Ka'bah As A Place Of Worship In The
M S M
rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:
I was prompted to write something
on this issue when someone argued me about the historicity
of Ka'bah and Makkah. This led me to get back on my
favourite past-time of browsing through the references. One
of the brothers (Elias) in Cambridge, UK, supplied me with
some of the information on this issue and I worked on them.
Makkah is at the intersection of
latitude 21 to 25 degree north and longitude 39 to 49 degree
east. It is set in a rugged landscape consisting mostly of
solid granite, with rocks sometimes reaching 300 meters
(1,000 feet) above see level.
Makkah is enclosed by the Valley of
Abraham, which is surrounded by two nearby mountain ranges
to the east, west and south. The northern range comprises
the Al-Falaq and Qu'aqi'an mountains, while the southern
range consists of Abu Hudaidah mountain to the west, Kuday
to the south and Abu Qubais and Khindimah to the south-east.
There are three main entrances to
Makkah: Al-Mu'allat (also known as Al-Hujoon), Al-Musfalah
It is generally agreed that
Al-Mu'allat includes all areas which are higher than the
Haram and Al-Musfalah covers all areas that are lowers.
Ka'bah & Makkah In
Edward Gibbon writes about the
Ka'bah and its existence before the Christian era in his
blind mythology of barbarians - of the local deities, of the
stars, the air, and the earth, of their sex or titles, their
attributes or subordination. Each tribe, each family, each
independent warrier, created and changed the rites and the
object of this fantastic worship; but the nation, in every
age, has bowed to the religion as well as to the language of
Mecca. The genuine antiquity of Caaba ascends beyond the Christian
era: in describing the coast of the Red sea the Greek
historian Diodorus has remarked, between the Thamudites and
the Sabeans, a famous temple, whose superior sanctity was
revered by all the Arabians; the linen of silken veil,
which is annually renewed by the Turkish emperor, was first
offered by the Homerites, who reigned seven hundred years
before the time of Mohammad.
[pp. 223-224, ]
Diodorus Siculus was a Greek
historian of 1st century BC who wrote Bibliotheca Historica, a book describing various parts of the
discovered world. The following lines are the English
translation of Greek quoted by Gibbon from the book of
Diodorus Siculus (Diodorus of Sicily) describing the
'temple' considered to be the the holiest in the whole of
temple has been set-up there, which is very holy and
exceedingly revered by all Arabians. [pp. 217, ]
It is interesting to know that
Claudius Ptolemy of Alexandria, mathematician and
astronomer, flourishing about a century after Pliny,
undertook to make an atlas of the habitable world. He was
not a descriptive geographer, and his book was intended to
be no more than a commentary on his maps. He enumerated some
hundred and fourteen cities or villages in Arabia Felix.
example, Dumaetha, placed by Ptolemy just outside the
northern boundary of Arabia Felix, must be the mediaeval
Arabian Daumet, which is today the chief village of the
great oasis of Jauf. Hejr, famous in the "times of ignorance" as the
seat of a kingdom, and now Medayin Salih, is Ptolemy's
Egra. His Thaim is Teima, now known for its inscriptions to have had
temples and some sort of civilization as far back as 500 BC.
It is the Tema of Job. In Lathrippa, placed inland from Iambia (Yambo), we
recognize the Iathrippa of Stephan of Byzantium, the
Yathrib of the early Arab traditions, now honoured
City of Cities. [pp. 18,
Apart from this a place called
Macoraba is also shown which is identified as
Mecca (please refer to the map facing page 17 of
reference ). G E von Grunebaum says:
Mecca is mentioned by Ptolemy, and the name he
gives it allows us to identify it as a South Arabian
foundation created around a sanctuary. [pp. 19, ]
Makkah In The
The Qur'an talks about
Bakkah (the older name of Makkah) being the first
house of worship appointed for mankind. It also addresses
this place as Umm
Mother of the
the first House (of worship) appointed for mankind was that
at Bakkah (Makkah), full of blessing, and a guidance
for Al-'Alamin (the mankind and jinns). In it are manifest
signs (for example), the Maqam (place) of Ibrahim (Abraham);
whosoever enters it, he attains security. And Hajj
(pilgrimage to Makkah) to the House (Ka'bah) is a duty that
mankind owes to Allah, those who can afford the expenses
(for one's conveyance, provision and residence); and whoever
disbelieves [i.e. denies Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah), then
he is a disbeliever of Allah], then Allah stands not in need
of any of the 'Alamin (mankind and jinns). (Qur'an
The Bible also mentions about the
valley of Baca in
connection with the pilgrimage. Below is the quote from
Psalms 84 (NIV):
lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty!
2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
3 Even the
sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for
herself, where she may have her young-- a place near your
altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
4 Blessed are
those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising
5 Blessed are
those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on
6 As they
pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of
springs; the autumn rains also cover it with
7 They go from strength to strength, till each appears
before God in Zion.
8 Hear my prayer, O LORD God Almighty; listen to me, O God
9 Look upon our shield, O God; look with favor on your
10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand
elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my
God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows
favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those
whose walk is blameless.
12 O LORD Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.
The interpretation of the valley of
Baca in the The Jewish Encylopedia is quite interesting, though it does not
provide a complete evidence and leaves the reader with a
suggestion. Below is the full quote.
The Valley Of: A valley mentioned in Psalms LXXXIV:7.
Since it is there said that pilgrims transform the valley
into a land of wells, an old translators gave to
Baca, the meaning of a "valley of weeping"; but
it signifies rather any valley lacking water. Support for
this latter view is to be found in II Samuel V:23
Chronicles XIV:14 et seq., in which the plural form of the same word
designates a tree similar to the balsam tree; and it was
supposed that a dry valley could be named after this tree.
Konig takes Baca from the Arabian Baka'a, and translates it "lack of
streams". The Psalmist apparently has in mind a particular
valley whose natural condition led him to adopt its
name. [pp. 415, ]
The translation of Arabian
Baka'a as "lack of stream" seems to throw some
light on the nature of the valley before the appearance of
the stream of
Zam-Zam near Ka'bah which
was a dry place with no vegetation whatsoever.
The Anchor Bible
Dictionary does not throw any
light on it, albeit, there are some suggestions in it too
like the The
Jewish Encylopedia. Below is
the full quote.
The Valley Of (PLACE): [Hebrew 'emeq
The valley of Baca (Psalms 84:1) is either a historical place
name or a symbolical expression for "deep sorrow". The first
part of Psalms 84:6 seems to mean that by "passing through
the experience of deep sorrow, righteous ones can make it
the source of life." The Septuagint translated the phrase
into Greek as "the valley of weeping". The word
'emeq "valley" has the root meaning of "deep", so
the expression may mean "deep sorrow".
However, some have
considered it as the "valley of the balsam tree" from the
same word in plural form found in 2 Samuel 5:24. This is
based on the assumption that baka may be a "gum-exuding [weeping] tree".
Another possibility is that the word beka'im (plural of baka) may mean "weeping
wall-rocks" in the valley of Rephaim on whose tops David and
his troops were waiting for the coming of the Philistine
army passing through the valley below (2 Samuel 5:24). It
seems safe to seek the meaning of baka in relation to the dripping
water, since we often find this word in the names related to
rivers and wadis, such as Wadi al-Baka in the Sinaitic
district and Baca on the wadi in the central Galilee area, W
of Meroth. It is also possible to understand beka'im as the place of "weepings"
of the Philistine army for their defeat by David. After all
these considerations, the expression of "valley of baka" can
best be taken as a symbolic expression "weeping" or "deep
sorrow" which fits well in the context of Psalms
84:6. [pp. 566, ]
The interpretation of the valley of
Baca as a "the valley of weeping" makes sense
because of the distress which Hagar (AS) underwent when she
was left with Ishmael (AS) in the barren desert with no
means of living.
The two interpretations of
Baca, viz., "lack of stream" and "the valley of
weeping" appears to fit in the context of pilgrimage to
Bakkah, the older name of Makkah where the
Ka'bah is situated. Ka'bah has
been a place of reverence by all Arabians before the
Christian era as we have seen earlier.
And Allah knows best.
. Gibbon's Decline And Fall Of The Roman
Empire: Edward Gibbon
(Introduction by Christopher Dawson), Volume V, Everyman's
. Diodorus Of Sicily: Translated by C H Oldfather, Volume II,
William Heinemann Ltd., London & Harvard University
Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, MCMXXXV.
. The Penetration Of Arabia: D G Hogarth, Alston Rivers Limited,
. Classical Islam: A History
600-1258: G E Von Grunebaum,
George Allen & Unwin Limited, 1970.
. The Jewish Encylopedia: Volume II, Funk & Wagnalls Company,
. The Anchor Bible Dictionary: David Noel Freedman (Editor-in-Chief),
Volume I, Doubleday.