Why are Muslims drawn to al-Hajaru al-Aswad, the “Black Stone of Islam,” in the eastern corner of the Kaaba? What roles do rocks have in the Semitic religions of the Middle East? Answers to those questions will explain the foundation of Semitic faith systems.
The Role of Rocks in Middle East Religions
Geographic environment – mountains, fields, bodies of water and vegetation – influences the development of life and religion. In ancient times, the geography of the Arabic Peninsula influenced the formation of Arabic religions.
For example, in the desert, trees are few but rocks are plentiful. Unique rocks draw special attention, especially meteorites. The ancient inhabitants of Arabia, including the Nabateans with Petra as their capital city, sought unique rocks for their Kaaba, their cube-like worship center. Some worshiped the stone as an incarnation of a god.
Muhammad and the Black Stone
It was not surprising when Muhammad used such a stone, al-Hajaru al-Aswad, to mark the place of worship for the new religion he founded.
What amazed his followers was that he showed homage and respect by kissing the stone. Umar, the second caliph of the Islamic movement, said, “Except I saw God’s prophet kiss the black stone, there is no possibility I would have kissed it” (Bukhari 25:83).
Followers of other religions sympathize with Caliph Umar. To some people, kissing the Black Stone seems like idolatry. Email us if Muhammad’s kissing the black stone confuses you.
The Building Cornerstone in the Middle East
Environment determines the types of houses we inhabit. Because there are so few trees in the Middle East, many houses are built of rocks.
The main stone or rock set in a building construction is the foundation’s cornerstone. All the other rocks must line up with the cornerstone to have a strong structure. The cornerstone’s crucial purpose is to hold the entire building together.
In God’s Holy Book, Isa Al-Masih is often referred to with a special title, the “Cornerstone.”
Isa, “The stone you builders rejected. He has become the cornerstone” (Injil, Acts 4:11, paraphrase).
Isa is the “Cornerstone” because He is the Word of Allah. According to Qs 3:45, Isa is “foremost in this world and the world to come.” Email us if calling Isa “foremost in this world and the world to come” confuses you.
Rocks that Praise God
When Isa Al-Masih entered Jerusalem prior to His crucifixion, crowds welcomed him with shouts of praise. His enemies were angry. They told him to silence the people. Isa replied, “If they keep quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!” (Injil, Luke 19:40 – NLT).
Why would rocks burst into cheers? Because the Word of Allah (Isa Al-Masih) had come from heaven to save mankind from sin. He came to free us from our fear of death and hell and give us eternal life!
You will cheer for joy when you receive His salvation. Isa, “The Savior of the World,” wants you to believe in Him today!
(Author – Jason Gilead)
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QUESTIONS FOR CONTEMPLATION
- Why do you think some people are confused by the fact that Muhammad kissed the Black Stone of Islam? Explain your answer.
- What is the difference between praising Isa Al-Masih as the “Cornerstone” and kissing a meteorite as an act of worship? Explain your answer.
- Why did Isa Al-Masih say that the rocks would praise Him if people didn’t? Explain your answer.
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