Ka'ba, the center of monotheism
The journey of servitude and love to Mecca has started. It's a fascinating journey. In this journey, the holy Ka'ba, the symbolic House of God, as the focal point of monotheism, is the center of gravity for all pilgrims.
It attracts hearts like a powerful magnate to such an extent that the pilgrims circumambulate it like moths going round the lamp. This is indeed a lively sight and a spectacle of Islamic unity. It is the House which God has decreed as the heart of the world. As God says in ayah 96 of Surah Aal-e Imran:
"Most surely the First House to be set up for mankind is the one at Bekka, blessed and guidance for all nations."
Historical resources are unanimous that the Ka'ba was built by the Father of the human race, Adam. We read that after building the Ka'ba, on God's command, Adam circumambulated around it. In the subsequent centuries or millenniums, the Prophets of God would make the journey to the holy Ka'ba. In the great flood of the times of Prophet Noah, the Ka'ba was damaged. Centuries later, God assigned Prophet Abraham to reconstruct the Ka'ba as the manifestation of monotheism and to invite people to worship God. Ka'ba has been the symbol of monotheism throughout history. Abraham left his wife and firstborn son, Ishmael beside this supreme symbol of monotheism for holding prayer in order to be a base for the world monotheists.
As is evident by its name the Ka'ba is a cubic edifice. It stands about 15 meters high; it is 12 meters long and 10 meters wide in the middle of a spacious courtyard which has been surrounded by the Masjid al-Haram. It is a very simple edifice without any decoration, yet it is very glorious, and has withstood the ravages of time.
The Ka'ba is indeed the source of guidance. After Abraham and Ishmael the sanctity of the Ka'ba was violated by the infidel Arabs. With the advent of Islam the Ka'ba again regained its prominence, especially after the peaceful surrender of Mecca to the Prophet and Muslims in 8 AH when it was cleansed of the filth of idols. Some years earlier, God decreed that the Ka'ba ought to be the Qibla of Muslims. The commandment came while Prophet was praying in Medina with face turned towards the direction of the al-Aqsa Mosque in Bait al-Moqaddas. In Surah Baqara, verse 144, we read:
"We certainly see you turning your face about to the heaven, so we shall surely turn you to a qiblah of your liking; turn then your face towards the Sacred Mosque, and wherever you may be, turn your faces towards it…"
The Ka'ba is the axis of Islamic worship. Muslims turn to it from all over the world at least five times a day for the daily prayers. The most important message of circumambulating the Ka'ba is Islamic solidarity and humbleness towards the Unseen and Omnipotent God.
Ka'ba has been decreed to be a safe and secure place for all people. It is the source of spiritual perfection. Those who tried to violate the sanctity of the Ka'ba were themselves destroyed. For instance, when Abraha, the Abyssinian governor of Yemen came to the Ka'ba at the head of elephant led corps, he was struck by divine wrath and his elephantine horde was destroyed. That was the year of the birth of the Prophet, and the custodian of the Ka'ba then was the Prophet's grandfather, Abdul-Mutallib.
The miraculous destruction of Abraha's elephantine army by a flock of birds carrying pebbles in their beak is mentioned in the holy Qur'an.
After the heartrending tragedy of Karbala and martyrdom of Imam Husain (A.S), the tyrant Yazid sent an army from Syria which attacked the holy Ka'ba and damaged it with fire and catapults. Even as the attack was underway, news reached from Damascus of the mysterious death of Yazid while on a hunting trip. Only his severed leg atop at horse was found and the whole body went straightaway into hell.
It is also worth mentioning that the Ka'ba is the place where the one and only person born in its sacred precincts, was none other than the Prophet's cousin, ward, son-in-law, and vicegerent, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (A.S).
Taken from: Iran English Radio