Symbolism


KA'ABA
Article from Faiths of Man (1906) by J.G.R. Forlong

Arabic: "square." The cubical cell of the Haram, or "sanctuary," at Makka in Arabia. It was already ancient when it was rebuilt; and the "black stone" replaced in its wall, in the youth of Muhammad. The shrine was surrounded by 365 menhirs, and the statue of the god of fate stood near it (see Hab'al*). The well Zemzem ("murmuring") was hard by. Tradition said that here Ishmael thirsted, and here he was prepared as a sacrifice by Abraham whose footstep was shown near the "black stone," the surface of which was worn by the kisses of devotees, like St Peter's toe at Rome. The Mustajab ("wonder working") was another upright red stone, in the S.W. angle of the Ka'aba, and was also much reverenced. The building was already covered by a Kisweh ("veil"), which appears to have been red, in the time of Muhammad-this being alike the Moslem female color, and belonging to Allat the Venus of Makka-and the Kisweh, now renewed annually, is known as the "holy carpet."

* On his triumphant return to Makkah in 632 A.C., Muhammad and his followers, in accordance with the ancient rite, solemnly circumambulated these stones seven times, and on the last round he is said to have exclaimed "the Truth is come," and to have pushed over the statue of Habal.

AL KAABA
Article from The Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia (1877) of Kenneth Mackenzie

The name of the great temple at Mecca, as sacred to the Mohammedans as the Temple of Solomon was to the Jews. It was appointed in the Koran as the great place of general worship in the following passage: ?"But they who shall disbelieve, and obstruct the way of God, and hinder men from visiting the holy temple of Mecca, which we had appointed for a place of worship unto all men-the inhabitant thereof, and the stranger, have an equal right to visit it; and whosever shall seek impiously to profane it, we will cause him to taste a grievous torment. Call to mind when we gave the site of the house of the Kaaba for an abode unto Abraham, saying, Do not associate anything with me; and cleanse my house for those who compass it, and who stand up, and who bow down to worship. And proclaim unto the people a solemn pilgrimage; let them come unto thee on foot, and on every lean camel, arriving from every distant road; that they may be witnesses of the advantages which accrue to them from the visiting of this holy place, and may commemorate the name of God on the appointed days, in gratitude for the brute cattle which he hath bestowed on them. Wherefore eat thereof, and feed the needy and the poor. Afterwards let them put an end to the neglect of their persons; and let them pay their vows, and compass the ancient house. This let them do. And who ever shall regard the sacred ordinances of God, this will be better for him in the sight of his Lord." (Koran, Surat xxii.)

The Arabs had been accustomed to go in pilgrimage to Mecca, in accordance with the command of Abraham, who, the Arabs say, ascended the mountain Abu Robeis, near Mecca, and thence proclaimed?"O men, perform the pilgrimage to the house of your Lord." The Arabs went thither to celebrate the memory of Abraham and Ismael. The Koran says (Surat ii.)?"And when we appointed the holy house of Mecca to be a resort for mankind, and a place of security, and we said, Take the station of Abraham for a place of prayer; and we covenanted with Abraham and Ismael, that they should purify my temple from the idols which are around it, and from those that are within it, and from their worshippers. And when Abraham said, Lord, make this a territory of security, and bounteously bestow fruits on its inhabitants, such of them as believe in God and the last day; God answered, I will extend my gifts even to the unbelievers, but they shall enjoy little. They shall be condemned to the flames, and deplorable shall be their end. And when Abraham and Ismael raised the foundations of the house, saying, Lord, accept it from us, for thou art He who heareth and knoweth; Lord, make us also resigned unto thee, and of our posterity a people resigned unto thee, and show us our holy ceremonies, and be turned unto us, for thou art easy to be reconciled, and merciful: Lord, send them likewise an apostle from among them, who may declare their signs unto them, and teach them the book of the Koran and wisdom, and may purify them; for thou art mighty and wise. Who will be averse to the religion of Abraham, but he whose mind is infatuated? Surely we have chosen him in this world, and in that which is to come he shall be one of the righteous. When his Lord said unto him, Resign thyself unto me; he answered, I have resigned myself unto the Lord of all creatures. And Abraham bequeathed this religion to his children, and Jacob did the same, saying, My children, verily God hath chosen this religion for you, therefore die not, unless ye also be resigned. Were ye present when Jacob was at the point of death? When he said to his sons, Whom will ye worship after me? They answered, We will worship thy God, and the God of thy fathers, Abraham, and Ismael, and Isaac, one God, and to Him will we be resigned? Say, Nay, we follow the religion of Abraham the orthodox, who was no idolater."

The Kaaba is of cubical form, twenty-four cubits from north to south, twenty-three cubits from east to west, and twenty-seven cubits high with one aperture to admit light at the door in the east end. The north-east corner contains the black stone, which is traditionally supposed to have come down from Paradise, as white as milk; but it ahs become black in consequence of the wickedness of mankind. Syed Ahmed, a modern Mohammedan author, says it is a piece of rock from the vicinity of Mecca, which has been blackened by fire. Its position reminds us of the foundation stone of Solomon's temple. The Kaaba is contained within the Masjad al alharam, the sacred or inviolable temple. On the north side of the Kaaba is the white stone, the reputed tomb of Ismael, and to the east is the place or station of Abraham. The Kaaba has a double roof, and is richly decorated with gold and hangings.

The legendary history of the Kaaba is, that Adam, after his expulsion from Paradise, begged of Allah to be allowed to erect a building like that which he had seen in that blessed place; whereupon Allah let down a representation of it in curtains of light, and placed it at Mecca, immediately under its original; but, according to others, it was the edifice itself which was thus transferred from heaven to earth, being taken up again at the time of the Deluge. The former tradition, however, says, that Seth, after Adam's death, built a similar house of stones and clay, and this being destroyed by the Flood, was rebuilt by Abraham and Ismael. It was certainly rebuilt by the Koreish, a few years after the birth of Mohammed, on the old foundation, repaired by Abdallah Ebn Zobair, Khalif of Mecca, and at last rebuilt in its present form by Yusof, surnamed AL Hejaj Ebn Yusof, in the seventy-fourth year of the Hijra.

There is a prophecy by tradition, attributed to Mohammed, that at the last days, when the final judgment will take place, this holy place will be destroyed by the Ethiopians. When Mecca was taken by Mohammed, he took the keys of the Kaaba into his possession, but was directed by a revelation (Koran, Surat iv.) to return them to Othman Ebn Telha Ebn Abaldar, who had then the honour to be their keeper. Othman, was so affected at the justice of this action, although he had at first refused entrance to the Prophet, that he immediately embraced Mohammedanism, whereupon, according to Al Beidawi, the custody of the sacred place was confirmed to him and his heirs for ever.


SYMBOLISM OF THE KABBEH


From a lecture by Anna Kingsford in The Perfect Way (1888)

In the city of Mecca, the birthplace of the iconoclast Mohammed, is a square edifice, thirty feet high, called the Kaabeh, or Cube. The Koran says that is was the first house of worship built for mankind. It has been known from time immemorial as Beit-Allah, which name is the exact equivalent of the Hebrew word Beth-El, House of God. According to Moslem legend, it was originally built by Adam, after the pattern of a similar structure in Paradise, and was restored by Abraham. It contains a white stone?now blackened by time and by the kisses of pilgrims?which stone was also, according to tradition, brought from Paradise. But, ages before the birth of Mohammed, the Kaabeh was an object of veneration as a Pantheon of the Gods, and the white stone was adored as a symbol of Venus.

This cubic House is a figure of the Human Kingdom framed on the pattern of the Universal Kingdom constructed in the primal Age or "Beginning." And the original builder of the Kaabeh is said to have been Adam, because by "Adam" is understood the first Church of the Elect, the first Community of men "made in the Image of God." This Church, having forfeited "Paradise," and fallen away from perfection, was restored by Abraham, the Father of the Faithful or Initiates, this great Ancestor of the chosen people of God being no other than the personified Church of Brahma in India, whence the Mysteries "went down into Egypt," and ultimately into all the world.

The name Beth-El given to the Human House, denotes that man, when "cubic" or six-fold, is the habitation of Deity. In a future discourse it will be shown that these six stages or "days" of the creative week of the microcosm, correspond to the processes included in the Lesser and Greater Mysteries, and are, in order, Baptism, Temptation, Passion, Burial, Resurrection, and Ascension; the "Marriage of the Lamb" being equivalent of the Sabbath, or Within of the Cube, the Seventh, last and supremest of all the Acts of the Soul.

The white stone, which, as we have seen, has always been the object of special veneration, is the well-known symbol of the Divine Spirit, the nucleolus of the Cell, the Sun of the system, the Head of the Pyramid. It was regarded as sacred to Venus, because she is the Genius of the Fourth Day, the Revealer of the Sun and heavenly system, and to her, therefore, was peculiarly dedicated the emblem of Celestial Light. The Kaabeh is, by its very name, identified with the Kabbalistic Merkaba, the "car" in which the Lord God was said to descend to earth?a phrase indicating the work of Manifestation, or Incarnation of Divine Being in "Creation." The Merkaba, or Vehicle of God, is described by Ezekiel as resembling a throne of sapphire, upon which is seated Adonai; and supporting and drawing it are four living creatures or cherubim, having four faces, the face of an ox, the face of a lion, the face of a man, and the face of an eagle. And there are also four wheels of the chariot, a wheel by each cherub, "in appearance like chrysolite." "And their whole body, and their necks, and their hands, and their wings, and the circles are full of eyes."

The perusal of this descriptive vision, which is identical with certain passages in the Apocalypse of St. John, was permitted only by the ancient Hebrews to men who had attained the age of thirty years. [Epistles of Jerome.] This age represents maturity, manhood, and reason, as typified in the solar month. Thus the Ark of No? in which the Elect are preserved, is thirty cubits in height; the vision above cited occurs in his thirtieth year to Ezekiel, whose name signifies Strength of God; and Jesus, at the commencement of his mission of salvation, "begins to be about thirty years of age." Similarly the Kaabeh, or Cubic House of the Microcosm, is thirty feet high.

Subpages (1): Thelemic Import