Kaaba, also known as Baytullah (House of Allah), is the first house built for humanity to worship Allah. A small building with cubes can not be compared with other famous buildings in size, but its impact on history and people is unparalleled. It acts as Qibla, a direction in which all Muslims pray five times a day.
Regarding the Kaaba, Allah mentions in the Qur'an in the Surat Al-Ma'ida:
Kaaba was built or adjusted several times in history. The most famous builders; the angels who originally built it; the first man and the prophet Adam (peace be upon him); Ibrahim (Peace be upon him) with the help of his son Ishmael (Peace be upon him); Quraysh during the period of Jahiliyya (this was witnessed by the Prophet (PBUH) when he was 25 years old) and Abdullah bin Zubair (may Allah be pleased with him) in 65 AH, He rebuilt the Kaaba according to the wish of the Prophet (PBUH)
Directly above the Kaaba, at its zenith, in heaven is a corresponding place called Baytul Mamoor, which has the same status as the Kaaba here on earth. Every day seventy thousand angels are worshiped there, and none of them have a second chance to introduce themselves there again. Baytul Mamoor is such a sacred and honorable place that Allah takes an oath to it in the Holy Quran in Sura Toor:
"And I swear by Baytul Mamoor." [4:52]
Hadrat Abdullah bin Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Prophet (PBUH) said: “One hundred and twenty mercies descend upon the Kaaba every day and night; sixty for those who perform tawaf, forty for those who perform salah, and twenty for those who simply look at the Kaaba. ” [Bayhaqi]
During the Ascension Night (mi'raj), when the Prophet (PBUH) reached the seventh level of heaven, he met Prophet Ibrahim (Peace be upon him), resting against Baytul Mamur. Ibrahim (peace be upon him) responded with a greeting from his descendant and testified that Muhammad (PBUH) was the Prophet of Allah.
The noblest shade on earth is the shade of the Holy Kaaba. Hubbab (may Allah be pleased with him) reports: "Once we hardly approached the Prophet (PBUH) and found that he was sitting in the shadow of the Kaaba, leaning on his shawl."
The northern corner of the Kaaba faces Syria, Jordan and Palestine; the eastern corner (where Hajar al-Aswad is located) faces Oman, India and Malaysia; the southern corner (Rukun Yamani) faces Yemen, Mauritius and Kenya; and the western corner faces Egypt, Morocco and Spain.
The cover of the Kaaba is known as Kiswah and was first established by the prophet Ismail (PBUH).
In the epoch of Abdullah Ibn Zubayr (may Allah be pleased with him), Kaaba suffered from an ejection fire in 64 AH, when the army of Yazeed-bin-Muawayah laid siege to Mecca. One of the companions of Abdullah Ibn Zubair lit a fire, a spark exploded and set fire to the kiswah (cover) of the sacred Kaaba. The wooden parts of the Kaaba were burned, which required its demolition and reconstruction. Abdullah ibn Zubair (may Allah be pleased with him) restored it on the basis of Ibrahim (may peace be with him), thus fulfilling what the Prophet (PBUH) wanted, since the construction made by Quraysh was about three meters long, because they ran out of legitimate income to finance the construction.
When Hajjaj-bin-Yusuf ruled Mecca, he informed Umayyad Khalifa Abdul Malik ibn Marwan that Abdullah ibn Zubair changed Kaaba to something different from what it was during the life of the Prophet (PBUH). He gave permission to change it again, and in 73 AH Kaaba was changed to his former state. However, when Abdul Malik learned the Hadith of the Prophet (PBUH) about how he wanted Kaaba to be on Ibrahim’s initial foundations (peace be upon him), he was full of remorse about what he did.
Infographic showing the main sections of The Kaaba (Baytullah) Sacred House
Muslims do not pray to Kaaba or worship Kaaba, it acts simply as a point of unification. During his stay in Mecca, the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) usually prayed towards Bait al-Maqdis (Jerusalem) with the Kaaba in front of him. When he migrated to Medina, he prayed in the direction of Jerusalem for 16 months, but he hoped that he would be changed to the Kaaba. Then Allah revealed the following verse in the Qur'an in Sura al-Baqarah:
“Indeed, We have seen the turning of your face (Muhammad) turned towards heaven. Of course, we will turn you to Qiblah (prayer direction), which will delight you, so turn your face in the direction of al-Masjid al-Haram (in Mecca). And wherever you are, turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction. ” [2: 144]
There are Hadith that confirm that the Kaaba will be destroyed by the end of time.
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said that the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Kaaba will be destroyed by Dus-Suwaiqaytayn (a man with thin legs) from Abyssinia (Ethiopia)”. [Bukhari]
VIDEO: Inside the Kaaba
Sources: The History of Makkah Mukarramah– Dr Muhammad Ilyas Abdul Ghani, Holy Makkah – Shaikh Safiur-Rahman Mubarakpuri, Kabahinfo.com, and YouTube.