Makkah and Madinah The Time of the Holy Prophet (sa)

Makkah, the Ka’bah & the Quraish – The Life & Character of the Seal of Prophets

Copyright: Image from ‘Mediaeval and Modern History,’ (1905) Myers, P. V. N. (Philip Van Ness), p.72.
Copyright: Image from ‘Mediaeval and Modern History,’ (1905) Myers, P. V. N. (Philip Van Ness), p.72.

First ever serialisation of the newly translated Volume II of Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad’sra outstanding biography, Seerat Khatamun Nabiyyin, on the life and character of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa.

Translated from the Urdu by Ayyaz Mahmood Khan

Following this secondary yet necessary discussion, we now return to our actual subject matter. It has already been mentioned that under Divine command, Abrahamas brought Hagaras and her infant child to settle in the desolate valley of Makkah after which he returned home. When Abrahamas visited Makkah for the second and third time, Hagaras had passed away. Coincidentally, Ishmaelas was also absent, due to which a reunion of father and son could not take place. Upon this, Abrahamas honoured Makkah with his presence a fourth time, and this time, together, both of them began the construction of a house of worship in Makkah. This house of worship was in fact quite old and its markings had been destroyed. Abrahamas proposed to build the house anew, after receiving Divine knowledge. In the construction of this house, Ishmaelas was a helper in the task of reconstruction and would collect and hand over stones to his father.[1] When the walls were raised to some height, Abrahamas placed a distinctive stone at one corner of the Ka’bah, as an indication for people to commence their Tawaf[2] of the Baitullah.[3] This stone is known as the Hajar-e-Aswad,[4] which is kissed during the Tawaf of the Ka’bah, either by lips or by the indication of one’s hand. However, one should bear in mind that the Hajar-e-Aswad in itself is not a sacred thing, nor can it be considered Shirk[5] to kiss it during the Tawaf. Rather, it is merely present as a symbolic indication and in actuality true sanctity is merely of the virtuous narrations adherent to the Holy Ka’bah. Therefore, in Hadith, it is related that on one occasion when Hazrat ’Umarra, the Second Caliph, was performing Tawaf of the Ka’bah, he turned towards the Hajar-e-Aswad and said, “O Stone! I know well, that you are but a stone which possesses not the power to cause benefit or harm. Had I not seen the Messenger of Godsa kissing you, I would never have kissed you.[6] In addition to this, it should also be remembered that during the Tawaf, not only is the Hajar-e-Aswad kissed, but its neighbouring corner is also kissed. The remaining two corners are not kissed due to an alteration in the original location of this outer wall of the Ka’bah. Hence, from this perspective as well, the Hajar-e-Aswad is in no way distinct.[7] Nevertheless, together, Abrahamas and Ishmaelas erected a square shaped structure built of unshaped stones and with no roof. Its height was 4 1⁄2 yards, its length 16 yards and its width 11 yards.[8] It is this very Ka’bah, which today is a sanctuary for all.

Khalil’s Prayers

The Holy Qur’an alludes to the construction of this house in the following words:2014-November-Arabic_Inserts-L_C_pdf

Surely, the first house founded for mankind, for the benefit of mankind and God’s worship, is that in the Valley of Becca, abounding in blessings and a guidance for all peoples yet to come.[9]And remember the time when Abraham and Ishmael raised the foundations of the House, praying,Our Lord, accept this from us; for Thou art All-Hearing, All-Knowing.’”[10] “‘Our Lord, make us submissive to Thee and make of our offspring a people submissive to Thee. And show us the ways of Hajj and worship, and turn to us with mercy; for Thou art Oft-Returning with compassion and Merciful.’”[11] “‘And, our Lord, raise up among them a Messenger from among themselves, who may recite to them Thy Signs and teach them the Book and Wisdom and may purify them; surely, Thou art the Mighty, the Wise.’”[12]

The Divine mission of the Holy Prophetsa was a result of this compassionate prayer. Hence, the Holy Prophetsa would say, “I am but a fruit of the prayer of Abraham.[13]

Announcement of Hajj

When the construction of the Ka’bah was complete, Abrahamas was instructed by God the Almighty:


…and keep My House clean for those who perform the circuits, and those who stand up and those who bow down and fall prostrate in Prayers. And proclaim unto mankind that they come for the Pilgrimage. They shall come to thee on foot, and on every lean camel, in other words upon camels who have travelled long distances, coming by every distant track.[14]

This proclamation is the basis upon which the Ka’batullah became a centre. We clearly see that after this, the Ka’bah quickly became the religious centre of the Arabs and people began to flock to it from far off places in Arabia.

Custodianship of the Ka’bah

It has already been mentioned that the first tribe to settle in Makkah was the Jurhumuth-Thaniyah. The daughter of this clan’s chieftain named Madad bin ‘Amr was married to Ishmaelas and twelve sons were born of this wedlock. Among these children the eldest was Nebaioth and the next was Kedar. The people of Arabia are primarily the children of Kedar son of Ishmaelas and the Quraish are also his descendants. As long as Ishmaelas was alive it was he who supervised the Ka’bah, but after his death, the eldest of his sons, named Nebaioth became its custodian. After his death, the custodianship of the Ka’bah was entrusted to his maternal grandfather, Madad bin ‘Amr, and for an extended period in time it remained with the tribe of Jurhum. However, after the passing of an extended period in time, a branch of the Banu Qahtan, the tribe of Khuza’ah gained supremacy over the Jurhum and seized the custodianship of the Ka’bah from them. The tribe of Jurhum was deeply grieved on account of their exile from Makkah, and immigrated to Yemen. However, prior to departing from Makkah, their chieftain, ‘Amr bin Al-Harith, buried his national wealth in the fountain of Zamzam and sealed its opening. In this manner, when the tribe of Khuza’ah entered Makkah, this sacred water spring had vanished and it remained sealed for hundreds of years until finally, Hazrat ‘Abdul-Muttalib, the paternal grandfather of the Holy Prophetsa, located it and once again caused it to gush forth with water. In any case, after the Jurhum, the Khuza’ah became the rulers of Makkah and the custodians of the Ka’bah.[15] The dawn of idolatry in the Ka’bah is attributed to ‘Amr bin Luhaiyy, a chieftain of the Khuza’ah.[16] Upon his observance of idol worship in Syria, his desire was that idols should be placed in the Ka’bah as well and that people should worship them. Therefore, he brought some idols from Syria and placed them in the close proximity of the Ka’bah.[17] Since the Ka’bah had become the religious centre of Arabia by that time and every year people would gather there for Hajj, idolatry rampantly spread throughout the country. This is not to imply that idolatry was not at all practiced in Arabia prior to this, rather the purpose is to merely establish the fact that the arrival of idols in the Ka’bah was a major cause in the spread and establishment of idolatry throughout Arabia. Therefore, gradually the idols in the Ka’bah alone reached a total of 360. After a prolonged period in time the custodianship of the Ka’bah escaped the hands of the Khuza’ah as well. In elaboration of the cause of this occurrence, historians have narrated a strange tale, the mention of which shall prove interesting here.

In the middle of the 5th century A.D. there was a man named Qusaiyy bin Kilab who was among the descendants of Fihr bin Malik, or in other words, the Quraish. He was a very wise and intelligent individual. During the days of his youth, it was his heartfelt desire that the rule of Makkah and custodianship of the Ka’bah should remain the inheritance of the children of Ishmaelas and not in the hands of any other nation. Hence, he came to Makkah and gradually began to develop friendships, after which he married Hubba, the daughter of Halil bin Habashiyyah Khuza’i, who was the chieftain of the Khuza’ah. At that time, it was he who possessed the custodianship of the Ka’bah. On his deathbed, Halil bequeathed the custodianship of the Ka’bah to his daughter Hubba, the wife of Qusaiyy. In this manner, the custodianship of the Ka’bah came into the hands of Qusaiyy by virtue of his wife, but his heart was not content as a mere authority. Rather, he wished to become the rightful ruler of Makkah and the custodian of the Ka’bah. Therefore, gradually, he began to establish his claim of entitlement. When the Khuza’ah began to realise this, they were outraged and prepared for battle. At the same time, Qusaiyy also gathered his own people and both these tribes fought in a vehement battle. Eventually both tribes were reconciled on the foundation that an arbitrator be appointed, whose verdict both parties shall accept. Thus, a man named ‘Amr bin ‘Auf was appointed as an arbitrator, who ruled that the custodianship of the Ka’bah rightfully belongs to Qusaiyy and that the Khuza’ah shall not receive blood money for any of its slain men but instead compensation for Qusaiyy’s slain men shall be paid by the Khuza’ah. In this manner, after a prolonged period in time the custodianship of the Ka’bah was once again returned to the Banu Isma’il.[18] Since the custodianship of the Ka’bah was also a means of worldly grandeur and power, the custodian tribe was looked upon with special honour and veneration in all of Arabia. It is for this reason that the status of the Quraish was exhalted.

© Morphart Creation |
© Morphart Creation |

Repeated Re-construction of the Ka’bah

The phenomenon of deterioration is naturally attached to every worldly object. Therefore, after its construction by Abrahamas the Ka’bah fell many times and was thus rebuilt many times as well. Sometimes, its’ structure would be damaged by the floods that would occasionally strike the valley of Makkah. In this case, its custodians would demolish the Ka’bah and reconstruct it anew. In certain cases this was also required due to fires or other natural disasters. Therefore, every nation who was entrusted its custodianship was required to reconstruct the Ka’bah has needed. The Banu Jurhum, Khuza’ah and the Quraish, all in their respective eras reconstructed the Ka’bah. Once, Qusaiyy also rebuilt the Ka’bah, after which the Quraish also reconstructed it in the time of the Holy Prophetsa with certain modifications. They increased its level of elevation and also added a roof with six internal pillars along with a skylight on the roof. They also elevated its door as well. However, due to a scarcity of materials, they were unable to erect the Ka’bah upon its original foundations, as laid by Abrahamas. As a matter of fact, they left an empty space of about 3.5 yards to one side. This empty space is known as the Hatim or Hijr and the Holy Prophetsa declared it as part of the Ka’bah. Hence, during the Tawaf, it is necessary to pass around this portion as well. Once, the Holy Prophetsa said to Hazrat ‘A’ishahra:

The Hatim is a part of the Ka’bah and the Quraish left it out due to a lack of funds. They elevated the door of the Ka’bah so that they could allow access to whoever they please and deny access to whoever they please. O ‘A’ishah, had your nation not recently accepted Islam and had I not been troubled by the wavering of their faith, I would have demolished the structure built by them and would have rebuilt the entire structure upon the original foundations laid by Abraham. I would have included the Hatim within it, and would have lowered its door, and I would have built another door to the opposite side of this door.[19]

Therefore, in 64 A.H., when due to some reason, the structure of the Ka’bah was damaged, ‘Abdullah bin Zubair, who was the governor of Makkah at the time, fulfilled this desire of the Holy Prophetsa and he built only three pillars within the Ka’bah instead of six pillars. However, when ‘Abdul-Malik gained control of Makkah, perhaps with the intention that if the Holy Prophetsa did not perform this alteration, no one else possesses the right to do so either, he ordered Hajjaj bin Yusuf to demolish the building erected by ‘Abdullah bin Zubair and reconstruct it upon the pattern as was during the time of the Holy Prophetsa. Thus, Hajjaj did as he was instructed but the modification of the three pillars remained unaltered.[20]


Initially there was no covering on the Ka’bah, but later a king of Yemen named Tubba’ Asad saw in a dream that he was covering the Ka’bah with a drape, hence, he had the Ka’bah covered by a drape. After this, the tradition of covering the Ka’bah became a common custom. Therefore, the Quraish would always place a drape over the Ka’bah.[22] This tradition was upheld in Islam as well. Even today, every year a new and precious drape is formally placed upon the Ka’bah and the old one is removed and is either distributed among the pilgrims or is sold. Today, the drape placed upon the Ka’bah is of black colour, upon which the Kalimah[23]is written at various places as well as an assortment of Qur’anic verses.

Sanctity of the Ka’bah

In the time of the Jahiliyyah the Arabs held the Ka’bah in greater reverence than perhaps the Muslims of today. It was because the Arabs viewed the Ka’bah as a deity to be worshipped and would offer oblations to it. These offerings would be stored in an underground treasury and would be utilised for the requirements of its worshippers and pilgrims. The Ka’bah in itself was of course sacred, but through it, not only Makkah, but its surrounding regions were also declared a Haram[24]where violence and bloodshed was prohibited. The significance of the Ashhur-e-Hurum[25] was also due to the Ka’bah, so that pilgrims could travel for the Hajj in complete peace without any fear or danger. It was also a custom that to express the particular sanctity of something it would be hung to the Ka’bah. Therefore, seven renowned poems of the Jahiliyyah are called the Sab’ah Mu’allaqah[26] because they were hung on the Ka’bah.

Residential Construction in the Vicinity of the Ka’bah

At this point it will be appropriate to mention that until the time of Qusaiyy not a single nation had built homes in the vicinity of the Ka’bah. As a matter of fact, they resided in temporary homes and pavilions situated at some distance. However, upon Qusaiyy’s encouragement, the Quraish constructed homes in the surrounding perimeter of the Ka’bah and Makkah became a proper city. However, these homes were not adjoined to the Ka’bah, rather, in order to facilitate the Tawaf of pilgrims, a vast area was left to all four sides of the Ka’bah. This open space was as if the courtyard of the Masjid-e-Haram.[27] During the era of the Khulafa’-e-Rashidin[28] this area was deemed narrow and restricted in space, thus, the courtyard of the Masjid-e-Haram was expanded by demolishing the homes in its immediate proximity.



1. * Akhbaru Makkah, By Abul-Walid Muhammad bin ‘Abdul-Karim Azraqi, Babu Ma Dhukira min Bina’i Ibrahimal-Ka’bata, Volue 1, p. 65, Matabi’u Daruth-Thaqafah, Makkah (1978).

* Sharhul-‘Allamatiz-Zarqani ‘alal-Mawahibil-Ladunniyyah, By Muhammad bin ‘Abdul-Baqi Az-Zarqani, Volume 1, pp. 384-385, Babu Bunyani Quraishil-Ka’bata, Darul-Kutubil ‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (1996).

* Tarikhul-Khamis, By Husain bin Muhammad bin Hasan Dayar Bakri, Bina’ul-Ka’bah, Volume 1, p. 99, Muwassasatu Sha’ban, Beirut.

2. Circumambulation of the Ka’bah (Publishers).

3.  Tarikhul-Khamis, By Husain bin Muhammad bin Hasan Dayar Bakri, Bina’ul-Ka’bah, Volume 1, p.100, Muwassasatu Sha’ban, Beirut.

4. The Black Stone. (Publishers)

5. Association with God. (Publishers)

6. Sahih Bukhari, Kitabul-Hajj, Babu Ma Dhukira fil-Hajril-Aswad, Hadith No. 1597.

7. Sahih Bukhari, Kitabul-Hajj, Babu Fadli Makkata wa Bunyaniha, Hadith No. 1583.

8. Akhbaru Makkah, By Abul-Walid Muhammad bin ‘Abdul-Karim Azraqi, Babu Ma Ja’a fī Bina’I Ibrahimal-Ka’bata, Volume 1, p. 64, Matabi’u Darith-Thaqafah, Makkah (1978).

9. Holy Qur’an, Surah Aal-E-‘Imran, Verse 97.

10. Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-Baqarah, Verse 128.

11. Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-Baqarah, Verse 129.

12. Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-Baraqah, Verse 130.

13. Al-Jami’us-Saghir, Ana Da’watu Ibrahim, Hadith No. 2703, Volume 1, p. 161, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, (2004).

14. Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-Hajj, Verse 27-28.

15. As-Siratun-Nabawiyyah, By Abu Muhammad ‘Abdul-Malik bin Hisham, p. 96, Amru Jurhum wa Dafnu Zamzam, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (2001).

16. Sahih Bukhari, Kitabul-Manaqib, Babu Qissati Khuza’ah, Hadith No. 3523.

17. As-Siratun-Nabawiyyah, By Abu Muhammad ‘Abdul-Malik bin Hisham, p. 73, Qissatu ‘Amr bin Luhaiyy wa Dhikru Asnamil-‘Arab, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (2001).

18. *As-Siratun-Nabawiyyah, By Abu Muhammad ‘Abdul-Malik bin Hisham, pp. 97-100, Tazawwuju Qusaiyy bin Kilab Hubba bint Halil, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (2001).

* Tarikhut-Tabari, By Abu Ja‘far Muhammad bin Al-Jarir Tabari, Dhikru Nasbi Rasulillahisa…, Volume 2, p. 192, Darul-Fikr, Beirut, Lebanon, Second Edition (2002).

19.  Sahih Bukhari, Kitabul-Hajj, Babu Fadli Makkata wa Bunyaniha, Hadith No. 1583.

20. *Akhbaru Makkah, By Abul-Walid Muhammad bin ‘Abdul-Karim Azraqi, Babu Ma Ja’a fi Bina’- ibniz-Zubairil-Ka’bata, Volume 1, p. 206, Matabi’u Darith-Thaqafah, Makkah (1978).

*  Tarikhut-Tabari, By Abu Ja‘far Muḥammad bin Al-Jarir Tabari, Sanatu Khamsin wa Sittin, Dhikru Khabri Bina’i ‘Abdillah bin Az-Zubair, Volume 7, p. 78, Darul-Fikr, Beirut, Lebanon, Second Edition (2002).

*  Al-Kamilu fit-Tarikh, By Imam ‘Izz-ud-Din ibnil-Athir, Volume 3, p. 286, Thumma Dakhalat Sanata Khamsin wa Sittin, Dhikru Bina’-ibniz-Zubairil-Ka’bata, Darul-Kutubil-‘Arabi, Beirut, First Edition (1997).

*  Tarikul-Khamis, By Husain bin Muhammad bin Hasan Dayar Bakri, Volume 1, p. 115, Baqiyyatu Akhbari Bina’il-Ka‘bah, Muwassasatu Sha‘ban, Beirut.

21. Drape of the Ka’bah(Publishers)

22. * Akhbaru Makkah, By Abul-Walid Muhammad bin ‘Abdul-Karim Azraqi, Babu Dhikri man Kasal- Ka’bata fil-Jahiliyyah, Volume 1, pp. 249-250, Matabi’u Daruth-Thaqafah, Makkah (1978).

23. An Islamic Creed. (Publishers)

24. Sacred proximity of the Ka’bah.(Publishers)

25. The Four Sacred Months. (Publishers)

26. The Seven Attached [Poems]. (Publishers)

27. The Sacred Mosque. (Publishers)

28. The Successors of the Holy Prophetsa. (Publishers)