The Holy House, the Sacred Mosque and Makkah
By: Ayatullah Shaheed Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim
The Holy House is the Ka’bah. In the words of the Holy Qur'an: Most surely, the first house appointed for men is the one at Bakkah, blessed and guidance for the nations. In it are clear signs; (for example) the standing-place of Abraham. And whoever enters it shall be secure. And pilgrimage to the House is incumbent upon men for the sake of Allah, upon every one who is able to undertake the journey to it. (3:96-97)
The Sacred Mosque is the great mosque surrounding the Holy Ka’bah. Inside this mosque, there lies the standing-place of Prophet Abraham (S), where the Holy Qur'an has ordered everyone visiting it to pray, saying: Take you the station of Abraham as a place of prayer. (2:125)
Therefore, the Sacred Mosque is the earliest place of worship known by humanity throughout history.
On many occasions, the Holy Qur'an has referred to this mosque as al-masjid al-haram (the Sacred Mosque). It has also referred to other issues and rites related to this mosque, such as the Holy Ka’bah, the Holy House, its building, its designation as a refuge and sanctuary for mankind, and its sanctification for those who compass it around and use it to stand, genuflect, or prostrate therein in prayer. Moreover, other issues like the Hajj Pilgrimage are also related to the Sacred Mosque, since all these deeds are practiced therein.
In the coming chapter about the Hajj Pilgrimage, it will be cited that the Holy House at Makkah was the objective of pilgrimage two thousand years before the creation of Prophet Adam (‘a), the father of humanity. Other traditions have confirmed that the place of this house was the first thing created by Almighty Allah on this globe. Then, He, the Almighty, spread the earth from beneath it.1
From other traditions, we can conclude that the design of the Holy House and the rite of circumambulating it had been determined since the issuance of the divine decree to create Adam2 about which the Holy Qur'an reads: Behold, your Lord said to the angels, “I will create a vicegerent on earth… (2:30)
Furthermore, Almighty Allah has chosen a rough land—expressed by the Holy Qur'an as “a valley unproductive of fruit”—to carry this house so that He would test the obedience of His servants towards Him and the scope of their compliance with His command of glorifying this house and making pilgrimages to it.3
Some other validly reported traditions reveal that the borders of the Sacred Mosque erected by Prophet Abraham (S) were so vast that they covered the whole area between Hazurah, an area in the vicinity of the Sacred Mosque, and Mas’a, the location where the ritual of sa’y is carried out. As some other traditions hold that the borders of the Sacred Mosque extended between Safa and Marwah, this means that it was more expansive than its current building.4
At the time of Prophet Abraham (S), the area of the Holy Ka’bah was nine cubits. At the time of the Quraysh, it was expanded to eighteen cubits, and to twenty-seven cubits in the time of al-Hajjaj.5
The site of Hijr Isma’il is not part of the Holy Ka’bah, rather a graveyard of Hajar, Prophet Ishmael’s mother, and a group of prophets. It was encircled because it was discommended to tread on the graves within.6
Other validly reported traditions indicate that the Black Stone was in Paradise, but it was Almighty Allah Who put it in its current place after He had made a covenant with all the creatures. On the Day of Resurrection, this stone shall testify to those who kept this covenant and fulfilled their pledge to the Lord. Accordingly, a pilgrim, when kissing the Black Stone, is required to say the following supplication: O Allah, I have fulfilled my trust and I have performed my covenant so that You may witness for me that I have fulfilled it.7
The Holy Ka’bah occupies a great status before Almighty Allah Who has declared it and the Sacred Mosque as highly sacred by endowing it with special creational effects, enacting certain religious laws for it, and establishing a great reward for those who sanctify and circumambulate it and offer prayers within the Sacred Precinct.
The Holy Qur'an has related the story of the owners of the elephants whom Almighty Allah pelted with stones of baked clay by way of swarms of flying creatures because they intended to demolish the Holy Ka’bah. Before that, traditions report the divine punishment that afflicted the people of Tubba’ when they devised to demolish the Holy Ka’bah. Later, they changed their opinion and paid high regard to it.8
It was Almighty Allah’s will to inflict a penalty on any tyrant who intended any evil to the Holy Ka’bah.
Imam ‘Ali (‘a) is reported to have said: Makkah is the sanctuary of Almighty Allah, Madinah is the sanctuary of the Messenger of Allah (S), and Kufah is my sanctuary. There is no tyrant that intends evil to these places but that Almighty Allah shall shatter him.9
The Holy House and its interests precede all other interests in Makkah because of this special sacredness, as maintained by some traditions.10
Almighty Allah has forbidden the polytheists from entering the Sacred Mosque. As declared by the Holy Qur'an: O you who believe, surely the idolaters are unclean, so they shall not approach the Sacred Mosque after this year. (9:28)
Other validly reported traditions hold that whoever makes mischief in the Holy Ka’bah should be sentenced to death.11
Through a valid chain of authority, Imam al-Baqir (‘a) is reported to have said: It is improper to build any edifice higher than the Ka’bah.12
There are many traditions asserting the distinctive status of the Holy Ka’bah: Through a valid chain of authority, Imam al-Baqir (‘a) is reported to have said: Verily, Allah the Exalted and Majestic has not created any area on the earth dearer to Him than the Ka’bah. To take a look at it is a sort of devotional act.13
The Holy Prophet (S) is reported to have said: Just looking at the Holy Ka’bah utterly knocks down sins.14
Through a valid chain of authority too, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: Verily, Almighty Allah has decreed one hundred and twenty mercies to surround His Holy House; sixty for those who circumambulate it, forty for those who offer prayers there, and twenty for those who look at it.15
According to another validly reported tradition, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) has said: Whoever looks at the Ka’bah and acknowledges that our standing and sacredness is similar as the Ka’bah’s standing and sacredness, Almighty Allah shall forgive him all of his sins and save him from the griefs of this world and the Next.16
Prayers that are offered in the Sacred Mosque are the best of all prayers, as also prayers offered in the Prophet’s Mosque, as maintained by some traditions. One prayer that is offered in the Sacred Mosque is equal in reward to one thousand prayers that are offered in the Prophet’s Mosque, while one prayer in the Prophet’s Mosque is equal in reward to one thousand prayers that are offered in other mosques or even one hundred thousand prayers that are offered in other mosques.17
According to another tradition, Abu-Hamzah al-Thumali has reported Imam al-Baqir (‘a) as saying: Whoever performs an obligatory prayer in the Sacred Mosque, Almighty Allah shall determine admissible all the prayers he had performed since the time prayers were made obligatory upon him to perform and the prayers he will perform up to his death time.18
Owing to the high regard of the Sacred Mosque and the Holy Ka’bah, Almighty Allah has given preference to the holy city of Makkah over other places. It has thus been reported that Makkah is the best of all places, the Holy House the best of all parts of Makkah, and the area between the Black Stone and the Station of Abraham (S) and the gate of the Ka’bah the best areas of the Holy House. This area is also called Hatim Isma’il (‘a).19
Innumerable texts also report the merits of this city, the merits of doing devotional acts and righteous deeds there, and the merits of living in its vicinity. Also, painful chastisement is reported to be the share of anyone who commits sins therein. In this respect, the Holy Qur'an says: Whoever shall incline therein to wrong unjustly, We will make him taste a painful chastisement. (22:25)
Besides, Almighty Allah has decided Makkah to be a safe haven for every one who enters there up to the Day of Resurrection. It is also impermissible to hunt on land and to uproot trees of this city except in a few cases. It is also inadvisable to carry weapons openly or to frighten people therein. Moreover, many regulations have been instituted with regard to this holy city.
There are certain etiquettes, manners, and rites to be done in the Holy Precinct of Makkah, the Sacred Mosque, and the Holy Ka’bah. Some of these rites have been cited in the previous chapter on the rites of the Hajj Pilgrimage. However, the readers are advised to acquaint themselves with the other laws, etiquettes, and recommended acts found in books on the Hajj Pilgrimage.
1. - Sayyid al-Borujerdi, Jami’ Ahadith al-Shi’ah 10:1-3, H. 1, 2, 4, 5, & 6.
2. - Sayyid al-Borujerdi, Jami’ Ahadith al-Shi’ah 10:5, S. 2.
3. - Sayyid al-Borujerdi, Jami’ Ahadith al-Shi’ah 10:19, S. 3.
4. - Sayyid al-Borujerdi, Jami’ Ahadith al-Shi’ah 10:23-25, H. 1-5.
5. - Sayyid al-Borujerdi, Jami’ Ahadith al-Shi’ah 10:25, H. 8.
6. - Sayyid al-Borujerdi, Jami’ Ahadith al-Shi’ah 10:25, H. 12.
7. - Sayyid al-Borujerdi, Jami’ Ahadith al-Shi’ah 10:31-32, H. 5 & 6.
8. - Sayyid al-Borujerdi, Jami’ Ahadith al-Shi’ah 10:41.
9. - Sayyid al-Borujerdi, Jami’ Ahadith al-Shi’ah 10:50, H. 19.
10. - Sayyid al-Borujerdi, Jami’ Ahadith al-Shi’ah 10:58, H. 1 & 2.
11. - Sayyid al-Borujerdi, Jami’ Ahadith al-Shi’ah 10:59, S. 11.
12. - Sayyid al-Borujerdi, Jami’ Ahadith al-Shi’ah 10:83.
13. - Sayyid al-Borujerdi, Jami’ Ahadith al-Shi’ah 10:63, H. 6.
14. - Sayyid al-Borujerdi, Jami’ Ahadith al-Shi’ah 10:65, as quoted from al-Barqi’s al-Mahasin.
15. - Sayyid al-Borujerdi, Jami’ Ahadith al-Shi’ah 10:64, as quoted from Shaykh al-Kulayni’s al-Kafi.
16. - Sayyid al-Borujerdi, Jami’ Ahadith al-Shi’ah 10:66, H. 15.
This tradition is decided as valid, because it has been reported from Ibn Abi-’Umar on the authority of ‘Ali ibn ‘Abd al-’Aziz.
17. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 3:536, H. 3, 4, 5, 7, 8; ‘Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 97:146-148, H. 4, 5, 10 as quoted from Shaykh al-Kulayni’s al-Kafi and Shaykh al-Tusi’s Tahdhib al-Ahkam.
18. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 3:536, H. 1 & 2.
19. - Sayyid al-Borujerdi, Jami’ Ahadith al-Shi’ah 10:69 as reported by Maysarah.