In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
The Virtue of Allah’s House
Through this ayah, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala answers the criticism of the Jews who scoffed at the Muslims for turning their faces toward Ka’abah in prayer instead of Bayt Al-Maqdis [Jerusalem], and held a false believe that Hajj is a custom of the pagans.
The ayah briefly outlines the history of the re-construction of the Ka’abah, the characteristics of the ‘House of Allah’ and the city of Makkah, and the injunctions with regard to the respect to be paid to this sacred place. This is a subject that is re-visited in the Qur’an many times, as we will notice in our study.
The word mathaba [مَثَابَة] is from the root tha-wau-ba and it means ‘to come back’. Makkah is a place where Muslims from all over the world return again and again or have the desire to return. This shows that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has given a position of privilege to the Ka’abah. It shall always remain a place where people assemble from the four corners of the world, and long to return to again and again. Mujahid said one never has enough of visiting the Ka’abah, but comes back every time with a greater longing to return, and to see it again.
Certain scholars have remarked that one of the signs of one’s Hajj having been accepted by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is that, on one’s return, one should find in one’s heart a greater desire to present oneself in the House of Allah again. This is borne out by the experience of those who have had the good fortune to be there – each visit, instead of quenching the thirst, rather increases it. Considering that Makkah has nothing to offer by way of a beautiful landscape or easy access or mundane comforts, yet, its power to draw millions of people to itself every year is nothing short of a miracle.
Makkah – A Safe Resort and Refuge for Mankind
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala described the House as a safe resort and refuge, for those who visit it are safe, even if they had committed acts of evil. This honor comes from the honor of the person who built it first, Khaleel Ar-Rahman. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says in Surah Al-Hajj ayah 26,
وَإِذْ بَوَّأْنَا لإِبْرَهِيمَ مَكَانَ الْبَيْتِ أَن لاَّ تُشْرِكْ بِى شَيْئاً
“And (remember) when We showed Ibraheem the site of the (Sacred) House (the Ka’abah at Makkah) (saying): ‘Associate not anything (in worship) with Me…’” (22:26)
And in Surah Aal Imran,
إِنَّ أَوَّلَ بَيْتٍ وُضِعَ لِلنَّاسِ لَلَّذِى بِبَكَّةَ مُبَارَكاً وَهُدًى لِّلْعَـلَمِينَ فِيهِ ءَايَـتٌ بَيِّـنَـتٌ مَّقَامُ إِبْرَهِيمَ وَمَن دَخَلَهُ كَانَ ءَامِنا
“Verily, the first House (of worship) appointed for mankind was that at Bakkah (Makkah), full of blessing, and guidance for Al-`Alameen [mankind and Jinn]. In it are manifest signs (for example), the Maqam [place] of Ibrahim; whosoever enters it, he attains security.” (3:96-97)
Abu Al-‘Aliyah said it is safe from enemies and armed conflict. During the time of ignorance, the people were victims of raids and kidnapping, while the people surrounding it (Al-Masjid Al-Haram) were safe and not subject to kidnapping. Not only is Ka’abah a safe place but the entire area surrounding the mosque is secure therefore it is called Haram – Sacred. People have been forbidden from shedding blood or taking revenge within these precincts. This is a du’a that Prophet Ibraheem made and Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala responded to the du’a of His righteous slave.
This ayah indicates that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala honored the Sacred House, which Allah made as a safe refuge and safe haven. Therefore, the souls are eager, but never bored, to conduct short visits to the House, even every year.
The Station of Ibraheem
“And take you (people) the Maqam [place] of Ibraheem as a place of prayer),” this part of the ayah emphasizes the honor of Ibraheem’s Maqam, and the instruction to pray next to it. Sufyan Ath-Thawri reported that Sa’eed bin Jubayr commented, “The stone [maqam] is the standing place of Ibraheem, Allah’s Prophet, and a mercy from Allah. Ibraheem stood on the stone, while Isma’eel was handing him the stones (constructing the Ka’abah).”
Ibn Abi Hatim reported that Jabir, describing the Hajj (pilgrimage) of the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “When the Prophet performed Tawaf, ‘Umar asked him, ‘Is this the Maqam of our father (Prophet Ibraheem)?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ `Umar said, ‘Should we take it a place of prayer?’ So Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala revealed, “And take you (people) the Maqam (place) of Ibraheem as a place of prayer.’”
Ibn Jarir narrated that Jabir radhiAllahu ‘anhu said, “After the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam kissed the Black Stone, he went around the house three times in a fast pace and four times in a slow pace. He then went to Maqam of Ibraheem, with it between him and the House, and prayed two Rak’ahs.” This is part of the long hadeeth that Muslim recorded in Saheeh.
Al-Bukhari recorded that ‘Amr bin Dinar said that he heard Ibn ‘Umar radhiAllahu ‘anhu say, “The Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam performed Tawaf around the House seven times and then prayed two Rak’ahs behind the Maqam.”
All these texts indicate that the Maqam is the stone that Ibraheem was standing on while building the House. As the House’s walls became higher, Isma’eel brought his father a stone, so that he could stand on it, while Isma’eel handed him the stones. Ibraheem would place the stones on the wall, and whenever he finished one side, he would move to the next side, to complete the building all around. Ibraheem kept repeating this until he finished building the House. Ibraheem’s footprints were still visible in the stone, and the Arabs knew this fact during the time of jahiliyyah [ignorance].
The Muslims also saw Ibraheem’s footprints on the stone, as Anas bin Malik radhiAllahu ‘anhu said, “I saw the Maqam with the print of Ibraheem’s toes and feet still visible in it, but the footprints dissipated because of the people rubbing the stone with their hands.”
Earlier, the Maqam was placed close to the Ka’abah’s wall. In the present time, the Maqam is placed next to Al-Hijr on the right side of those entering through the door.
When Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam finished building the House, he placed the stone next to the wall of Ka’abah or, when the House was finished being built, Ibraheem just left the stone where it was last standing, and he was commanded to pray next to the stone when he finished the Tawaf [circumambulating]. It is understandable that the Maqam of Ibraheem would stand where the building of the House ended. The Leader of the faithful ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab, one of the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs whom we were commanded to emulate, moved the stone away from the Ka’bah’s wall during his reign. ‘Umar radhiAllahu ‘anhu is one of the two men, whom the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam described when he said,
اقْتَدُوا بِاللَّذَيْنِ مِنْ بَعْدِي أَبِي بَكْرٍ وَعُمَر
“Imitate the two men who will come after me: Abu Bakr and ‘Umar.”
‘Umar was also the person whom the Qur’an agreed with regarding praying next to Maqam of Ibraheem. This is why none among the Companions radhiAllahu ‘anhum rejected it when he moved it.
This ayah shows that it is wajib [necessary] to offer two rak’ahs after the Tawaf of the Ka’abah. But offering these prayers specifically behind the Station of Ibraheem is a Sunnah [the Way of the Prophet]. There is no bar on offering these prayers at any other spot within the Haram, for the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam himself has been reported to have offered them near the gate of the House of Allah, as did the blessed Companion ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas.
The Command to Purify the House
Al-Hasan Al-Basri said: And We gave Our ‘Ahd [command] to Ibraheem and Isma’eel means Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala ordered them to purify it from all filth and impurities, of which none should ever touch it.” Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu commented that it means purify the House from the idols. Other scholars said that it means purify the House from the idols, sexual activity, false witness and sins of all kinds.
“Purify My House for those who perform Tawaf and those who are staying (there) for worship and those who bow and prostrate (in prayer).” The House of Allah is meant for people to make Tawaf of the Ka’abah, to do ai’tekaf [to seek a retreat for worship and meditation], and to offer their prayers.
Mufti Muhammad Shafi Usmani writes that the expression ‘My House’ indicates the commandment applies to all the mosques. Once ‘Umar radhiAllahu ‘anhu heard a man shout in the mosque. He rebuked him for having forgotten where he was. One should pay due respect to a mosque, and refrain from speaking loudly or say something which the Shariah has forbidden. Just as Haram must be kept cleans from all kinds of dirt and filth, external and internal, so must every mosque. Those who enter a mosque must keep their bodies and their clothes free from dirt, filth and even from bad smells, and also keep their hearts free from Shirk, hypocrisy, pride, malice and greed, etc. The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam forbade people from entering a mosque, if they have just eaten raw onion or garlic.
Purifying all mosques is also supported by the Qur’an. In Surah An-Nur, it appears,
فِى بُيُوتٍ أَذِنَ اللَّهُ أَن تُرْفَعَ وَيُذْكَرَ فِيهَا اسْمُهُ يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ فِيهَا بِالْغُدُوِّ وَالاٌّصَالِ
“In houses (mosques) which Allah has ordered to be raised (to be cleaned, and to be honored), in them His Name is remembered. Therein glorify Him (Allah) in the mornings and in the (late) afternoons.” (24:36)
Ka’abah is a place of returning; if Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has blessed us with health and resources, then we must make Hajj and ‘Umrah. If we cannot make visit the House of Allah due to some restriction then at least we must have the yearning in our heart.
Houses of Allah are the places where Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is remembered. We should, hence, come to the mosque and any other gathering where Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is remembered with absolute cleanliness and humility. Our hearts should be clean of rancor and avoid disputes in the masajid.
We should also maintain the cleanliness of mosques more than our houses. We should not throw tissue papers, pieces of paper or leave our belongings in the mosques.
By specifically mentioning, keep it clean for those who make Tawaf, do aitekaf and pray, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has pointed out the purpose of visiting His Houses especially Al-Masjid Al-Haram. It is not a place to conduct businesses, argue, gossip or go for leisure. Entering the masjid (Al-Haram), we should be engage in one of the three acts of worship: Tawaf, prayer, or aitekaf. We can do aitekaf in a masjid by reciting the Qur’an and not engaging in any Laghw.
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