• Inside the Kaaba

    The inside of the Kaaba is an open space adorned with marble, textiles, and historical artefacts. The floor is covered with white marble, bordered by black, while the walls feature rose-coloured marble up to a height of four meters, with green cloth inscribed with Quranic verses extending to the ceiling. Historical inscriptions from various rulers are embedded in the walls, alongside lanterns and incense burners hanging from the ceiling. Three wooden pillars support the roof, and the area includes markers commemorating where the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ prayed and supplicated. The Kaaba also houses a staircase leading to the roof.

    Kaaba Inside Today

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    The internal floor of the Kaaba is covered with white marble, bordered by a black marble strip.

    The internal walls are covered with rose-coloured marble up to a height of about 4 meters. This marble is fixed in such a way that it does not come into contact with the original walls of the Kaaba. Above this marble, the walls are covered with green cloth extending 5 metres up to the roof. These textiles are adorned with Quranic verses inscribed in silver, extending to cover the entire ceiling of the Kaaba.

    On the walls, 10 marble stones bear inscriptions commemorating architectural contributions to Masjid al-Haram by past rulers. Nine of these are in Thuluth script, while one is scripted in prominent Kufic. The last document, placed by King Fahd of Saudi Arabia concerning his mosque expansion, was added to the eastern wall.

    A number of lanterns and incense burners, tracing their origins back to the Ottoman era, hang from the ceiling. These are crafted from copper, silver, and glass and are adorned with Quranic verses. These lanterns were gifted to the Kaaba by caliphs, sultans, princes, and kings over the ages.

    At the front, dark-coloured marble slabs mark the area where the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ prayed inside the Kaaba. Those permitted to enter the Kaaba can pray in this location.

    Near the Multazam, another marker crafted from the same marble stands. This spot commemorates the place where the Prophet ﷺ pressed his blessed stomach and cheek against the wall of the Kaaba, raising his hands in supplication and shedding tears.

    In the centre of the Kaaba, three wooden pillars support the roof. Each one is about 9 meters high and has a diameter of 44 centimetres . The distance between each pillar is approximately 2.35 meters.

    To the right of this area is a door known as Bab al-Tawbah (The Door of Repentance), through which a staircase leading to the roof can be accessed. This staircase, made of aluminium and crystal, has 50 steps. It was last renovated in 1417 AH (1996 CE) during the reign of King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz, coinciding with the renovation of the Kaaba itself.

    Additionally, there is a large box inside the Kaaba used to store some of its belongings. The box contains oud oil and Taif rose oil, which are used to anoint and perfume the walls of the Holy Kaaba following its washing with a mixture of Zamzam and rose water. It also stores silver incense burners used to incense the inside of the Holy Kaaba after the washing ceremony is completed. This cleansing process is done annually.

    History

    The Pre-Islamic Era

    Before the birth of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, the condition of the Arab society was dire. Amr ibn Luhayy, the first leader of the Khuza’ah in Makkah, introduced idols into the Kaaba, advocating for their worship. He preached that these idols could serve as intermediaries between people and Allah. Over time, pilgrims visiting the Kaaba started incorporating these idols into their worship practices, deviating from the monotheistic message preached by Prophets Ibrahim and Ismail o.

    The people became steeped in ignorance, with each individual or tribe having their own idols. They also worshipped various natural elements such as the sun, the moon, stones, trees, rivers, and even mountains, as well as objects they crafted themselves. The Kaaba, originally constructed as a sanctuary for the worship of Allah alone, had become a repository for these idols.

    Two idols, Isaf and Na’ila held particular significance for the Quraysh tribe. Various legends surrounded these idols, including one recounting that they were turned to stone after committing adultery within the Kaaba. The historian Hisham ibn al-Kalbi documented this legend in his Book of Idols:

    They set out to perform the pilgrimage. Upon their arrival in Makkah, they entered the Kaaba. Taking advantage of the absence of anyone else and the privacy of the Sacred House, Isaf committed adultery with her in the sanctuary. Thereupon they were transformed into stone.

    The Quraysh

    The Kaaba remained unchanged until the Quraysh rebuilt it before the advent of Islam, about thirty years after the Year of the Elephant. Around 604 CE, when the Prophet ﷺ was 35 years old, the Quraysh undertook the fourth reconstruction of the Kaaba.

    Inside the Kaaba, after the reconstruction was complete, two rows of three columns adorned the space between the side adjacent to the Black Stone and the Yemeni side. A staircase provided access to the roof from the Shami corner, complete with guttering to direct water runoff to the exterior.

    The interior had decorated ceilings and walls, while the columns featured painted representations of prophets, angels, trees, Ibrahim, and Maryam with the infant Isa Q on her lap. The horns of the ram sacrificed by Ibrahim S were prominently displayed facing the entrance.

    To safeguard the Kaaba’s treasures from theft, the Quraysh implemented structural modifications, such as removing one of its doors, adding a roof, and elevating the remaining door above ground level to control access.

    Companions Born Inside the Kaaba

    It is reported that Hakim ibn Hizam I was born inside the Kaaba. Ali ibn Abi Talib L is also reported to have been born inside the Kaaba, although this is a weak opinion according to most scholars.

    Hakim ibn Hizam, the cousin of Khadijah J and who would later become a Companion of the Prophet ﷺ, was a respected leader of the Quraysh. He held the honour of being born inside the Kaaba. It is narrated:

    Hakim ibn Hizam was born inside the Kaaba and lived for 120 years.
    [Narrated in Sahih Muslim]

    Ali ibn Ali Talib I, the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet ﷺ, was also reported to have been born in the Kaaba. However, scholars have differed on whether this was the case. The contemporary Sunni scholar Shah Waliullah Dehlawi V accepted this opinion. However, the likes of Imam al-Nawawi V, Imam al-Suyuti V, and others have deemed this opinion to be weak.

    The Prophetic Era

    By the time the Prophet ﷺ had reached the age of 40, Makkah was the epicentre of idolatry, with 360 idols being worshipped inside and around the Kaaba. After receiving revelation, the Prophet ﷺ sought to rid Makkah of these practices.

    Boycott Document Hung inside the Kaaba

    In the seventh year of Prophethood, the persecution of the Prophet ﷺ reached its zenith. The Prophet ﷺ, along with his family, the Banu Hashim, were exiled to an area outside Makkah and subjected to severe sanctions. They were deprived of access to food and water in an effort by the Quraysh to halt the spread of Islam, which had by then attracted influential figures such as Umar and Hamzah L. The social and economic boycott aimed to destroy the Prophet ﷺ, the Banu Hashim, and Islam itself.

    A document outlining the terms of the sanctions was written by Mansur ibn Ikrimah (or possibly Nadr ibn al-Harith) and signed by the leaders of Quraysh. The terms included:

    1. No marriage with the Banu Hashim.
    2. No trade or business with them.
    3. No social interaction with them.
    4. No provision of food or drink for them.

    This document was then hung inside the Kaaba. Abu Talib, under compulsion, took the Prophet ﷺ and other family members to live in a valley that later became known as the Valley of Abu Talib (Shi’b Abi Talib). Despite the harsh conditions, family loyalties prevailed, and even non-Muslim members of the Banu Hashim, except for Abu Lahab, supported the Prophet ﷺ during this period.

    The exile lasted for three years. Food and water were extremely scarce, forcing the Banu Hashim to survive on boiled leaves and dried animal skins. Children cried themselves to sleep from hunger and thirst while the Quraysh showed no mercy, even posting guards to ensure the sanctions were enforced.

    However, some among the Quraysh opposed the boycott and sought to end it. They gathered to discuss ending the sanctions. Zuhayr, the grandson of Abd al-Muttalib, argued against the boycott, highlighting the suffering of the Banu Hashim. Although initially confronted by Abu Jahl, he was supported by others.

    Abu Talib then revealed that the Prophet ﷺ had informed him that termites had eaten the boycott document, except where the name of Allah was mentioned. Mut‘im ibn ‘Adiyy retrieved the document from inside the Kaaba, confirming the Prophet’s ﷺ words. The document was torn apart, and the boycott was lifted.

    In solidarity, young Quraysh men escorted the Banu Hashim back to their homes safely, marking the end of the boycott in the 10th year of Prophethood. Notably, Mansur ibn Ikrimah, who wrote the boycott document, suffered divine retribution as his hand became paralyzed for life.

    Conquest of Makkah

    During the Conquest of Makkah in 10 AH, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ instructed that all idols inside the Kaaba be destroyed and the drawings on its walls be effaced. During this process, statues attributed to Prophets Ibrahim and Ismail o were found, each holding  arrows. These arrows were used by the polytheists for casting lots and divination. The Prophet ﷺ did not enter the Kaaba until all the pictures and idols were removed.

    After the Kaaba was cleansed, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ entered it with Usamah ibn Zayd, Bilal, and Uthman ibn Talhah M, the custodian of the Kaaba. They pronounced the takbir in each corner of the Kaaba and performed two rak’ahs of prayer. Upon exiting, the Prophet ﷺ entrusted Uthman ibn Talhah with the key to the Kaaba.

    Abdullah ibn Umar I narrates:

    Allah’s Messenger ﷺ entered Makkah through its upper part, and he was riding his she-camel. Usama ibn Zayd was his Companion-rider behind him (on the same she-camel). In his company were Bilal and Uthman ibn Talha, who was one of the al-Hajabah (who keep the key of the door of the Kaaba). When he made his she-camel kneel in the Mosque (i.e., al-Masjid al-Haram), he ordered him (i.e., Uthman) to bring the key of the Kaaba. Then Allah’s Messenger ﷺ entered the Kaaba along with Usama ibn Zayd, Bilal and Uthman ibn Talha, and he stayed in it for a long period and then came out. The people rushed (to get in) and Abdullah ibn Umar was the first to enter and he found Bilal standing behind the door. Ibn Umar asked Bilal, ‘Where did Allah’s Messenger ﷺ offer the salah (prayer)?’ Bilal showed him the place where he had offered salah. Abdullah later on said, ‘I forgot to ask Bilal how many prostrations (i.e., rak’ahs) the Prophet ﷺ offered.’
    [Narrated in Sahih al-Bukhari]

    Temples in the surrounding areas still housed idols such as al-Lat, Manah, al-‘Uzza, and Suwa’. The Prophet ﷺ dispatched soldiers to destroy these idols, thus cleansing Makkah and its surroundings of idolatry. This act of purifying Makkah from shirk and idolatry was a key objective of the Conquest of Makkah.

    Praying Inside the Kaaba

    The Prophet ﷺ and his Companions prayed inside the Kaaba and within the area of Hijr Ismail, which is also regarded as part of the Kaaba. Nafi I narrated:

    Whenever Ibn Umar entered the Kaaba, he used to walk straight keeping the door at his back on entering, and used to proceed on till about three cubits from the wall in front of him, and then he would offer the prayer there aiming at the place where Allah’s Messenger ﷺ prayed, as Bilal had told him. There is no harm for any person to offer the prayer at any place inside the Kaaba.
    [Narrated in Sahih al-Bukhari]

    Aisha J narrated:

    I wanted to enter the House to perform prayer in it, so the Messenger of Allah ﷺ took me by the hand and put me in the Hijr, and he said: ‘Perform salah in the Hijr if you want to enter the House. For indeed it is part of the House, but your people considered it insignificant when they built the Kaaba, so they put it outside the House.’
    [Narrated in Sunan al-Tirmidhi]

    From various narrations, it is clear that praying inside the Kaaba is permitted. However, there is a difference of opinion among scholars regarding whether this permissibility applies to both voluntary (nafl) prayers and obligatory (fardh) prayers.

    Imam Abu Hanifah and Imam al-Shafi‘i L permitted obligatory prayers inside the Kaaba. They argued that since the Kaaba is a place of prayer where voluntary prayers are allowed, it should also be suitable for obligatory prayers, like the area outside it.

    Imam al-Shafi’i stated that whichever part of the Kaaba a person faces while praying inside is considered their qibla. However, if a person faces the door of the Kaaba and nothing of its structure is in front of them, it is not permissible. Imam al-Nawawi V added that a person praying inside the Kaaba has the right to face any wall they choose, including the door, whether it is open or closed, as long as they face the structure of the Kaaba itself.

    According to Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani V, if someone prays inside the Kaaba, they can face one of its walls or the door.

    Other scholars argue that performing obligatory prayer inside the Kaaba is not valid at all because it requires turning one’s back to some part of it, whereas the command is to face the Kaaba in its entirety, according to the following verse of the Quran:

    وَمِنْ حَيْثُ خَرَجْتَ فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ ٱلْمَسْجِدِ ٱلْحَرَامِ ۖ وَإِنَّهُۥ لَلْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّكَ ۗ وَمَا ٱللَّهُ بِغَـٰفِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ
    So from wherever you go out [for prayer, O Muhammad], turn your face toward al-Masjid al-Ḥaram, and indeed, it is the truth from your Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what you do.
    [Surah al-Baqarah, 2:149]

    According to this opinion, the worshipper who is inside the Kaaba or on its roof is not facing towards it. But the basic principle regarding voluntary prayers is that the rulings on them are less stringent, based on the fact that they may be prayed whilst seated, facing a direction other than the qibla, and, when travelling, on one’s mount.

    Some Maliki scholars also hold this view. Imam al-Mazari V mentioned that in the Maliki school, obligatory prayer inside the Kaaba is prohibited, and if performed, it must be repeated. Imam Malik I allowed voluntary prayers inside the Kaaba.

    Who Can Go Inside the Kaaba?

    Access to the interior of the Kaaba is highly restricted and is typically limited to a select group of individuals. Generally, those who are permitted to enter the Kaaba include:

    • Islamic Leaders and Dignitaries: High-ranking officials and dignitaries from Muslim-majority countries, as well as leaders of Islamic organizations, may be granted entry on special occasions.
    • Religious Scholars and Clerics: Prominent religious scholars and clerics might be allowed inside as part of official delegations or during specific religious ceremonies.
    • Custodians and Maintenance Personnel: Individuals responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the Kaaba, including those who perform the annual cleaning and washing, have access.
    • Special Guests of the Saudi Government: On rare occasions, the Saudi government might grant entry to distinguished guests or individuals of significant importance to the Muslim community.

    The general public and ordinary pilgrims do not have access to the inside of the Kaaba, as its entry is considered a rare honour reserved for special occasions and significant religious figures.

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