The pagan Ka'bah, which became the Palladium of Islam, was an unpretentious cube-like (hence the name) building of primitive simplicity, originally roofless, serving as a shelter for a black meteorite which was venerated as a fetish. At the birth of Islam the structure was that rebuilt in 608 probably by an Abyssinian from the wreckage of a Byzantine or Abyssinian ship destroyed on the shore of the Red Sea. [History of the Arabs, Philip K. Hitti, 1937, p 96-101]
If a modern theology practices ancient pagan rites and rituals isn't it still a pagan cult? Isn't mindless veneration of rocks, rituals, and a shrine dedicated to a celestial idol the trappings of a not-so-bright cult? Do Moslems even know about the polytheistic paganism which informs the main body of Islamic practice and liturgy? If they did would they care, or would they just declare themselves to be a religion, peaceful, tolerant, and superior?
The pagan Arabs practiced polytheism. They worshipped nature, stones. angels and demons. Particular reverence was accorded the three 'daughters of God', and various national, local and family idols. Each tribe gave allegiance to a special protector: one god to whom it turned in time of distress....One stone still holds a revered spot in the Arab heart. This is the stone that fell from paradise at the fall of Adam. Pure white it was and housed in a temple built by Seth, Adam's son, until a great flood ravaged the land, destroyed the temple, and buried it under the mud and debris. Tradition relates that the stone remained hidden until Abraham sent his wife Hagar into the desert with their infant son Ishmael. One day, weakened by thirst, Hagar laid her baby on the sand to rest. His fitful thrashings uncovered a spring of clear water near the site of the lost relic. It is told that an angel descended from heaven and helped recover the sacred stone and that Ishmael rebuilt the holy house of Seth with the assistance of Abraham and the archangel Gabriel. This, in brief, is the story of the Kaaba,' holiest building in Islam. [Islam and the Arabs, Rom Landau, 1958]
The linkage of Adam, Seth, Abraham and Judaism to Islam was a Muhammadan invention of course. Abraham never ventured anywhere near Mecca. He existed Mesopotamia, founding his monotheism near Jerusalem, and he also took his family to Egypt in search of food. He never ventured any further south than the main road which skirted Ascalon in Gaza. But this reality is completely distorted in Moslem mythology. In order to humiliate and disprove Judaism, Muhammad lied and drew a straight line from Noah, through Muhammad, and to himself. A binding cord was the 'heavenly rock', supposedly installed in the cube or Kabaa. This divine rock was rediscovered by Hagar's child Ishmael, the progenitor of the Arab tribes supposedly. The actual rock housed in the Kabaa was not white but a simple black asteroid. Somehow this object became divine and inextricably bound up with Abraham and the development of monotheism. As Goebbels stated, the greater the lie the more believable it will appear.
The Kabaa originally had nothing to do with Abraham. Indeed for hundreds of years before Muhammad the Arabs used the Kabaa and they would have been completely ignorant of the later fable of Abraham invented by Muhammad. In fact they would not have known a thing about Abraham and monotheism and certainly if they did, they would never have related the Abrahamic experience with their own. The idea that Abraham and 'a god' had anything to do with the Kabaa was a Moslem creation. In fact according to historian Hughes Moslems believe that the Kabaa was built before the world was created.....
According to the Traditions and the inventive genius of Muslim writers, the Ka'bah was. first constructed in heaven (where a model of it still remains, called the Baitu 'l-Ma'mur) two thousand years before the creation of the world. Adam erected the Ka'bah on earth exactly below the spot its perfect model occupies in heaven, and selected the stones from the five sacred mountains, Sinai, al-Judi, Hire, Olivet, and Lebanon. Ten thousand angels were appointed to guard the structure; but, as Burckhardt remarks, they appear to have been often most remiss in their duty! At the Deluge the Sacred House was destroyed. But the Almighty is said to have instructed Abraham to rebuild it. In its reconstruction Abraham was assisted by his son Ishmael, who with his mother Hagar were at the time residents of Makkah, Abraham having journeyed from Syria in order to obey the commands of God. Upon digging they found the original foundations of the building. But wanting a stone to mark the corner of the building, Ishmael started in search of one, and as he was going in the direction of Jabal Qubais, the angel Gabriel met him, and gave him the famous black stone. Ibn 'Abbas relates that the Prophet said, the black stone when it came down from Paradise was whiter than milk, but that it has become black from the sin of those who have touched it. (MisWf, book Ii. Ch. iv. pt. 2.) [A Dictionary of Islam, Thomas Patrick Hughes, 1965, Kaba, p 256]
A more fantastical and inane account of the cube cannot possibly be invented. In reality the Kabaa area was a millennia old market place which served many functions, including that of a trading area; a hall of political discourse, a site for pagan rites, scarifies and even sex-fertility orgies, and a place of local gathering to hear poetry or artistic expressions. Kabaa areas were common throughout the middle east and all of them functioned as general meeting halls. Why would the Meccan Kabaa be any different? Because Moslems invented great and impossible tales of 'God' building a shrine before the earth was made and selecting Mecca as the center of the earth, hence the necessity of Moslems performing a pilgrimage? Good grief.
In reality the Kabaa become 'holy' as part of Muhammad's political campaign to ostracize and demonize his competitors the Jews, and to create an Arab nationalism embedded within Islamic theology and the worship by Arabs of himself through the moon-idol thing, called i-Lah.
Snouck Hurgronje's argument, which has become one of the most widely accepted ideas of modern scholarship on the beginnings of Islam, was that the adoption of the Meccan sanctuary by Muhammad has to be seen as a reaction to the rejection of him by the Jews of Medina. Only in the face of this, rejection, according to Snouck Hurgronje, did Muhammad move towards the arabization of his religion, a move in which the adoption of the Meccan sanctuary was an important step. And only at this time did Muhammad begin to formulate the doctrine that the Meccan sanctuary had been founded by Abraham, an idea which grew out of his contact with the Jews of Medina. [Studies on the First Century of Islamic History, Editor G.H.A. Juynboll, Chapter 2: The Origins of the Muslim Sanctuary at Mecca, G.R. Hawting, p. 23]
The linkage between Islam and Abraham is thus a crock and a fermented derivative of a feverish politician's unbalanced mind, named Muhammad. Abraham and his 'god' have absolutely nothing to do with the Meccan shrine. This cube was a millennia old pagan shrine to satiate local needs. Muhammad's 'invention' was to irrevocably and quite insanely, link it to Abraham and Jewish theology.