Question: Did the Ka’bak exist before Islam? Who first built the Ka’bah? Is it the same building that it has always been since ancient times?
Answered by the Fatwa Department Research Committee - chaired by Sheikh `Abd al-Wahhâb al-Turayrî
Allah has appointed the Ka`bah to be the dedicated place for the pilgrimage (Hajj), which is one of the five pillars of Islam.
Allah says: “Pilgrimage thereto is a duty people owe to Allah, those who can afford the journey” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 97].
We know that the Ka`bah was the first House built on Earth for the worship of Allah, since we read in the Qur’ân: “The first House (of worship) appointed for men was that at Bakka: full of blessing and of guidance for all the worlds” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 96]
Bakka is an older name for Mecca.
However, the first builder of Ka`bah and its date of construction is a matter of considerable disagreement. Ibn Jarîr al-Tabarî narrates a wide variety of statements on the matter made by some of the Companions and others. He then says:
The correct thing is to say only that Allah had told Abraham and his son Ishmael to raise the foundations of the House. These foundations might possibly have been sent down with Adam who carried them to their place in Mecca. They might possibly have been made of corundum or from a pearl sent down to Earth. Adam might possibly have built it first, but if he had, it had fallen into ruin long before Abraham and Ishmael raised its foundations.Finally, Ibn Jarîr concludes:
There is no way to give preference to any of these opinions, because such things cannot be confirmed without an authentic statement from the Prophet (peace be upon him), and that is something which does not exist on the matter.We know for a fact that Abraham and Ishmael built the Ka`bah, regardless of who might have built it before them.
Allah says: “And remember Abraham and Ishmael raised the foundations of the House.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 127]
Another piece of evidence that Abraham built the House is the authentic hadîth in Sahîh al-Bûkhârî that Ibrâhîm told Isma`îl : “Allah has ordered me to build a house there” and he pointed to an rise. [Fath al-Bârî (6/397)]
After that it was rebuilt by the Amalekites, Jûrhûm, and Qusayy b. Kilâb.
It was again rebuilt by Quraysh during the Prophet Muhammad’s lifetime after being damaged by a flood. This took place long before the Prophet (peace be upon him) began to receive revelation.
The tribe of Quraysh at that time was short of money, so they did not rebuild it according to the original foundations that had been laid by Abraham (peace be upon him). They left out the portion referred to as the Hijr and make it outside the physical structure of the Ka`bah. They made only one door for the Ka`bah.
`Â’ishah relates that the Prophet said: “O `Â’ishah! Were your people not close to the Pre-Islamic times of ignorance, I would have had the Ka`bah demolished and would have included in it the portion which had been left, and would have made it at a level with the ground and would have made two doors in it, one towards the east and the other towards the west, and then by doing this it would have been built on the foundations laid by Abraham.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]
Since then, it has been rebuilt by `Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr (who restored it to its original foundations after the people of Syria attacked it), then by al-Hajjaj (who returned it to the foundations that it had after Quraysh rebuilt it), then by the Ottoman Sultan Murâd Khân the Fourth.
Repairing and refurbishing works continues all the time, the latest being only a few years ago