The Kaaba with respect to the inhabited parts of the world is like the centre of a circle with respect to the circle itself. All regions face the Kaaba, surrounding it as a circle surrounds its centre; and each region faces a particular part of the Kaaba. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) adopted the Kaaba as a physical focus in prayer as well for other acts of worship such as burial of the dead, recitation of the Qur’an, announcing the call of prayer, the ritual slaughter of animals, etc. Thus, Muslims have been spiritually and physically oriented towards the Kaaba and the holy city of Makkah in their daily lives.
The legend of this purely Islamic development of a sacred stone structure dates back to the fall of Hadhrat Adam (alayhis salaam) from Paradise onto earth at Makkah. It has been reported by Al-tabari that Hadhrat Jibraeel (alayhis salaam) flapped his wings to uncover a foundation laid in the seventh fold of the earth. Angels paved this foundation with stones and Hazrat Adam went round this structure following the example of the Angels. Therefore it stands to reason that Allah Ta’ala contemplated and designated the Ka’aba before the creation of the earth. It is said that the Kaaba is a prototype of Baitul Mamoor, a house in the seventh Heaven situated immediately over the Kaaba.
It is definitely known that it was Ibrahim al-Khalil, peace and blessings be upon him, who re-built the Ka`bah. The residents around it at that time were his son, Isma`il, and the tribe of Jurhum (originally from Yemen). It is an almost square building whose sides face the cardinal points of the compass; the winds, no matter how strong, lose their force when they strike it – without doing it any harm.
The construction of Ibrahim stood intact, until it was rebuilt by al-‘Amaliqah, and later by the tribe of Jurhum (or vice versa).
When the management of the Ka`bah came into the hands of Qusayy Ibn Kilab – an ancestor of the Prophet – in the second century before Hijrah, he demolished and rebuilt it on firm foundation, putting a roof of doom palm timber and date-palm trunk on it. He also built ‘Daru ‘n-Nadwah’ (Council House) on one side. It was the place from where he ruled and where he held counsel with his colleagues. Then he divided various sides of the Ka`bah. Among different clans of the Quraysh and each clan built their houses at the side allotted to them; and they opened their doors towards the Ka`bah.
Five years before the start of the Prophet’s mission, there came a flood which destroyed the Ka`bah’s building. The Quraysh divided among themselves the various responsibilities connected with its reconstruction. They hired a Roman builder to build it and an Egyptian carpenter to help him with the woodwork. When the time came to fix the Black Stone, a dispute erupted as to which clan should be accorded the honor of putting the Black Stone in its place. Then they agreed to leave the decision to Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, who at that time was thirty-five years old, because they had full faith in his deep wisdom and sound judgment. He got his robe, and putting the Stone on it, told all the clans to hold the sides of the robe and raise it together. When the Stone reached the required height (on the eastern corner), he took it in his hands and fixed it in its proper place.
But the Quraysh found their funds exhausted. So they reduced the size on one side – as it is today; thus a part of the original foundation was left out, and that is the portion known as ‘Hijr Isma`il’ (the Enclosure of Isma`il).
The building remained in that condition until `Abdullah Ibn Az-Zubair established his rule over Hijaz during the reign of Yazid Ibn Mu`awiyah. Husain Ibn Numair, the commander of Yazid’s army, besieged him at Makkah and struck the Ka`bah with catapult. The Ka`bah was demolished, the ‘Al-Kiswah’ (covering of the Ka`bah) and some roof timbers were burnt down. The siege was lifted when news came of Yazid’s death. Ibn Az-Zubair decided to demolish the Ka`bah completely and rebuild it on its original foundation. He got good mortar from Yemen and constructed the new building. Hijr Isma`il was re-included in the Ka`bah; the door was fixed at the level of the ground; another door was fixed on the opposite side, so that people might enter from one door and go out from the other. He fixed the height of the House at twenty-seven arms. When the building was ready, he covered the whole building with musk and perfume inside out, and put silken Kiswah on it. The construction was completed on 17th Rajab, 64 A.H.
When `Abdul-Malik Ibn Marwan came to power in Damascus, he sent his commander, Hajjaj Ibn Yusuf, who defeated Ibn Az-Zubair and killed him. Entering the Sacred Mosque, he saw what Ibn Az-Zubair had done regarding the Ka`bah. He wrote to `Abdul-Malik about it who ordered him to return it to its previous shape. Hajjaj, therefore, demolished six and a half arms from the northern side and rebuilt it according to the plan of the Quraysh; he raised the eastern door and closed the western one; he also filled the inside with the stones that could not be re-used (thus raising the inside floor to the new level of the door).
When the Ottoman Sultan Sulaiman ascended the throne in 960 A.H., he changed the roof of the Ka`bah. Sultan Ahmad (who came to power in 1021 A.H.) made some other repairs and alterations. Then came the great flood of 1039 A.H. which demolished parts of its northern, eastern and western walls. Therefore, the Ottoman Sultan Murad IV got it repaired. And the same building continues till this day and it is the year 1375 by lunar Hijri calendar, and 1338 according to the solar one.