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Installation of the Black Stone

Installation of the Black Stone

Mu¦ammad's excellent manners, honesty and decency had attracted the Meccan people so much that everybody called him am¢n meaning trustworthy.[1] He was so reliable that they decided to use his good judgment in the installation of the Black Stone.[2] He resolved their problem through high prudence and discretion. Due to the flood which descended from the mountains of Mecca, the walls of the Kaaba had broken on several sides. This event took place when he was thirty-five years old. Up to that day, the Kaaba had no ceiling and its walls were low. For this reason, its internal treasures were unprotected. People of Quraysh decided to build a roof; however, they were not able to carry out their plan. After the event of the flood, the leaders of the Meccan tribes decided to destroy the building to reconstruct it with a roof over it. At the time of the reconstruction, there were disagreements among the tribes over the location of the Black Stone. Once again, competitions and resorting to tribal pride surfaced. Each tribe desperately tried to have the honor of installing the stone. Some tribes, by thrusting their hands into a vessel full of blood, vowed not to let any other tribe have the honor of the installation.

Finally, upon the suggestion made by the eldest man of Quraysh, they decided to follow the opinion of the first person who would enter the Mosque from the entrance called B¡b al-¯af¡. Suddenly, Mu¦ammad (¥) entered the mosque from that direction. Everybody declared that Mu¦ammad (¥) was trustworthy and they would listen to his judgment. A piece of cloth was brought in by the order of the trustworthy man of Quraysh i.e. Mu¦ammad (¥). He spread the piece of cloth, wrapped the stone inside it and asked the Qurayshi leaders to take each corner of it and collectively carry it to the wall. As soon as the stone was taken to the wall, Mu¦ammad (¥) installed it in its original location.[3] With his delicate discretion and prudence, he solved their problem stopping a potentially huge amount of bloodshed.

`Al¢ in the School of Mu¦ammad

A devastating famine occurred in Mecca after the reconstruction of the Kaaba and several years before Mu¦ammad's prophethood. Ab£-±¡lib, the Holy Prophet's uncle, was insolvent. Mu¦ammad made the proposal to his other uncle `Abb¡s who was one of the richest members of Quraysh that each one of them would take one of Ab£-±¡lib's children to his home to protect them against famine. `Abb¡s accepted this proposal. Both of them went to Ab£-±¡lib and offered so. Thus, `Abb¡s took Ja`far, and Mu¦ammad (¥) took `Al¢ home to protect and educate. `Al¢ stayed at Mu¦ammad's home until he was promoted to the status of prophethood. Then, `Al¢ confirmed and followed him.[4] At that time, `Al¢ (a.s) was six years old and his personality was in the making.[5] Mu¦ammad (¥) wanted to compensate for the hardships Ab£-±¡lib and his wife, F¡§imah bint Asad, had gone through when he was young by adopting one of his children, namely `Al¢. He saw `Al¢ as the most competent of Ab£-±¡lib's children. This is evident by Mu¦ammad's remark after he had adopted `Al¢, “I have selected the one who has been selected by God to help me.”[6] Mu¦ammad (¥) showed a lot of respect and affection to `Al¢ (a.s) and did everything possible to educate him well. Fa¤l ibn `Abb¡s, one of `Al¢'s cousins, says:

I asked my father, “Which one of his children did the Prophet love the most?” He replied, “`Al¢ ibn Ab¢-±¡lib.” I said, “I have asked you of the Prophet's sons.” He replied, “The Prophet loves `Al¢ more than any of his sons and showed affection towards him more than others. The Prophet would never let go of `Al¢ except for those days when he attended Khad¢jah's caravan. We have never seen a father more affectionate towards his son than the Prophet and we have never seen a son more obedient to his father than `Al¢ to the Prophet.”[7]

After his prophethood, Mu¦ammad (¥) had so much emphasis over `Al¢'s education in the Islamic issues that if he received a Divine revelation at night, he would teach it to `Al¢ before dawn. If he received Divine revelation during the day, he would inform `Al¢ of it before sunset.[8] Once, `Al¢ (a.s) was asked, “How come you learned more narrations from the Prophet than his other followers?” He answered, “Whenever I asked the Prophet anything, he would answer; and whenever I was silent, he used to start telling me a narration.”[9]

When `Al¢ (a.s) was the caliph, he referred to his religious education with the following remarks:

“You, followers of the Prophet, are well aware of my close relationship with him; and you know that when I was a small boy, he used to embrace me close to his breast and let me sleep in his bed in such a way that I could touch his body and feel his smell; he even used to put food into my mouth. I used to follow the Prophet like a child going after his mother. He used to teach me one of his ethical virtues each day and ordered me to adopt that virtue. Each year, he used to pray God at the °ar¡' Mountain; I was the only person to be with him. When he received the Divine revelation, I could vividly hear Satan's voice. I asked the Prophet what that noise was. He answered that it was Satan's noise and that it had a terrible sensation for not being obedient on the earth. He says that I could hear what he heard and see what he saw; the difference was that he was the Prophet and I was not; I was his vizier and representative for doing good on the earth.”[10]

This discourse might just refer to the Prophet's prayer at °ar¡’ after his prophethood, but since most of the Prophet's prayers were done at °ar¡’ prior to his prophethood, we can be sure that this issue is related to the era prior to his prophethood and Satan's noise of discomfort is related to the descent of the first revelations. Anyway, `Al¢'s spirit and continuous education from the Prophet prepared him to see and hear things which were not possible for ordinary people to hear or see. These were due to his sensitive mind, piercing eyes, sensitive ears and specific insight.

[1] Ibn Sa`d, op cit, 1:121; Ibn Hush¡m, op cit, 1:210; al-Bayhaq¢, op cit, 1:211; al-Majlis¢, op cit, 15:369.

[2] This stone, being the most sacred component of the Kaaba, is introduced as a heavenly stone which became a component of Kaaba by Prophet Abraham due to God's command. See al-Majlis¢, op cit, 12:84, 99; al-Azraq¢, Akhb¡r Makkah 1:62-63. Al-°ajar al-Aswad is a reddish-black, oval piece of stone set in the eastern side of the Kaaba at a height of one meter and a half from the ground. It is the center of circumambulation.

[3] Ibn Sa`d, op cit, 1:145-146, T¡r¢kh al-Ya`q£b¢ 2:14-15; al-Majlis¢, op cit, 15:337-338; al-Bul¡dhar¢, op cit, 1:99-100; Mas`£d¢, Mur£j al-Dhahab 2:271-272. Some historians have given other reasons for the reconstruction of the Kaaba. However, every historian has referred to the Holy Prophet’s Judgment. See Ibn Is¦¡q, al-Siyar wal-Magh¡z¢, pp. 103; Ibn Hush¡m, op cit, 1:205; al-Bayhaq¢, Dal¡'il al-Nubuwwah.

[4] Ibn Hush¡m, al-S¢rah al-Nabawiyyah 1:262; ±abar¢, T¡r¢kh al-Umam wa’l-Mul£k 2:213; Ibn al-Ath¢r, al-K¡mil f¢’l-T¡r¢kh 2:58; al-Bul¡dhar¢, Ans¡b al-Ashr¡f 2:90; Ibn Ab¢’l-°ad¢d, Shar¦ Nahj al-Bal¡ghah 13:119, and 1:15.

[5] Ibn Ab¢’l-°ad¢d, Shar¦ Nahj al-Bal¡ghah 1:15; Ibn Shahr¡sh£b, Man¡qib, 2:180.

[6] Ab£’l-Faraj al-I¥fah¡n¢, Maq¡til al-±¡libiyy¢n, pp. 15.

[7] Ibn Ab¢’l-°ad¢d, op cit, pp. 13, pp. 200.

[8] Shaykh al-±£s¢, al-Am¡l¢, pp. 624.

[9] Al-Suy£§¢, T¡r¢kh al-Khulaf¡', pp. 170.

[10] Nahj al-Bal¡ghah, Sermon 192.

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