By Dr. Zakir Naik
There are many non-Muslims who have studied Islam. Most of them have only read books on Islam written by biased critics of Islam. These non-Muslims have a different set of twenty common misconceptions about Islam. For instance, they claim to have found contradictions in the Qur'an, they contend that the Qur'an is unscientific etc. In this issue I shall deal with Muslims Worship the Ka’abah.
Question: When Islam is against idol worship why do the Muslims worship, and bow down to the Ka’abah in their prayer?
Answer: Ka’abah is the Qibla i.e. the direction Muslims face during their prayers. It is important to note that though Muslims face the Ka’abah during prayers, they do not worship the Ka’abah. Muslims worship and bow to none but Allah.
1. Islam believes in fostering Unity
For instance, if Muslims want to offer Salaah (Prayer), it is possible that some may wish to face north, while some may wish to face south. In order to unite Muslims in their worship of the One True God, Muslims, wherever they may be, are asked to face in only one direction i.e. towards the Ka’abah. If some Muslims live towards the west of the Ka’abah they face the east. Similarly if they live towards the east of the Ka’abah they face the west.
2. Kaabah is at the Centre of the World Map
The Muslims were the first people to draw the map of the world. They drew the map with the south facing upwards and north downwards. The Ka’abah was at the centre. Later, western cartographers drew the map upside down with the north facing upwards and south downwards. Yet, Alhamdullilah the Ka’abah is yet at the centre of the world map.
3. Tawaf around Ka’abah for indicating one God
When the Muslims go to Masjid-e-Haram in Makkah, they perform tawaf or circumambulation round the Ka’abah. This act symbolizes the belief and worship of One God, since, just as every circle has one centre, so also there is only one Allah (swt) worthy of worship.
4. Hadith of Umar (Pbuh)
Regarding the black stone, hajr-e-aswat, there is a hadith (tradition), attributed to the illustrious companion of the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh), Umar (may Allah be pleased with him Pbuh).
According to Sahih Bukhari, Volume 2, book of Hajj, chapter 56, H.No. 675. Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said, know that you are a stone and can neither benefit nor harm. Had I not seen the Prophet (Pbuh) touching (and kissing) you, I would never have touched (and kissed) you.
5. People stood on Kaabah and gave the adhaan
At the time of the Prophet people even stood on the Ka’abah and gave the adhan or the call to prayer. One may ask those who allege that Muslims worship the Ka’abah, which idol worshipper stands on the idol he worships?
Non-Muslims not Allowed in Makkah
Question: Why are non-Muslims not allowed in the Holy cities of Makkah and Madinah?
Answer: It is true that non-Muslims are not allowed in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, by law. The following points will serve to elucidate the possible reasoning behind such a restriction.
1. All citizens are not permitted in the cantonment area
I am a citizen of India. Yet, I am not permitted to enter certain restricted areas like the cantonment. In every country there are certain areas where even a citizen of that country cannot enter. For instance, a common citizen cannot enter the cantonment area without a special permission. Only a citizen who is enrolled in the military or those who are connected with the defence of the country are allowed in that area. Similarly Islam is a Universal Religion for the entire world and for all human beings. The cantonment areas of Islam are the two holy cites of Makkah and Madinah. Here only those who believe in Islam and are involved in the defence of Islam i.e. the Muslims are allowed.
It would be illogical for a common citizen to object against the restriction on entering a cantonment area. Similarly it is not appropriate for non-Muslims to object against the restriction on non-Muslims against entering Makkah and Madinah.
2. Visa to enter Makkah and Madinah
a. Whenever a person travels to a foreign country he has to first apply for a visa i.e. the permission to enter that country. Every country has its own rules, regulations and requirements for issuing a visa. Unless their critera are satisfied they will not issue a visa.
b. One of the countries which is very strict in issuing a visa is the United States of America, especially when issuing visas to citizens of the third world. They have several conditions and requirements to be fulfilled before they issue a visa.
c. When I visited Singapore, it was mentioned on their immigration form - death to drug traffickers. If I want to visit Singapore I have to abide by the rules. I cannot say that death penalty is a barbaric punishment. Only if I agree with their requirements and conditions will I be permitted to enter the country.
d. The Visa the primary condition required for any human being to enter Makkah or Madina is to say with his lips, Laila ha illallah Muhammad ur Rasulullah meaning that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad (Pbuh) is His Messenger.
( The auther is the president of islamic Research Foundation, mumbai. Email: email@example.com, http://www.irf.net)