Stone Kissing and Idolatry

Sam Shamoun

The Quran condemns taking stones as objects of worship and veneration:

O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination,- of Satan's handwork: eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper. S. 5:90 Y. Ali

The Quran also records the supposed encounter of Abraham with his people over the issue of idolatry:

And certainly We gave to Ibrahim his rectitude before, and We knew him fully well. When he said to his father and his people: What are these images to whose worship you cleave? They said: We found our fathers worshiping them. He said: Certainly you have been, (both) you and your fathers, in manifest error. They said: Have you brought to us the truth, or are you one of the triflers? He said: Nay! your Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, Who brought them into existence, and I am of those who bear witness to this: And, by Allah! I will certainly do something against your idols after you go away, turning back. So he broke them into pieces, except the chief of them, that haply they may return to it. They said: Who has done this to our gods? Most surely he is one of the unjust. They said: We heard a youth called Ibrahim speak of them. Said they: Then bring him before the eyes of the people, perhaps they may bear witness. They said: Have you done this to our gods, O Ibrahim? He said: Surely (some doer) has done it; the chief of them is this, therefore ask them, if they can speak. Then they turned to themselves and said: Surely you yourselves are the unjust; Then they were made to hang down their heads: Certainly you know that they do not speak. He said: What! do you then serve besides Allah what brings you not any benefit at all, nor does it harm you? Fie on you and on what you serve besides Allah; what! do you not then understand? They said: Burn him and help your gods, if you are going to do (anything). S. 21:51-66 Shakir

Note this specific verse once again:

He said, "Do you then worship beside GOD what possesses no power to benefit you or harm you?" S. 21:66 Khalifa

According to the hadiths, Muhammad refused to enter the Kabah because of all of its idols:

Narrated Ibn Abbas:

When Allah’s Apostle came to Mecca, he refused to enter the Ka'ba with idols in it. He ordered (idols to be taken out). So they were taken out. The people took out the pictures of Abraham and Ishmael holding Azlams in their hands. Allah's Apostle said, "May Allah curse these people. By Allah, both Abraham and Ishmael never did the game of chance with Azlams." Then he entered the Ka'ba and said Takbir at its corners but did not offer the prayer in it. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 26, Number 671)

Yet Muhammad didn’t apply the Quran’s injunctions consistently since he was seen kissing the black stone of the Kabah:

Narrated Salim that his father said:
I saw Allah’s Apostle arriving at Mecca; he kissed the Black Stone Corner first while doing Tawaf and did ramal in the first three rounds of the seven rounds (of Tawaf). (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 26, Number 673)

Narrated Az-Zubair bin ‘Arabi:
A man asked Ibn 'Umar about the touching of the Black Stone. Ibn ‘Umar said, "I saw Allah’s Apostle touching and kissing it." The questioner said, "But if there were a throng (much rush) round the Ka'ba and the people overpowered me, (what would I do?)" He replied angrily, "Stay in Yemen (as that man was from Yemen). I saw Allah's Apostle touching and kissing it." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 26, Number 680)

This sheer act of idolatry troubled some of his own companions such as Umar bin al-Khattab:

Narrated ‘Abis bin Rabia:
‘Umar came near the Black Stone and kissed it and said, "No doubt, I know that you are a stone AND CAN NEITHER BENEFIT ANYONE NOR HARM ANYONE. Had I not seen Allah’s Apostle kissing you I would not have kissed you." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 26, Number 667)

Narrated Zaid bin Aslam from his father who said:
"Umar bin Al-Khattab addressed the Corner (Black Stone) saying, ‘By Allah! I know that you are a stone AND CAN NEITHER BENEFIT NOR HARM. Had I not seen the Prophet touching (and kissing) you, I would never have touched (and kissed) you.’ Then he kissed it and said, ‘There is no reason for us to do Ramal (in Tawaf) except that we wanted to show off before the pagans, and now Allah has destroyed them.’ ‘Umar added, ‘(Nevertheless), the Prophet did that and we do not want to leave it (i.e. Ramal).’" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 26, Number 675)

Narrated Zaid bin Aslam that his father said:
"I saw ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab kissing the Black Stone and he then said, (to it) ‘Had I not seen Allah’s Apostle kissing you, (stone) I WOULD NOT HAVE KISSED YOU.’" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 26, Number 679)

How amusing that Umar basically echoes the words of Sura 21:66! Hence, not only was Muhammad acting inconsistently but he also committed idolatry!

In order to justify Muhammad’s act of idolatry, some Muslims contend that the building of the Kabah and the placement of the black stone was done by Abraham and his son Ishmael, since they erroneously believe that the latter settled in Mecca. The idea here is that Muhammad couldn’t have committed idolatry for kissing a stone placed there by his alleged ancestor Abraham under the direct orders of God.

There are three main problems with this Muslim logic. First, there is no evidence that Abraham and Ishmael ever went to Mecca, or that they were the ones that originally built the Kabah. Apart from the statements of the Quran, Muslims are unable to provide any biblical or pre-Islamic evidence for this claim.

Second, Abraham would never have placed a black idol for his descendants to kiss, especially when the same God who spoke to him had this to say to one of his descendants regarding the kissing and worshiping of visible objects:

"And God spoke all these words, saying, ‘I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.’" Exodus 20:1-6

"Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when he said to me, ‘Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.’ You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain while it blazed with fire to the very heavens, with black clouds and deep darkness. Then the LORD spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice. He declared to you his covenant, the Ten Commandments, which he commanded you to follow and then wrote them on two stone tablets. And the LORD directed me at that time to teach you the decrees and laws you are to follow in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You saw no form of any kind the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below. And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars - all the heavenly array - do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshipping things the LORD your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven.’" Deuteronomy 4:10-19

In fact, we just read above what the Quran says that Abraham allegedly told his people regarding their idolatry. Here is it is once again:

He said, `Do you then worship, instead of ALLAH, that which cannot profit you at all, nor harm you? S. 21:66 Sher Ali

In light of this supposed statement form Abraham, how can anyone be expected to believe that this patriarch then went on to place a black stone, which could neither benefit nor harm anyone (in the words of Umar), as an object of veneration?

Finally, even if we were to accept for argument’s sake that Abraham did indeed place such a stone within the Kabah this still doesn’t justify what Muhammad did. After all, the Bible itself shows what happens when individuals start to venerate an object which God commanded to be fashioned. God gave Moses the order to fashion a bronze serpent:

"From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the people became impatient on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.’ Then the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses, and said, ‘We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us.’ So Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.’ So Moses made a bronze serpent, and set it on a pole; and if a serpent bit any man, he would look at the bronze serpent and live." Numbers 21:4-9

When the people of Israel started venerating this object God had the righteous king Hezekiah destroy it:

"In the third year of Hoshe'a son of Elah, king of Israel, Hezeki'ah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Abi the daughter of Zechari'ah. And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done. He removed the high places, and broke the pillars, and cut down the Ashe'rah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had burned incense to it; it was called Nehush'tan." 2 Kings 18:1-4

Thus, just because Muhammad may have erroneously believed that Abraham had placed the black stone at the Kabah, he still had no right to kiss it and thereby turn it into an object of idolatry.

As it stands, the evidence clearly shows that Muhammad expressly violated the Biblical teaching regarding idols and images, as well as the teachings of his own book the Quran.

Muhammad's Inconsistency
Articles by Sam Shamoun
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