Five times a day, every day, Muslims across the globe face Mecca and pray. When they face Mecca, it is not Mecca that they are truly facing, it is a cube-shaped building known as the Ka’aba or simply Kaaba.
It is also known as Baitullah or “The House of Allah.” On the east corner of this revered building, there is a cornerstone known as the Black Stone of the Ka’aba. It is shrouded in mystery, legend and speculation.
The Ka’aba is located or Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It stands in the relative center of the Al-Haram Mosque, where millions of Muslims gather every year to see this building and walk around it seven times. Most of the year, it is covered in black cloth. Beneath the black cloth is a stone building that may date back as far as 2030 BC. Each side of the cube measures about 18 meters (60 feet) across. There is a golden door in the southeast side. Inside, there is a polished marble floor and three pillars.
According to legend, Allah himself ordered that the Ka’aba be constructed. The story is that Abraham built the mosque with his oldest son, Ishmael. The building is said to be the likeness of Allah’s home in heaven. It is supposedly the oldest mosque on Earth. Historians believe it was once used by pagans, before Islam came into being. Likewise, the Black Stone is said to have been placed there and used by pagans, who worshipped such natural things. Islam forbids idolatry, so the Black Stone is not revered by them. They tell a completely different story about what the rock is and why it is so important.
Various, slightly different, versions of the story regarding the significance and origin of the Kaaba Black Stone exist. When Adam was banished from Paradise or The Garden of Eden, he was filled with sin. The Black Stone was given to Adam to erase him of this sin and give him entrance into heaven. It is said to be from Heaven. At the time it belonged to Adam, it was white. Now, it is black because it has absorbed so much sin.
Muslims believe that the prophet Mohammad kissed the Black Stone, so they also kiss the Black Stone, if it is possible, during their obligatory, at least once a lifetime, trip to Ka’aba. If they are unable to kiss the stone, they point to it every time they pass on their seven-circle journey around the Ka’aba. This is a story steeped in religion and important religious figures. Therefore, the Black Stone has great importance as being linked to Allah, Adam and Mohammad. However, those outside of the Muslim faith have little to go by.
The Ka’aba Black Stone is around 60 cm (2 feet) in length. It is broken into roughly seven pieces, which are held together by a silver frame. The surface is certainly black, but there has been some speculation that the color derives from all of the hands and mouths that have touched it, as well as the oils with which it wass anointed. Not knowing the true color for sure makes it difficult to say just what it is. There is also a problem with getting a sample. Taking a sample would be extremely disrespectful. It might even be dangerous. There are reports about people being killed for messing around with the stone.