The Black Stone… An Idol?

30 August, 2016
Q Is Islam a true Religion? The 2nd of the 10 commandments in the Bible prohibits the making of idols. The Old Testament says that the idol worshiper must be put to death.When a Muslim prays 5 times a day he should direct himself toward the Black Stone of the Kabah in Makkah. This is while in pilgrimage everyone must worship and honor it, and even tour 7 times around this Black Stone idol.Muslims in the world honor this Black Stone idol in Kabah more than anything else… Is it not strange, that one of the pillars of Islam, the 2nd religion in the world after Christianity, is a mere black stone idol in Makkah?If this stone idol disappears by any reason, Islam & world terrorism will end immediately. So, the best way to defend Christianity and to save the world from this false religion is to attack first this black stone idol in Makkah.

Answer

Salam Dear Brother,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

Your main point is that Islam encourages idolatry. Nothing could be farther from the truth; because no other religion opposes idolatry as vehemently as Islam.

As for the Black Stone in the Kabah, it is not an idol; and nobody worships it. It is simply ‘a black stone’ and its chief use in the Kabah during pilgrimage is as a marking stone.

Do Christians worship the picture of Mary or the Cross behind the Altar? These are but symbols. Yet, the Black Stone does not even have that status.

Muslims honor the ten commandments just like Christians. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) never claimed that he came to teach a new religion. He taught that his mission was to restore the religion of all prophets of God, including Abraham, Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them all) to its pristine purity.

This basically means that we humans must not worship any god other than the One and Only Creator of the universe. You know the first of all commandments, according to Jesus is:

[Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one…] (Mark 12: 29)

Here he was actually reiterating the First Commandment of the Torah as revealed to Moses:

[Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one…] (Deuteronomy 6:4)

The Quran repeatedly and most emphatically states that God is One and Only. You can read this concrete Islamic concept in the Quran:

{Say: He is God, the One and Only; God, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him.} (Al-Ikhlas 112:1-4)

Before I explain at length how Muslims view the Black Stone, let me say that it can never be considered as an idol, as it is not the likeness of anything living, and no worship is rendered to it.

First of all, the Black Stone is not mentioned in the Quran. It is only a marker at which point the tawaf (the circumambulation of the Kabah) starts and ends. The traditions speak about kissing or touching the Stone during tawaf; but this is not compulsory. Our scholars are unanimous that waving in that direction is enough.

It is reported that Umar ibn al-Khattab drew near the Black Stone and kissed it, saying:

“No doubt, I know that you are only a stone and can neither benefit nor harm anyone. If I had not seen Allah’s Apostle kissing you I would not have kissed you.” (Al-Bukhari)

No Muslim has any doubt about the fact that the Black Stone is not to be worshipped or regarded as anything but a marker. At Hajj time, the whole area around the Kabah is so crowded that most pilgrims cannot even see it. And many pilgrims perform tawaf not on the ground floor of the Kabah, but on the floors above.

This means that they cannot see the Black Stone at all. They start tawaf and end it at the place where there is a marking line on the floor. And, nobody can ever say that their Hajj is incomplete for that reason.

Many critics of Islam make much of this stone, trying to find some sort of justification for their own polytheistic practices. But the founding principle of Islam is the concept of the Oneness of God: la ilaha illa Allah; there is no one that deserves worship or obeisance except the One and Only God.

So, Muslims do not worship anybody–or anything–other than Allah, Almighty. This was the teaching of all prophets of God from Adam to the Last Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon them all).

If you really want to fight terrorism, you should address political injustice, not attack or ridicule other religion’s practices, or even assume things that are not even there.

Thank you. Please keep in touch.

Salam.

About Professor Shahul Hameed
Professor Shahul Hameed is an Islamic consultant. He also held the position of the President of the Kerala Islamic Mission, Calicut, India. He is the author of three books on Islam published in the Malayalam language. His books are on comparative religion, the status of women, and science and human values.