“ExHindu” (in response to an explanation regarding the Black Stone) wrote[dead link]:
- Give any explanation you want. I dont buy it. Arabs have been kissing that rock long before Mo[sic]. I call that IDOL Worshipping. You can label me as Islamophobe and I am proud that you give me that label. In the same manner, I anoint you a Hinduphobe.
I find it rather ironic to see someone who uses the moniker “ExHindu” accusing yours truly of being a “Hinduphobe”. After all, what does the use of the Internet username “ExHindu” really signify? A case of the pot calling the kettle black, we cannot really say.
Nevertheless, I believe that it is time that a response to this rather annoying polemic about the nature of the Black Stone (al-Hajar al-Aswad) and its significance in Islam by those who have an axe to grind about Islam (or otherwise known tenderly as the “Islamophobics”) is finally needed. We will look at the common allegations about the Black Stone and then seek to address the matters concerned, insha’allah.
First, we shall describe the physical nature of the Stone itself. The Black Stone (al-Hajar al-Aswad) is built into the Ka`abah wall, at the eastern corner of the Ka`abah, about 5 ft. above the ground level, not very far from the door of the Ka`abah. It (now) consists of 3 large pieces and several small fragments (in which it was formerly broken) stuck together and surrounded by a large ring of stone, which in turn is held together by a silver band.
The Black Stone (al-Hajr al-Aswad)
The material of the Black Stone has not been precisely determined. It is sometimes classified as lava and sometimes as basalt. The reason for this difficulty is that its visible surface is worn smooth by hand-touching, etc.1 Its estimated diameter is approximately 12″2. Its colour is reddish black with red and yellow particles.
It is reported that when the Prophet Muhammad(P) entered the city of Makkah as a victorious leader, there were 360 idols around the Ka`abah3. The Prophet(P) then had the Forbidden Sanctuary (the precinct around the Ka`abah proper) cleansed of all these idols and proclaimed Monotheism in its true, most elevated and pristine form. Thus saying that “Muslims worship the Black Stone as an idol” is clearly the most absurd thing ever pronounced in the history of mankind.
From a physical perspective, therefore, the Black Stone does not have any special significance or importance. Umar(R), later to become the second Caliph of Islam, is reported to have said that he fully realized that the Black Stone was merely a stone and thus had no power of its own to harm or benefit anyone4.
As for the reasons as to why we have the Black Stone in the wall of the Ka’abah, we read about the following reasons, that:
- (a) it symbolizes the starting-point during the circumambulation of the Ka’abah, thus facilitating the remembrance of the number of circumambulations.
(b) at this point, the Muslims, who are close to the Ka’abah (during their circumambulation) touch the stone, while those who are away from it, raise their hands towards it, symbolizing the renewal of their pledge of allegiance with the Lord of the Ka’abah. In this symbolic expression, the Black Stone is taken as a symbol of an oath on the hand of God.5
And with this, it is clear that this baseless assertion of the Islamophobes is refuted. And only God knows best!
- Refer, for example, to the profile sketch of the Black Stone given by Ali Bey: Travels, Vol. ii (London 1816), p. 76, to note its surface hollowed out in undulations. [⤺]
- See al-Batanuni, al-Rihla al-Haziah, Cairo (1329 AH), p. 105 [⤺]
- See Sahih Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Number 583 (Muhsin Khan’s tr.) [⤺]
- See this statement in various narratives, such as: Sahih Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 26, Numbers 667, 675 (Muhsin Khan’s tr.); Sahih Muslim, Book 007, Number 2914 (Abdul Hamid Siddiqui’s tr.); Sunan an-Nasa’i (Arabic version), Vol. ii, p. 38, etc. [⤺]
- See the details of this point in M. Hamidullah, Introduction to Islam, paragraph 181/a, Karachi 1969 [⤺]