The Kaaba (a square building) is the 'House of God', where the divine touches the mundane and it is toward the Kaaba that Muslims face during their prayers. The Kaaba is located in the courtyard of the Great Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. According to the Koran, the cubic-shaped structure was built by Adam according to a divine plan. When Ibrahim (also known as Abraham) was ordered by Allah to build a Shrine for worship he uncovered the original foundation of the Kaaba built by Adam. Ibrahim with the help of his son Ismael (also known as Ishmael) erected the new shrine on the original foundation. When the Prophet Muhammad began to preach to the people of Mecca the Kaaba was a shrine for the pagan deities of the Arabs. After the Prophet established control of Mecca, the shrine was rededicated to Allah. Around the Kaaba is a restricted area, haram, extending in some directions as far as 12 miles (19.3 kilometers), into which only Muslims may enter.
The actual structure of the Kaaba has been demolished and rebuilt several times in the course of its history and was originally four walls without a roof. The Kaaba is now a cubed shaped one room structure that is about 60 feet high (18.3 meters), 60 feet wide from east to west and 60 feet from north to south. A door is fixed about 7 feet (2.1 meters) above ground level facing north east.
The Black Stone, or the Kaaba Stone, is set on the outside of the eastern corner of the Kaaba and is about 5 feet (1.5 meters) above the ground. The stone is a dark reddish brown color and its diameter is about 12 inches (30.5 centimeters). The Black Stone is now in pieces, three large parts and smaller fragments, which are now encased in a massive silver band. It is presumed to be of pre-Islamic origin, possibly meteoric and has always been the dark color it is because it was burned as it fell through the atmosphere. Some Muslims believe that this stone fell from the sky during the time of Adam and has the power to cleanse worshippers of their sins by absorbing them into itself. For these, the Black Stone is believed to have originally been colored white, but it turned black because of the sins it has absorbed over the years. Others believe the stone was given to Ismael by the angel Gabriel in order to provide the cornerstone for the Kaaba. The Black Stone is kissed by all who can gain access to it but is not considered idol worship. The single most important reason for kissing the stone is that Prophet Muhammad did so. No devotional significance whatsoever is attached to the stone.