Beit-Allah (Arabic, the house of God), the appellation given by the Mohammedans to the Temple of Mecca, which is remarkable as containing the Kauba (q.v.). The temple of Mecca forms a very spacious square, about a quarter of a mile in each direction, with a triple or quadruple row of columns. A number of steps lead down into the interior, in which stands the Kaaba or house of the prophet, and with it the black stone brought down by the angel Gabriel to form its foundation. In the Koran. Mohammed says, "We have established a house or temple as a means whereby men may acquire great merit." Such is the veneration in which Beit-Allah is held by the Mohammedans, that all sorts of criminals are safe within it, and the very sight of its walls from a distance imparts merit to a man. The ancient Arabians were accustomed to adorn this building by inscribing on the outside of it the works of their most distinguished poets, written in letters of gold or silk. The Mohammedans have always covered its walls and roof with rich brocades of silk and gold, formerly furnished by the caliphs, and afterwards by the governors of Egypt. The mosque or temple has nineteen gates, and is adorned in its interior with seven minarets, irregularly distributed. The Mohammedans, in whatever part of the world they may be, must pray with their faces towards the Beit-Allah at Mecca, which they call Keblah (q.v.)

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