by Sam Shamoun
According to the traditional Islamic view the following verses are exhorting Muslims to face the Kabah in Mecca and bow to it when they perform their five daily prayers:
We have seen thee turning thy face about in the heaven; now We will surely turn thee to a direction that shall satisfy thee. Turn thy face towards the Holy Mosque; and wherever you are, turn your faces towards it. Those who have been given the Book know it is the truth from their Lord; God is not heedless of the things they do. Yet if thou shouldst bring to those that have been given the Book every sign, they will not follow thy direction; thou art not a follower of their direction, neither are they followers of one another's direction. If thou followest their caprices, after the knowledge that has come to thee, then thou wilt surely be among the evildoers whom We have given the Book, and they recognize as they recognize their sons, even though there is a party of them conceal the truth and that wittingly. S. 2:144-146
From whatsoever place thou issuest, turn thy face towards the Holy Mosque; and wherever you may be, turn your faces towards it, that the people may not have any argument against you, excepting the evildoers of them; and fear you them not, but fear you Me; and that I may perfect My blessing upon you, and that haply so you may be guided; S. 2:150
And when We settled for Abraham the place of the House: 'Thou shall not associate with Me anything. And do thou purify My House for those that shall go about it and those that stand, for those that bow and prostrate themselves; S. 22:26
According to the Qur’an prostration is an act of worship since it is directly connected to the service or worship that must be rendered to Allah:
Surely those who are with thy Lord wax not too proud to serve Him (‘ibadatihi); they chant His praise, and to Him they bow (yasjudoona). S. 7:206
And of His signs are the night and the day, the sun and the moon. Bow not yourselves (la tasjudoo) to the sun and moon, but bow yourselves (wa-osjudoo) to God who created them, if Him you serve (ta-abudoona). S. 41:37
Rather prostrate yourselves (fa-osjudoo) before Allah and serve (wa-oabudoo). S. 53:62 Pickthall
Why, then, are Muslims bowing to a pagan shrine which at one time housed 360 idols?
CCX: Say: 'Truth has come and falsehood has vanished. Falsehood is always bound to vanish.'" (17:81)
"Vanish" means to be destroyed.
4443. It is related that 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud said, "The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, entered Makka and there were three hundred and sixty idols around the Ka'ba. He began to poke them with a stick in his hand, saying, 'Truth has come and falsehood has vanished' (17:81) and 'The Truth has come. Falsehood cannot originate or regenerate.'(34:49)" (Aisha Bewley, The Sahih Collection of Al-Bukhari, Chapter 68. Book of Tafsir: *; *)
See also Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan’s version of Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 244.
And let us not forget that there were other pagan Kabahs at the time of Muhammad which the idolators built for their gods and goddesses:
CLI: Burning houses and palm-trees
2857. It is related that Qays ibn Abi Hazim said, "Jarir said to me, 'The Messenger of Allah said to me, "Will you not relieve me of Dhu'l-Khalasa?"' which was a house of Khath'am which was called the Yamani Ka'ba. 'I set out with one hundred and fifty horsemen from Ahmas. They are good horsemen. I could not sit firm on a horse and he (the Prophet) struck me in my chest so that I saw the marks of his fingers on my chest. He said, "O Allah, make him firm and make him a guided guide."' He went to it, broke it up and burnt it. Then he sent the news to the Messenger of Allah. Jarir's messenger said, 'By the One who sent you with the truth, I did not come to you until I left it as if it was an emaciated - or scabby - camel.' He said, 'May Allah bless the horses and riders of Ahmas' five times."
CLXXXVIII: Good news of victories
2911. It is related that Qays said, "Jarir ibn 'Abdullah said to me, 'The Messenger of Allah said to me, "Will you not relieve me from Dhu'l-Khalasa?"' which was a house where Khath'am stayed which was called the Yamani Ka'ba I set out with one hundred and fifty horsemen from Ahmas. They are good horsemen. I told the Prophet that I could not sit firm on a horse and he (the Prophet) struck me in my chest so that I saw the marks of his fingers on my chest and said, "O Allah, make him firm and make him a guided guide."'He went to it, smashed it and burnt it down. Then he sent the good news to the Messenger of Allah. Jarir's messenger said, 'By the One who sent you with the truth, I did not come to you until I left it as if it was a scabby camel.' He said, 'May Allah bless the horses and riders of Ahmas' five times." (Bewley, Sahih Al-Bukhari, Chapter 61. Book of Jihad and Military Expeditions: *;* http://www.sunnipath.com/library/Hadith/H0002P0061.aspx)
Therefore, to bow towards any of these pagan shrines was to bow down in worship to the gods and goddesses which these places were built for.
The Kabah as the dwelling place of Allah
Do Muslims bow down to the Kabah because Allah actually dwells there? Is the Kabah the earthly place where Allah has chosen to live, being the house that he made for his glory and name to reside in forever?
If so then how do Muslims explain the fact that the Qur’an says that Allah, like the angels, dwells in heaven above?
Do you feel secure that He who is IN heaven (man FEE al-sama-i) will not cause the earth to swallow you, the while it rocks? Do you feel secure that He who is IN heaven (man FEE al-sama-i) will not loose against you a squall of pebbles, then you shall know how My warning is? S. 67:16-17
Contrast this with what is said regarding those who are in the heavens:
How many an angel there is IN the heavens (malakin FEE al-samawati) whose intercession avails not anything, save after that God gives leave to whomsoever He wills and is well-pleased. S. 53:26
Whatever is IN the heavens (FEE al-samawati) and the earth glorifies Allah; and HE is the Mighty, the Wise. S. 57:1
The hadiths record that there are seven heavens inhabited by prophets and angels, and that there is a house located in the highest heaven:
… Then he ascended with me to the sixth heaven and asked for it to be opened. It was asked, ‘Who is this?’ He answered, ‘Jibril.’ It was asked, 'Who is with you?' He replied, 'Muhammad.' It was asked, 'Has he been sent for?' He said, 'Yes.' It was said, 'Welcome to him! What an excellent visitor has come!' It opened and when I arrived, Musa was there. He said, 'This is Musa, so greet him.' I greeted him and he returned the greeting and then said, 'Welcome to a righteous brother and a righteous Prophet!' When I passed on, he wept. He was asked, 'Why are you weeping?' He replied, 'I am weeping because more of the community of this lad who was sent after me will enter the Garden than those of my community!'
Then he ascended with me to the seventh heaven and Jibril asked for it to be opened. It was asked, 'Who is this?' He answered, 'Jibril.' It was asked, 'Who is with you?' He answered, 'Muhammad.' It was said, 'Has he been sent for?' He answered, 'Yes.' It was said, 'Welcome to him! What an excellent visitor has come!' It opened and when I arrived, Ibrahim was there. He said, "This is your father, so greet him.' I greeted him and he returned the greeting and said, 'Welcome to a righteous son and a righteous Prophet!'
Then I was shown the Lote-tree of the Limit. Its fruits were like the pots of Hajar, and its leaves were like elephant ears. He said, 'This is the Lote-tree of the Limit.' There were four rivers: two hidden rivers and two apparent rivers. I asked, 'What are these two, Jibril?' and he said, 'The two hidden ones are in the Garden, and the two apparent ones are the
Then fifty prayers every day were made obligatory for me. I returned and passed by Musa who asked, 'What are you commanded?' I replied, 'I am commanded fifty prayers a day.' He said, 'Your community will not be able to do fifty prayers a day. I tested people before you. I tried as hard as I could with the tribe of
See also Khan's translation of Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 227.
According to some other reports this was supposedly the time when Muhammad saw his Lord as light:
Chapter 78: THE MEANING OF THE WORDS OF ALLAH: "HE SAW HIM IN ANOTHER DESCENT" (AL-QUR'AN, LIII. 13). DID THE APOSTLE SEE HIS LORD ON THE NIGHT OF HIS JOURNEY (TO HEAVEN)?
It is narrated on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas that he (the Holy Prophet) saw (Allah) with his heart. (Sahih Muslim, Book 001,Number 0334)
It is narrated on the authority of Ibn Abbas that the words: “The heart belied not what he saw” (al-Qur'an, Iiii. 11) and "Certainly he saw Him in another descent" (al-Qur'an, Iiii. 13) imply that he saw him twice with his heart. (Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 0335)
Chapter 79: PERTAINING TO HIS (PROPHET'S) WORDS: HE IS A LIGHT; HOW COULD I SEE HIM? - AND HIS WORDS: I SAW THE LIGHT
It is narrated on the authority of Abu Dharr: I asked the Messenger of Allah: Did you see thy Lord? He said: He is a Light. How could I see Him? (Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 0341)
Abdullah b. Shaqiq reported: I said to Abu Dharr: Had I seen the Messenger of Allah, I would have asked him. He (Abu Dharr) said: What is that thing that you wanted to inquire of him? He said: I wanted to ask him whether he had seen his Lord. Abu Dharr said: I, in fact, inquired of him, and he replied: I saw Light. (Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 0342)
Thus, this would seem to suggest that Allah dwells in a house somewhere in the highest heaven.
However, other narratives claim that Allah and his throne are actually situated above the seventh heaven since the latter is the roof of creation:
There are two views over the meaning of the phrase…
-on its fixed course for a term (appointed).- (The first view) is that it refers to its fixed course of location, which is beneath the Throne, BEYOND the earth in that direction. Wherever it goes, it is beneath the Throne, it and all of creation, because the Throne is the ROOF of creation and it is not a sphere as many astronomers claim. Rather it is A DOME SUPPORTED BY LEGS OR PILLARS, CARRIED BY THE ANGELS, and it is ABOVE the universe, ABOVE the heads of people. When the sun is at its zenith at , it is in its closest position to the Throne, and when it runs in its fourth orbit at the opposite point to its zenith, at , it is in its furthest position from the Throne. At that point it prostrates and asks permission to rise, as mentioned in the Hadiths.
Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Dharr said, “I was with the Prophet in the Masjid at sunset, and he said…
((O Abu Dharr! Do you know where the sun sets?)) I said, ‘Allah and His Messenger know best.’ He said…
((It goes and prostrates itself beneath the Throne, and that is what Allah says: -And the sun runs on its fixed course for a term. That is the decree of the Almighty, the All-Knowing.-))”
It was also reported that Abu Dharr said, “I asked the Messenger of Allah about the Ayah…
-And the sun runs on its fixed course for a term.-
((Its fixed course is beneath the Throne.))"… (Tafsir Ibn Kathir Abridged, Volume 8 Surat Al-Ahzab, Verse 51 to the end of Surat Ad-Dukhan, abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Houston, New York, London, Lahore; September 2000, first edition], pp. 196-197: *)
Since Allah’s throne is the roof of creation (which would include the seven heavens) and therefore above it, and since Allah is on or above the throne,
Surely your Lord is God, who created the heavens and the earth in six days -- then sat Himself upon the Throne, covering the day with the night it pursues urgently -- and the sun, and the moon, and the stars subservient, by His command. Verily, His are the creation and the command. Blessed be God, the Lord of all Being. S. 7:54
This means that he himself is located above creation.
But then there are certain reports which mention Firdaus, a place in the garden/paradise (Janna) that is actually located above Allah’s throne!
IV: The degrees of those doing jihad in the way of Allah. (One says "this is my way" in either the feminine or masculine.)
Abu 'Abdullah said that the singular of ghuza (3:156) is ghâzî. "They are degrees" (3:163) is "they have degrees."
2637. It is related from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah said, "If someone believes in Allah and His Messenger and establishes the prayer and fasts Ramadan, it is mandatory for Allah to admit him to the Garden, whether he does jihad in the Way of Allah or sits in the land where he was born." They asked, "Messenger of Allah, shall we give the people the good news?" He said, "In the Garden there are a hundred degrees which Allah has prepared for those who do jihad in the way of Allah. Between each two degrees is the space between heaven and earth. When you ask Allah, ask Him for Firdaws which is in the middle of the Garden and the top of the Garden." I think that he said, "above the Throne of the All-Merciful and from it spring the rivers of the Garden."
Muhammad ibn Fulayj said from his father, "Above it is the Throne of the All-Merciful." (Aisha Bewley, The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari, Chapter 61. Book of Jihad and Military Expeditions: *; *)
6987. 'Ata' ibn Yasar related from Abu Hurayra that the Prophet said, "If anyone believes in Allah and His Messenger and establishes the prayer and fasts Ramadan, it is mandatory for Allah to admit him to the Garden, whether he emigrates in the way of Allah or sits in the land where he was born." They asked, "Messenger of Allah, shall we inform the people about that?" He said, "In the Garden there are a hundred degrees which Allah has prepared for those who do jihad in the way of Allah. Between each two degrees is the space between heaven and earth. When you ask Allah, ask Him for Firdaws which is in the middle of the Garden and the top of the Garden above the Throne of the Merciful and from it spring the rivers of the Garden." (Bewley, Sahih al-Bukhari, 100. Book of Tawhid (the belief that Allah is One in His Essence, Attributes and Actions), XXII. "When His Throne was on the water." (11:7) "And He is the Lord of the Mighty Throne" (27:26): *; *)
Thus, Allah’s throne is NOT above everything since there is a specific garden that is actually higher than it! Talk about major mass confusion!
In light of this, it is possible that Allah’s heavenly house is located in that same garden where Firdaus is.
Whatever the case may be, these reports conclusively demonstrate that Allah is not an omnipresent being since he doesn’t exist everywhere. Rather, Allah lives in a specific place that is located either in heaven somewhere or above it. This explains why Allah is said to descend to the lowest heaven in the third part of every night:
XIV: Supplication and prayer during the last part of the night
Allah says, "The part of the night they spent asleep was small and they would seek forgiveness before dawn." (51:17)
1094. It is related from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah said, "Every night, when a third of the night remains, Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, descends to the lowest heaven saying, 'Is there anyone calling on Me that I may answer him? Is there anyone asking anything of Me that I may give it to him? Is there anyone asking forgiveness of Me that I may forgive him?'" (Bewley, Sahih al-Bukhari, Chapter 25. Tahajjud Prayers: *; *)
7056. Abu 'Abdullah al-Agharr related from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah said, "Every night, when a third of the night remains, Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, descends to the lowest heaven saying, 'Is there anyone calling on Me that I may answer him? Is there anyone asking anything of Me that I may give it to him? Is there anyone asking forgiveness of Me that I may forgive him?'" (Bewley, Sahih al-Bukhari, 100. Book of Tawhid (the belief that Allah is One in His Essence, Attributes and Actions), XXXV. The words of Allah Almighty, "They desire alter Allah's words..." (48:15): *; *)
See also Khan’s version of Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 21, Number 246 and Volume 9, Book 93, Number 586.
This also helps us to further understand why the Muslim scripture says that Allah, along with the angels, travels from one place to another:
What do they look for, but that Allah shall come to them in the cloud -- shadows, and the angels? The matter is determined, and unto Allah all matters are returned. S. 2:210
So, when the Trumpet is blown with a single blast and the earth and the mountains are lifted up and crushed with a single blow, then, on that day, the Terror shall come to pass, and heaven shall be split, for upon that day it shall be very frail, and the angels shall stand upon its borders, and upon that day eight shall carry above them the Throne of thy Lord. On that day you shall be exposed, not one secret of yours concealed. S. 69:13-18
No indeed! When the earth is ground to powder, and thy Lord comes, and the angels rank on rank, and Gehenna is brought out, upon that day man will remember; and how shall the Reminder be for him? S. 89:21-22
Allah is apparently not omnipresent! In light of this it can’t be possible for Allah to live both in heaven and in the Kabah at the same time.
However, some Muslims may argue that Allah, like Yahweh the true God, is omnipresent in that he is able to dwell in more than one place at the same time without this diminishing his Deity in the least. They may contend that all these verses and reports are not denying his omnipresence but are speaking of Allah appearing in some unique way, manifesting his presence in a tangible form so that the inhabitants of heaven or the earth may see and behold his glory, which is what this next narrative seems to imply:
7001. 'Ata' ibn Yasar related that Abu Sa'id al-Khudri said, "We asked, 'Messenger of Allah, will we see our Lord on the Day of Rising?' He said, 'Do you dispute with one another about seeing the sun or moon when there are no clouds.' 'No,' we answered. He said, 'You will not dispute with one another about seeing you Lord on that Day except as you disagree about seeing either of them.' Then he said, 'An announcer will make a proclamation: "Let every community follow what they used to worship." The people of the cross will go with their cross. Those with idols will go with their idols. The people of every deity will go with their deity until there only remains those who worshipped Allah, pious or impious, and the remnants of the People of the Book. Then Jahannam will be brought and presented to them as if it was a mirage. The Jews will be asked, "What were you worshipping?" They will say, "We used to worship 'Uzayr the son of God." They will be told, "You lied. Allah has not taken consort or son. What are you seeking?" They will say, "We want for You to let us drink." It will be said, "Drink." They will fall [into Hell]. Then the Christians will be asked, "What were you worshipping?" They will answer, "We used to worship the Messiah son of God." They will be told, "You lied. Allah has not taken consort or son. What are you seeking?" They will say, "We want for You to let us drink." It will be said, "Drink." They will fall [into Hell]. There will remain those who worshipped Allah, pious or impious. They will be asked, "What keeps you when all of the people have gone?' They will answer, "We parted from them (in the world) in spite of having greater need of them then. We heard an announcer proclaiming, 'Let every nation join what they used to worship.' We are waiting for our Lord."Then the Compeller will come to them in a form other than His form which they saw the first time and will say, "I am your Lord." they will answer, "You are not our Lord." None will speak to Him except for the Prophets. He will say, "Is there a sign between you and Him by which you can recognise Him?" "The shin," they will answer. He will uncover his shin* and every believer will prostrate to Him. There will remain those who used to prostrate to Allah in order to show off and for the sake of reputation. They will go to prostrate and their backs will become like a single surface. Then the bridge will be brought and placed over the Fire.' (Bewley, Sahih al-Bukhari, 100. Book of Tawhid (the belief that Allah is One in His Essence, Attributes and Actions), XXIV. The words of Allah Almighty, "Faces that Day will be radiant, gazing at their Lord."(75:22-23): *; *; bold and underline emphasis ours)
See also Khan’s version of Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 532s.
They may further contend that the Qur’an does say that no matter what direction a person turns to Allah’s face is there since it is everywhere:
And to Allah belong the east and the west, so wherever you turn yourselves or your faces there is the Face of Allah (wajhu Allahi) (and He is High above, over His Throne)… S. 2:115 Hilali-Khan
And that Allah is with man wherever he is seeing that he is closer to him than his own jugular vein:
And when My servants question thee concerning Me -- I am near to answer the call of the caller, when he calls to Me; so let them respond to Me, and let them believe in Me; haply so they will go aright. S. 2:186
They seek to hide from men and seek not to hide from Allah. He is with them when by night they hold discourse displeasing unto Him. Allah ever surroundeth what they do. S. 4:108
And when We said to thee, 'Surely thy Lord encompasses men,' and We made the vision that We showed thee and the tree cursed in the Qur’an to be only a trial for men; and We frighten them, but it only increases them in great insolence. S. 17:60
We indeed created man; and We know what his soul whispers within him, and We are nearer to him than the jugular vein. When the two angels meet together, sitting one on the right, and one on the left, S. 50:16-17
(And We are nigher him than you, but you do not see Us) S. 56:85
It is He that created the heavens and the earth in six days then seated Himself upon the Throne. He knows what penetrates into the earth, and what comes forth from it, -- what comes down from heaven, and what goes up unto it. He is with you wherever you are; and Allah sees the things you do. S. 57:4
Hast thou not seen that Allah knoweth all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth? There is no secret conference of three but He is their fourth, nor of five but He is their sixth, nor of less than that or more but He is with them wheresoever they may be; and afterward, on the Day of Resurrection, He will inform them of what they did. Lo! Allah is Knower of all things. S. 58:7
The hadiths concur:
Narrated Abu Musa Al-Ashari: When Allah's Apostle fought the battle of Khaibar, or when Allah's Apostle went towards it, (whenever) the people, (passed over a high place overlooking a valley, they raised their voices saying, "Allahu-Akbar! Allahu-Akbar! None has the right to be worshipped except Allah." On that Allah's Apostle said (to them), "Lower your voices, for you are not calling a deaf or an absent one, but you are calling a Hearer Who is near and is with you." I was behind the riding animal of Allah's Apostle and he heard me saying. "There Is neither might, nor power but with Allah," On that he said to me, "O Abdullah bin Qais!" I said, "Labbaik. O Allah's Apostle!" He said, "Shall I tell you a sentence which is one of the treasures of
However, if Allah’s face is everywhere and he is with man wherever he is then why are Muslims required to bow down to the Kaba? What makes the Kaba anymore special than any other location on earth?
It will not suffice to say that Abraham and Ishmael built the Kaba since a) there is absolutely no archaeological proof that they ever went to Mecca, let alone built this pagan cube structure, and b) even if they did this still doesn’t explain why Muslims are required to prostrate to it.
The only answer that will suffice is to assert that Allah has chosen to dwell within the Kabah in a special and unique way, manifesting his glory in that specific location in a manner that he hasn’t done so for any other place. (Besides the Temple in Jerusalem that is since Muslims do believe that this was also a house built for the worship of Allah. We will have more to say concerning Yahweh’s
This view would mean that Allah is currently dwelling in a house in the highest heaven and one located on the earth, which raises some further questions. If Muslims believe that Allah can inhabit both a heavenly and an earthly house at the same time then why can’t he inhabit a physical body without this diminishing his divinity? After all if Allah allows himself to be contained within shrines that are limited in size and place then why is he incapable of possessing a physical body without ceasing to be fully divine?
The other problem is that there are Muslims who outright deny that Allah dwells in the Kabah:
Muslims lift their hands toward the sky when they make supplications (du'a) to Allah because the sky is the qibla for du'a, not that Allah occupies that particular direction--just as the Kaaba is the qibla of the prayer (salat), without Muslims believing that Allah is in that direction. Rather, Allah in His wisdom has made the qibla a sign (ayah) of Muslim unity, just as He has made the sky the sign of His exaltedness and His infinitude, meanings which come to the heart of every believer merely by facing the sky and supplicating Allah. (Nu Ha Min Keller, Is Allah in the Sky?: *; *)
Keller’s assertion that the qiblah is a sign of Muslim unity isn’t a sufficient explanation for praying towards the Kabah, especially if Allah isn’t in that direction, since this essentially means that Allah united Muslims in bowing to a pagan shrine, thereby causing them to commit idolatry!
Hence, for Muslims like Keller who deny that Allah actually lives in the Kabah in some unique and special way – or reject that he dwells there in any sense whatsoever since Allah doesn’t live on earth but in heaven or above the seven heavens – are faced with a dilemma. They must contend with the fact that they are guilty of worshiping the Kabah by bowing to it or in its direction since prostration is an act of worship according to the Qur’an. And since Allah doesn’t live there and isn’t in that direction the Muslims are therefore actually worshiping a pagan shrine along with Allah for no good reason other than that their prophet told them to do so!
This is similar to Muhammad exhorting his followers to kiss and caress a black stone, which could neither benefit nor harm anyone, thereby leading countless number of Muslims to engage in a rather blatant act of idolatry!
So Muslims why are you bowing to the Kabah? Now before you decide to turn to the Holy Bible and quote passages where the prophets of Yahweh and the righteous prayed towards
Continue with Part 2.
Continues on Part II