History of Makkah

Ibrahim leaves Hagar and Ismail

Some time after the birth of Ismail (AS), Allah instructed Ibrahim (AS) to take Hagar and Ismail (AS) and travel the earth until they got to a certain place. They eventually arrived at a barren place that was very hot; this was the valley of Makkah. When they arrived, Ibrahim (AS) was instructed by Allah to leave Hagar and Ismail (AS) and go. Ibrahim (AS) followed the command of Allah and started walking away. Hagar began calling out to Ibrahim, asking him where he was going. She continued doing this, but he continued to ignore her, fearing his heart wouldn't be able to take explaining it to her. At some point, she asked if this was a command of Allah, to which Ibrahim responded in the affirmative.

Hagar decided to start looking for some food. She went up a nearby mountain and began searching, but there was no sign of anything. So, she came down the mountain and began making dua to Allah. She climbed another nearby mountain and again began making dua to Allah. After a while, she heard a sound, and she began looking around until she found a spring of water gushing from nowhere. SubhanAllah, she looked at it and thanked Allah. She sat down and began collecting the water. With her hands, she created a basin-like structure around the water. She began saying in her language, “Zam Zam Zam Zam," which means “Stop Stop Stop Stop," because she wanted to take and drink the water. Today, this water is known as ZamZam water, and it is from the same well.

Due to this being the only source of water nearby, birds came down and began drinking from the water. At the time, caravans used to pass through the desert and would often look for birds, not to hunt them, but because this meant there was water nearby.

Simultaneously, the clan of Jurhum (a Yemeni tribe) was passing by when they saw birds flying in one specific direction. They suspected the birds were flying to water, so they decided to investigate it, and they soon found Hagar and Ismail (AS) drinking out of the spring. They recognized this was clearly a miracle and asked Hagar if they could live there and take advantage of the water from the spring. Hagar agreed on the condition that the water was their property and not the caravan's. Meaning the caravan can drink from it, but it's their property, not the caravan’s. The caravan agreed, and they were very happy. They loved Ismail (AS) as he grew up among them. They taught Ismail (AS) Arabic and good manners. This was the first community of Makkah, a barren desert at the beginning of something beautiful.

Ibrahim and Ismail Build the Kaaba (First Construction)

One day, Allah gave Ibrahim (AS) a command to build a house as a symbol of the oneness of Allah. Ibrahim (AS) went to Ismail (AS) and told him that Allah had given him the order to build a sacred house and asked him to help. Similar to when Nuh (AS) built the Ark, Allah helped Ibrahim (AS) and Ismail (AS) build this structure, as each brick fit into place like a jigsaw puzzle. When this structure was built, there was an uneven corner, and Ibrahim (AS) thought to himself that he wanted to put a rock in the corner that would fit flush and perfectly. So he told Ismail (AS) to help him look for a rock.

Later on, Ismail (AS) came back with a beautiful white rock. Ibrahim (AS) asked him what this was, and Ismail (AS) told him this rock had been sent from Jannah. This rock is what we call today Al-Hajar-Al Aswad (the Black Stone). This rock was originally white, but it became black from the sins of people. This structure is what we now know as the Kaaba, and it is part of our pilgrimages (Hajj and Umrah), and it is our Qibla (Prayer Direction).

Suddenly, the rock Ibrahim (AS) was standing on softened. It softened so much that his footprint was left on the rock before it hardened again. These footprints can still be found near the Kaaba today and serve as an indicator of the direction Allah wants us to pray in.

Allah then told Ibrahim (AS) to call people to come and visit the Kaaba, but there was nobody around to hear the call. So, Ibrahim (AS) asked Allah where his voice would reach. Allah then told Ibrahim (AS), Oh Ibrahim! You do your job and what you’ve been ordered to do, and leave the rest on us. So Ibrahim (AS) got up and said, "Oh, people around the world! Allah has built a house of his, and he orders you to come and perform pilgrimage. So come and perform pilgrimage." So Allah made the voice of Ibrahim (AS) reach everywhere, and till this day, you can go and perform pilgrimage because of the call of Ibrahim (AS).

Makkah became a major trading outpost and tourist spot

As time went on Makkah became a major trading outpost and a tourist spot for the Arabians. It was a quite popular city and it is mentioned in many historical works of historians from that era. This was also one of the reasons the pagans of Makkah (Quraysh) didn't want to embrace Islam at the time of the prophet ﷺ. They didn’t want to give up their golds and luxuries they received from the idols being a tourist spot.

Abraha Launches an attack on the Kaaba, but they are destroyed by the ababeel birds

About 10 months before the birth of the prophet ﷺ, Abraha—the Viceroy (Governer) to An-Najasah (the Negas/King of Abyssinia) in Yemen—saw that the Arabs held great regard for the Kaaba in Makkah and how they went on pilgrimage to it. He grew envious and decided to build a big church in Sana’a (the capital of Yemen), in the hope that the Arabs would perform pilgramage to it.

After hearing about this, a man from Banu Kinaanah (one of the tribes of Quraysh) entered the church at night and relived himself in it. When Abraha found out that the man who did it was from the Quraysh, he swore to destroy the Kaaba. He mobilized a large army, and while riding elephants, they marched towards the Kaaba. When the army reached the Muhassir Valley, between Muzdalifah and Mina, the elephants they were riding refused to go any further and would kneel down. The elephants would obey the command to move south, east, or west, but refused to go towards Makkah.

As described in the Quran in Surah al-Fil, Allah sent birds in flocks. Each bird carried three stones, and they threw the stones at the army, eventually killing them entirely.

"Have you not seen ˹O Prophet˺ how your Lord dealt with the Army of the Elephant? Did He not frustrate their scheme? For He sent against them flocks of birds, that pelted them with stones of baked clay, leaving them like chewed up straw."

Surah al-Fil - 105

10 months after this incident, the prophet Muhammad ﷺ was born.

After a flash flood, the Kaaba was destroyed and the Quraysh had to rebuild the Kaaba

After a flash flood, the Kaaba was severely damaged. The walls were cracked, and they needed to be rebuilt. This responsibility was divided between the four tribes of Quraysh. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (before he was a prophet) helped with this reconstruction. The four tribes agreed that, due to the holyness of this building, they could not build it with haram money. So they agreed to no money from alcohol, prostitution, gambling, etc. Due to this, they were limited by the amount of halal money they had, and in turn, they realized they couldn't complete the full Kaaba. The original was rectangular, and they only had enough money for a square building. They decided to complete the square building and signify where the original ended with an arc-like structure now called the Hateem.

Once the walls were up, it was time to put back Al-Hajar-Al Aswad (the Black Stone). The four tribes began to argue over who would have the honor of putting the black stone in. A fight was about to break out when Au Umayyah, Makkah's oldest man, proposed that the first man to enter the mosque the following morning would decide. That man was the prophet ﷺ. The Makkans were ecstatic, as the prophet ﷺ was known to be a fair and truthful man. The prophet ﷺ proposed that the elders of the four tribes all carry the stone on a cloak, with the prophet ﷺ being the one to put it in place while they were all holding on. They were satisfied with this idea, and the reconstruction was complete.

Yazid ibn Muawiya beseiged Makkah and bombarded it with catapults

In 64 Hijri, Yazid ibn Muawiya launched an attack on Makkah with the goal of fighting Abdullah ibn Zubayr. He besieged Makkah and bombarded it with catapults. During the fight, the Kaaba caught fire, causing the walls to be severely damaged. After seven days of seige, Yazid died, and the army withdrew without having entered Makkah.

Abdullah ibn Zubayr decided to rebuild the Kaaba based on the blueprints of Ibrahim (AS), as he remembered the following saying of the prophet ﷺ:

'A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported: Allah's Messenger may peace be upon him) said to me: Had your people not been unbelievers in the recent past (had they not quite recently accepted Islam), I would have demolished the Ka'ba and would have rebuilt it on the foundation (laid) by Ibrahim; for when the Quraish had built the Ka'ba, they reduced its (area), and I would also have built (a door) in the rear.

Sahih Muslim 1333

Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, destroyed the Kaaba and restored it to its old structure as the Quraysh had it.

In 74 Hijri, Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf was the known tyrant of that time and the governer of Iraq to the caliph, ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwaan. With the approval of the caliph, he demolished what Abdullah ibn Zubayr added and restored its old structure, as the Quraysh had it. When ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwaan came for Umrah and heard the hadith about the Prophet’s ﷺ wish to have the Kaaba constructed the way Ibrahim (AS) had it, he regretted his actions.

Caliph Harun al-Rashid wanted to rebuild the Kaaba to the way Ibrahim (AS) had it, but Imam Malik (RH) said it would become a toy in the hands of kings

In the year 193 Hijri, Caliph Harun al-Rashid wanted to rebuild the Kaaba the way the Prophet ﷺ wanted, but when he consulted Imam Malik, he advised against it as constant demolition and rebuilding is not respectful. He also feared that it would become a toy in the hands of kings, with each one wanting to destroy and rebuild the Kaaba.

Based on the advice, Caliph Harun al-Rashid decided not to reconstruct the Kaaba, and for 966 years, the structure remained the same with minor repairs here and there.

Heavy Storm Severely Damaged the Kaaba, causing the walls to completely fall down.

In the year 1039 hijri, heavy rain, flooding, and hail caused two of the Kaaba walls to completely fall down. After this, the Kaaba was rebuilt again under the guidance of Ottoman Sultan Murad Khan.

Reconstruction of the Kaaba in 1996, the only thing left from the original were the stones.

Between May and October 1996, a major reconstruction of the Kaaba took place. This was done because the Kaaba’s wood and stone began to grow weak. As cracks began to emerge, the Saudi government decided a reconstruction was necessary. After the reconstruction, the only original thing left from the time of Ibrahim (AS), are the stones. This was the last time the Kaaba was completely rebuilt, and it is still standing on these foundations today.