Kaaba Before Islam Exist
Makkah was not a particularly popular city in the 6th century, when the Prophet Muhammad was born. The city is indeed crowded with merchants in certain seasons.
They profited by bringing various merchandise from several corners of the earth. But Makkah remained significant in the geopolitical context around the Mediterranean and the Arabian peninsula at the time.
The significance of Makkah is only seen in theological terms for adherents of spritualism, paganism, and Abrahamic monotheism.
In the city stands a large box-shaped stone building. The giant cube, according to a version of traditional Islamic historiography, is believed to have been built by Ibrahim and his son Ismail.
For Muslims, the building was intended as a “house of God” by its two founders. But after Ismail died, through a process of thousands of years, the house of God ended up being a kind of temple to pagans.
In the period before the advent of Islam, the building was also used by Christians possibly Coptics and Ethiopian Christians as places of worship.
This is evidenced by the paintings on the inside of the building depicting Jesus with Maryam.
From Idolatry Temple to Qibla Direction
Until now no definitive source or description has been found since when the building became an idolatrous temple.
One of the oldest historiographies that open up the possibility of it is the Book of Al-Asnam (Book of Idols) by historian Hisham ibn al-Kalbi (737-819) written in the 8th century.
Based on information from the book, F.E. Peters in The Hajj: The Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca and the Holy Places (1994: 21) states the fall of Ibrahim’s building into the hands of idolaters dates back to the beginning of Makkah’s history.
Some of Ismail’s children are believed to have abandoned their old beliefs and become idolaters. From there the stone boxes their grandfather built began to be used as places of worship by pagans.
So after that, the idolaters came again and again. The gods they worship changed.
But the time distance between Ismail’s death (estimated in 1800 BC) and the Quraysh-era Arabs is very long. In that period there were many undocumented events.
Therefore, historians find it difficult to ascertain who exactly made Ibrahim’s building a place of idolatry.
Today’s Islamist historians, with wider historical sources than their predecessors, also can’t be sure of that. Was it one of the two ancient Arabs, Jurhum and Khuza’a, who changed it? Or because of the influence of Greek and Roman paganism?
Among such questions, one thing that stands out is the emergence of periodization of stereotypes among Islamist historians.
For them, the decline of Makkah, both morally and spiritually, was due to the fall of the city into paganism. In this case it is pre-Islamic Makkah.
This is clearly demonstrated by, for example, the “official” historical grouping of Islam that divides two periods in general: the age of ignorance (literally meaning ignorance) and the prophetic age. The first mentioned period of course refers to the pagan world of Makkah.
When the Prophet Muhammad was born, the giant cube that Ibrahim built was fully controlled by the idolatrous Quraysh. It even became a kind of “great temple” for pagans throughout the Arabian peninsula.
“[At the time of the Prophet Muhammad] there were 360 idols arranged around the Kaaba, probably representing the number of days of the year,” notes Karen Armstrong in Islam: A Short History (2002: 10)
For Muslims, the Quraysh’s greatest gods—Latta, Uza, and Manat—became symbols of moral and spiritual degradation. Therefore, when the Prophet Muhammad and his followers conquered Makkah in 629, the three statues of the deity became the first target to be destroyed.
Prophetic Muhammad and the birth of Islam then changed the religious landscape in the Arabian peninsula. Today we know the giant cube as the Kaaba and become the qibla of the Muslims.