Published on 17 Feb 2011 | over 5 years ago
The Kaaba (Arabic: الكعبة al-Kaʿbah IPA: [ʔælˈkæʕbɐ], English: The Cube) is a cube-shaped building in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and is the most sacred site in Islam. The building predates Islam, and, according to Islamic tradition, the first building at the site was built by Ibrahim. The building has a mosque built around it, the Masjid al-Haram. All Muslims around the world face the Kaaba during prayers, no matter where they are.
One of the Five Pillars of Islam requires every Muslim to perform the Hajj pilgrimage at least once in his or her lifetime if they are able to do so. Multiple parts of the Hajj require pilgrims to walk seven times around the Kaaba in a counter-clockwise direction (as viewed from above). This circumambulation, the Tawaf, is also performed by pilgrims during the Umrah (lesser pilgrimage). However, the most dramatic times are during the Hajj, when about three million (officially) pilgrims simultaneously gather to circle the building on the same day.