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The history and issues surrounding Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad (the Black Stone)
Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad is a black stone which is located next to the Kaaba. It is an oval stone which is fifty centimeter in diameter. This stone is in a silver frame. Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad is a stone which is set into the south eastern corner of the wall of Kaaba and it is one and half meters above the ground. It has to be said that during the ritual of Hajj this stone is touched and kissed by the pilgrims. Kissing and touching this stone is Mustahabb (recommended) and it is Wajib (obligatory) that Tawaf (circumambulations) be started from where this stone has been placed and be ended there too. This stone has a strange history. Before and after the advent of Islam, much attention had always been paid to this sacred stone and in fact it had been regarded as one of the main elements of Kaaba. Due to this sacredness, the Messenger of Allah kept it and throw away other stones which had been formed as idols. It has been narrated from Imam Sadiq that he said: between the Ruknu l-Yamani (the Yemeni corner) and the corner in which Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad has been placed, there are seventy prophets that all of whom have died of hunger and hardship and have been buried there.
Where has Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad come from?
Regarding the fact that where Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad has come from, there are many hadiths in which it has been mentioned that coincided with the Descent of Adam to the earth, this stone came down from Heaven. It has also been mentioned that when Adam was thrown out of Paradise while he was wandering in the earth and he had no companion, he suddenly saw this dazzling white stone and felt that stone is so familiar to him. Its reason has been mentioned in many narrations as the following: When the Prophet Adam (a.s) was living in Paradise, this beautiful stone was next to his living place and while walking, this Prophet kicked this stone and moved it. Therefore, when the Prophet Adam (a.s) saw it in the earth, since it seemed familiar to him and it brought him a sense of peace, he embraced and kissed it and carried it from the land of India (which was the place he had descended from Paradise to the earth) to the Mecca. On the way to Mecca, wherever the Prophet Adam suffered from fatigue and put it on the ground, Gabriel carried it for him. Since the Prophet Adam (a.s) had no place to settle, the Almighty God set him up one of the tents of Paradise in Mecca, in the current place of Kaaba and the Prophet Adam placed Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad in a corner of this tent. After the Prophet Adam, this tent was taken to the heaven and at that place, the descendants of the Prophet Adam (a.s) built a house from stone and mud and placed Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad in the same place in which Adam had placed. As it has been narrated from Imam Baqir (a.s): there are three stones which have come down from Paradise: Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad, Abraham’s stand-place (maqam Ibrahim) stone and the stone of the Children of Israel from which water springs originated. During the destruction of the Kaaba which occurred five years before Muhammad was chosen as the Prophet, Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad was placed far from the mosque. For returning Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad to Kaaba and setting it to its specific place, Quraysh tribes began to quarrel with each other, however due to the wisdom of the Messenger of Allah, finally Quraysh tribes shared the virtue of this action and this stone was set into its place by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Over time and due to some changes, the original size of the stone was reduced and even it was broken into a number of fragments. Accordingly, finally these fragments were cemented together and were placed in a silver frame. At the moment, there is only one place for kissing and touching the stone. In many narrations it has been mentioned that Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad is one of the stones of Paradise which descended to earth along with the Prophet Adam (Al-Kafi-Vol. 4, P.184). Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad descended to earth from Paradise along with Adam (a.s) and during the Flood of Noah (a.s) it was buried however, Abraham found it and placed it in the Kaaba.
Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad, a kind of angel
According to some narrations, Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad had originally been one of the angels who had been among those who brought near to Allah. When God asked the angels to make a vow, this angel was the first angel who acknowledged that he was the servant of God. That is why, God regarded him as a trustworthy angel and caused him to be always with Adam in Paradise. In Paradise, this angel and Adam were alongside each other and this angel reminded Adam about the remembrance of God and the vow he had made to Him. But when Adam was thrown out of Paradise, after wandering for a while, the Almighty God turned this angel into the form of a white stone and placed it in the earth. When the Prophet Adam saw the stone, it brought him a sense of peace, although he did not know him until the Almighty God, turned it to its original form as an angel. Then he asked Adam: “Do you remember the vow you had made to the Almighty God?” at this moment, Adam became upset and began crying and embracing the angel. Then, the angle again turned to the stone and Adam carried it and placed it in the corner of the tent for whom the Almighty God had brought from Paradise (or the house the angels had helped him to build). In this regard Imam Sadiq (a.s) says: “This stone (Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad) is one of the greatest angels among those brought near to Allah. This angel was the first angel who fulfilled the vow he had made in the unseen world. Additionally God has made him responsible to remind people about their vows and in the Day of Judgment, he will be again turned to the angel. Accordingly the reason why all people kiss and touch this stone, is to renew their vow.”
The way Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad has been set in the corner of Kaaba
About the way Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad has been set in the corner of Kaaba, it has to be said that the current place of Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad is the place in which Adam made a vow to God that he was the servant of God and at that moment this angel was witness to this vow and was the first angel who had acknowledged that he was the servant of God. Therefore, after turning into the stone, this angel was placed in the same place too. Accordingly, it was placed between the door and the Door of Gabriel. It has to be mentioned that at this very place, this angel will descend to Imam al-Mahdi (a.s) and will pledge allegiance to him and this is the place in which Imam al-Mahdi (a.s) will emerge. At the moment of emergence of Imam al-Mahdi (a.s), he will lean on this corner and will use Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad as a witness for fulfillment of the vow of Mankind. In addition it was the place in which Adam made a vow that he was the servant of God. Accordingly, it indicates the extent to which mankind has fulfilled the divine vow he has made. There are many narrations regarding the fact that this stone had originally been white and very beautiful but due to the sins of the servants and because the sinners have touched it, this stone has turned black. In addition, it has been said that this stone turned black due to the fact that the disbelievers sacrificed the sheep for their gods. This black stone is like the so-called silent history of many generations of Muslims who have traveled to this place during different centuries and ages. It also revives the memory the great people who brought near to Allah that when they came to this holy place, they kissed and touched this stone during their worship. Accordingly, when they came to this holy place they said: “O God! We have fulfilled the vow we had made to You and we have no God but You.”
Touching Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad, a kind of vow
Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad is set in the corner of the Kaaba and during the ritual of Hajj it is touched by the pilgrims. This stone has always been revered by the Muslims, accordingly they kissed it and by which they sought consecration. Imam Baqir (a.s) said: Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad is the vow of God and its touching is making a vow to God. It has been narrated from ibn Abbas that if the person who has not even made a vow to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) kisses or touches Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad, it will be as if he has made a vow to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). In other narrations, it has also been narrated that this stone was originally white but the sins of the descendants of Adam turned it black. (Al-Kafi-Vol. 4, P.190). It has been narrated from the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) who said: “In the Day of Judgment, God makes Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad alive while he will have two sighted eyes and a tongue by which he will testify about those who have kissed and touched him.” It has also been narrated from the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) who said: “Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad is the hand of God in the earth, the one who touches it, has touched the hand of God.” In this regard Imam Sadiq said: “Kiss and touch Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad when there is no one around it and you can easily do it but when it is crowded and you cannot approach it you can say Takbir (God is greater) afar.” (Al-Kafi-Vol. 4, P.404). The Prophet Muhammad has also stated that: “It is not obligatory for the women to kiss and touch Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad.” (Man la yahduruhu al-Faqih, Vol.2, P326). One day while kissing Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad, Umar said that: “I kiss you only because the Messenger of Allah used to kiss you, although I know that you are only a stone and you have neither benefit nor loss.” Amir al-Mu'minin, Imam Ali (a.s) said: “Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad has both benefit and loss, this stone indicates the loyalty of the believer and denial of the unbeliever.” Currently, during the ritual of Hajj and Tawaf (circumambulations), Hajjis kiss this stone and touch it when they approach it and they make a vow to it. It has been narrated from the Prophet Muhammad who said: “Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad is the hand of God in the earth, the one who touches it, will make a vow to God.” When God summoned the children of Adam, by the command of God they made a vow and then He summoned Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad who was an angel and commanded him to keep the vow of the children of Adam have made in his heart and accordingly touching Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad is indeed making a vow to God. In the Day of Judgment Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad will testify about those who have made a vow to God through touching him. Whenever the Prophet Muhammad was performing Hajj, he touched Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad and renewed his vow. In narrations it has been mentioned that: “When all people of the world are ready for the emergence of Imam al-Mahdi (a.s), Imam will appear next to the Kaaba and he will go toward Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad and will lean on it. Then Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad will turn to a white bird and will make a vow to him. Then all the lovers of the savior (Imam al-Mahdi) will make a vow to him while Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad will be witness to all of those who make a vow.” Hajis who travel to Mecca, will pray to God next to Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad because they want the day Imam al-Mahdi (a.s) will emerge, this stone be witness to their vows to him. Everybody wishes to kiss and touch Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad, and Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad also wishes to kiss the hand of Al- Imam al-Mahdi (a.s).
Attempts to damage Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad
Muslims believe that this stone descended from Paradise to the earth (according to a narration form Imam Baqir) and Abraham and his son Ismael, found this stone and used it for building the Kaaba. It has been narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s) who said: “During Jahiliyyah period (Days of Ignorance), with the intention of rebuilding the Kaaba, Quraysh tribes destroyed it.” In this condition a great battle was so probable. So they agreed to accept the judgment of the first person who would enter Masjid_al-Haram. At this moment, the Messenger of Allah (phuh) entered and when he heard their statement, he ordered to place a cloth on the ground, then he himself placed Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad over it. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) then ordered that from every tribe, one person should hold the corner of the cloth and lift it. When Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad reached its place with his blessed hands, the Prophet Muhammad picked up the stone and placed it in its specific place. It has also been narrated that in the battle between Hajjaj and Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr, Kaaba was destroyed. Then Kaaba was rebuilt and they intended to place Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad in its place. No scholar, pious or judge could place Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad in its place, because whenever they wanted to place this stone, the Kaaba trembled. Imam Sajjad (a.s) entered and took the stone from their hands, then he uttered the name of God and without any trembling, he placed the stone in its place. Then people cried: God is greater. In 317 Hijri, Qarmatians attacked to Mecca and took Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad to their own land (Al-ahsa in Bahrain) and for twenty two years that stone was there until in 339 Hijri and during the reign of Muti ullah Abbasi through the intercession of Abu Ali Alavi, the Black Stone which had also been broken was transferred to Kufa and was set in its place. Anyhow, during the centuries, the Kaaba has several times been rebuilt or due to natural disasters including flood, it has been destroyed, however, the place of this stone has never been changed. (Muhammad Baqir Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 96, H.13, P.216, Chapter Al-Fazl Al-Ḥajar)
Story of setting Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad is one of the eternal legacies of the Prophets of God. In addition to being sacred for all Muslims, this stone had also been revered by the Arabs before the advent of Islam. Moreover, about the dignity and virtue of this stone, there are numerous authentic hadiths from the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and Infallibles leaders (a.s). Accordingly, Tawaf (circumambulations) which is regarded as one of the rituals of Hajj, is started from where this stone has been placed and will be ended there too. According to what has been quoted in the history, from the moment the Prophet Abraham (a.s) set Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad into its place by the command of God, some incidents caused this stone to be dislodged form its place. One of these cases was the incident which occurred a few years before Muhammad (pbuh) was chosen as the Prophet and accordingly the flood caused the walls of the Kaaba to be damaged. Therefore, Quraysh tribes decided to repair and rebuild the Kaaba. Things were arranged in such a way that everybody could have a share in rebuilding some parts of the Kaaba. Finally rebuilding the Kaaba was successfully finished. Now, it was the time for placing Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad in its specific place. But strong disagreement was made about placing this stone in its place and regarding the fact that to which tribe this honor had to be given. None of the tribes agreed that this honor be given to the other tribes. Due to frequent diputes, Banu Abd-al-dar tribe brought a bowl full of blood and made a vow to Bani Uday tribe that they would resist and would not allow that this honor be given to anyone but the elder of their own tribe, even though they would be killed. During four or five days, the tribes were in full alert until Abu Umayyah who was the oldest man of Quraysh tribe, suggested that in order to preventing bloodshed, all tribes accept the judgment of the first person who enter the mosque. Ironically, the first person was Muhammad (Peace be upon him), therefore everybody became happy because the Prophet Muhammad was known as a faithful, trustworthy and a virtuous person. Then the chieftains explained the matter over which they had disagreement to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and requested that he accept to judge it. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) then asked them to bring the cloth. Then, he placed Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad over the cloth and asked each of the chieftains to hold one of the corners of this cloth. When they lift they cloth, the Prophet Muhammad took Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad and placed it into its place. Through this clever contrivance, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) prevented the occurrence of an impending crisis and a great and vindictive war.
Lessons from the story of setting Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad into its place
The behaviors of the great men in their lives, always contain numerous messages and lessons which can be used as solutions for the lives of the young people. Therefore, in this section we are going to focus on the lessons which can be learnt from the wise judgment of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) in the story of setting Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad in its place.
1. Having a sense of responsibility
Having a sense of responsibility is necessary for human social life. Human being is responsible about himself, coreligionist, fellowmen and even the nature and in this regard he will be questioned in the Day of Judgment. Everybody feels that he is responsible for others according to his soul capacity. Hence, due to his great soul capacity, the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) had been more responsible to the people and nation. Accordingly, regarding the fact that human beings will be questioned about their responsibilities, the Quran says: “Does man think that he will be left neglected?” In fact, if the man was left neglected, what the difference between the man and animals would be and accordingly what the preference of human beings over other creature would be?
The heavens could not bear, the heavy trust they had been given
And lots were cast, and crazed, Hafez’s name received the sign
Regarding the fact that man must have a sense of responsibility about his coreligionist and fellowmen, in an eloquent and logical statement, Malik al-Ashtar has been addressed by Imam Ali (a.s). In this regard Imam Ali (a.s) says: “There are two groups of people, either they are your religious brothers or they have been created like you.” In Islamic culture, not caring about people’s sorrow and being indifferent to them has strongly been reproved. The Prophet Muhammad who is regarded as the role model of the Muslims, has always ordered Muslims to be have a sense responsibility about each other. It is to the extent that paying attention to Muslim’s affairs is regarded as the signs of being Muslim. In this regard the Prophet Muhammad says: “The one who starts his day without paying attention to Muslim’s affairs is not regarded as a Muslim.” As an example, in the story of Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad, the Prophet Muhammad’s sense of responsibility about the judging among the tribes who were going to battle with each other, was very evident. The Prophet Muhammad could have refused the judgment and could have justified that “the two parties may not accept my judgment” however, he felt that he was responsible about them and the sense of responsibility of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) caused a great problem to be solved and a greater problem to be prevented.
In their social life, people require each other’s cooperation and assistance and the development of the society is dependent upon the fact that people help their fellowmen and their fellowmen also help them. Accordingly, poverty and underdevelopment are the outcomes of the society in which this element does not exist. The Quran has invited people to cooperate and help each other: “Cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression.” It is so clear that the Quran has recommended that people help and cooperate with each other merely in Mubah (neither forbidden nor recommended) and Halal (permissible) actions and not in Haraam (forbidden) actions. In addition, there are many aspects and examples for helping others including: ordering to what is good and forbidding what is evil, Waqf (inalienable religious endowment), alms giving and welfare works and etc. Helping other people has also been paid attention to in the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). This Prophet recommended people that they help and cooperate with each other and he himself promoted this culture. The story of Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad was one of the example in which the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) assisted others.
3. Solving the problems and reconciling people with each other
For many reasons in the worldly life, people’s demands and contradictions regarding their interests, cause them to disagree with each other. The disputes and conflicts which originate from sensual, worthless and worldly desires have been reproved by the Quran. In addition, they have been considered as a kind of punishment. According to the Quran, schism and discord are punishments which are so-called tasted by some people due to the actions of others. These disagreements and conflicts happen among the people when optimism, having trust in other and good rapport are replaced by negativism, distrust and bad rapport. The prophet Muhammad has always recommended that Muslims improve their mutual relationships. Accordingly, the two sides should be reconciled. This is issue is so important for the Prophet Muhammad that he even said for two sides be reconciled with each other, lying could be used, although lying was of the cardinal sins. Accordingly, the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) says: “Reconcile the people with each other, although it is through lying.” In addition, according to this Prophet, reconciling the people with each other is the best goodness and alms giving. Accordingly the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) says: “The best alms giving is reconciling two persons with each other.”
4. The positive impact on the environment
Before the advent of Islam, Mecca was socially and morally a corrupt environment. But this environment had no impact on the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). Although, at that time this Prophet was young, he was very wise and strong-willed. Due to his reputation and being famous for his good deeds, people had full trust in this Prophet and asked him to consult with them for solving their problems. One of the examples in which the greatness of the character of the Prophet Muhammad is evident, is the story of setting Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad in its place. What attracted the two parties to this Prophet was the fact that he was famous for his “trustworthiness”. The Prophet Muhammad’s character of trustworthiness caused him to play a positive role in solving the disagreements of the tribes and people and in addition it changed the surrounding environment.
The importance of management
We can learn many lessons from the managerial aspects of the Prophet Muhammad’s life (Peace be upon him) both in his family and the society. The management of this Prophet in the war and peace, dealing with problems, social status and training the virtuous people is extraordinary. One of the significant issues of management is his method of decision making in crises. In the story of Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad, there was an unusual condition and there happened unexpected problems. Therefore, the problem could have only been solved by the creativity of the manager. Using an innovative method along with controlling the current crisis, the Prophet Muhammad (a.s) made an effort to optimize his use of this condition. Accordingly in terms of behavioral management, the way he behaved and acted contained many great and sophisticated lessons for those tribes who were there.
6. Fair judgment
The name of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his behavior is linked with justice. Due to great character, the Prophet Muhammad was chosen as the judge in the story of Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad. Due to the Prophet Muhammad’s knowledge, wisdom, good moral conduct and intelligence all of those who had disagreement were satisfied with the outcome of his judgment. Accordingly, it was in a way that no group felt that to whom it had been oppressed by this judgment. Another important characteristic of a fair judge is that he must avoid any discriminatory behavior and it has to be said that by the great judgment of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) no group or person was discriminated against. Indeed what would happen if in this story the Prophet Muhammad it was discriminated in favor of a specific tribe? Would others be satisfied? Certainly, the differences and disputes would become more severe and it would turn to a Gordian knot. Hence, it was only due to the fair judgment of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) that the disputes became less severe.
1 - Tafsir Nemooneh, vol. 3, p 10
2 - Shaikh al-Saduq, Ilal al-Sharaye', vol. 2, chapter 164
3 - Seyyed Mustafa Dashti, Maaref and Maarif, vol. 4, pp. 405 -407
4 - Tarikh Tahlili Islam, Shahidi, p. 40
5 - Intizar Nojavan magazine, April 2006, No, 10, Article of Al-Hajar al-Aswad by Ali Mohammad Pour
6 - Golbarg Magazine, May 2008, No. 98, Article of lessons from the Story of setting Al-Hajar al-Aswad, by Hamid Rahmani
7 - Golbarg Magazine, May 2008, No. 98, Story of setting Al-Hajar al-Aswad by Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) by Hamid Rahmani
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