The earliest mosque erected was that at Mecca, which consisted of a great court, in the centre of which was the Ka`ba or Holy Stone.
After the burning of the Ka`ba during the siege of Mecca by Hosain b.
The siege was raised in the third month on the news of the death of Yazid, but not before the Ka`ba had been destroyed.
In the centre of the town stands Meshed (strictly Meshhed) `Ali, the shrine of `Ali, containing the reputed tomb of that caliph, which is regarded by the Shi`ite Moslems as being no less holy than the Ka`ba itself, although it should be said that it is at least very doubtful whether `Ali was actually buried there.
He was originally called Abd-el-Ka`ba ("servant of the temple"), and received the name by which he is known historically in consequence of the marriage of his virgin daughter Ayesha to Mahomet.
The consecration of Samuel has also its Arabic parallel in the dedication of an unborn child by its mother to the service of the Ka'ba (Ibn Hisham, p. 76; Azraki, p. 128).
Mahomet himself made a concession to heathen traditions when he recognized the Ka`ba and the black stone; and the worship of saints, which is now spread throughout Islam and supported by obviously forged traditions, is an example of the same thing.
Eleven days before a fire, caused by imprudence, had consumed all the woodwork of the Ka`ba and burst the black stone in three places.
Ibn Zobair, however, was occupied at Mecca with the rebuilding of the Ka`ba, and Mus`ab was harassed not only by the Kharijites, but also by a noble freebooter, Obaidallah b.
Hajjaj pulled down the enlargements and restored the Ka`ba to its old state.
Eutychius and others pretend that he desired to substitute Jerusalem for Mecca, because Ibn Zobair had occupied the latter place, and thus the pilgrimage to the Ka`ba had become difficult for the Syrians.
Each of the parties concerned swore to observe faithfully every part of this deed, which the caliph caused to be hung up in the Ka`ba, imagining that it would be thus guaranteed against all violation on the part of men, a precaution which was to be rendered vain by the perfidy of Amin.
Amin, in anger, caused the will of his father, which, as we have seen, was preserved in the Ka`ba, to be destroyed, declared on his own authority that Mamun's rights of succession were forfeited, and caused the army to swear allegiance to his own son Musa, a child of five, on whom he bestowed the title of an-N atiq bil-Haqq (" he who speaks according to truth"), A.H.
Similarly the Jewish synagogues have each their eternal lamp; while in the religion of Islam lighted lamps mark things and places specially holy; thus the Ka`ba at Mecca is illuminated by thousands of lamps hanging from the gold and silver rods that connect the columns of the surrounding colonnade.
Purged of elements obviously heathen, the Ka`ba became the holiest site, and the pilgrimage the most sacred ritual observance of Mahommedanism, drawing worshippers from so wide a circle that the confluence of the petty traders of the desert was no longer the main feature of the holy season.
3 About the middle of this line the longitudinal thoroughfares are pushed aside by the vast courtyard and colonnades composing the great mosque, which, with its spacious arcades surrounding the Ka`ba and other holy places, and its seven minarets, forms the only prominent architectural feature of the city.
Long before Mahomet the chief sanctuary of Mecca was the Ka`ba, a rude stone building without windows, and having a door 7 ft.
The Ka`ba has been rebuilt more than once since Mahomet purged it of idols and adopted it as the chief sanctuary of Islam, but the old form has been preserved, except in secondary details;2 so that the "Ancient House," as it is titled, is still essentially a heathen temple, adapted to the worship of Islam by the clumsy fiction that it was built by Abraham and Ishmael by divine revelation as a temple of pure monotheism, and that it was only temporarily perverted to idol worship from the time when `Amr ibn Lohai introduced the statue of Hobal from Syria' till the victory of Islam.
It was, as it still is, a frequent religious exercise of the Meccans, and the first duty of one who returned to the city or arrived there under a vow of pilgrimage; and thus the outside of the Ka`ba was and is more important than the inside.
The Ka`ba of Mahomet's time was the successor of an older building, said to have been destroyed by fire.
The Ka`ba was again entirely rebuilt after the flood of A.D.
Here the growth of the legend can be traced, for the place is now called the "kneading-place" (Ma`jan), where the cement for the Ka`ba was prepared.
Once more, on the north side of the Ka`ba, there projects a low semicircular wall of marble, with an opening at each end between it and the walls of the house.
The feeling of religious conservatism which has preserved the structural rudeness of the Ka`ba did not prohibit costly surface decoration.
The interior of the Ka`ba is now opened but a few times every year for the general public, which ascends by the portable staircase brought forward for the purpose.
Here, in the time of Ibn Jubair, the Maqam or standing stone of Abraham was usually placed for better security, but brought out on great occasions.2 The houses of ancient Mecca pressed close upon the Ka`ba, the noblest families, who traced their descent from Iosai, the reputed founder of the city, having their dwellings immediately round the sanctuary.
To the north of the Ka`ba was the Dar el-Nadwa, or place of assembly of the Koreish.
Omar, Othman and Ibn Jubair had all a share in this work, but the great founder of the mosque in its present form, with its spacious area and deep ' The old kiswa is removed on the 25th day of the month before the pilgrimage, and fragments of it are bought by the pilgrims as charms. Till the 10th day of the pilgrimage month the Ka`ba is bare.
Z Before Islam the Ka`ba was opened every Monday and Thursday; in the time of Ibn Jubair it was opened with considerable ceremony every Monday and Friday, and daily in the month Rajab.
After the Ka`ba the principal points of interest in the mosque are the well Zamzam and the Maqam Ibrahim.
4 It lies south-east of the Ka`ba, facing the black corner, and 76 paces from the "Gate of Sala," which is architecturally the chief gate of the mosque.
Before Islam the Ka`ba was the local sanctuary of the Meccans, where they prayed and did See De Vogue, Syrie centrale: inscr.
The latter closes with a visit to the Ka`ba, but its essential ceremonies lie outside Mecca, at the neighbouring shrines where the old Arabs gathered before the Meccan fair.
There is a tradition that the Ka`ba was a temple of Saturn (Shahrastani, p. 431); perhaps the most distinctive feature of the shrine may be sought in the sacred doves which still enjoy the protection of the sanctuary.
Though ignorant of the legal ritual and prayers, they performed the tawaf with enthusiasm, throwing themselves against the Ka`ba and clinging to its curtains as a child clings to its mother.
The 29th of the month was the feast day of the Meccan women, when they and their little ones had the Ka'ba to themselves without the presence even of the Sheybas.
2 The 27th was also a great day, but this day was in commemoration of the rebuilding of the Ka'ba by Ibn Jubair.