The Black Stone, al-Hajr al-Aswad, is a Muslim relic. According to tradition it goes all the way back to the time of Adam and Eve. The stone is located on the eastern cornerstone of the Kaaba, an ancient, cube-shaped stone building in Mecca.
What is the Black Stone? Why is it so important to a Muslim? The answers are found in ancient traditions.
According to Islamic tradition the Stone fell from Heaven. The purpose was to show Adam and Eve where to build an altar, the first altar on Earth. The Stone was first white.
According to the Hadith, "It descended from Paradise whiter than milk, but the sins of the sons of Adam made it black". Again Islamic tradition says that when the flood came and Noah and his family entered the Ark, the Stone was lost. Later tradition claims Abraham found the Black Stone. He asked Ishmael, claimed by Muslims to be an ancestor to Muhammad, to build the Kaaba. Ishmael placed the stone on the eastern corner of the Kaaba.
The Black Stone is either a basalt stone, an agate, a piece of natural glass or just a stony meteorite.
The Black Stone is now polished smooth. It is made up of many pieces that are held together in a silver frame. This is because in early Islamic history an army of dissident Muslims smashed it to pieces. It is round and worn because millions of Muslims have touched and kissed it over the centuries.
During the Hajj Muslim pilgrims walk seven times around the Kaaba. Each time around they must attempt to kiss the Stone. This they imitate what their prophet, Muhammad, did when on earth. Because of the large crowds many people cannot kiss the Stone. Instead they will stretch out their arms and point towards the Black Stone as they walk around the Kaaba. This ceremony plays an important role during the Hajj.
Why would you kiss a Stone? The answer goes back to Muhammad. Muslims claim that Muhammad kissed the Black Stone. Muslims kiss the Stone to imitate what their prophet did. Why did Muhammad kiss the Black Stone? When Muhammad came to Mecca he ordered that the idols be taken out of the Kaaba before he would enter. Unfortunately he was not consistent. He was seen kissing the Stone which was a pagan practice.
Later Umar bin al-Khattab, a companion of Muhammad was troubled by what he saw. "Umar came near the Black Stone and kissed it and said, “No doubt, I know that you are a stone and cannot benefit anyone nor harm anyone. Had I not seen Allah’s Apostle kissing you I would not have kissed you” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 26, NUMBER 680).
Islam strictly forbids idolatry and sees the Stone as a symbol and nothing more. Some people might think Muhammad was caught committing idolatry!? What do you think?
Most Muslims do not worship the Stone. Yet there are a few who see the Stone as an idol that will appear on The Day of Judgment with eyes to see and a tongue to speak. This is dangerous. It is making an idol out of the Black Stone instead of worshiping The Creator of the Universe?
There are denominations of Christianity that focus on relics and statutes as well, again taking the focus off of Isa Al-Masih.
As mentioned earlier Muslims feel the stone is black because of sin. Does this means that the sins of those passing the Stone were transferred to it? Some may feel that way. Obviously Muslims, as well as all mankind, are seeking for a way to get rid of sin.
Note this conversation in heaven between angelic being so see how the Gospel deals with sin: “Then one of the elders [heavenly beings] asked me, ‘These in white robes--who are they, and where did they come from?’ I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’” (Injil, Revelation of John, 7:13 – 14). Because of shed blood of Isa Al-Masih, their robes (lives) are white, not black.
The Bible makes it very plain that Isa Al-Masih is the “Lamb of God”. He bore the sins of the world on the cross. Only He, not a Black Stone, can cleanse our hearts from sin.
God, who came to us as a man, died so we can be cleansed from the stain of sin. Though we were once black (with sin) we now can be white as snow. This will happen when we let Isa Al-Masih wash the sin stain away with His blood, the blood that He shed for you and me.
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