"And now verily We shall make you turn (in prayer) toward a Qibla which is
dear to you. So turn your face toward the Inviolable Place of Worship (the
Kaaba of Makkah)." (Al Baqarah 2:144)
The Quran commands the Muslims to face the sacred precincts in Makkah during
prayer which is a fundamental tenet in slam. The legend of this purely
Islamic development of a sacred stone structure dates back to the fall of
Hadhrat Adam (alayhis salaam) from Paradise onto earth at Makkah. It has
been reported by Al-tabari that Hadhrat Jibraeel (alayhis salaam) flapped
his wings to uncover a foundation laid in the seventh fold of the earth.
Angels paved this foundation with stones and Hazrat Adam went round this
structure following the example of the Angels. Therefore it stands to reason
that Allah Ta'ala contemplated and designated the Ka'aba before the creation
of the earth. It is said that the Kaaba is a prototype of Baitul Mamoor, a
house in the seventh Heaven situated immediately over the Kaaba.
The Kaaba with respect to the inhabited parts of the world is like the
centre of a circle with respect to the circle itself. All regions face the
Kaaba, surrounding it as a circle surrounds its centre; and each region
faces a particular part of the Kaaba. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi
wasallam) adopted the Kaaba as a physical focus in prayer as well for other
acts of worship such as burial of the dead, recitation of the Qur'an,
announcing the call of prayer, the ritual slaughter of animals, etc. Thus,
Muslims have been spiritually and physically oriented towards the Kaaba and
the holy city of Makkah in their daily lives.
Circumbulation of The Kaaba
'Tawaf' or cicumbulation (the ritual encircling of the Kaaba) starts from
the Hajar Aswad - the Black Stone. The circumambulator, if possible, may
kiss the stone or may direct his hand towards it saying, "In the name of
Allah, Allah is great." He must circle the Kaaba seven times with the Kaaba
to his left (in anti-clockwise direction).
On examination, it will be found that the entire universe which is in
constant circular or elliptical rotation, is in actual fact moving in the
pattern as the Tawaf. The electrons of an atom revolve around its nucleus in
the same manner as making Tawaf, in an anti-clockwise direction. The ovum,
prior to fertilisation actually taking place, surrounded by sperms, turns
remarkably in anti-clockwise direction, thereby resembling the Tawaf.
Considering the globe as a whole, it could be found that the earth has two
movements. It rotates on its own axis in 24 hours causing day and night. The
various seasons of the year are due to the earth's simultaneous revolution
around the sun in 365 days. It is really astonishing to note that the earth,
in both these movements, rotates anti-clockwise. The entire universe from
the atom to the galaxies is in constant circular rotation like a
circumambulator who encircles the Kaaba in the anti-clockwise direction. All
objects in the universe, atoms, moon, stars, electrical current, galaxies,
etc. are rotating in the same way. Moreover, the angles encircle the
heavenly Baitul Ma'mur in an ever-lasting Tawaf. In the same way, the Kaaba
in Makkah is never free from circumbulators. "Know that the world has come
to an end when no soul will circlembulate the holy Kaaba."
"Do Muslims Really Worship the Kaaba?"
This was one question, among others, propounded by certain non-Muslim
student groups at a university rally not very long ago. This kind of
obnoxious thinking and behaviour is the direct result of villifying and
being abusive towards other religions. Islam, known by many a western
thinker as the 'champion religion' condemns the idea of disgracing and
mocking any religion, but rather promotes the idea of showing respect. How
else would the world see good in a religion so perfect as Islam. Our aim in
this world should be to convey the magnificent teachings of Islam with love
and honour, so that the word of Allah Ta'ala reaches the four corners of the
Do Muslims worship the Kaaba by merely prostrating towards it?
Hadhrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thaanvi (rahmatullah alayhi), in his book
'Ashraful-Jawaab', carefully probes the matter by providing logical and
1. It is a known fact to Muslims that we don't worship the Kaaba but only
worship Allah Ta'ala and Him alone. There is sufficient evidence to
substantiate our stand and belief. Categorically, we explicitly deny
worshipping the Kaaba nor the structure of the Kaaba. Hence, no worshipper
(in his right frame of mind) can deny the thing he or she worships. In other
words, Muslims deny worshipping the Kaaba and it is not a symbol of worship.
The Kaaba is only a direction of worship.
2. When performing Salaat, even if the thought of facing towards the Kaaba
is absent from the mind too, the salaat is valid. However, many Musallies
that enter the masjid and begin performing salaat without having the
faintest idea that they are facing the direction of the Kaaba, still have
their salaat intact. Had we been worshipping the Kaaba, then it would have
been a prerequisite condition to first intend facing the Kaaba before
beginning any salaat.
3. If at anytime the structure of the Kaaba is destroyed then too, it will
be compulsory to perform salaat facing the direction of the Kaaba .
Therefore, we can say without a shadow of doubt that Muslims do not worship
its stone structure, otherwise by its destruction Salaat would immediately
come to a temporary stop.
4. If a person decides to perform salaat on the roof of the Kaaba, the
Salaat will be valid. Therefore had we worshipped the Kaaba then Salaat
performed above it would be incorrect; because firstly, the thing worshipped
must appear in front and secondly, it is utterly disrespectful and
disgraceful to the thing worshipped by standing on top of it. Imagine anyone
standing above their Creator and Maker of this universe.
In addition, Moulana Thaanvi (rahmatullah alay) further discusses other
related matters on the same subject - the Kaaba. Did you ask yourself at any
time, 'Why do we face one direction, and not many directions?'
Imagine if there was no one direction to face then everyone would have faced
all directions which may have caused dissent and disunity in the heart of
the Muslims. Therefore it was essential to provide a common direction for
the Muslims throughout the world.
Why do we face toward the Kaaba in particular and not any other selected
No one has the right to ask such a question. However, Allah Ta'ala is
omniscient and He alone knows toward which direction His Noor (light)
descends. Whichever direction this light is greatest, we are directed to
How do we know the Noor of Allah descends toward the direction of the Kaaba?
Only those who possess eyes may be able to get a glimpse of that Noor
descending onto the Kaaba. Therefore, Salaat may be read above the Kaaba
structure, because in actual fact, it is the Noor of Allah Ta'ala that we
face in prayers and definitely not any object or likewise.
The Jurist have commented that the Kaaba, although seen to a certain height,
reaches upto the heavens and right down to the earth's bottom.
Furthermore, the secret in facing toward the direction of the Kaaba is the
spirit of worship (Ibaadat), and contentment and serenity of the heart.
Without this contentment there exist no spirit (rooh), which is the reason
we are instructed to focus our sight on the place of prostration in Salaat
so that we may be able to concentrate with heart and soul entirely.
Talk delivered by
Moulana A Kathrada in Durban (1995)
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