Muslims observe the rites of Hajj as a kind of worshiping Allah and submitting to His orders, and nothing of their worship is directed to the Black Stone or the Ka`bah
Some falsifiers claim that Muslims sanctify the Ka`bah by circumambulating it, which implies an aspect of idolatry in Islam. They maintain that the Black Stone was one of the idols around the Ka`bah but it remained after the Islamic conquest of Mecca. By so doing, Muslims are not better than the ignorant disbelievers who believed that the worship of idols and stones would bring them closer to God. Moreover, they stated that Muhammad was inspired by the pagan customs of the infidels when he put the rituals of his religion and he made the Ka`bah, being a man-made building, the center of these rituals by directing to it in prayer and going to it in Hajj. They inquire, “If Islam is a monotheistic religion, why does it allow the sanctification of the Ka`bah and the Black Stone as well as other rites of Hajj?”
In fact, Muslims observe the rites of Hajj as a kind of worshipping Allah and submitting to His orders, and nothing of their worship is directed to the Black Stone or the Ka`bah by means of fear or hope because this is only for Allah, the Almighty.
The concept of worship in Islam includes the meanings of submission, humbleness and obedience with a belief that the worshipped has an unseen authority that has effect in the reality. The worshipper seeks to always get closer to the one he is worshipping in order to gain a benefit or fend off an evil. Also, he thinks that neglecting the worship incurs harm and punishment whether in this life or in the hereafter and thus he should submit to the worshipped by obeying his orders and avoiding his prohibitions.
Hence, we can easily understand from the meaning of worship that Muslims worship neither the Ka`bah nor the Black Stone because they do not submit or humble themselves to them but they respect and hold them in high esteem. Moreover, they do not receive religious orders from the Ka`bah or the Black Stone. Kissing and respect have nothing with worship, in this particular case, because Muslims while doing so have faith that nothing can harm or benefit but Allah Alone. They deny any self-authority of these things. In addition, they believe that the relationship between the creator and the created is direct and has no intermediates, and that worshippers are not in need to resort to anything to bring them close to Almighty Allah. They believe that doing so is a kind of major Shirk (ascribing partners to Allah in worship) that gets one out of religion.
It is useful here to state that the one who first performed Hajj was Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham, peace be upon him) whom Allah commanded to proclaim Hajj to people. Almighty Allah says,
And proclaim to the people the Hajj [Hajj]; they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every distant pass. That they may witness benefits for themselves and mention the name of Allah on known days over what He has provided for them of [sacrificial] animals. So eat of them and feed the miserable and poor. (Al-Hajj 22:27-28)
So, Prophet Ibrahim was the one who first performed Hajj and he also was the one who destroyed the idols and made them into fragments and revived the religion of monotheism. Allah (Glory be to Him) says,
Then We revealed to you, [O Muhammad], to follow the religion of Abraham, inclining toward truth; and he was not of those who associate with Allah. (An-Nahl 16:123)
The people of the pre-Islamic era of ignorance added some pagan rites and inadmissible ceremonies to Hajj such as circumambulating the Ka`bah naked and staining the Ka`bah with the blood of the sacrificial animals believing that this would bring them close to Allah. Islam came and removed all these deviated customs and rites. Abu Bakr declared in the ninth year of Hijrah, “No polytheist would circumambulate the Ka`bah and no one would go around the house naked.” (Al-Bukhari)
In fact, the matter of worship depends upon two main issues: perfect love and perfect submission. Love without submission or submission without love is not worship.
There is no doubt that all the rites of Hajj are directed to Allah not to the Ka`bah or the Black Stone. Moreover, it is known that anyone who worships something believes that it is better than him while we find that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said referring to the Ka`bah, “How glorified and sacred be you! However, the believer is more sacred than you.” (Al-Tirmidhi)
Finally, we need to refer here to the fact that the Arabs had idols before Islam and they put a lot of idols around the Ka`bah but it was never reported that they worshipped the Ka`bah or the Black Stone but they only hold them in high esteem and considered them some of remains of Ibrahim. So, it is false to claim that Muhammad conveyed the worship of these stones to his new religion of Islam.
Source: Translated from www.bayanelislam.net
The Black Stone is a black oval stone placed in the foundation of the Ka`bah at the southeast part of it. It is recommendable to face and kiss it during Tawaf.
The Black Stone is a black oval stone placed in the foundation of the Ka`bah at the southeast part of it. It is recommendable to face and kiss it during Tawaf (circumambulation of the ka`bah). Ibn `Abbas narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The black stone was brought down from the Heavens. It was whiter than milk but the sins of people blackened it.” (Al-Tirmidhi) It is desirable to kiss, touch and wipe over it because it is a means of forgiveness. It is reported in the hadith, “Wiping over the (Black) Stone and Al-Rukn Al-Yamani puts the sins away.” (Ahmed)
The Black Stone got this status because Allah (Glory be to Him) commanded to hold it in esteem, and without this command, no one would give any attention to it.
Indeed, the whole Shari`ah is based on submission to the Will of Allah and accepting what the Prophet (peace be upon him) preached. Almighty Allah says,
And whatever the Messenger has given you – take; and what he has forbidden you – refrain from. (Al-Hashr 59:7)
It is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter, that they should [thereafter] have any choice about their affair. (Al-Ahzab 33:36)
It is reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) kissed the Black Stone. Indeed, the Prophet (peace be upon him) does not do anything from his own. Almighty Allah says,
By the star when it descends, Your companion [Muhammad] has not strayed, nor has he erred, Nor does he speak from [his own] inclination. It is not but a revelation revealed. (Al-Najm 53:1-4)
One of the wisdoms of kissing of the Black Stone, Tawaf, throwing pebbles and other rituals of Hajj or `Umrah (minor Hajj) is to test people’s submission to Allah. A Muslim has to surrender to the commands of Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him). The Law of Allah has prohibited the worship of stones, trees and idols. It enacted circumambulation around the Sacred House and kissing the Black Stone seeking the pleasure of Allah not the stones. For this reason, `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “Except that I saw the Messenger of Allah kissing you, I would not kiss you (i.e. the stone).” (Al-Bukhari)
Kissing the Black Stone is a symbolic act indicating love of the sacred places as Hajj is distinguished with symbolism. For example, throwing the pebbles is a symbol of resisting evil represented in Satan, and Muslim do so following the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham, peace be upon him) who threw Iblis when he stood up to Ibrahim to deter him from slaughtering his son. So, we all throw pebbles inspiring that we throw the Satan and resist evil. Likewise, kissing and respect of the Black Stone involves the concept of connection between the Messenger of Allah and his nation. The Black Stone symbolizes a kind of material connection between the Prophet (peace be upon him) who used to kiss this stone and his nation that are ordered to kiss the same stone.
Anyway, the Orientalists believe that kissing the Black Stone is an act of idolatry and they neglected the whole facts about following the commands and submission to Allah. They disregard the fact that this is not done as worship of these things but to Allah, the Almighty.
Let’s consider the following points:
- Worship in Islam includes the meanings of submission and humbleness. The worshipper submits to the worshipped and draws close to him seeking benefit or avoiding evil from him. Actually, Muslims do not submit to the Ka`bah or the Black Stone because neither the Ka`bah nor the Black Stone can bring harm or benefit to anyone. The whole matter is about following the commandment of Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him).
- People began coming for Hajj when Allah (Glory be to Him) ordered Ibrahim (peace be upon him) to proclaim Hajj to people. The first one who performed Hajj was Ibrahim. So, is not it improper to accuse Ibrahim of worshipping idols, although he is the one who destroyed them at early age.
- The people of Jahiliyyah added some pagan rites to Hajj as well as the idols they put around the Ka`bah but none of them included the Black Stone in these worshipped things. Does not this imply that Muhammad did not convey any idolatrous actions from Jahiliyyah to Islam?
- The Black Stone gained this status because of Allah’s order to kiss and respect it, otherwise none will give any attention to it.
Source: Translated from http://www.bayanelislam.net/
Science and Islam are intimately linked
By Prof Ziauddin Sardar
Science and Islam are intimately linked. Islam not only places a high premium on science but positively encourages the pursuit of science. Indeed, Islam considers science as an essential prerequisite for human survival.
This sounds odd. We normally think of religion as inimically hostile to science. Wasn’t there a long and protracted war between science and Christianity? Did the Church not prosecute Galileo? But this ‘war’ between ‘science’ and ‘religion’ was purely a western affair. There is no counterpart of such mutual hostilities in Islam.
On the contrary, Islam encouraged the pursuit of scientific knowledge right from its inception. Prophet Muhammad – who himself could not read or write – emphasized that the material world can only be understood through scientific inquiry. Islamic culture, he insisted, was knowledge-based culture. He valued science over extensive worship and declared: ‘An hour’s study of nature is better than a year’s prayer.’ This is why he directed his followers to ‘listen to the words of the scientist and instill unto others the lessons of science’ and ‘go even as far as China in the quest of knowledge.’
The Quran, which the Muslims believe to be the very Word of God and clearly distinguish it from the words of Prophet Muhammad, places immense emphasis on scientific knowledge. The first Quranic word revealed to Muhammad is ‘Read’. It refers, amongst other forms of readings, to reading the ‘signs of God’ or the systematic study of nature. It is a basic tenet of the Muslim belief that the material world is full of signs of God; and these signs can only be deciphered through rational and objective inquiry. Almost one third of the Quran is devoted to the praise of scientific knowledge, objective inquiry and serious study of the material world. The Quran advises its readers to pray:
God increase me in my knowledge. (Ta-Ha 20:114)
One of the most frequently cited verses of the Quran reads:
Surely in the heavens and earth there are signs for the believers; and in your creation, and the crawling things He scatters abroad, there are signs for a people having sure faith, and in the alternation of night and day, and the provision God sends down from heaven, and therewith revives the earth after it is dead, and the turning about of the winds, there are signs for a people who understand (Al-Jathiyah 45:3-5).
So science and Islam are, and should be, natural bed fellows. It was the religious impulse that propelled science in the Muslim civilization during the classical period, from the eighth to the fifteenth centuries. It is the neglect of science that has plunged the contemporary Muslim world in poverty and underdevelopment. The revival of Islam and the consequent emergence of a modern Islamic culture require a serious infusion of the scientific spirit in the Muslim societies.
We can see a clear demonstration of the close relationship between Islam and science in the early Muslim history. The initial drive for scientific knowledge was based on religious requirements. The need for determining accurate time for daily prayers and the direction of Mecca from anywhere in the Muslim world, establishing the correct date for the start of fasting during the month of Ramadan and the demands of the lunar Islamic calendar (which required seeing the new moon clearly) led to intense interest in celestial mechanics, optical and atmospheric physics, and spherical trigonometry. Muslim laws of inheritance led to the development of algebra. The religious requirement of annual pilgrimage to Mecca generated intense interest in geography, map making and navigational tools.
Given the special emphasis Islam placed on learning and inquiry, and the great responsibility that Muslim states took on themselves to assist in this endeavor, it was natural for Muslims to master ancient knowledge. At the instigation of power patrons, teams of translators lovingly translated Greek thought and learning into Arabic. But Muslims were not content with slavishly copying Greek knowledge; they tried to assimilate their teachings and applied their principles to their own problems, discovering new principles and methods. Scholars, such as Al-Kindi, Al-Farabi, Ibn Sina, Ibn Tufayl and Ibn Rushd subjected Greek philosophy to detailed critical scrutiny.
At the same time, serious attention was given to the empirical study of nature. Experimental science, as we understand it today, began under the Muslim civilization. ‘Scientific method’ evolved out of the work of such scientists as Jabir ibn Hayan, who laid the foundations of chemistry in the late eighth century, and Ibn Al-Haytham, who established optics as an experimental science in the tenth century. From astronomy to zoology, there was hardly a field of study that Muslim scientists did not pursue vigorously or make an original contribution to. The nature and extent of this scientific enterprise can be illustrated with four institutions which are considered typical of ‘the Golden Age of Islam’: scientific libraries, universities, hospitals and instruments for scientific observation (particularly, astronomical instruments such as celestial globes, astrolabes, sundials and observatories).
The most famous library was the ‘House of Wisdom’, founded in Baghdad by the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mamun, which played a decisive role in spreading scientific knowledge throughout the Islamic empire. In Spain, the library of Caliph Hakam II of Cordoba had a stock of 400,000 volumes. Similar libraries existed from Cairo and Damascus to as far off as Samarkand and Bukhara. The first university in the world was established at the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo in 970. It was followed by a host of other universities in such cities as Fez and Timbuktu. Like universities, hospitals – where treatment was mostly provided free of charge – too were institutions for training and theoretical and empirical research. The Abodi hospital in Baghdad and the Kabir An-Nuri hospital in Damascus acquired world-wide reputation for their research output. Doctors were entirely free to experiment and prescribe new drugs and treatment; and wrote up their experiments in special reports which were available for public scrutiny. Many basic surgical instruments used today were first developed by Muslim doctors. Similarly, there were a string of observatories dotted throughout the Muslim world; the most influential one was established by the celebrated astronomer Nasir Al-Din Al-Tusi, who developed the ‘Tusi Couple’ which helped Copernicus to formulate his theory, at Maragha in Azerbaijan.
All this is, of course, in stark contrast to the situation of science and technology in the Muslim world today. Apart from the notable exception of Abdus-Salam, the Pakistani Noble Laureate, Muslim societies have hardly produced scientists of international repute. Scientific research has a very low priority in most Muslim states. What happened to what the historian of science, George Sarton described as ‘the miracle of Arab culture’? And what can be done to reignite the flame of scientific spirit in Muslim societies?
Numerous theories have been developed to explain the decline of science in Muslim civilization. Blame has been placed on Islamic law, family relationships and lack of protestant ethics in the Muslim culture. Even Islam itself, seen as ‘anti-progressive’ and ‘anti-science’, has been blamed. None of these theories are credible. The brutal fact is that Muslims, consciously and deliberately, abandoned scientific inquiry in favor of religious obscurantism and blind imitation.
Just as the spirit of Islam in history was defined by its scientific enterprise, so the future of Muslim societies is dependent on their relationship with science and learning. Muslims need to place science where it belongs: at the very center of the Islamic culture.