15m high (33 feet x 50 feet x 45 feet). The Kaaba is built from grey granite and each corner points to one of the four points of the compass. The single Entrance is on the northeast, side, 2.3m above the ground. The interior of the Kaaba is bare except for three supporting wooden pillars and gold hanging lamps. Affixed to the eastern corner of the Kaaba, about 1.5m up, is the Black Stone of Mecca.
According to Muslim traditions, Adam built the original Kaaba as a copy of and directly below Gods throne in heaven. This structure was destroyed during the great Flood, leaving behind nothing but the foundation. The current structure was rebuilt by Abraham (Ibrahim) and his son Ishmael (Ismail). A gilded cage near the Kaaba contains a stone preserving a footprint of Abraham. Establishing this ancient pedigree for the Kaaba helped Muhammad connect his new faith with the Judaism.