Long before I converted to Islam (Mashallah), I knew that the 1.9 billion Muslims in the world do not worship the Kaaba and the Black Stone (HajrAswad).
They do not worship them, yet at the same time, five times every day, they bow and prostrate themselves with their heads on the floor in the direction of Mecca where these same two objects are located.
Ask them why they do that and they will tell you that they only worship the one true God, Allah (SWT) and not any of these man-made structures and stones.
If not to be worshipped, then I was really curious to find what both the Kaaba and the Black Stone actually mean to Muslims. The following is what I found out.
So, why don’t Muslims worship the Kaaba and the Black Stone (Hajraswad) in Mecca? All Muslims bow towards, yet they know with certainty that the Kaaba and the Black Stone have no inherent divine powers. Rather, their existence is simply to remind them of the unity and oneness of Almighty God, Allah (SWT). The Kaaba is to show the direction (qibla) for the 5 prayers (salat). Also, touching or kissing the Black Stone is to symbolically connect Muslims to divinity and the hereafter.
So Muslims neither worship this cube structure in the desert nor the black stone that is stuck in its Eastern corner. However, they do have a special relationship with them. Muslims think about the Kaaba as they stand to face it 5 times a day in prayer. It is the center, the daily focus, and the geographical marker in the Muslims’ relationship with Allah (SWT).
Also, the Black Stone (HajrAswad) is no ordinary rock. Muslims believe that long ago it was sent from God, Allah (SWT) and that on the Day of Judgement, it will intercede to speak for those who over time sincerely kissed or touched it.
The Kaaba As The Direction (Qibla) of the 5 Daily Prayers
The Kaaba has been used as the direction of prayer (Salat) for the past 1,400 years. Previously and for 14 years after the first Quranic revelation in 610 CE on Jabal Hira in Mecca, the Muslims would face the Al Aqsa Mosque (Bayt Al Maqdis) in Jerusalem to pray.
At the time, the choice of Bayt Al Maqdis seemed very strange to them since the Kaaba was the most historically revered religious site in the world especially since it had been established and rebuilt by Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and his son Ismael.
That all changed in 624 CE, two years after the Hijrah when Allah (SWT) ordered Prophet Mohammed (SAW) to ‘turn your face’ in the direction of Masjid Al Haram. As the Muslims in Madina saw Prophet Mohammed (SAW) pray for the first time towards Mecca, they all began to quickly follow suit.
Click to read the background and details of how the Sahaba changed to face the Kabba in prayer.
The Kaaba-The Hub or Heart Of The Worship Of Allah (SWT)
So, 1,400 years later Muslims across the world are still standing 5 times a day to face the Kaaba, but not all at the same time. We know that the five daily prayers are all offered at different times throughout the day. They are approximately at:
- Fajr 5 am
- Dhuhur 12 pm
- Asr 3 pm
- Maghrib 6 pm
- Isha 8 pm
Each of the prayer times differs, but also the time to offer those prayers is changing continuously in all the countries where Muslims are residing.
For example, Muslims offer the Asr prayer at about 3 pm in Mecca. However, because of the time difference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia the actual time is not 3 pm, but 8 pm, the time that Malaysian Muslims should be standing for the Isha prayer.
In effect, this means that at ANY time during the day or night, there are Muslims in one country or another standing and offering prayers in the direction of the Kabba.
Since Mecca is the focus of attention or the geographical hub for the devotions of millions of Muslims across the world, it means there is never a moment in the day or night when Allah (SWT) is NOT being worshipped.
It is amazing to know that Allah (SWT) is being worshipped non stop 24 hours a day, each and every day of the year by someone, somewhere even perhaps by very, very many at this very moment of reading.
Click to enter and compare your time zone with others across the world.
The Kaaba-Muslims Bow Down To No One Except Allah (SWT)
When you see the videos of the masses of fervent Muslims prostrating in front of and clamoring to touch the Kaaba, it is easy to believe that they regard it as an object of worshipping and adoration.
Nothing could further from the truth.
All Muslims understand clearly that the Kaaba has no power to affect their lives now or in the hereafter.
The truth is that Muslims only worship God, Allah (SWT), alone and nothing else besides. Nothing or no one else has the right to worship but Him.
They do not join partners with others and they do not worship statues, objects and other inanimate things of this world.
However, they do feel the urge to get up close, to touch the Kaaba, but it is only out of curiosity and the mere novelty that they do so.
The same cannot be said about the Black Stone (Hajraswad) and the Yemeni corner.
Certainly, Muslims are encouraged to touch these sacred spots on the East and West corners of the Kaaba.
They are allowed to do this because it was a practice of Prophet Mohammed (SAW) to touch and kiss the stone together with the belief that the Black Stone will intercede for them on the Day of Judgement. (Discussed later)
The Kaaba -Why Muslims Walk Around It 7 Times
During Hajj, Umrah or even on a visit to Masjid Al Haram walking around the Kaaba 7 times in a circular, anticlockwise direction is a very powerful act.
Doing it makes me laugh and cry at the same time.
I know Tawaf does not mean Muslims are worshipping the Kabba, rather it only symbolizes in the heart of pilgrims’ hearts that we are moving together as one, with one goal and in one direction.
This act further emphasizes that there is only one true God Allah (SWT) truly worthy of worship.
It is an act designed to unite all 1.9 billion Muslims worldwide in the true worship of Allah (SWT).
Just as the electrons move around a nucleus, the blood circulates around the living bodies, the moon goes around the earth, the earth around the sun, the planets revolve around the solar system and galaxies around the whole of space in a counter-clockwise direction, moving around the Kabba seven times pilgrims symbolically unite with these elements as a demonstration of unity and praise of Allah (SWT).
Ibn Umar (RA) reported how he had heard Prophet Mohammed (SAW) say:
‘Whoever performs Tawaf around this House seven times and he keeps track of it, then it is as if he freed a slave.’Al Tirmidhi 9/959
And I (Ibn Umar) heard him saying:
‘One foot is not put down, nor another raised except that Allah removes sin from him and records good merit for him.’Al Tirmidhi 9/959
Click to read the great explanation about why Muslims walk around the Kaaba 7 times In the Holy Mosque In Mecca.
The Kabba –What’s Inside It?
Each day millions can see the structure from the outside, have touched it and spent many hours next to it, but so few have seen inside it.
The structure itself is a large cubic shape, 13 meters high, with four walls, 11 or 12 meters wide. Inside it is tiled in white marble and white floors, covered with green cloth and on the outside, a black, gold thread cloth inscribed with Quranic verses is hung over the structure as a cover.
The entrance is a large golden door, Bab al Taubah, raised 2.2 meters up from the outside floor Mataf. Large wooden steps are wheeled out to the Kabba for officials to climb up into the structure.
The door and leads onto a room containing three pillars, a table, and a stairway up to a hatch out onto the Kaaba roof.
The table has perfumes and ornaments on it. From the interior ceiling hang crucible shaped lanterns. Both the roof and the ceiling are made of stainless steel and capped with teak wood.
Note: There are no statues, idols or anything esoteric locked inside the Kabba.
The Black Stone (HajrAswad)
Muslim pilgrims do not worship the Black Stone, but they do believe that it was sent down by God, Allah (SWT) from paradise. Also. it was the usual custom of our beloved Prophet Mohammed (SAW) to touch and kiss the Back Stone When he visited the Kaaba.
Muslims also believe that on the Day of Judgement, the Black Stone will develop two eyes and a tongue to intercede for the Muslims who kiss or touch the stone with sincerity.
Listed here are six reasons why Muslim pilgrims want to touch or passionately kiss the Black Stone.
|1.||Allah (SWT) Sent The Black Stone From Heaven To The Earth|
|2.||The Black Stone Was White At First But Made Black From Sins|
|3.||The Black Stone Will Intercede For Muslims On Judgement Day|
|4.||Prophet Mohammed (SAW) Himself Touched the Black Stone|
|5.||Umar (RA) Saw Prophet Mohammed (SAW) Kiss The Black Stone|
|6.||Touching or Kissing The Black Stone is An Expiation of Sins|
The Black Stone Was Sent By Allah (SWT) From Heaven To The Earth
Whilst many people claim it is a meteoric rock, Muslims believe it has divine origins. In fact, in an authentic Hadith, Prophet Mohammed (SAW) maintained that Allah sent the Black Stone to the earth from paradise at the time of Prophet Adam (AS).
Abdullah Ibn Abbas (AS), the Prophet’s cousin was renowned for his knowledge of Islamic matter and a master of prophetic sayings or Hadith said this of Prophet Mohammed (SAW):
The Black Stone Was White At First But Made Black From Sins
Prophet Mohammed (SAW) also claimed that the Black Stone was originally white in color. It became black over time due to the sins of human beings.
When the Black Stone had come down from Paradise it was whiter than milk, but due to the sins of the children of Adam, it became black.Al Tirmidhi Hadith 877
Many Muslim commentators accept the complete veracity of this hadith and even argue that if sins can turn a white stone black, what greater effect would sin have on the human heart.
The Black Stone Will Intercede For Muslims On Judgement Day
Muslims do not pray to nor worship the Black Stone. However, they have a very strong sense of its religious importance due to the following hadith.
Abdullah Ibn Abbas (AS), the Prophet’s cousin also commented on how he had heard Prophet Mohammed (SAW) say of the Black Stone:
The Black Stone Was Touched By Prophet Mohammed (SAW) Many Times
After coming to Mecca and entering upon the Kabba, Prophet Mohammed (SAW) routinely touched the Black Stone with his cane and then raise to his mouth to kiss it.
After greetings the Black Stone, he would make Tawaf in the usual way.
Jabir Ibn Abdullah (RA) reported that he heard that when Prophet Mohammed (SAW) arrived in Mecca he would:
‘Encircle the House seven times, and recite the verse, “Take the station of Abraham as a place of prayer,” (2:125).
The Prophet then prayed behind the station, then he came to the Black Stone and greeted it.
Then, the Prophet said, “We begin as Allah has begun,” and he recited the verse, “Verily, Al-Safa and Al-Marwah are among the symbols of Allah.” (2:158).Al Tirmidhi Hadith 2967
The Black Stone -Umar (RA) Witnessed Prophet Mohammed (SAW) Kiss It
Umar Ibn Al Khattab (RA) 584- 644 CE, a senior companion to Prophet Mohammed and second Caliph having once opposed the prophetic mission famously kissed the Black Stone and then said:
By Allah, I know that you (The Black Stone) are a stone and if I were not to see Allah’s Messenger (SAW) kissing you, I would not have kissed you.Muslim 15/273
The above Hadith is evidence that Muslims are encouraged to kiss the Black Stone not for worship but out of reverence for it.
The Black Stone -Touching or Kissing It Is An Expiation of Sins
The father of Ibn Ubaid bin Umair told his son that he saw Ibn Umar clinging to the two corners of the Kabba and he asked him why he was doing it.
He (Ibn Umar) replied,
‘I do it because I heard the Messenger of Allah saying: “Touching them atones for sins.”Al Tirmidhi 9/959
How old is the Kaaba? The site of the Kaaba dates back to the time of Adam. It was rebuilt by Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and Ismael in pre-Islamic times. Again, in 608 CE, it was altered by the Quraysh using brick and wood and the entrance raised 2.2 meters above the floor to protect it from thieves and floods.
What is The Black Stone (HajrAswad) Made Of? It consists of 8 small fragmented pieces of black stone set in an oval silver frame. It is mounted on the Southeast corner of the Kaaba called the Al Rukn Al Aswad.
How did the Black Stone Fragment Into 8 Pieces? It was smashed into 8 pieces after the death of Prophet Mohammed (SAW) during the Seige of Mecca in 683 CE by a stone fired with a catapult during the second Umayyad Caliphate
Useful References and Resources
- How did the Sahaabah turn around during their prayer when news reached them that the qiblah had been changed? Islam- Question and Answer
- Hadith on Hajj: We begin as Allah began in the Quran Daily Hadith Online
- Al Tirmidhi Hadith 961 – Al Muflihun.com
- Al Tirmidhi Hadith 877 -Al Mufihun.com
- The Book of Pilgrimage-Sunnah.com
- Hajj -Al Muflihun