As thousands, nay millions, of muslims flock to perform Hajj, they will form queues to touch the black stone and fight to kiss it. But what is the black stone? And what is its significance in Islam?
The black stone was sent down from paradise, as we learn from the hadith narrated by Ibn Abbas that The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The Black Stone came down from Paradise.”
(Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 877; al-Nasaa’i, 2935. The hadeeth was classed as saheeh by al-Tirmidhi)
“When the Black Stone came down from Paradise, it was whiter than milk, but the sins of the sons of Adam made it black.”
(Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 877; Ahmad, 2792. Classed as saheeh by Ibn Khuzaymah, 4/219. Al-Haafiz ibn Hajar classed it as qawiy (strong) in Fath al-Baari, 3/462).
This hadith means that the sins of those who touched the stone, caused it to turn black.
Al-Haafiz ibn Hajar said: “Some heretics tried to criticize this hadeeth by saying: How come the sins of the mushrikeen turned it black and the worship of the people of Tawheed did not make it white? I answer by quoting what Ibn Qutaybah said: If Allah had willed, that would have happened. But Allah has caused it to be the case that black usually changes other colours and its not itself changed, which is the opposite to what happens with white.”
Al-Muhibb al-Tabari said: The fact that it is black is a lesson for those who have insight. If sins can have this effect on an inanimate rock, then the effect they have on the heart is greater. (Fath al-Baari, 3/463)
Subhanallah! Imagine if sins can have such an adverse effect on a rock, then what about our hearts?!
This reminds me of another hadith, in which the Messenger ﷺ mentions the effects of sins on the heart;
It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “When the believer commits sin, a black spot appears on his heart. If he repents and gives up that sin and seeks forgiveness, his heart will be polished. But if (the sin) increases, (the black spot) increases. That is the Ran that Allah mentions in His Book: “Nay! But on their hearts is the Ran (covering of sins and evil deeds) which they used to earn.” [83:14] (Ibn Majah, Hasan)
So, let us use these upcoming blessed days to clean and polish our hearts. Let us seek the forgiveness of Allah and utilise our time in His remembrance. May Allah purify our hearts.
Back to the subject of the black stone…
Did you know that the black stone will speak on the day of judgement and testify?
It was narrated that Ibn ‘Abbaas said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said concerning the Stone: “By Allah, Allah will bring it forth on the Day of Resurrection, and it will have two eyes with which it will see and a tongue with which it will speak, and it will testify in favour of those who touched it in sincerity.”
(Tirmidhi, 961; Ibn Maajah, 2944, hasan by al-Tirmidhi, and as qawiy by al-Haafiz ibn Hajar in Fath al-Baari, 3/462)
So how should muslims performing hajj or umrah deal with the black stone?
It was narrated from Jaabir ibn ‘Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) that when the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) came to Makkah, he came to the Black Stone and touched it, then he walked to the right of it and ran three times and walked four times [around the Ka’bah]. (Muslim)
Hence touching the black stone is to be done before performing tawaf.
It is also encouraged to kiss for the Prophet was seen doing so.
It was narrated that ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) came to the Black Stone and kissed it, then he said: “I know that you are only a stone which can neither bring benefit nor cause harm. Were it not that I had seen the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) kiss you, I would not have kissed you.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
However, one should know that it is merely a stone, and has no ability or power in of itself. It cannot cause harm nor bring benefit. Many a times, people become extreme in kissing it, they rub their faces into it, rub their clothes, and if they could, would probably try and take a piece home with them! We should beware of exaggerating, and know that benefit and harm are in Hands of Allah.
Nonetheless, touching the stone is a means of expiation,
It was narrated that Ibn ‘Umar said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say: “Touching them both [the Black Stone and al-Rukn al-Yamani] is an expiation for sins.”
(Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 959. This hadeeth was classed as hasan by al-Tirmidhi and as saheeh by al-Haakim (1/664). Al-Dhahabi agreed with him).
If one is unable to reach it due to the crowds or some other reason, then he should touch it with something else and kiss that object. And if he is unable to do that then he should point towards it and say Allahu-Akbar, as these were all reported from the Prophet.
When one goes to kiss it or touch one should maintain Islamic etiquettes, and should not cause annoyance to others. Pushing, shoving are all too common in Hajj crowds, and we should aim to change this, and be better than that. Islam teaches us good manners, and we should uphold these mannerisms when we are the holiest site, performing such honourable rituals, otherwise we only incur sin upon ourselves. Pushing and shoving in crowds are often the reason for unnecessary injury, and at times even death or stampedes. Many a times women also get caught up in the crowds, hence we should be aware, and maintain cautiousness even in these difficult trying circumstances.