This book explores the Kaʿba as it has been conceptualised, represented and used by Muslims from the earliest period of Islam onwards.
What is the Kaʿba and why it is pivotal to the Islamic world? Why do pilgrims go about it, not in it? Is it empty? And why is a hollow building covered in black silk?
The most sacred site of Islam, the Kaʿba (the granite cuboid structure at the centre of the Great Mosque of Mecca) is here investigated by examining six of its predominantly spatial effects: as the qibla (the direction faced in prayer); as the axis and matrix mundi of the Islamic world; as an architectural principle in the bedrock of this world; as a circumambulated goal of pilgrimage and a site of spiritual union for mystics and Sufis; and as a dwelling that is imagined to shelter temporarily an animating force; but which otherwise, as a house, holds a void.
Selected as a winner of the 29th Islamic Republic of Iran’s World Book Award
- The first book-length exploration of the Kaʿba in a Western language
- Explains what the Kaʿba is by examining how it functions architecturally and is represented culturally
- Each chapter pursues a different aspect of the Kaʿba, presenting new findings and arguments
- Extensively illustrated, including a number of rarely reproduced images
About the Author
Simon O’Meara is an architectural historian of early to pre-modern urban Islamic culture, with a methodological interest in using the discourses of Islam to explore Islamic visuality and understand what scholarship can struggle to accommodate or see. He is Lecturer in the History of Architecture and Archaeology of the Islamic Middle East at SOAS, University of London.
Title: The Kaʿba Orientations: Readings in Islam’s Ancient House
Author (s): Simon O’Meara
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Length: 264 Pages
Pub. Date: June 2020