Islamic views on origin of Kabaa
The Quran contains several verses regarding the origin of the Kaaba, it states that the Kaaba was the first House of Worship, and that it was built or re-built by Ibrahim and Ishmael on God’s instructions.
Verily, the first House (of worship) appointed for mankind was that at Bakkah (Makkah), full of blessing, and a guidance for mankind.
— Quran, Chapter 3 (Aale-Imran) verse 96
Behold! We gave the site, to Ibrahim, of the (Sacred) House, (saying): “Associate not anything (in worship) with Me; and sanctify My House for those who compass it round, or stand up, or bow, or prostrate themselves (therein in prayer).
— Quran, Chapter 22 (Al Hajj) verse 26
And remember Ibrahim and Ishmael raised the foundations of the House (With this prayer): “Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us: For Thou art the All-Hearing, the All-knowing.
— Quran, Chapter 2 (Al Bakarah) verse 127
Ibn Kathir, the famous commentator on the Quran, mentions two interpretations among the Muslims on the origin of the Kaaba. One is that the shrine was a place of worship for Angels before the creation of man. Later, a temple was built on the location by Adam and Eve which was lost during the flood in Noah’s time and was finally rebuilt by Abraham and Ishmael as mentioned later in the Quran. Ibn Kathir regarded this tradition as weak and preferred instead the narration by Ali ibn Abi Talib that although several other temples might have preceded the Kaabah, it was the first “House of God”, dedicated solely to Him, built by His instruction and sanctified and blessed by Him as stated in Quran 22:26–29. A Hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari states that the Kaaba was the First Mosque on Earth, and the Second Mosque was the Temple in Jerusalem.
While Abraham was building the Kaaba, an angel brought to him the Black Stone which he placed in the eastern corner of the structure. Another stone was the Maqam-e-Ibrahim (literally the Station of Abraham) where Abraham stood for elevation while building the structure. The Black Stone and the Maqam-e-Ibrahim are believed by Muslims to be the only remnant of the original structure made by Abraham as naturally the remaining structure had to be demolished and rebuilt several times over history for maintenance purposes. After the construction was complete, God enjoined the descendants of Ishmael to perform an annual pilgrimage: the Hajj and the Korban, sacrifice of cattle. The vicinity of the shrine was also made a sanctuary where bloodshed and war were forbidden.[Quran 22:26–33]
According to Islamic tradition, over the millennia after Ishmael’s death, his progeny and the local tribes who settled around the oasis of Zam-Zam gradually turned to polytheism and idolatry. Several idols were placed within the Kaaba representing deities of different aspects of nature and different tribes. Several heretical rituals were adopted in the Pilgrimage (Hajj) including doing naked circumambulation.
In her book, Islam: A Short History, Karen Armstrong asserts that the Kaaba was at some point dedicated to Hubal, a Nabatean deity, and contained 360 idols that probably represented the days of the year. In Guillaume’s translation of Ibn Ishaq, an early biographer of Muhammad, the Ka’aba itself was addressed using a feminine grammatical form. Circumambulation was often performed naked by men and almost naked by women, and linked to ancient fertility rites. By Muhammad’s day, the Kaaba was venerated as the shrine of Allah, the High God. Once a year, tribes from all around the Arabian peninsula, whether Christian or pagan, would converge on Mecca to perform the Hajj, marking the widespread conviction that Allah was the same deity worshiped by monotheists.