Photo: Turkish miniature from the manuscript Le Livre des Rois representing the Kaʿba in Mecca, 16th century.
The Kaʿba is the only Islamic sanctuary which can be compared to a temple. It is commonly called the “house of God” (baytu ʾLlāh), and it has in fact the character of a “divine dwelling”, paradoxical as this may seem in a Muslim
climate, where the idea of divine transcendence outweighs everything. But God “dwells”, as it were, in the ungraspable center of the world, as he “dwells” in the innermost center of man. It will be recalled that the Holy of Holies in the Temple at Jerusalem which was likewise a divine “habitation”, had the shape of a cube, like the Kaʿba. The Holy of Holies, or debir, contained the Ark of the Covenant, whereas the interior of the Kaʿba is empty; it contains only a curtain, which oral tradition calls the “curtain of Divine Mercy (Raḥmah)”.
Source and Recommended Reading:
'Art of Islam, Language and Meaning'
By Titus Burckhardt (Author), Jean-Louis Michon (Introduction), Seyyed Hussein Nasr (Foreword)
Known as an expert on Islam, Sufism, and Islamic arts & crafts, Burckhardt presents in-depth analyses of seminal examples of Islamic architecture, from Spain and Morocco to Persia and India. He examines Koranic calligraphy and illumination, arabesque, carpets and rugs, Persian miniatures, and much more while making illuminating comparisons with Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist art. Beautifully illustrated in color, this masterpiece is presented in a revised, commemorative edition containing 285 new illustrations and a new Introduction.