The cube-like building in the center of the mosque in Mecca, al-Baqarah 2:125-127,191,217; al-Ma'idah 5:2,95,97; al-Anfal 8:34; at-Taubah 9:7; al-Fath 48:25,27; al-Quraysh 106:3,
This is the direction where all Muslims are the face (Qibla) during ritual prayer (Salat) and it contains the Black Stone.
* said to be directly below the throne of God, and that Mecca is the navel of the world. Believed to be first built by Adam which was destroyed in the flood (see also SANCTUARY and WORSHIP).
It is supposed to have been built by Abraham and Ishmael, al-Baqarah 2:127. However, historical data contradict this belief, as none of them ever went to Mecca, see the article Ishmael is not the Father of Muhammad.
Guillaume also points out difficulties :
"... there is no historical evidence for the assertion that Abraham or Ishmael was ever in Mecca, and if there had been such a tradition it would have to be explained how all memory of the Old Semitic name Ishmael (which was not in its true Arabian form in Arabian inscriptions and written correctly with an initial consonant Y) came to be lost. The form in the Quran is taken either from Greek or Syriac sources." (Alfred Guillaume, Islam, Penguin Books Inc., Baltimore, 1956, pages 61-62)
* When Muhammad attacked Mecca and won the Quraysh tribes, he entered the Ka'aba and destroyed every icon or sculptured idol, both pagan gods and after some hesitation also Christian icons(?) of Jesus, Mary and Abraham*.
[After the conquest of Mecca] "Apart from the icon of the Virgin Mary and the child Jesus, and a painting of an old man, said to be Abraham, the walls inside [Kaaba] had been covered with pictures of pagan deities. Placing his hand protectively over the icon, the Prophet told `Uthman to see that all other paintings, except that of Abraham, were effaced." (Martin Lings, "Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources" p.300, ref: al-Waqidi, Kitab al-Maghazi 834, and Azraqi, Akhbar Makkah vol. 1, p. 107. Martin Lings is a practicing Muslim.)Opinions seem to be divided though, as we find in A. Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad (translation of Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasulallah), page 552:
"... pictures of the prophets and pictures of trees and of angels. Among them there was a picture of Ibrahim as of an elderly man, drawing lots with arrow lots, and the picture of Jesus, the son of Mary, and of his mother and a picture with angels." (I quote al-Azraqi according to the Arabic text edited by Ferdinand Wuestenfeld, Chroniken der Stadt Mekka, Band 1, Leipzig 1858, reprint Beyrouth 1964, p. 110 s. There is, to my knowledge, no translation into an European language.)
"On the day of the conquest of Mecca the Prophet entered the House (= the Kaaba; my comment) and sent al-Fadl ibn al-Abbas ibn Abdalmuttalib to get water from the well of Zemzem. He ordered to bring pieces of cloth and to imbue them with water and then he commanded to wash off these pictures, as it was done. He stretched his arms, however, over the picture of Jesus, the son of Mary, and of his mother and said: 'Wash off all except what is under my hands!' But eventually he took away his hands away from Jesus, the son of Mary, and his mother." (al-Azraqi p. 111, cf. p. 76) (Source: newsgroup posting)
The Apostle ordered that the pictures should be erased except those of Jesus and Mary.3
3 Apparently Ibn Hisham has cut out what Ibn Ishaq wrote and adopted the later tradition that all the pictures were obliterated. A more detailed account of these pictures will be found in Azraqi 104-6.
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