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Books and Documents ( 25 Jul 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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History of the Kaaba

By Dr A Q Khan

July 26, 2010

I usually restrict my columns to economic, social, educational and historical events. Today I would like to comment on an excellent book on the history of the Kaaba. The love and affection that Muslims all over the world have for the Kaaba and Masjid-e-Nabawi cannot be put into words. The well-to-do have easy access to information, but for the poor, newspapers are its only source. Since Jang and The News are widely read, I am using my column for their benefit.

The book in question is Tarikh-e-Baitullah. It has been written by Al-Shaikh Mohammad Saleh bin Ahmad bin Zainul Abidin al Shaikh and it has been translated by Mr Mohammad Kamran Qureshi.

The book explains, among other things, the background of the construction of the Kaaba. Before the advent of Islam, Christians and Jews prayed facing Masjid-e-Aqsa (the Al Aqsa Mosque in the holy city of Jerusalem, or Al Quds). This practice continued among Muslims in the early days of Islam. One day, when our Holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) was leading the prayers, he received Allah’s command to turn his face towards Makkah. The relevant Quranic verse is: “O Mohammad, We see the turning of your face (for guidance) to the Heavens; now shall We turn you to a Qibla that shall please you. Turn, then, your face in the direction of the Sacred Mosque (the Kaaba). Wherever you are, turn faces (during prayer) in that direction. The People of the Book know well that it is the truth from their Lord. Nor is Allah unmindful of what they do.” (2:144.) In this way, Allah declared Baitullah as the Kaaba and described its sanctity in the following verse: “Fight them (non-Muslims) not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there.” (2:191.)

There are various stories about the construction of the Kaaba. Some say that Allah determined the place of the Kaaba 2,000 years before the creation of Earth. When Adam (AS) was banished to Earth he begged Allah for help and Allah sent down Baitul Mamur, which was one of the rubies of Heaven. It was sent down where Baitullah is now situated. There is a Hadith that says: “O Adam, I have sent for you a House, so perform Tawaf (circumambulation) as you circumambulate My Throne (Heaven).”

Some historians believe that all traces of the foundations Hazrat Adam (AS) had laid have disappeared. There being many different stories. Hazrat Seesh (AS), bin Adam (AS), Ibrahim (AS) and his son, Ismail (AS) are credited with the construction of the Kaaba. The Quran says: “Remember, We made the House a place of assembly for men and a place of safety. And take you the Station of Ibrahim as a place of prayer. And We covenanted with Ibrahim and Ismail that they should sanctify Our House for those who perform circumambulation around it, or use it as a retreat, or bow or prostrate themselves (before it) in prayer. And remember, Ibrahim said, ‘My Lord, make this a City of Peace and feed its people with fruits–such of them as believe in Allah and the Last Day.’ He said, ‘Yes, and such as reject faith–for which will We grant them their pleasure, but will soon drive them to the torment of Fire–an evil destination indeed.’ And remember, Ibrahim and Ismail raised the foundations of the House (with this prayer), ‘Our Lord! Accept this service from us, for You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.’ ” (2:125, 126, 127.)

In Surah Ibrahim there is mention of Hazrat Ismail (AS) settling in the vicinity of the Kaaba. We also know of Allah’s command to Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) to leave Hazrat Hajira (RA) and Hazrat Ismail (AS) near the Kaaba with some water and dates; of Hazrat Hajira’s running between Mounts Safa and Marwa, the descent of an angel, his hitting the ground with his wing, and water (from the spring of Zamzam) bursting forth. Building on the Kaaba continued after its initial construction by Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) and Hazrat Ismail (AS). The Maqam of Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) is the stone to which Hazrat Ismail (AS) brought his father, and by standing on it, Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) instructed Hazrat Ismail (AS) to raise the foundation of the Kaaba.

Abu Jehem mentions that Hajr-e-Aswad (the Black Stone) was brought by the Archangel Jibreel (AS) and Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) had it placed in its present position. Imam Tirmizi and Imam Nasai say that when Hazrat Ayesha (RA) desired to pray in the Kaaba, the Holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) had taken her by the hand to Hateem and instructed her to pray there, as it was a part of the Kaaba but had been excluded by her tribe.

Historians have agreed that the Kaaba was demolished and rebuilt many times, and this book contains many details on the subject. Additions and renovations are still continuing today. The Ibne Saud family has enlarged the surrounding area, paved it with white marble and cooled the floor with chilled water. May Allah Almighty bless them all.

The cover (ghilaf) of the Kaaba was first put around it by Taba, King of Yemen. In this connection, the Holy Prophet has said: “Don’t insult King Taba, because he was the first to provide cover over the Kaaba.”

About the custodians of the keys to the Kaaba, it is said that on the day of the conquest of Makkah the keeper of the keys, Usman bin Talha, refused to hand them over to Hazrat Ali (KW), who then forcibly took them from him. Hazrat Abbas (RA) requested the Holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) to entrust the keys to him. It was at that time that Allah sent down the following verse: “Allah does command you to render back your Trusts to those to whom they belong…” (4:58.) The Holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) instructed Hazrat Ali (KW) to hand back the keys to Usman bin Talha. Upon finding out the reason for this, Usman bin Talha immediately embraced Islam. It is reported that the Archangel Jibreel (AS) appeared and said that the keys would forever remain with the family of Usman bin Talha. Since then the keys have been kept by the Shebah family, as Usman bin Talha, before his death, had given them to his paternal cousin. The book also contains details about the Banu Shebah tribe and the present custodians of the keys. Presently Shaikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah bin Abdul Qadir al-Shebi is the custodian of the keys.

This book was launched in Karachi a few months ago and Dr Saleh Zainul Abidin Al-Shebi and Shaikh Abdur Rahman Saleh Zainul Abidin Al-Shebi especially came to grace the occasion. May Almighty Allah shower his blessings on all those involved in making possible the publication of this book. Ameen.

Source: The News, Pakistan