Every day, five times a day, Muslims across the globe face Mecca and pray. When they face Mecca, it is not Mecca that they are truly facing, it is a cube-shaped building known as the Ka’aba or simply Kaaba. This building is also known as Baitullah or “The House of Allah.” On the east corner of this revered building, there is a cornerstone known as the Black Stone of the Ka’aba. It is steeped in mystery, legend and speculation.
The Ka’aba resides in Makka or Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It stands in the relative center of the Al-Haram Mosque, where millions of Muslims flock every year to see this building and walk around it seven times. Most of the year, it is covered in black cloth. Beneath the black cloth is a stone building that may date back as far as 2030 B.C.E. Each side of the cube measures about 60 ft. across. There is a gold door in the southeast side. Inside, there is a polished marble floor and three pillars.
Muslims believe that Allah himself ordered that the Ka’aba be constructed. The story is that Abraham built the mosque with his oldest son, Ishmael. The building is said to be the likeness of Allah’s home in heaven. It is supposedly the oldest mosque on Earth. Historians believe it was once used by pagans, before Islam came into being. Likewise, the Black Stone is said to have been placed there and used by pagans, who were worshipful of such natural things. Islam forbids idolatry, so the Black Stone is not revered by them. They tell a completely different story about what the rock is and why it is so important.
There are various, slightly different, versions of the following story regarding the significance and origin of the Kaaba Black Stone. All are similar. When Adam was banished from Paradise or The Garden of Eden, he was filled with sin. The Black Stone was given to Adam to erase him of this sin and give him entrance into heaven. It is said to be from Heaven. At the time it belonged to Adam, it was white. Now, it is black because it has absorbed so much sin.
Muslims believe that the prophet Mohammad kissed the Black Stone and so, they kiss the Black Stone, if it is possible, during their obligatory, at least once a lifetime, trip to Ka’aba. If they are unable to kiss the stone, they point to it every time they pass on their seven-circle journey around the Ka’aba. This is a story steeped in religion and important religious figures. Therefore, the Black Stone has great importance as being linked to Allah, Adam and Mohammad. However, those outside of the Muslim faith have little to go by.
The Black Stone of the Ka’aba has been described as somewhere around 2 ft. in length. It is broken into roughly seven pieces, which are held together in a silver frame. The surface is certainly a blackish color, but there is some speculation that the color derives from all of the hands and mouths that have touched it, as well as the oils with which it is anointed. Not knowing the true color for sure makes it difficult to say just what it is. There is also a problem with getting a sample. Taking a sample would be extremely disrespectful. It might even be dangerous. There are stories about people being killed for messing around with the stone and the Ka’aba.
Thusfar, speculation about the Kaaba Black Stone regard it being old, of course, and placed there by pagans. Those interested have postulated that the stone may be glass, agate or meteorite. It may also be glass from a meteorite. It is obviously brittle or it has been damaged by something very strong, which is certainly possible, considering it has been stolen and in the midst of a war in its history. Evidence pointing to any of these theories is slim, though the meteorite theory is the most popular. In the end, the stone holds much less importance to non-Muslims, so the mystery of its origins will have to be left to myth and legend for now.
The Black Stone is a Muslim relic, which according to Islamic tradition dates back to the time of Adam and Eve. Historical research claims that the Black Stone marked the Kaaba as a place of worship during pre-Islamic pagan times. It is the eastern cornerstone of the Kaaba, the ancient stone building towards which Muslims pray, in the center of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The Stone is a dark rock, polished smooth by the hands of millions of pilgrims, that has been broken into a number of fragments cemented into a silver frame in the side of the Kaaba. Although it has often been described as a meteorite, this hypothesis is still under consideration.
Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba as part of the Tawaf ritual of the Hajj. Many of them try, if possible, to stop and kiss the Black Stone, emulating the kiss that Islamic tradition records that it received from the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. If they cannot reach it, they point to it on each of their seven circuits around the Kaaba.
The Black Stone, surrounded by its silver frame and the black cloth kiswah on the Kaaba in Mecca.
The Black Stone consists of a number of fragments held together by a silver frame, which is fastened by silver nails to the Stone. Some of the smaller fragments have been cemented together to form the seven or eight fragments visible today. The Stone's exposed face measures about 20 centimetres (7.9 in) by 16 centimetres (6.3 in). Its original size is unclear; its recorded dimensions have changed considerably over time, as the stone has been remodelled. In the 10th century, an observer described it as being one cubit (slightly over 1.5 feet (0.46 m) long). By the early 17th century, it was recorded as measuring 1.5 yards (1.4 m) by 1.33 yards (1.22 m). According to Ali Bey in the 18th century, it was 42 inches (110 cm) high, and Muhammad Ali reported it as being 2.5 feet (0.76 m) long by 1.5 feet (0.46 m) wide.
The Black Stone was first described in Western literature in the 19th and early 20th centuries by European travelers in Arabia, who visited the Kaaba in the guise of pilgrims. Swiss traveler Johann Ludwig Burckhardt visited Mecca in 1814, and provided a detailed description in his 1829 book Travels in Arabia:
It is an irregular oval, about seven inches in diameter, with an undulated surface, composed of about a dozen smaller stones of different sizes and shapes, well joined together with a small quantity of cement, and perfectly well smoothed; it looks as if the whole had been broken into as many pieces by a violent blow, and then united again. It is very difficult to determine accurately the quality of this stone which has been worn to its present surface by the millions of touches and kisses it has received. It appeared to me like a lava, containing several small extraneous particles of a whitish and of a yellow substance. Its colour is now a deep reddish brown approaching to black. It is surrounded on all sides by a border composed of a substance which I took to be a close cement of pitch and gravel of a similar, but not quite the same, brownish colour. This border serves to support its detached pieces; it is two or three inches in breadth, and rises a little above the surface of the stone. Both the border and the stone itself are encircled by a silver band, broader below than above, and on the two sides, with a considerable swelling below, as if a part of the stone were hidden under it. The lower part of the border is studded with silver nails.
Visiting the Kaaba in 1853, Sir Richard Francis Burton noted that:
The colour appeared to me black and metallic, and the centre of the stone was sunk about two inches below the metallic circle. Round the sides was a reddish brown cement, almost level with the metal, and sloping down to the middle of the stone. The band is now a massive arch of gold or silver gilt. I found the aperture in which the stone is, one span and three fingers broad.
Ritter von Laurin, the Austrian consul-general in Egypt, was able to inspect a fragment of the Stone removed by Muhammad Ali in 1817 and reported that it had a pitch-black exterior and a silver-grey, fine-grained interior in which tiny cubes of a bottle-green material were embedded. There are reportedly a few white or yellow spots on the face of the Stone, and it is officially described as being white with the exception of the face.
There are various opinions as to what the Black Stone actually is. Muslims say that the Stone was found by Abraham (Ibrahim) and his son Ishmael (Ismail) when they were searching for stones with which to build the Kaaba. They recognized its worth and made it one of the building's cornerstones.
Secular historians point to the history of stone worship, and especially meteorite worship, in pre-Islamic Arabia, and say that it is likely that the Stone is a meteorite. There is no way to test this hypothesis without removing and examining the Stone, which would not be permitted by its guardians.
There is no indication as to where this stone originated, but since it pre-dates the revelation of the Holy Qur'an and Muhammad's prophethood, and even kissed, it must stem from the time of Abraham since the Hajj traditions are traceable to the patriarch of monotheism.
The Ka'bah at Mecca describes the shape of the black stone structure on a marble base which stands in the centre court of the Great Mosque, Masjidul Haram, at the centre of Mecca. It stands about 50 feet high by about 35 feet wide. Set into the eastern corner is the sacred stone. This Ka'ba is a cubed shaped temple rebuilt by Abraham and his son Ishmael. Reverently draped in black cloth throughout the year, it beckons to every Muslim of the world to come to its sacred ground.
The Ka'ba - Kaaba - is the canonical center of the Islamic world and every pious act, particularly prayer, is directed toward it. Once a year it plays host to the greatest convention of religious believers and stands ready to sanctify the Umrah traveler through the balance of the year.
Some Muslims are more willing to believe that the Stone itself has some supernatural powers. They believe that this stone fell from the sky during the time of Adam and Eve, and that it has the power to cleanse worshippers of their sins by absorbing them into itself. They say that the Black Stone was once a pure and dazzling white and it has turned black because of the sins it has absorbed over the years.
It is remarkable, however, that even though the temple contained 360 idols worshipped before Muhammad's Prophethood, the black stone was never kissed or made an idol of worship. In fact, the Ka'ba was never worshipped by the idolaters prior to Muhammad's Prophethood. The building contained idols of worship but the building itself was never an object of worship.
The fact that the Ka'ba was rebuilt by Abraham is a historical fact. Since the stone has been there ever since, it stands to reason that Abraham placed the stone in the Ka'ba. The Black Stone is in fact the cornerstone of the Ka'ba and is there as an emblem of the progeny of Abraham which was rejected by the Israelites and became the corner stone of the Kingdom of God.
The Psalms contains a clear reference to it:
The stone which the builders refused is become the head-stone of the corner. Ishmael was looked on as being rejected by God, or so the Israelites believed. Yet it was a progeny of Ishmael that the Last Prophet, the 'head-stone of the corner' was to arise.
While David referred to it as the stone which the builders refused, Jesus spoke of it more plainly in the parable of the husbandman, telling the Israelites that the vineyard, which in the parable stands for the Kingdom of God, would be taken away from them and given to other husbandmen.
That by the rejected stone in the prophecy (21:42) was meant a rejected nation (21:43) is made clear by Jesus Christ. That this rejected nation was none other than the Ishmaelites has been borne out by history.
The Black Stone, therefore, passes for the mithaq, the primordial covenant between the Creator and His created. And in the whole world there is only this unhewn stone, the stone, Cut out of the mountains without hands (Daniel 2:45), and that is the corner-stone of a building, which in point of importance, stands unique in the world.
Touching or kissing the stone has a profound impact on the faithful as it is suppose to count in their favor on judgment day. [Judgment Day is a metaphor for the return to balance with the duality of our reality - at Zero Point.]
The great Muslim traveler from Valencia, Ibn Jubayr (1145-1217) describes the emotion he felt on touching the stone, The stone, when one kisses it, has a softness and freshness which delights the mouth; so much so that he who places his lips upon it wishes never to remove them. It suffices, moreover, that the Prophet said that it is the Right Hand of God on Earth.
The single most important reason for kissing the stone is that Prophet Muhammad did so. No devotional significance whatsoever is attached to the stone. Kissing or touching the Black Stone is a reverential act of acknowledgment that God's hand directed its placement and construction. That Abraham and Muhammad, God's blessing upon them, had touched and kissed the stone and an acknowledgment that God had entrusted the 'corner stone' of His religious central focus for man upon that hollowed and sacred place.
Researchers have noted that the Ka'bah is accurately aligned on two heavenly phenomena - the cycles of the moon and the rising of Canopus, the brightest star after Sirius.