People find strength in unity.
Mankind needs to be united but we must unite on something that will mark out peace and justice for all, not just a few, and we want peace and justice that will be constant; regardless of changes in time and place.
Mankind is rarely united for long and division often breeds a competitive spirit, and when pride rules, war and destruction ensue. Without a moral and spiritual unifying factor, mankind will destroy himself.
Only one thing can unite mankind on goodness and constancy; something that goes far beyond pride: devotion to the Creator and Nurturer of all and care for His creation.
Attaining this high state of being that transcends worldly desires is not easy; it requires a code of conduct, a way of life and a spiritual and physical direction to which all are united. In Islam, this sublime course is symbolized in the Ka’bah; the Qiblah.
The Prophet said:
Everything has a master, and the master of seats is that facing the Qiblah. (At-Tabarani)
How the Qiblah Changed
In the beginning of Islam Muslims prayed facing Baytul Maqdis in Jerusalem; a shared Qiblah between the Muslims and the Jews. Then not long after the migration to Madinah the Prophet received a divine order to change the Qiblah and pray towards Al-Masjid Al-Haram.
One day during the noon prayer the Prophet was told by Jibreel (Gabriel) to turn and face Al-Masjid Al-Haram and all those with the Prophet at that time followed him. This was a test from Allah to see who was sincere in their faith.
The Qiblah was changed with a gentle harmony of movement and obedience to Allah and His Messenger, peace be upon him.
As soon as the Prophet received this order from Jibreel, he turned toward the Ka’bah and those praying in rows behind him followed without question.
The Prophet described the Ummah as being like one body; when one part of it is in pain and fever it affects all the other parts. The oneness of direction and the harmony which with Muslims adhere to their Lord clearly manifest this meaning.
The Building of the Ka’bah
To discuss the history of the Ka’bah we have to remember Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and his noble family; his wife Hajar (Hagar) and his son, Ismail (Ishmael). Ibrahim is known for his sincere adherence to monotheism and his strength of character with which he stood up against the falsehood of his time. It was upon this sincerity, character and belief that the Ka’bah was built.
Abraham was a nation, devoutly obedient to Allah, inclining toward truth, and he was not of those who associate others with Allah. (16:120)
Ibrahim debated the king of Babylon (Nimrood) about the Lordship of Allah when this evil king claimed to be a god. Prophet Ibrahim also reminded his idolatrous people that the planets, the sun and the moon which they worshiped all set and disappeared while he declared the oneness of Allah. Ibrahim was the only one of his people who stood up for monotheism. Indeed, he was a nation!
But Ibrahim did not only speak against idol worship; he also smashed the idols of his people and because of his courage and trust in his Lord the fire into which he was later thrown became cool. Ibrahim never hesitated or doubted his Lord and the reward he received because of his faith was immense.
“He will never let us down!”: The Courage of Hajar
The courage of Hajar, the mother of Ismail, and the adversity she faced, are well known.
Hajar was both a wife of a prophet and the mother of a prophet. She exemplified perfect faith as she faced this situation with her young son, Ismail.
Pained upon leaving his wife and son, and entrusting them to Allah, Ibrahim made the following du’a:
Our Lord, I have settled some of my descendants in an uncultivated valley near Your sacred House, our Lord, that they may establish prayer. So make hearts among the people incline toward them and provide for them from the fruits that they might be grateful.” (14:37)
Ibrahim returned to Makkah and built the Ka’bah with his son, Ismail, praying that his descendants would believe in Allah. Answering his supplication, Allah sent the seal of the Prophets, Muhammad from Makkah to establish Islam. From its beginning, the Ka’bah was a spiritual center.
The Call of Ibrahim
Prophet Ibrahim was ordered by Allah to proclaim Hajj, calling those who believe in Allah at all times and in every place to visit the House of their Lord.
Muhammad was sent by Allah to purify the religion of Ibrahim from distortion. The Prophet said:
Truly, I was written as the Seal of the Prophets with Allah when Adam was still lying on the ground…I am the supplication of my father Ibrahim and the good tidings of my brother Jesus…
Until today, Muslims answer the call of Ibrahim by performing pilgrimage and at least five times a day, Muslims face toward Makkah in their prayers, unified in obedience to Allah.
Upon What Does the Qiblah Unite Us?
Having a Qiblah not only gives the Muslims a physical direction to face in Prayer, but it also unifies our hearts, making it easier to focus on clearly defined goals of worship, manners and behavior.
Prophet Muhammad said:
I only came to teach you good character.
Everything that forms a decent character and noble manners is instilled in Muslims and is part of what unites us; honesty, trustworthiness, justice, tolerance and so on.
One Qiblah, one straight path, one code of conduct and one mass of people facing it five times a day; a spectacle of human spirituality and devotion!
This is the Qiblah! Let it help us make this world our bridge to the hereafter and as all creation worships its Lord, let us not be the exception.
(From Reading Islam’s archive)