There are many different elements in forming one’s education and character. Since human beings form their personalities as well as language, religion and moral qualities in accordance with the living examples they see around themselves, who they deem as the most important living example around them is adopted as a guide or an exemplary personality. Bar a few exceptions, this is how human nature generally is. For example, every child learns how to speak first from the parents, and then goes on to learn even more languages; and if he does, it is only through imitating other examples.
The inclination to imitate is an important character-forming trait in every human being. Education mostly consists in setting examples for imitation, good or bad. One forms his personality in line with the influences impressed by the given environment, to the degree of the intensity of his imitation. Although language is acquired naturally, religious and spiritual characteristics cannot be acquired as easily.
The reason behind this difficulty is that along with the will power, man has also been given an ego (nafs) and Satan, as part of the great test. These two great obstacles prevent the practice of virtues, and urge man on the contrary to head in the opposite direction. There is therefore a vital need for Prophets and saints, people of delicate hearts who have perfected their spiritual lives, around which they have formed their personalities, having shackled their egos and repelled Satan. Man is otherwise unable to escape from heedlessness, misguidance and disobedience, which might cost him eternal salvation. It is also for this reason that human beings follow the footsteps of those who captivate them, good or bad, on whom they model themselves. It is tragic to see today the sinners and the morally ill, who defeated by their egos, let their evil guides lay waste to their lives. It is simply a case of having placed wrong people on the thrones of their hearts, whereby they have ended up deceiving only themselves.
Rumi explains the paradox of man’s condition in the following lines:
It is not amazing to see a lamb flee from a wolf, since the wolf is its enemy. But seeing a lamb fall in love with a wolf…that is cause for wonder!
Instead of leaving our hearts to the wolves during our fleeting stay on earth and thereby losing eternal bliss, we must submit it to the best of examples, the leader of the universe, the master of the Prophets, Muhammad Mustafa (pbuh), lovingly obey him and make him the only king of our hearts. Loving him was made an obligation by Allah the Almighty, as expressed in following ayah, and many others in the Holy Quran alike:
اَلنَّبِيُّ أَوْلَى بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ مِنْ أَنْفُسِهِمْ
“The Prophet is closer to the Believers than their own selves,…” (al-Ahzâb, 6)
In the words of the Prophet (pbuh) narrated by Abu Hurayrah, loving him is a condition of iman.
“By Him in Whose Hands my life resides, none of you will have faith until he loves me more than his father and his children.” (Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 2, Number 13)
According to another hadith narrated by Anas (r.a), the sweetness of faith is tasted only if Allah and His Prophet become dearer to the believer than anything else. (Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 2, Number 15)
The following, narrated by Abdullah ibn Hisham (r.a), highlights the level of love between us and the Prophet (pbuh).
“One day Omar (r.a) went for a walk with the Prophet of Allah (pbuh). At one point the Prophet (pbuh) took Omar’s hand, prompting Omar to exclaim:
“By Allah, I love you very much”.
“Even more than your children, Omar?” the Prophet (pbuh) then asked.
“More than your family, too?”
“Yes, Prophet of Allah.”
“More than your wealth?”
“Yes, Prophet of Allah, more than my wealth!”
“And even more than yourself?” then asked the Messenger of Allah (pbuh).
“No, Messenger of Allah”, Omar (r.a) replied hesitantly.
“Your faith will never be complete, Omar, until you love me more than yourself.”
So Omar (r.a) went away and stayed alone and returned after a while. Standing in the middle of the mosque, he shouted at the top of his voice:
“Messenger of Allah, now I love you more than myself!”
“That is it, Omar; that is it!” the Noble Messenger (pbuh) replied, meaning that only now was Omar’s faith complete. (Bukhari, Ayman, 3)
The prerequisites of love are persistent remembrance of the beloved and conforming with the beloved in all actions and thoughts. In order to obtain a heart filled with the love for the Prophet (pbuh), one needs to learn his Sunnah and imitate it with great care and respect. Without knowing his life and embellishing the heart with his love, Islam cannot be practiced in the ideal way. The road to gaining the love of Allah (SWT), runs through the love of the Prophet (pbuh). But loving him requires knowing him; and without loving the Prophet (pbuh) in the extreme, one cannot perfect his faith. It is owing to such reasons that the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) took delicate care in establishing such love, explaining to his followers the refined aspects of how to duly develop this necessary affection.
Being the peak of all Prophets, the life of the Noble Messenger (pbuh) embodies and surpasses all the virtues of the past 124 thousand or so Prophets said to have come. Not only did he have the gift of guiding the people of his own time, he has also been blessed with guiding the following generations until the Final Hour, as the Khatamun Nabiyyîn, the Seal of All Prophets.
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is the only Prophet, indeed the only man in history, every minute detail of whose life has been recorded. Only a portion of the exemplary conduct of other previous Prophets has reached us. The Noble Prophet (pbuh) remains the only one of that blessed chain whose life is thoroughly known, from the simplest daily actions to the most delicate social dealings. This knowledge, as a grace of Allah (SWT), will be transmitted from one generation to another until the end of time.
Thus what grants superiority to Islamic morality and elevates it from pure theory to practice is the very fortunate fact that the exemplary actions of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) were recorded in their full details and preserved until today without any change.
As human beings we ought to adopt many good moral characteristics, including trust in the Almighty, gratitude, contentedness with the Divine verdict, patience against afflictions, bravery, sacrifice for others, generosity, modesty, just to name a few. In addition, we have to maintain our balance against the ups and downs of life. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is the gift of the Almighty to all humanity in setting the best standard in the adoption of these virtues for others.
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) virtually began his life as an orphan, the most feeble position in society, going through all kinds of difficult phases until ultimately reaching the peak of his mission as a Prophet, as well as a head of state. In all walks of life, these different stages set others the best of example to follow. Owing to his balanced stance in the face of strong tides in various situations, persons from different backgrounds can draw good lessons from his blessed life, not only in theory but also in practice.
Therefore the fitting return for the boundless grace of Allah (SWT), would be none other than learning the life of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) with a spiritually vibrant heart. Such learning must inevitably lead to practice and its teaching to others. But just as importantly, in doing so, we must also take good care in applying the correct method of approaching his life, as the actions of the Noble Messenger (pbuh) reflect two different kinds of acts.
1- Acts applicable only to the Prophet (pbuh) himself; as when he would perform salat at night until his feet would swell, when he would fast continuously for days on end; when he would hand out all he had – even if it were as great as Mount Uhud, he would say- for charity without reserving anything for himself except for what he held back to pay off a debt, and the fact he did not leave any inheritance and forbade receiving charity not only for himself but also for his offsprings until the end of time.
Although the Prophet (pbuh) had stated he was a human being like any other (Bukhari, Salât 31, Ahkâm 20), he is also known to have dissuaded some Companions from following him in fasts without break, saying, “I am not like you, for I am provided with food and drink by Allah.” (Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 31, Number 145)
The Believers simply do not have the power to imitate the Prophet (pbuh) in such difficult matters. Such acts are therefore applicable only to him, with the followers not allowed to follow the Prophet (pbuh) in like manner.
2- Acts that are to be emulated universally. The Prophet’s (pbuh) Sunnah is for all human beings of all different social statuses and backgrounds to follow according to their capacities.
We are not obliged to emulate the virtues displayed by the Prophet (pbuh) in the first section described above; virtues as high as the skies which we are incapable of following. But as for the second virtues, we are obliged to imitate them throughout our lives until we breathe our last, to the best of our capabilities. In full appreciation of the great importance of the Prophet (pbuh) in one’s life, it has been common for Turks to dub each and every one of their children Mehmetcik, that is ‘little Muhammad’, wishing thereby to encourage them to become role models, to the best of their potentials, in putting to practice the great ways of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh).
Understanding the life of the Prophet (pbuh) is also very important in understanding the wisdom and ethos of the Holy Quran.
As stated there:
نَزَلَ بِهِ الرُّوحُ اْلاَمِينُ عَلَى قَلْبِكَ لِتَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُنْذِرِينَ
بِلِسَانٍ عَرَبِىٍّ مُبِينٍ
“Verily this is a Revelation from the Lord of the Worlds: With it came down the Trustworthy Spirit upon your heart, that you may admonish in a clear Arabic tongue.” (al-Shuara, 193-195)
Effectively, his twenty-three year period of prophethood is an explanation of the Holy Quran, which makes it impossible to take even a step in comprehending the Sacred Book without any knowledge of his life.
To correctly understand Islamic culture and achieve spiritual completion, thus unavoidably requires one to receive inspiration from his splendid twenty-three year life. Spiritual life is perfected only through the positive energy that comes from the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). His chaste life is like a painting, in which all the beauties of Islam are fully exhibited.
Neither can those who call people to Islam nor can teachers do their work without knowing the blessed life of their Prophet (pbuh), since he gives the most concrete examples in teaching as well as inviting people to Islam. Such knowledge will unite knowledge with the heart, establishing a balance between the two.
A young man wanting to be trustworthy person in his society, a head of state wishing to be just ruler among his people, a man seeking to be a compassionate father towards his wife and children, an army commander striving for success, and in short, all Muslims from all walks of life are bound to find their best example in the life of the Prophet (Siyar’un-Nabî).
The Wisdom behind the Choice of the Arabian Peninsula as the Cradle of Islam
In order to better appreciate the choice of Arabia as the birthplace of Islam we need to know the nature, traditions and characteristics of Arabs as well as the geographical and social conditions of their homeland.
The two superpowers of the time, the Byzantines and the Persians, were both neighbors to Arab lands. The Byzantines had many vassals and had problems with their subjects in religious issues. Their rulers corrupted Christianity by changing it according to their whims. In their Church councils, they proclaimed some scriptures as holy and others as heretical, manipulating the rules of Christian faith as they wished. They used excommunication for political reasons, and it was not uncommon for the new ruler to excommunicate the previous one. The heavy taxes enforced upon people and the bribery rampant among administration corrupted the base of society.
Persia was also in the grip of moral and political chaos. Allowing one to marry with one’s mother and daughter, the Zoroastrian religion was effectively wreaking havoc on human dignity. The Mazdean claim was that just as air, water and fire belonged to all, human beings exercised a similar right over women whom they could commonly use without any discrimination, just like the rest of their properties.
Greek civilization was in the vicious circle of endless philosophical disputes and superstitions, whereas Indian civilization remained in a primitive phase, both morally and socially.
Arabs, on the other hand, were living in close-knit societies, and surrounded by vast deserts, were remote from the threat of military and cultural invasions. They had never been colonized; hence they were like raw material uncorrupted by any foreign culture. Their natures were not polluted. Virtues like honor, keeping one’s word, generosity, locality, bravery and patience, among others, were still very much alive, except that they would either be shown in excess or in the bare minimum, and not in the perfected balance that befits human nature. Without a guide to show them the true way, they were living in the darkness of ignorance.
Their ignorance and slavery to their egos had veiled their good characteristics hidden underneath their human nature. Fearing they might be forced to prostitution by the enemy if captured as slaves in battles, the pagan Arabs would kill their daughters by burying them alive, much to the heartfelt dismay of their mothers; or they would squander their most basic needs just to protect their reputations of generosity. Their bravery and fearlessness would incite them to engage in ceaseless battles. The aftermath was always great bloodshed. The advent of Islam and the emergence of the Noble Prophet (pbuh), turned this tide upon its heels, steering all the wrong manifestations of their moral values to a positive direction, eliminating the negative outcomes of the good qualities they had deep inside.
Another reason as to why Arabia was chosen as the cradle of the last Prophet was to dispel any doubt that would have arisen regarding the authenticity of the Prophethood of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). Since the Arabs were an illiterate people, they were left unaffected from the cultures and philosophies of surrounding nations. Had the Prophet (pbuh) been a literate man conversant with the culture and knowledge of neighboring civilizations, as well as the content of their sacred scriptures, doubt would have arisen that the Prophet had conjured up his prophecy through learning from others. Similarly, with an ingrained resistance based on the long histories of their civilizations, the Persians or Byzantines would have perhaps found it difficult to accept Islam had the religion appeared in either of these environments. In addition, it could have led other people to think that Islam was the product of these environments and not a Revelation of the Almighty. To prevent such doubts Islam was therefore sent to an illiterate society through an unlettered Prophet (pbuh), leaving no room to validate the claim that Islam was a product of a literate Prophet and his cultured people.
Arabia also had the advantage of occupying a central place in the world map between Europe, Asia and Africa, facilitating the spread and accessibility of Islam. The Holy Quran describes Mecca as a place unfit for agriculture, necessitating the locals to travel in order to get by. Agricultural societies are normally very much attached to their soil and not fond of travelling long journeys. Similarly, craftsmen are attached to their workshops and therefore are not fond of traveling either. As tradesmen, the Meccans were accustomed to travel long distances which proved to be a blessing for the spread of Islam in the long run. The advantage they had in being able to go to distant countries and their experience in interacting with many different people could count as another reason as to why Islam was sent to the people of Mecca.
The Divine Will graced the Arabic language as the vehicle of transmission due to the excellent qualities inherent within that language itself. Compared to other languages, the Arabic language enjoys superior qualities in terms of its harmony and syntax, in producing derivations, conjugations and so on. Arabic has the power of transmitting the most difficult meanings in the curtest words, without losing any nuance. Its richness allows the language to transmit the most abstract ideas in the most admirably eloquent way. The Arabic language had completed its development early, making it the only language at the time capable of transmitting the Divine Will in the most perfect way.
The Arabian peninsula is also a blessed environment. The great-grandfather of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) lived in this area and built the Kaabah, the foundations of which had been there as old as the history of mankind. With an awareness of this historical fact, Meccans considered themselves as heirs of the spiritual inheritance of Ibrahim and Ismail (a.s). This is another factor that helped the acceptance and understanding of Islam.
Though one can certainly enumerate many more causes for the choice of this land for the revelation of Islam, there ultimately lies a wisdom behind it which we cannot know, and which is known only to Allah (SWT). We therefore feel compelled to conclude this discussion with the words “اَللّٰهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمُرَادِهِ : Allah knows best what He wills.
Mecca: The Mother of Towns
Known as the mother of towns, Mecca is also called “Becca” and “the safe town”. In Babylonian, both Mecca and Becca mean a “house”. The greater area of Mecca is surrounded by Yemen in the south, the Mediterranean Sea in the north, the Persian Gulf in the east and the Read Sea in the west. It is at the crossroads of intercontinental routes, in particular Africa, where Jeddah, in particular, as a harbor by the Red Sea, played an important role in connecting Mecca to the sea routes. In Mecca, the area where the Kaabah was situated was called al-Batha, and the town center was called Batn’u Mecca.
Mecca was established by a great Prophet of Allah (SWT). Ibrahim (a.s), the father of Prophets, had a wife called Sarah who had not borne him any child. Sarah gave her slave girl Hagar to Ibrahim (a.s) and they married after her emancipation. From this marriage Ismail (a.s) was born, to whom the Muhammedan Light was transmitted, much to the disappointment of Sarah who had expected the light to be passed on through her. Seeing the light passed onto Ismail instead from her former slave girl Hagar, she became very sad. She asked Ibrahim (a.s) to take Hagar and Ismail (a.s) to a remote place. This was, of course, only the visible reason behind the greater, underlying Divine Will. So with the command of Allah (SWT), Ibrahim (a.s) took them to Mecca, guided on the way through by the Archangel Jibrîl. Upon reaching Mecca the Angel told Ibrahim (a.s) to house his family over there.
But Ibrahim (a.s) protested, saying:
“This place is neither fit for agriculture nor for animal husbandry.”
Jibril (a.s) however calmed him:
“Indeed…But from the offspring of your sons the unlettered Prophet will emerge. And with him will be completed the Divine Word, the words of unity (tawhid).” (Ibn-i Sa’d, I, 164)
Abdullah b. Abbâs (may Allah be happy with him) narrates:
“Prophet Ibrahim took our mother Hagar and his son, still an infant, to Mecca. He left them behind a tree which near the fount of Zamzam awaiting to be dug. He also gave them a basket of dates and a jug of water. When he was about to go back, Hagar asked:
“Did Allah command you to leave us here in this barren land?”
“Yes”, Ibrahim answered.
Hagar then said in great submission and trust to Allah:
“In that case our Lord will protect us. We will not be forsaken.”
She then returned to her son Ismail. Ibrahim, on the other hand, began walking away. As soon as Ibrahim got out of sight of both Ismail and Hagar, he opened his hands towards the skies and supplicated:
رَبَّنَا إِنِّي أَسْكَنْتُ مِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِي بِوَادٍ غَيْرِ ذِي زَرْعٍ عِنْدَ بَيْتِكَالْمُحَرَّمِ رَبَّنَا لِيُقِيمُوا الصَّلٰوةَ فَاجْعَلْ أَفْئِدَةً مِنَ النَّاسِتَهْوِي إِلَيْهِمْ وَارْزُقْهُمْ مِنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَشْكُرُونَ
‘O our Lord! Surely I have settled a part of my offspring in a valley unproductive of fruit, near Your Sacred House, our Lord, that they may keep up prayer. Therefore make the hearts of some people yearn towards them and provide them with fruits, haply they may be grateful’” (Ibrâhîm, 37)” (Bukhari, Anbiya, 9)
Leaving his only son and wife back in this barren land, Ibrahim (a.s) prayed to Allah (SWT), in the following way:
رَبِّ اجْعَلْ هذَا بَلَدًا آمِنًا وَارْزُقْأَهْلَهُ مِنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ مَنْ آمَنَ مِنْهُمْ بِاللّٰهِ وَالْيَوْمِ اْلآخِرِ
“My Lord, make this a Land of Safety, and feed its people with fruits, such of them as believe in Allah and the Last Day.” (al-Baqara, 126)
The Almighty accepted his prayers, exempting the unbelievers from His mercy and threatening them in the following words:
قَالَ وَمَنْ كَفَرَفَأُمَتِّعُهُ قَلِيلاً ثُمَّ أَضْطَرُّهُ إِلَى عَذَابِ النَّارِ
“…He said: “(Yea), and such as reject Faith,-for a while will I grant them their pleasure, but will soon drive them to the torment of Fire,- an evil destination (indeed)!” (al-Baqara, 126)
Even today, due to the prayers of Ibrahim (a.s), the Almighty fills the hearts of pilgrims with love and respect towards the Holy Kaabah. Souls find unparalleled peace and tranquility in those holy lands.
The little water left by Ibrahim for Hagar was consumed in no time. Hoping to find some water Hagar, ran between the hills of Safa and Marwa seven times. The distance between these two hills is about four hundred meters. When she was running between the hills, she was also watching her baby with the corner of her eyes. But there was no trace of life around; no human beings, not even birds. When she yet again reached the Hill of Marwa she heard a voice command:
“Keep silent and listen!”
“Yes, I can hear you… Please help us if you can!” she answered.
She then saw an angel digging with either its wings or heels the fount of Zamzam. Water gushed forth. Jubilant, Hagar first filled her water-skin. Yet, the more she took with her hands from the water, the more it sprang. She immediately started making a little well around the spring to collect the gushing water, repeating the words ‘zam zam’ at the same time for the water to stop. (‘zam zam’ means ‘stop, stop’).
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “May Allah bestow His Mercy upon the mother of Ismail! Had she not hastened to fill her water-skin with water from the Zamzam well, Zamzam would have been a stream flowing on the surface of the earth.” Ibn Abbas further added, “The Prophet Ibrahim brought Ismail and his mother to Mecca and she was suckling Ismail and she had a water-skin with her.”(Bukhârî, Enbiyâ, 9)
The mother and her son were continuing to live by only on the water from Zamzam. After a while, passing by the spring of Zamzam, the tribe of Jurhum saw a bird fly up and down from a certain place. Guessing there to be a trace of life, they sent two people to check it out. Once they found out about the spring, they asked permission to settle near it. Hagar allowed them on the condition they do not claim ownership of the spring. The Jurhumites agreed, making them the first tribe to settle in Mecca.
In time, Mecca developed into a city-state. The tribe of Huza’a took Mecca by force in 207 when they were not allowed to settle by the Jurhumites. The sons of Ismail remained neutral in this battle and hence they were left unharmed by the new occupying force. They ruled the city for long years, during which they deviated from the right path of Ibrahim. They supported the worship of idols, promoting the deviant faith. They set up an idol named Hubal. When the offspring of Ismail became more powerful under the leadership of Qusayy, they expelled Huza’a out of Mecca in 440.
Qusayy established the Dar’un-Nadwa which functioned like the parliament of the city-state of Mecca along with the other institutions he founded to organize the social and religious life. Duties like the commandership of the battles and the protection of the flag (qiyâdah), the service of the Kaabah (sidânah, hijâbah), watering of the pilgrims (sikâyah) and feeding of the pilgrims out of the taxes collected (ridânah) were under the responsibility of Qusayy. Before his death, he requested in his will that these duties be passed onto his sons Abd’ud-Dâr and Abd Menaf, initiating the beginning of the passage of these duties from father to the son thereafter.
All the inhabitants of Mecca could join in the sessions of parliament once they reached they turned forty. However, the rule was that only the family or clan chiefs could participate in these meetings. Interestingly, it was also this assembly that was used to oppose the mission of the Prophet (pbuh).
Other local assemblies, or nadi, like these were also used for social gatherings and other activities in addition to their main purpose as places to make military and political decisions.
As the soil of Mecca was unfit for agriculture, the locals earned their living primarily through trade. Mecca thus occupied a pivotal place in the commercial life of the Arabian Peninsula. Commerce in the town was continuously lively through summer and winter. The destination of trade was Syria in winter and Yemen in summer. Chiefly used to carry commercial goods were camels and at times the number of camels in a single caravan would reach to two-thousand-five-hundred. The prosperity Meccan lives received through trade was of such immensity that the Almighty reminded them of this exclusive favor when inviting them to Islam:
ِلاِيلاَفِ قُرَيْشٍ اِيلاَفِهِمْ رِحْلَةَ الشِّتَاءِ وَالصَّيْفِ فَلْيَعْبُدُوا رَبَّ هذَا الْبَيْتِ اَلَّذِى اَطْعَمَهُمْ مِنْ جُوعٍ وَآمَنَهُمْ مِنْ خَوْفٍ
“For the protection of the Quraysh; their protection during their trading caravans in the winter and the summer. So let them serve the Lord of this House, Who feeds them against hunger and gives them security against fear.”(Quraysh, 1-4)
Caravan trade was not easy in the Arabian Peninsula due to tribal turmoil and lack of a central political power. Only during the forbidden months, which prohibited engagement in any kind of conflict and highway robbery, could a trader feel safe and secure. Even in this respect Mecca had superiority over other places. While the general ban for violence and transgression covered only the month of Rajab, Mecca enjoyed an extended period of non-violence that extended over four months called al-Ashuru’l-Hurum. As for the remaining eight months, the Basl institution protected the wealth of many families from falling prey to potential plunder.
Mecca held three trade fairs in its vicinity called Ukâz, Majannah and Dhu’l-Majâz. Held in times of pilgrimage according to the Jahiliyya schedule, the fairs would attract a significant crowd, endowing Meccan traders with handsome revenue.
Being the all important precinct for the House of God, Mecca always attracted the attention of neighboring powers. In spite of numerous attempts of invasion throughout history, Mecca was somehow able to retain its independence. Even the Byzantines, keen to extend their influence over the peninsula, were ultimately unsuccessful.
The History of the Kaabah and Its Sacredness
The Kaabah, mentioned twice in the Quran, literally means a cubic object. Notwithstanding its other famous synonyms referred to in the Quran like al-Bayt, Baytullâh, al-Baytu’l-Atîq, al-Baytu’l-Harâm, al-Baytu’l-Muharram, al-Masjidu’l-Harâm, it is often called the Kaabah-i Muazzama, the highly respected Kaabah.
The story of the Kaabah begins with Prophet Adam (a.s), the first human being. Upon descending to the world, he was given the duty of building a place of worship on the grounds where the Kaabah stands today. This is mentioned in the Quran in the following verse:
اِنَّ اَوَّلَ بَيْتٍ وُضِعَ لِلنَّاسِ لَلَّذِى بِبَكَّةَ مُبَارَكًا وَهُدًى لِلْعَالَمِينَ
“Most surely the first house appointed for men is the one at Bekka, blessed and a guidance for the nations.” (Âl-i İmrân, 96)
In response to a question posed by Abu Dharr (r.a), the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) reveals the first building constructed on the face of Earth as the Kaabah, and the second as Masjid’ul-Aqsâ, the holy mosque of Jerusalem. The valley of Mecca was hence chosen as a holy place since the very beginning of human history.
After the Deluge of Nuh (a.s), the Kaabah remained for a long time under sand. It was rebuilt by Ibrahim many years after he left his son and wife in the land. Revisiting his family in Mecca years after, and seeing that his son was now a young man, Ibrahim (a.s) told him:
“Our Lord commands us to build a house for him…and you will help me!”
The young Ismail (a.s) carried stones while Ibrahim (a.s) erected the walls of the Kaabah. The piece of marble carrying the footprints of Ibrahim (a.s) was used as a stepping stone to help him reach the higher places of the wall. The Holy Quran narrates the event in the following words:
وَإِذْ يَرْفَعُ إِبْرهِيمُ الْقَوَاعِدَ مِنَ الْبَيْتِ وَإِسْماعِيلُ رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْمِنَّا إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
“And when Ibrahim and Ismail raised the foundations of the House: Our Lord! accept from us; surely You are the Hearing, the Knowing” (al-Baqara, 127)
The Kaabah is the House of the Almighty only symbolically; that is to say, God does not live in it. Muslims pray to Allah (SWT), by circumambulating it seven times, starting from the Black Stone placed by Ibrahim (a.s) near one of the corners of the Kaabah. The Black Stone descended from Paradise, and as reported by the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), it was whiter than milk and snow at the time of its descent, darkened in time by the sins of human beings. (Tirmidhî, Hajj, 49/877; Ahmad, I, 307)
It has also been reported that fires before and after Islam had a part to do with the darkening of the Stone. But there are accounts that the side of the Stone facing the wall of the Kaabah still remained very white.
Mujahid narrates that when Abdullah ibn Zubayr (r.a) demolished the walls of the Kaabah in order to renovate it, he saw that the inner side of the Black Stone was white.
Present during the reinstatement of the Stone in the 339th year of Hegira after having been taken away by the heretic Qarmatîs was Muhammad ibn Nâfî el-Huzâî, who later gave the following testimony:
“I was there to inspect the Black Stone when it was removed from its case and I saw that only one side, the visible side of the Stone was black, while the other three sides were white.”
In the 1039th year of Hegira, the Kaabah was ruined by a strong flood that swept across Mecca. During the rebuilding, Imâm Ibn Allân al-Makkî inspected the Black Stone, commenting that “the parts of the Black Stone installed facing the walls of the Kaabah are as white as the marble where Ibrahim (a.s) prayed (Maqâmu Ibrâhim)”
The Quran narrates that once the building of the Kaabah was completed, Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail (a.s) prayed to Allah (SWT), in the following manner:
رَبَّنَا وَاجْعَلْنَا مُسْلِمَيْنِلَكَ وَمِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِنَا أُمَّةً مُسْلِمَةً لَكَ وَأَرِنَا مَنَاسِكَنَا وَتُبْ عَلَيْنَاإِنَّكَ أَنْتَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ. رَبَّنَا وَابْعَثْ
فِيهِمْ رَسُولاًمِنْهُمْ يَتْلُوا عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِكَ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَوَيُزَكِّيهِمْ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ العَزِيزُ الحَكِيمُ
“Our Lord! Make of us Muslims, bowing to Your (Will), and of our progeny a people Muslim, bowing to Your (will); and show us our place for the celebration of rites; and turn unto us in Mercy; for You art the Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.
Our Lord! Send among them a Messenger of their own, who shall rehearse Your Signs to them and instruct them in scripture and wisdom, and sanctify them: For You are the Exalted in Might, the Wise.»” (al-Baqara, 128-129)
Upon the completion of the Kaabah, the Almighty commanded Ibrahim to invite people for pilgrimage:
وَاَذِّنْ فِى النَّاسِ بِالْحَجِّ يَأْتُوكَ رِجَالاً
وَعَلَى كُلِّ ضَامِرٍ يَأْتِينَ مِنْ كُلِّ فَجٍّ عَمِيقٍ
“And proclaim among men the Pilgrimage: they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, from every remote path.” (al-Hajj, 27)
Heeding to this Divine commandment, Ibrahim (a.s) climbed the nearby Abu Qubays Mountain, and called out to all four directions with an audible voice, informing people of their obligation to visit the Kaabah.
After this declaration the Archangel Jibril came and showed Ibrahim the borders of the Holy Mosque and the distances of Safâ and Marwâ, telling him to erect stones to mark these borders. The Archangel afterward taught him all the rituals and procedures of the pilgrimage. Thereafter, people from far away lands began visiting the Kaabah for pilgrimage, making Mecca the center for the religion of the Almighty, granting the town an important place in the hearts of people.
On the other hand, jealous of its sacredness and high esteem among people, many idolatrous tribes began attacking Mecca. Before Abraha, three idolater kings of Yemen had launched assaults on the Kaabah with the intention of demolishing it. Interestingly enough, the tribe of Huzayl had a way of getting rid of their enemies by encouraging them to attack the Kaabah, knowing that any army that tried to attack the Kaabah would be doomed by Allah (SWT). It is said that they told one of these kings of Yemen, the Tubba, that if he were to invade the Kaabah, he could lay claim to the supposed treasure hidden inside it. Encouraged, the King attacked the Kaabah, but his attempt was thwarted as the feet of his soldiers became buried in sand. The King was then warned by his knowledgeable advisors and persuaded to retreat. On the way back, the King pledged thereafter to treat the Meccans well, supplying them with generous donations, promising also to respect the Kaabah. The assailants were thus able to salvage themselves from destruction.
News of such incidents spread fast among the people of the Arabian Peninsula and the Kaabah thereby attained an awesome reputation and an esteemed place in people’s eyes. The idea that Mecca, the Kaabah and the tribe of Quraysh were under Divine protection, became an accepted norm among Arabs.
Worshipping in the House of Allah (SWT), continued the way Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) had taught up until the spread of idolatry. When idol worshipping became widespread in Mecca, the idolaters filled inside and around the Kaabah with idols. But even then the Kaabah was not renamed after a certain idol, continuing to be called Baytullah, the House of Allah (SWT).
When Mecca was taken and opened to Islam by the Noble Prophet (pbuh) all the idols were demolished, and under the inspection of the Prophet (pbuh), the Kaabah, from both the inside and outside, was cleansed with Zamzam water. This initiated a custom of washing the Kaabah with Zamzam and rosewater every year, perfuming it with musk and amber, and renewing its cover.
The idolatrous practice of hanging upon the walls of the Kaabah the seven most eloquent poems, the Muallaqât al-Sab’a (literally ‘the Seven Hanged’), acclaimed in their literary contests, not to mention their hanging on the very same walls the declaration of their boycott of Muslims, attest to the immense value of the Sacred House in their eyes.
Any service made to the Kaabah and its visitors was thus held in great esteem. First fulfilled by Ismail (a.s), these noble duties passed on to his sons, then to the Jurhumites and finally to the tribe of Quraysh. Simultaneous to the establishment of the Meccan city-state we see the founding of the following duties:
1. Sidânah or Hijâbah: The duty of covering the Kaabah and safeguarding its keys.
2. Siqâyah: Providing the pilgrims with water and beverages, and the maintenance of the Zamzam well.
3. Ridânah: Feeding and hosting poor pilgrims.
Becoming entrusted with these duties was considered a great honor and privilege among Arabs. In the time of the Noble Prophet (pbuh) these duties were shared among the leading families of the Mecca. Omar (r.a), the second Caliph, allocated allowances for these purposes, which during the time of Muawiyah (r.a) became more organized. The Ottomans similarly considered the upkeeping of the Kaabah as being of great significance, providing sizeable allowances for tending to the Sacred House.
The Elephant Incident: A Testimony of Divine protection
The Kaabah, built on the command of Allah (SWT), stands under constant Divine protection. Attesting to this is the famous event known in history as the Elephant Incident, replete with lessons to be drawn from it.
Abraha, a Roman vassal and governor of Yemen, had built a big, ornamented church in Sana, hoping to divert local attention thereto. The Arabs, however, showed very little interest in the church, much to the disappointment and vexation of the Governor. To implement this program, Abraha then decided to demolish the Kaabah, their center of attraction, the Sacred House that always drew visitors. Having prepared a great army that included many elephants, comparable to today’s tanks, Abraha headed for Mecca to carry out his plan and render the church unrivaled in the quest for people’s attention.
Near Kasbah, Abraha laid claim to some camels belonging to the Meccans, some of which belonged to Abdulmuttalib, the grandfather of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), who came to Abraha to ask to have his camels back. Angered at Abdulmuttalib’s concern for a few camels, Abraha lashed out:
“I have come to demolish the Kaabah and you are only concerned for your camels!”
“The Kaabah has an owner to protect it”, Abdulmuttalib answered calmly.
“Nobody today shall stand in my way to protect it”, Abraha then commented arrogantly.
When Abraha finally commanded his army to march on towards the Kaabah, the elephants stood their ground, unable to move forward. Suddenly, the skies were filled with birds in flight, which begun pelting the army with little stones of baked clay they were carrying with their claws. The stones struck each and everyone in the army like hailstones, destroying whatever they touched. The tiny birds were pulverizing the seemingly invincible elephants standing in tons of weight. The year in which this miraculous event took place was thereafter known by Arabs as the Year of the Elephant.
The Almighty narrates this story in the Holy Quran as follows:
أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ فَعَلَ رَبُّكَ بِأَصْحَابِ الْفِيلِ. أَلَمْ يَجْعَلْ كَيْدَهُمْفِي تَضْلِيلٍ. وَأَرْسَلَ عَلَيْهِمْ طَيْرًا أَبَابِيلَ. تَرْمِيهِمْبِحِجَارَةٍ مِنْ سِجِّيلٍ. فَجَعَلَهُمْ كَعَصْفٍ مَأْكُولٍ
Have you not seen how your Lord dealt with the owners of the Elephant? Did He not make their treacherous plan go astray? And He sent against them Flights of Birds, Which pelted them with stones of baked clay, Then did He make them like an empty field of stalks and straw, (of which the corn) has been eaten up.” (al-Fîl, 1-5)
The Kaabah, the House of Goodness serving as a place of worship to one God, was all along blessed by Allah (SWT), and kept under His protection.
The punishment exacted from Abraha for his disrespect towards the Kaabah remains in no uncertain terms a warning until the Final Hour for others who may harbor similar malice against the Sacred House.
The Quran similarly extends this value to all the mosques of Allah (SWT).
وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنْ مَنَعَ مَسَاجِدَاللّٰهِِ أَنْ يُذْكَرَ فِيهَا اسْمُهُ وَسَعَى فِي خَرَابِهَا أُولٰئِكَ مَا كَانَلَهُمْ أَنْ يَدْخُلُوهَا إِلاَّ خَائِفِينَ لَهُمْ فِي الدُّنْيَا خِزْيٌوَلَهُمْ فِي اْلآخِرَةِ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ
“And who is more unjust than he who prevents (men) from the mosques of Allah, that His name should be remembered in them, and strives to ruin them? (As for) these, it was not proper for them that they should have entered them except in fear; they shall meet with disgrace in this world, and they shall have great chastisement in the hereafter.” (al-Baqara, 114)
Blinded by his boundless arrogance, Abraha considered himself to have great power, and the punishment he was given is indeed fitting. He was not struck by beasts known for their strength like lions and tigers or even poisonous snakes but by feeble birds carrying pebbles smaller than chickpeas. The Almighty thus destroys arrogant disbelievers like the Pharaoh, Nimrod and Goliath with seemingly powerless creatures, in order to show how weak they are in reality.
Abraha was now returning to Yemen, the land he had set out from in great honor and majesty, in a very contemptible way. With his body in wounds and clothes in tatters, he was almost crawling back to his town. His plight provides a striking lesson in showing how disgrace follows the arrogant even in this world.
Called by the Quraysh the Year of Elephant, that year marked the starting point of their calendar. Qubash ibn Ushaym (r.a), a Companion of the Prophet (pbuh), for instance, used to cite the Year of Elephant in telling others how he and the Prophet (pbuh) were born in the same year.
Othman ibn Affân (r.a) once inquired further as to who was bigger age wise, to which Ibn Ushaym (r.a) responded in the most polite and considerate of manners:
“The Prophet (pbuh) is of course much greater than me but as far our ages are concerned, I was born before him, as I remember seeing the droppings of Abraha’s elephants: they were still green and little altered.” (Tirmidhî, Manâqıb, 2)
The Hanif Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) and the Religion of Worshipping One God
Although most of the people of Mecca had become idolaters, traces of belief in one God were not completely eradicated. A few people still practicing the religion of tawhid, as taught by Ibrahim (a.s) were still to be found. Ibrahim (a.s) is considered in Islam as Khalîlullâh, the friend of Allah, and also among the five grand Prophets, referred to as Ulu’l-Azm. The great-grandfather of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), Ibrahim (a.s) is also known to have received ten leaves (suhuf) of Revelation from the Almighty.
The name Ibrahim is mentioned throughout twenty-five chapters in the Quran, at a total of sixty nine times. Some of the attributes mentioned in praise of him in these verses include awwâh (sigher, referring to compassion), halîm (forbearing) munib (penitent), qanit (excellent in servitude to the Almighty), shakir (thankful) and hanîf.
The religion of Ibrahim (a.s) is called Hanîf. It means to leave crooked ways for the right path, to give up heretical beliefs for belief in One God, and become a muwahhid, one who recognizes the unity of the Almighty.
The Almighty states in the Holy Quran:
وَقَالُوا كُونُوا هُودًا اَوْ نَصَارَى تَهْتَدُوا قُلْ بَلْ مِلَّةَ اِبْرَهِيمَ حَنِيفًا وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ
“And they (Christians and Jews) say: Be Jews or Christians, you will be on the right course. Say: Nay! (we follow) the religion of Ibrahim, the Hanif, and he was not one of the idolaters!” (al-Baqara, 135)
مَا كَانَ اِبْرَهِيمُ يَهُودِيًّا وَلاَ نَصْرَانِيًّا وَلَكِنْ كَانَ حَنِيفًا مُسْلِمًا
وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ
“Ibrahim was not a Jew, nor yet a Christian; but he was an upright man, the Hanîf who had surrendered (to Allah); and he was not of the idolaters.” (Âl Imrân, 67)
During the phase of Ignorance, the term Hanif was used to refer to anyone who rejected the worship of idols and, espousing belief in One God, followed the religion of Ibrahim. Included among the Hanif were people like Waraqa ibn Nawfal, Abdullâh ibn Jahsh, Othman ibn Huwayrith, Zayd ibn Amr and Quss ibn Sâida, who throughout their lives remained adamant in refusing to bow down in front of idols or pray to them as gods.
Ibn Omar (r.a) narrates:
“The Prophet (pbuh) was invited to a meal near the valley of Baldah; this was before any Divine Revelation had come to the him. Present at the meal was also Zayd ibn Amr ibn Nufayl. Just as the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) refused to eat from the meat which he was offered, so did Zayd, who explained:
‘I do not eat anything which you slaughter in the name of your stone idols. I eat nothing but that which is slaughtered in the name of Allah.’
Zayd ibn Amr was known for his criticism of the way Quraysh used to slaughter their animals, which he considered something abominable, saying:
‘Allah has created the sheep, has sent the water for it from the sky, and has grown from the earth for it to eat; and yet you slaughter it in the name of another than Allah.’”. (Bukhârî, Manâqıbu’l-Ansâr, 24; Dhabâih, 16)
According to another narration from Ibn Omar (r.a):
“Zayd ibn Amr ibn Nufayl had gone to Damascus to inquire about a true religion to follow. There, he met a Jewish religious scholar and asked him about their religion.
‘I intend to embrace your religion, so tell me something about it,’ he said.
‘You cannot embrace our religion unless you receive your share of the Wrath of God,’ replied the Jew.
‘I have not come here except from fear of His Wrath, so I cannot see myself bearing a bit of it, given I have the power to avoid it. Can you tell me of some other religion?’
‘I know of no other religion except the Hanif.’
‘What is the Hanif?’ then Zayd further asked.
‘Hanif is the religion of the Prophet Ibrahim, neither a Jew nor a Christian, who used to worship Allah alone’, explained the Jewish scholar.
Zayd then headed out and met a Christian scholar and stated the exact concern.
‘You shall not embrace our religion unless you get a share of the Curse of God,’ the Christian responded.
‘I run from none other than His Curse, and I will never bear any of it so long as I have the power to avoid it. Can you tell me of some other religion?’ Zaid asked.
‘I do not know of any other religion except Hanif.’
‘It is the religion of the Prophet Ibrahim who was neither a Jew nor a Christian and who worshipped none but Allah’.
Hearing similar words from both regarding the religion of Ibrahim (a.s), Zayd left that place, and raised both his hands to the skies, as he came out, and said:
‘O Allah! Bear witness that I am in the religion of Ibrahim.’” (Bukhârî, Manâqıbu’l-Ansâr, 24)
Asma bint Abi Bakr (r.ha) reports to have seen Zayd ibn Amr ibn Nufayl, standing with his back against the Kaabah, declaring:
“People of Quraysh! By Allah, none among you is in the religion of Ibrahim except for me.”
She adds that Zayd took great care to preserve the lives of little girls, salvaging their lives from a horrific death. Upon seeing a man with the intention of slaying his daughter, he would intervene and say:
“Do not kill her! I will feed her on your behalf.” So he would take her and look after her, and when she would grow up, Zayd would say to her father:
“If you want her now, I will give her to you, and if you wish, I will keep on looking after her on your behalf.” (Bukhârî, Manâqıbu’l-Ansâr, 24)
As regards Waraqa, another prominent Hanif, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) has said:
“I see him walking around in Paradise in a silk gown.”
And about Zayd:
“He will be resurrected in the Hereafter as a separate nation between me and Isa.” (Haythamî, IX, 416)
With knowledge of the previous Sacred Books, the Hanîfs had a feel that the approach the Final Prophet (pbuh) was near and they were waiting in longing anticipation.
Most Muslim scholars are of the opinion that the parents of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) were also among the Hanîf, a religion that is nothing but belief in the one true God, in tawhid. Such is why the Almighty commands the observance of the religion of Ibrahim (a.s), the quintessential Hanif, in the following verse:
ثُمَّ اَوْحَيْنَا اِلَيْكَ اَنِ اتَّبِعْ مِلَّةَ اِبْرَهِيمَ حَنِيفًا وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ
“ThenWe revealed to you: Follow the faith of Ibrahim, the upright one; he was not of the idolaters.” (an-Nahl, 16:123)
The term Hanif is also used to signify Islam and every sincere Muslim is thus also called a Hanîf. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) states, in confirmation:
“I was sent with the forebearing Hanif religion.” (Ahmad, V, 266)
. See at-Tawba, 24.
. See Bukhari, Iman, 9, 14; Muslim, Iman, 67.
. Unless verbal truths are illustrated by physical examples, one will inevitably fall into error in practice, for people always tend to comprehend abstract things in line with their own experiences and according to the level of their own understanding. Concrete examples bear out the shape in which a given abstract truth is supposed to be embodied, leaving no room for further argument. All opinions, therefore, propounded for the good of humanity have lead to various differences in practice, owing simply to their lack of physical and concrete criteria. Islamic thought, in this sense, contains a wealth and perfection incomparable to any other; and making this possible has solely been the fact of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) rendering concrete the entire body of abstract truths through the behavior he exemplified throughout his life and their immediate recording, in their totality, by the Companions, which providentially have been passed onto us.
. “No single person can take a step beyond the principles of Muhammad. Despite all the success that has come the way of Europe, all the laws and principles decreed by Europe are insufficient in relation to Islamic culture. We, the nations of Europe, in spite of all the opportunities our civilization is impregnated with, are still only on the first step of the ladder on whose final step Muhammad stands. Doubtless, nobody shall beat him in this race. And this Book (the Quran), being exceptionally practical, shall never cease to wield influence for eternity and will gather other nations around itself.” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
. See Muhammad Ilyas Abdulghanî, Târihu Makka, p. 12-13.
. See Ibrahim, 37.
. Abdulllah ibn Abbas (r.a) is the son of Abbas (r.a) and thus the cousin of the Noble Prophet (pbuh). His mother is Umm’ul-Fadl Lubaba, the woman who accepted Islam immediately after Khadijah (r.ha). Moments after his birth, three years prior to the Hegira, he was taken to the Noble Prophet (pbuh), who took the toddler in his arms, rubbing in the child’s palate a date he had chewed in his mouth. Due to this incident, known as tahnik, Ibn Abbas was to later stand out among the Companions. Afterward, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) personally prayed for him on two occasions, in one of these with the words, “Allah, grant him a depth of knowledge in religion and teach him the Quran!” He thus became the Companion with the greatest insight into the Quran, earning him the appellation at-Tarjuman, the Interpreter. He was also known as Hibr’ul-Ummah, meaning the most knowledgeable of the Believers. Including repetitions, he narrated a total of 1660 hadiths. Spending the last few years of his life as a blind man, he passed away in Ta’if, in 687 (H. 68), at the age of 71.
. See Ibn Hisham, I, 135-142.
. See Hamidullâh, I, 24-25.
. The Kaabah was erected upon approximately 1.5 meter-wide columns. Its walls contain a total of 1614 basalt stones of various dimensions brought from around Mecca. On the east corner is the Hajar’ul-Aswad, the Black Stone. It is kept in a silver casing and marks the beginning and ending point of circumambulation. The Kaabah’s east corner is called Rukn’ul-Hajar’ul-Aswad or Rukn’us-Sharqi, its north corner Rukn’ul-Iraqi, its west corner Rukn’us-Shami, while its south corner Rukn’ul-Yamani. The drain channeling the rainwater from the roof of the Kaabah (Mizab’ul-The Kaabah) is known as the Golden Drain. Starting from the Kaabah, the first three meters of the area enclosed by a semicircular wall, standing at a height of 1.32 meters and width of 1.55 meters, that rises opposite the northwest corner of the Sacred House between Rukn’ul-Iraqi and Rukn’us-Shami, is known as Hatim. This section was included in the main building of the Kaabah put up by Ibrahim (a.s). Restricted by a lack of material, however, Quraysh, during their restoration, had no other choice but to leave it outside. The remaining 5.56 meter area known either as Hijrul-the Kaabah, Hijru Ismail or Hatira, is the exact spot where Ibrahim (a.s) had made a shade for Hajar and his son Ismail from an arak tree. According to tradition, both Hajar and Ismail –upon whom be peace- are buried in the area of Hijr. It has thus been decreed obligatory to perform circumambulation from the outside of the Hijr. The door of the Kaabah, on the northeast of the House, stands at height of 2,25 meters from the ground. The section of the wall located between the door and the Hajar’ul-Aswad is known as Multazam. The exact height of the Kaabah is 14 meters. The length of Multazam is 12.84 meters, while that of Hatim 11.28 meters. Hatim and Rukn’ul-Yamani is separated by a distance of 11.52 meters. Holding the roof inside the Sacred House are three pillars, lined in the middle, from the south wall to Hatim. A ladder to the roof is found on the right hand side of the entrance, which also has a door of its own, called Bab’ut–Tawbah, the Door of Repentance. The inner walls of the Kaabah and its roof are covered with a green fabric made of silk. (Muhammad Ilyâs Abdulghanî, p. 33-66; Kâmil Mîrâs, Tecrid Tercemesi, VI, 17-20)
. See Tabarî, Târih, I, 124
. Abu Dharr’s (r.a) real name is Jundab ibn Junada. He was known as Ghifari in reference to the tribe of Ghifar from where he originally sprung. As the fifth Muslim, he was a man of piety, contentedness and abstinence, which lead the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) to call him the Masih’ul-Islam, i.e. the Isa (a.s) of Islam. Constantly by the side of the Noble Prophet (pbuh), he would look to reap the greatest benefit from his presence, asking what he knew not to the Prophet (pbuh) for clarification; accumulating so deep a knowledge in the end that Ali (r.a) is known to have called him ‘the repertoire of knowledge’. The total amount of his hadith narrations is 281. Breathing his last in Rabaza near Mecca in the 31st year of Hegira, his funeral last was conducted by a small group who laid him to rest.
. See Bukhari, Anbiyâ, 10.
. Said Bektash, Fadlu’l-Hajari’l-Aswad wa Maqâmi Ibrâhîm ((upon him peace)), p. 108; Muhammad Ilyâs Abdulghanî, p. 71-73.
According to one source, Ibrâhîm –(a.s) later stood up on the marble, the Maqamu Ibrahim and invited people to hajj. (Said Bektash, p. 111) In reference to the Maqamu Ibrahim, Allah (SWT), says:
وَاِذْ جَعَلْنَا الْبَيْتَ مَثَابَةً لِلنَّاسِ وَاَمْنًا وَاتَّخِذُوا مِنْ مَقَامِ اِبْرٰه۪يمَ مُصَلًّى
“And when We made the House a resort for mankind and sanctuary, (saying): Take as your place of worship the place where Ibrahim stood (to pray).” (al-Baqara, 125)
. For the details of the incident, see Bukhari, Anbiya, 9.
. Scholars have commented that if sins can have so great an effect on even a stone so as to leave it black, who knows the intensity of the tarnish they can leave on the heart. Abstaining from sins with utmost effort is therefore a must.
. See Said Bektash, p. 36-38; Dr. Muhammad Ilyâs Abdulghanî, p. 43.
. See Kâmil Mîrâs, Tecrid Tercemesi, VI, 20-21; Said Bektash, p. 111.
. Tubba is a name formerly given to the kings of Yemen.
. See Ibn Hisham, I, 19-20; Abdurrazzaq, V,153.
. Stuck in the swamp of ignorance, the idolaters amazingly never worshipped the three things they valued the most: the Kaabah, Hajar’ul-Aswad and Maqam’u Ibrahim, in spite worshipping various kinds of trees and stones. This can only be explained with the exclusive protection by the Almighty.
. Ismail (a.s) is recognized as the first person to drape the Kaabah. (Abdurrazzaq, V, 154) Throughout Islamic history, the preparation of the cover of the Kaabah would be seen to by the Caliph, a sultan or the incumbent governor of Mecca. After the passage of the Caliphate to the Ottomans in 1517, the cover of the Sacred House continued to be woven in Egypt for a little while longer. During the reign of Suleyman the Magnificent, Istanbul became the center for weaving its inner cover, added to which was the outer cover, come the time of Sultan Ahmed III. The last cover woven in Ottoman hands to be sent was in 1916, with the rebellion of Sharif Hussain preventing further attempts. Prepared for a period of time once again in Egypt thereafter, the cover is today is made in a factory in Mecca set up specifically for that purpose.
. As evident in this narration, the Companions were always conscious of the fact that the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was of the highest and most sublime rank, with regard to which they were of utmost sensitivity. Just a touch of their skin by the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), for them, provided reason for gratification, as many a fortunate Companion touched by those sacred hands, would point to their own hands and say:
“It was with these two hands that I pledged allegiance to the Messenger of Allah!” (Ibn Saad, IV, 306; Haythami, VIII, 42)
. Abdullah ibn Omar (pbuh) was born in the 3rd year of Prophethood. He made the Hegira with his father Omar (r.a). Along with Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, he was member of the army that was to lay siege to Istanbul. As his elder sister Hafsa (r.ha) was the wife of the Noble Messenger (pbuh), he had the privilege of being in the close company of the Prophet (pbuh). A narration of 2630 hadiths, together with repetitions, makes him second to Abu Hurayrah (r.a) on the list of the mukthirun, the seven Companions with the most number of hadith narrations. Ibn Omar (r.a) was likewise among the seven Companions to give the most number of fatwa, jurisprudential verdicts.
He was second to none, however, in following the lifestyle of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) to the letter, in implementing his commands in their exactitude. After the passing away of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), stemming from an exuberant love for him, Ibn Omar would specifically offer salat in the exact spots where the Prophet had once offered it; he would walk the paths he had trodden, sit in the shades of trees the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) used to sit beneath, purposely watering them so they would not dry out. (Bukhari, Salat, 89; Ibn Hajar, al-Isâba, II, 349)
He once suffered a major cramp in his foot. Abdurrahman ibn Saad, next to him at the time, advised him to say the name of the person he most loved.
“Muhammad!” exclaimed Ibn Omar, immediately upon which he foot was relieved of pain. (Ibn Saad, IV, 154)
Ibn Omar (r.a) was also among the wealthiest of the Companions. That so, he would never allow his wealth to accumulate, distributing it among the poor as soon as he would get his hands on it himself. He had a habit of sparing his favorite possessions for charity in the way of the Almighty. He had also begun setting free all his slaves, who developed praiseworthy behavior, especially those who had begun to regularly perform salat. For this, Ibn Omar was cautioned by one of his friends, informing him that one of his slaves was frequenting the mosque just to be set free. Ibn Omar’s response, showing the depth of Divine love in his heart, is splendid:
“We are willing to be tricked by those wishing to trick us with Allah!”
He is reputed to have set free over 1,000 slaves, for numerous reasons and under different circumstances. He passed away in Mecca in 692, (H. 73) at the age of 85
. Baldah is a valley nearby Mecca.
. Also see, Bukhari, Iman, 29.