Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hajarul Aswad (الحجر الأسود) - The Black Stone

Posted by Hashim Abd Ghani On 6:19 PM

Hajarul Aswad  (الحجر الأسود)  the Black Stone  is the eastern cornerstone of the Kaabah, in the center of Masjidil Haram,the Grand Mosque in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. It consists of 7  pieces of small fragments stuck together and surrounded by a large ring which is held together by a silver band.

The Black Stone plays an important role in the central ritual of the Hajj, when pilgrims must walk seven times around the Kaabah in an anti-clockwise direction. The tawaf, starts  by kissing the black stone, or by pointing it, seven times, once for each circumambulation of the Kaabah, emulating the actions of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad  صلى الله عليه وسلىم.

Islam strictly prohibits idolatry. Muslims believe that the Stone's role in hajj  and umrah is simply representative and symbolic in nature, not related to belief in the stone itself as having any special power. A well-known hadith records that, when second Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab رضي الله عنه (580-644) came to kiss the Stone, he said in front of all assembled: It was narrated that 'Umar رضي الله عنه came to the Black Stone and kissed it, then he said: "I know that you are only a stone which can neither bring benefit nor cause harm. Were it not that I had seen the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلىم kiss you, I would not have kissed you." (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1520; Muslim, 1720)

Prophet Muhammad  صلى الله عليه وسلىم is credited with setting the Black Stone in place in the wall of the Kaabah. A story found in Ibn Ishaq's Sirah Rasul Allah tells how the clans of Makkah renovated the Kaabah following a major fire which had partly destroyed the structure. The Black Stone had been temporarily removed to facilitate the rebuilding work. The clans could not agree on which one of them should have the honour of setting the Black Stone back in its place. They decided to wait for the next man to come through the gate and ask him to make the decision. That individual happened to be the 35-year-old Prophet Muhammad  صلى الله عليه وسلىم  , five years before his prophethood. He asked the elders of the clans to bring him a cloth and put the Black Stone in its centre. Each of the clan leaders held the corners of the cloth and carried the Black Stone to the right spot. Then Prophet Muhammad  صلى الله عليه وسلىم  himself set the stone in place, satisfying the honour of all of the clans.

In modern times, large crowds make it practically impossible for everyone to kiss the stone, so it is currently acceptable for pilgrims to simply point in the direction of the Stone on each of their circuits around the  Kaabah, recite,  سْمِ اللهِ، اَللهُ أَكْبَرُ، وَلِلَّهِ الْحَمْدُ(In the Name of Allah, the Greatest, all praise and thanks are Allah’s), put my hands on the Black Stone and kissed it.
In Ali Shariati’s  book ‘The Hajj’ he related name ‘Hajar’ (wife of Prophet Ibrahim  عليه السلام , mother of Prophet Ismail  عليه السلام ) :

“Hajar was an example for humanity. God, the great love and ally of man, ordered her to leave her home with her nursing child. She was told to go to the fearful valley of Makkah where no plant, not even thistles, will grow. Out of love for God, she understood and accepted this order. It seems strange – a lonely woman with her lonely child cast into the valley among such ugly inactive volcanoes. Without water? Without  shelter? Without anyone? But  why? All of this because God wanted absolute reliance upon Him! This rationale be comprehend by our  wisdom  nor does it appear logical. Water is necessary for existence; the baby needs milk, a man needs friend, a woman need supporters and a mother need help. This true, yet love can replace all of those needs! One can live without love if spirit recognizes it. O lonely maid, a  helpless  nursing  mother, you and your child must rely upon God. Feeling secure with love, rely upon Him”.
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