The Kaaba or kabah ( , "The Cube") also referred as Kaaba Muazzama (Grand Kaaba), is a building at the center of Islam's most sacred mosque, Al-Masjid al-Haram, in Mecca, al-Hejaz, Saudi Arabia. It is the most sacred Muslim site in the world. It is considered the "House of Allah" and has a similar role to the Tabernacle and Holy of Holies in Judaism. Wherever they are in the world, Muslims are expected to face the Kaaba when performing salat (prayer). From any point in the world, the direction facing the Kaaba is called the qibla.
The sanctuary around the Kaaba is called Al- Masjid al- Haram (Sacred Mosque).
One of the Five Pillars of Islam requires every Muslim who is able to do so to perform the hajj pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime. Multiple parts of the hajj require pilgrims to make tawaf, the circumambulation seven times around the Kaaba in a counter-clockwise direction. Tawaf is also performed by pilgrims during the umrah (lesser pilgrimage). However, the most interesting times are during the hajj, when millions of pilgrims gather to circle the building withhin a 5 day period. In 2013, the number of pilgrims coming from outside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to perform hajj was officially reported as 1,379,531. In 2014, Saudi Arabia reported having completed Hajj permits for 1,389,053 international pilgrims and 63,375 for residents.
The Collaborative International Dictionary
Caaba \Ca*a"ba\ (k[.a]*[=a]"b[.a]), n. [Ar. ka'bah, lit., a square building, fr. ka'b cube.] The small and nearly cubical stone building, toward which all Mohammedans must pray. [Written also kaaba.]
Note: The Caaba is situated in Mecca, a city of Arabia, and contains a famous black stone said to have been brought from heaven. Before the time of Mohammed, the Caaba was an idolatrous temple, but it has since been the chief sanctuary and object of pilgrimage of the Mohammedan world.
Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary
1734, Caaba, cube-shaped building in the Great Mosque of Mecca, containing the Black Stone, from Arabic ka'bah "square house," from ka'b "cube."
n. The small and nearly cubical stone building in Mecca, holy place of Islam, but also holy to pre-Islamic Arabian religions.
Usage examples of "kaaba".
There, in pre-Islamic times, it was emplaced in a Meccan temple, the Kaaba, and offered something akin to worship.
Kaaba stone, the very center of the Islamic universe, to which they directed the Salat, verses from the Holy Koran said five times per day, recited from the knees.
Tewfik waited an instant as his attendants spread a prayer rug before he bent his head towards the distant holy city of Sinnar, where the first ships to reach Bellevue had carried a fragment of the Kaaba from burning Mecca.