Black Stone

From WikiIslam, the online resource on Islam
Jump to: navigation, search
"Its softness and moisture were such that the sinner would never remove his mouth from it, which phenomenon made the Prophet declare it to be the covenant of Allah on earth." - Ibn Jubayr

This article discusses the black stone housed at the Ka'aba.

Background[edit]

Five times a day Muslims prostrate towards the Ka'aba which houses the black stone (Ruknu l-Aswad). The black stone is a baetyl originating from pre-Islamic Arabian polytheism. It is an important part of the hajj pilgrimage, performed primarily because it is mandatory and because Muslims believe their sins will be forgiven.[1] . The pilgrims kiss the Ka'aba's eastern cornerstone (the black rock), and if they cannot kiss it, they point to it during circumambulation.

Circumambulation around the Ka'aba was originally a pagan ritual (albeit they did it naked), as was the running through the valley between Safa and Marwa.[2] The Ka'aba was originally a pagan shrine, housing 360 stones and statues. And pagans performed a hajj even before the advent of Islam.[3]

Muslims believe that the stone was "put there by Prophet Ibrahim and Isma'il (peace be upon them both) by the order of Almighty Allah, and the purpose of it was to indicate the beginning of tawaf (circumabulation of the Ka`bah)."[4] However, there is no scientific, historical, or archaeological evidence that places Abraham and Ishmael at the Ka'aba. And there is no evidence that circumambulation of any building or stone was initiated by Abraham and Ishmael.

During its history, the black stone has been struck and smashed by a stone fired from a catapult,[5] it has been smeared with excrement,[6] stolen and ransomed by the Qarmatians,[7] and smashed into several fragments.[8][9]

Baetyl[edit]

baetyl
noun
  1. (Antiquity) A meteorite or similar-looking rough stone thought to be of divine origin and worshipped as sacred.
    Definitions - baetyl
    AllWords English Dictionary,
In Greek religion, a sacred stone or pillar. The word baetylus is of Semitic origin (-bethel). Numerous holy, or fetish, stones existed in antiquity, generally attached to the cult of some particular god and looked upon as his abiding place or symbol.
Baetylus
Encyclopædia Britannica, 2009

Pre-Islamic Arabia[edit]

The sanctuaries, sometimes carved in the rock on high places, consisted of a ḥaram, a sacred open-air enclosure, accessible only to unarmed and ritually clean people in ritual clothes. There the baetyl, a “raised stone,” or a statue of the god, was worshiped. The Nabataeans originally represented their gods as baetyls on a podium, but later they gave them a human appearance.
Sanctuaries, cultic objects, and religious practices and institutions
Arabian religion, Encyclopædia Britannica, 2009

The black stone was important to the Arabian polytheists prior to Muhammad's prophethood.

Ibn Ishaq said, "The tribes of Quraysh collected stones to rebuild the House, each tribe collecting on their own. They started rebuilding it, until the rebuilding of the Ka`bah reached the point where the Black Stone was to be placed in its designated site. A dispute erupted between the various tribes of Quraysh, each seeking the honor of placing the Black Stone for their own tribe. The dispute almost led to violence between the leaders of Quraysh in the area of the Sacred House. Banu `Abd Ad-Dar and Banu `Adi bin Ka`b bin Lu'ay, gave their mutual pledge to fight until death. However, five or four days later, Abu Umayyah bin Al-Mughirah bin `Abdullah bin `Amr bin Makhzum, the oldest man from Quraysh then intervened at the right moment. Abu Umayyah suggested that Quraysh should appoint the first man to enter the House from its entrance to be a mediator between them. They agreed. The Messenger - Muhammad - was the first person to enter the House. When the various leaders of Quraysh realized who the first one was, they all proclaimed, `This is Al-Amin (the Honest one). We all accept him; This is Muhammad.' When the Prophet reached the area where the leaders were gathering and they informed him about their dispute, he asked them to bring a garment and place it on the ground. He placed the Black Stone on it. He then requested that each of the leaders of Quraysh hold the garment from one side and all participate in lifting the Black Stone, moving it to its designated area. Next, the Prophet carried the Black Stone by himself and placed it in its designated position and built around it. The Quraysh used to call the Messenger of Allah `Al-Amin' even before the revelation came to him."

Other important Baetyls in Arabia[edit]

The black stone was not the only important stone in Arabia.

Ghaiman had a red stone and the Ka'ba of al-'Abalat (near Tabala) had a white stone.
Gustave Edmund Von Grunebaum's Classical Islam: A History, 600 A.D. to 1258 A.D. (pg 24)

God Eloh and his Black Stone[edit]

Ancient writers Herodian and Cassius Dio mention a temple in Syrian city of Emesa (nowadays known as Hims or Homs). Why was this temple special and particularly interesting for us? A local Semitic god named Eloh (meaning Lord) was worshipped there. He was better known to Romans and Greeks as Heliogabalus, a corruption of Eloh Gabal (Lord of Mountain, one of Eloh’s titles). Eloh was associated with sun and thus identified with Roman god Sol and Greek Helios.

In the temple one of the holiest relics of antiquity, the Black Stone, was kept. It was believed to come from outside earth (possibly a meteorite) and to be a manifestation of Eloh himself. Faithful from the entire Roman orient were flocking for a pilgrimage there. They were bringing valuable gifts and offerings. The followers of Eloh had to obey bizarre rules. For example they had to be circumcised and were not allowed to eat pork.

This cult would probably be forgotten among thousands of others if not a dramatic twist of its fortune. In 218 a young priest of that temple and a Roman citizen Varius Avitus Bassus was prompted by his power-hungry family and usurped the throne of Rome by claiming to be an illegitimate son of murdered emperor Caracalla (ruled 211-217). He ruled for just four years and is remembered mostly by his nickname – name of his god – Elagabalus.

Elagabalus was a perverted ruler. He was reported to have prostituted himself in the imperial palace. He had numerous wives and husbands at the same time. He was known to be a masochist and allowed everyone to beat him. The young man was obsessed with sex, but his contemporaries were of the view that it was his cult of Eloh that depraved him.

The young emperor brought his famous Black Stone to Rome. He wanted to make the worship of Eloh either supreme or the only religion of the Roman Empire. This caused uproar among Romans. Every year in summer a bizarre procession was talking place. The Black Stone was placed on a chariot with reins stick to it (suggesting that the god himself was coaching). The emperor was walking afoot near the chariot. Senators, notable citizens, parade of soldiers, musicians and exotic animals followed.

After four years of insane rule, Elogabalus was murdered by soldiers. His body was thrown to river Tiber. [10]

Hadith[edit]

1. Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “The Black Stone came down from Jannah (Paradise).” (At-Tirmidhi, Sunan, hadith no. 877, and classified as authentic hadith by Sheikh Al-Albaani in his book Sahih At-Tirmidthi, hadith no. 695 )

2. Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) also narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “When the Black Stone came down from Paradise, it was whiter than milk, but the sins of the sons of Adam made it black.” (At-Tirmidhi, Sunan)

3. Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) further related that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “By Allah, Allah will bring it forth on the Day of Judgment, and it will have two eyes with which it will see and a tongue with which it will speak, and it will testify in favor of those who touched it in sincerity.” (At-Tirmidhi, Sunan)

4. Ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) quoted the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying: “Touching them both (the Black Stone and Ar-Rukn Al-Yamani) is an expiation for one’s sins.” (At-Tirmidhi, Sunan, hadith no. 959. This hadith is classified as hasan by At-Tirmidhi and as Sahih by Al-Hakim (1/664), and Adh-Dhahabi agreed with him.)

(The aforementioned hadiths were quoted from a fatwa by the prominent Saudi scholar Sheikh Muhammad Salih Al-Munajjid, www.islam-qa.com)
The Black Stone: History & Significance
Islam Online, Fatwa Bank, January 8, 2003
"The Black Stone is the right hand of Allah Most High." Ibn Qutayba in Ta' wil Mukhtalif al-Hadith (1972 ed. p. 215=1995 ed. p. 198, 262) said that it was a saying of Ibn 'Abbas and relates a saying of 'A'isha that the Black Stone is the depository of the covenant of human souls with Allah on the Day of Promise (alastu bi rabbikum). He interprets the Black Stone as representing the place where one declares one's pledge of fidelity to the Sovereign. Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari (1959 ed. 3:463 #1520) cites al-Khattabi's and al-Muhibb al-Tabari's similar interpretations. Al-Qurtubi said in al-Asna fi Sharh Asma' Allah al-Husna (2:90-91): "It means that the Black Stone has the standing (manzila) of the Right Hand of Allah. metaphorically speaking."
Problematic hadiths and various questions
Shaykh Gibril Fouad Haddad, Living Islam, April 11, 2000
Narrated 'Abis bin Rabia: 'Umar came near the Black Stone and kissed it and said "No doubt, I know that you are a stone and can neither benefit anyone nor harm anyone. Had I not seen Allah's Apostle kissing you I would not have kissed you."
Suwaid b. Ghafala reported: I saw Umar (Allah be pleased with him) kissing the Stone and clinging to it and saying: I saw Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) having great love for you. This hadith has been narrated on the authority of Sufyin with the same chain of transmitters (and the words are):" That he ('Umar) said: But I saw Abu'l-Qasim (way peace be upon him) having great love for you." And he did not mention about clinging to it.

See Also[edit]

  • Paganism - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Islam and Paganism

External Links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. "Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (p.b.u.h) said, "Whoever performs Hajj for Allah's pleasure and does not have sexual relations with his wife, and does not do evil or sins then he will return (after Hajj free from all sins) as if he were born anew."" - Sahih Bukhari 2:26:596
  2. "Narrated 'Asim bin Sulaiman: I asked Anas bin Malik about Safa and Marwa. Anas replied, "We used to consider (i.e. going around) them a custom of the Pre-islamic period of Ignorance, so when Islam came, we gave up going around them. Then Allah revealed" "Verily, Safa and Marwa (i.e. two mountains at Mecca) are among the Symbols of Allah. So it is not harmful of those who perform the Hajj of the House (of Allah) or perform the Umra to ambulate (Tawaf) between them." (2.158)" - Sahih Bukhari 6:60:23
  3. "Narrated Abu Huraira: In the year prior to the last Hajj of the Prophet when Allahs Apostle made Abu Bakr the leader of the pilgrims, the latter (Abu Bakr) sent me in the company of a group of people to make a public announcement: 'No pagan is allowed to perform Hajj after this year, and no naked person is allowed to perform Tawaf of the Kaba.' (See Hadith No. 365 Vol. 1)" - Sahih Bukhari 2:26:689
  4. Sheikh Ahmad Kutty - The Black Stone: History & Significance - Islam Online, January 8, 2003
  5. Hırka-i Saadet Dairesi; Hilmi Aydın(2004) - The sacred trusts: Pavilion of the Sacred Relics, Topkapı Palace Museum, Istanbul - Tughra Books, ISBN 9781932099720
  6. Burton, Richard Francis (1856) - Personal narrative of a pilgrimage to El-Madinah and Meccah - G. P. Putnam & Co., p. 394
  7. Francis E. Peters (1994) - Mecca: a literary history of the Muslim Holy Land - Princeton University Press, pp. 125–126, ISBN 9780691032672
  8. Cyril Glasse - New Encyclopedia of Islam: A Revised Edition of the Concise Encyclopedia of Islam (p. 245) - Rowman Altamira, 2001, ISBN 0759101906
  9. Black Stone of Mecca - Encyclopædia Britannica, 2007
  10. Poczet Cesarzy Rzymskich (In English: Roman Emperors), by Aleksander Krawczuk