The Historicity of the Kabaah


By Kaleef K. Karim.
Edited by Ijaz Ahmad (spelling, formatting, content, etc).

One of the recent things I have heard from Christian missionaries, when debating with them is that they say, the Ka’bah in Mecca where Muslims go for pilgrimage annually has no history before the advent of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). These ridiculous and fictitious claims have no basis whatsoever. I shall now bring forth evidences that Kabaah in Makah did exist before the coming of Muhammad (peace be upon him).

The Kabah stone In Mecca

Diodorus Siculus (Born: 90 BC – Died: 30 BC)

Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian, who wrote works of history in the 1st Century BC. He is known for the monumental universal history Bibliotheca historica. Diodorus is the first known Historian long before the coming of Islam that makes mention of Mecca.

Reverend Charles Augustus Goodrich a Christian, was an American author and Congregational minister comments on Kaaba and Mecca, although, he is not fond of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh), but he is sincere in admitting that Ka’bah existed at time of Patriarchs. He says:

“Among the variety of fabulous traditions which have been propagated by the followers of Mahomet, concerning the origin of this building, we find it asserted, that its existence is coeval with our parents, and that it was built by Adam, after his expulsion from paradise, from a representation of the celestial temple, which the almighty let down from heaven in curtains of light and placed in Mecca, perpendicular under the original. To this the patriarch was commanded to turn his face when he prayed, and to compass it by way of devotion, as the angels did the heavenly one. After the destruction of this temple by the deluge, it was rebuilt by Abraham and his son Ishmael on the same spot, and after the same model, according to directions, which they received by revelation; and since that time, it has continued to be the object of veneration to Ishmael’s descendants. Whatever discredit we may give to these, and other ravings of the Moslem imposter concerning the Caaba its high antiquity cannot be disputed; and the most probable account is, that it was built and used for religious purposes by some of the early patriarchs; and after the introduction of idols, it came to be appropriated to the reception of the pagan divinities. Diodorus Siculus, in his description of the cost of the Red Sea, mentions this temple as being, in his time, held in great veneration by all Arabians; and Pocoke informs us, that the linen or silken veil, with which it is covered, was first offered by a pious King of the Hamyarites, seven hundred years before the time of Mahomet.” [1]


John Reynell Morell says:

“…historically speaking, Mecca was a holy city long before Mohammed. Diodorus siculus, following agatharcides, relates that not far from the red sea, between the country of the Sabeans and of the Thamudites there existed a celebrated temple, venerated throughout Arabia.”[2]

Encyclopædia Britannica: Or, A Dictionary of Arts, sciences and Miscellaneous Literature, Edited by Colin Macfarquhar says:

“the science of astronomy was cultivated at Babylon; but the school of the Arabs was a clear firmament and a naked plain. In their nocturnal marches, they steered by the guidance of the stars: their names and order, daily station were familiar to the curiosity and devotion of the bedoween; and he was taught by experience to divide in 28 parts the Zodiac of the moon, and to bless the constellations who refreshed, with salutary rains, the thirst of the desert. The reign of the heavenly orbs could not be extended beyond the visible sphere; and some metaphorical powers were necessary to sustain the transmigration of the souls and the resurrection of bodies: a camel was left to perish on the grave, that he might serve his master in another life; and the invocation of departed spirits implies that they were still endowed with consciousness and power. Each tribe, each family, each independent warrior, created and changed the rites and the object of this fantastic worship; but the nation in every age has bowed to the religion as well as to the language, of Mecca. The genuine antiquity of the Caaba extends beyond the Christian era: in describing the coast of the Red Sea, the Greek historian Diodorus has remarked, between the Thamaudites and the Sabeans a famous temple, whose superior sanctity was revered by ALL THE ARABIANS: the linen or silken veil, which is annually renewed by the Turkish Emperor, was first offered by a pious King of the Homerites, who reigned 700 years before the time of Mahomet.“ [3]

Andrew Crichton also comments on the ‘Kabah’ in his book; ‘The history of Arabia, ancient and modern.’ He says:

“From the celebrity of the place, a vast concourse of pilgrims flocked to it from all quarters. Such was the commencement of the city and the superstitions fame of Mecca, the very name of which implies a place of great resort. Whatever credit may be due to these traditions, the antiquity of the Kaaba is unquestionable; for its origin ascends far beyond the beginning of the Christian era. A passage in Diodorus has anobvious reference to it, who speaks of a famous temple among the people he calls Bizomenians, revered as most sacred by all Arabians.” [4]

Claudius Ptolemy (Born: 90 AD – Died: 168 AD)

Claudius Ptolemy was a Greco-Roman writer of Alexandria, known as a mathematician, astronomer, geographer; is another person, centuries before Islam who makes mention of Makkah. He uses the name ‘Makoraba’ for Makkah.

In the Book: ‘The New Encyclopedia of Islam’, written by Cyril Glassé says that Ptolmey in the second century mentioned Makkah. Here is what he wrote:

“Mecca (Makkah al-Mukarramah, lit ‘Mecca the blessed’). For thousands of years Mecca has been a spiritual center. Ptolemy, the second century Greek geographer, mentioned Mecca, calling it ‘Makoraba’. Some have interpreted this to mean temple (from Maqribah in south Arabian) but it may also mean ‘Mecca of the Arabs’.” [5]

Ilya Pavlovich Petrushevsky (1898–1977) was an Professor of History of the Near East at the University of Leningrad for twenty years, he also makes mention that Ptolemy in the second Century mentions Makkah:

“On the caravan route from Syria to the Yemen, in the Hijaz neighbourhood, lay Mecca. Ptolemy, the Greek geographer, mentions it as early as the second century calling it Makoraba, which is derived from the south Arab word Maqrab meaning ‘sanctuary’. [6]

Michael Wolfe:

“Mecca lies midway along the west coast of Arabia in a mountainous barrier region named the Hijaz. This narrow tract of land about nine hundred miles long with the Tropic of Cancer passing through its center. The second-century Greco-Egyptian geographer Ptolemy called the city Makoraba, the temple.” [7]

Paul Wheatley:

“it was its virtual monopoly of Hijaz commerce which made of Mecca, in the words of the Quran, ‘a city secure and at peace; provisions flowing in from every side’. But all this is concerned with the expansion of the influence of a city which already existed. The name Mecca (strictly transliterated as Makkah) had been mentioned in the Ptolmaic corpus in the 2nd century AD under the orthography Makoraba, which itself derived from the Sabaean Makuraba, meaning ‘sanctuary’. Long before Muhammad the Ka’bah had served as the central shrine of a group of clans, each of whom had deposited its ritual stone, symbolizing its own god, in the sacred precinct.” [8]

In the book ‘A Comparative Study of Thirty City-state Cultures: An Investigation’, edited by Mogens Herman Hansen; in Note 24 makes clear when Ptolemy mentioned the name ‘Macoraba’ he meant Mecca:

“Ptolemy in Geographies refers to Mecca as Macoraba.” [9]

Conclusion:

From all the evidences which I have presented from objective and academic sources, it can clearly be seen that it is a fact that Kabaah existed before the advent of Islam and Muhammad (peace be upon him).  Sealing my arguments, I refer you to Reverend Charles Augustus Goodrich, a Christian historian, who admitted that the Kabaah existed and was built by the Patriarchs. In his own words, he says, “Caaba its high antiquity cannot be disputed; and the most probable account is, that it was built and used for religious purposes by some of the early patriarchs.”

References:

[1] Religious Ceremonies and Customs, Or: The Forms of Worship Practised by the several nations of the known world, from the earliest records to the present time Charles Augustus Goodrich [Hartford: Published by Hutchinson and Dwine 1834] page 124
[2] Turkey, Past and Present: Its History, Topography, and Resources By John Reynell Morell page 84
[3] Encyclopaedia Britannica: Or, A Dictionary of Arts, sciences and Miscellaneous Literature Constructed on a Plan Volume 2, Part 1 edited by Colin Macfarquhar page 183 – 184
[4] The history of Arabia, ancient and modern Volume 1 [second edition] By Andrew Crichton page 100
[5] The New Encyclopedia of Islam By Cyril Glassé page 302
[6] Islam in Iran by I. Pavlovich Petrushevsky page 3
[7] One Thousand Roads to Mecca: Ten Centuries of Travelers Writing about the Muslim pilgrimage Michael Wolfe introduction xv
[8] Paul Wheatley The Origins and Character of the Ancient Chinese City: volume 11 page 288
[9] A Comparative Study of Thirty City-state Cultures: An Investigation, Volume 21 edited by Mogens Herman Hansen page 248 NOTE 24

4 comments

  • Very interesting. I’m no historian, so I don;t wish to comment too much on the historicity of the Kabaa. But I do have a question regarding methodology here?

    This article relies on heavily on one greek historian (Diodorus), who is used as the basis for most of the other commentors. The other historical source (Claudius) seems to be debated regarding interpretation of his meaning.

    Therefore, we only really have one (apparently) unambigiuos source. Here is my question:

    Why do Muslims reject the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, which is based on numerously more historically verifiable sources, yet accept evidence as presented above as true? Is this not biased and inconsistent scholarship?

  • Hi Paulus,

    For a believer It is much more common sense to agree with the Quranic narrative .

    The Quran solves one problem in alleged crucifixion of Jesus when he cried for Gods help on the cross “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”

    Why should Jesus have thought himself as being abandoned from God at the very moment when, according to innovated pauline theology, he was fulfilling God’s plan?? God hear Jesus cry for help and has helped him.

    Jesus did not die on a cross but God miraculously took Jesus body and soul into the heavens and God made it APPEAR to his enemies eyes that Jesus was crucified. (Q 4:157-158)

    So the Quran never negates the historicity of the crucifixion.
    ,

  • The kabah is pre-islamic we all know that, in fact I read once that there is evidence that all pagan Arab towns had kabahs to house their idols. Now that the kabah predated mohamamd is a fact but the earliest evidence for it is in the first century BC. The pagan Arabs I believe use to march around it naked , revere the idols inside as well as the black meteorite. Now Abraham is believed by scholars to have lived around 2000 -1800 BC now that is a gap 1900-1700 years between when Abraham lived and the earliest mention of the Kabah so there is not a single shred of evidence that the kabah comes from this time in any written source confirms this. Neither is there any archeological evidence that the Kabah or Mecca was built at this time. Therefore you have failed to prove it’s historicity as being built by Ibrahim. What you did prove is that 1900 years after Abraham lived pagan Arabs worshipped in the Kabah but we already knew that.

    @ Eric
    first off Jesus is quoting a Psalm, secondly there is no evidence that Jesus was not crucified. The earliest and only evidence denying the crucifixion is from Basildean Gnostics in the second century who denied the crufixcion out their docetic belief that Jesus was fully god and not really human so he could not really die. WE have no evidence from the first century denying the crucifixion. Nothing. The earliest evidence all points to it happening. All NT scholars apart those view who hold that jesus did not exist view the crucifixion is a fact. Even the most skeptical scholars say that the one thing that we can know for sure about Jesus is that he was crucified. Muslims have nothing to disprove the historical fact of the crucifixion. The Quran presents a short denial but offers no knew information to how he was not crucified but it just appeared to be so. Even for the sake of argument if you are right and god saved Jesus on the cross after pleading then the quran is still wrong because it says he was not killed nor was he crucified. According to the quran Jesus never made it to the cross and many classical commentators argues that he was replaced on the cross. It is the consensus of scholars that Jesus was crucified and you have no argument as it does not say he was crucified but didn’t die but it says he was not crucified.

  • @Luxdei

    All you said about the Kaaba is mere speculation.

    //According to the quran Jesus never made it to the cross and many classical commentators argues that he was replaced on the cross.//

    Which part of the Quran says this? and Which classical commentators argue that he was replaced on the cross, please bring the references (in Arabic will be better) so we can check and discuss.

    If God made it APPEAR to Jesus enemies eyes that he was crucified, no one is certain that it was Jesus who was on the cross and he died by the crucifixion unless you can bring me genuine post mortal examination of Jesus to me (if there is any).

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