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Imam Husain (a.s.) and the Holy Ka’bah

The House of Allah and the Ahle Bait (a.s.) are the pivots of guidance and deliverance for the people. In addition to this broad resemblance, there are numerous other similarities between the Holy Kabaa and Imam Husain (a.s.). Keeping brevity in consideration, we shall narrate some of them in this article:

1. Precedence

Allah has given the Holy Kabaa precedence (over all other structures) and has made it the First House. In Surah Ale Imran:96, Allah declares:

‘Most surely the first house appointed for men is the one at Bekka, blessed..’

On the other hand, Allah the Almighty, has exalted the Ahle Bait (a.s.) by creating them before all others. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) declares:

‘Allah created my light before everything else.’

(Behaarul Anwaar, vol. 1, pg. 104)

The Holy Kabaa came into existence when the land was already created, while the creation of Ahle Bait (a.s.) was undertaken when none other than Allah was present. Their creation preceded that of the whole world and everything in it. As a matter of fact, their creation was the medium for the creation of the world.

2. Contruction and Nourishment
The Holy Kabaa was constructed by Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) and Hazrat Ismail (a.s.). In Surah Baqarah (2) :127 reveals:

‘And when Ibrahim and Ismail raised the foundations of the House…’

Safiyya binte Abdil Mutallib narrates:

‘When Imam Husain (a.s.) was born I took him to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). He (s.a.w.a.) put his tongue into Imam Husain’s (a.s.) mouth. Milk started to flow out of his tongue.’

(Behaarul Anwaar, vol. 43, pg. 243; Al-Awaalim, vol. 7, pg. 13)

Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) narrates:

‘Imam Husain (a.s.) never suckled anyone. When the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) used to come he would place his tongue into the mouth of Imam Husain (a.s.) so much so that he would get drenched with milk. Allah has made Imam Husain’s (a.s.) flesh and blood from the flesh and blood of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).’

(Behaarul Anwaar, vol.43, pg. 425; Al-Awaalim vol. 17, pg. 24)

In the construction of the Holy Kabaa, one find’s the perseverance and the perspiration of Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) and Hazrat Ismail (a.s.). While, the entire existence of Imam Husain (a.s.) is from that of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) as the pure blood of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) runs in the veins of Imam Husain (a.s.).

The Holy Kabaa was constructed by the two infallibles (a.s.) while Imam Husain (a.s.) has the honour of being associated with four infallibles i.e. Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), Ameerul Momineen Ali ibn Abi Taalib (a.s.), Hazrat Fatima (s.a.) and Imam Hasan (a.s.) – each one of whom enjoys a position higher than the Prophets (a.s.).

3. Guide for Mankind
Allah has made the Holy Kabaa as a guide for the entire universe. In Surah Ale Imran (3) : 96, Allah declares:

‘Most surely the first house appointed for men is the one at Bekka, blessed and a guidance for the nations.’

From this house one gets the lesson of divine monotheism (Tauheed) and a lesson from the ones who have sacrificed their lives in its way. In addition to this, one also learns regarding faith in Allah. One only needs to call to his mind the moment when Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) on divine command accompanied his newborn son and wife (Janabe Hajra (a.s.)) to the deserted land and left them there without food and water with unshakeable faith in Allah, the Provider and Sustainer. The Holy Quran has narrated the same in the following manner:

‘O our Lord! surely I have settled a part of my offspring in a valley unproductive of fruit near Thy Sacred House, our Lord! that they may keep up prayer…’

(Surah Ibrahim (14) : 37)

Allah created a spring of water in that barren land which is flowing till date.

About Imam Husain (a.s.) traditions declare:

‘For surely Husain is the lantern of guidance and the ark of deliverance’.

Everything associated with the holy existence of Imam Husain (a.s.) is a source of guidance.

The Holy Kabaa is the House of Monotheism Imam Husain (a.s.) is the saviour of Monotheism Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) provided residence to one son
Imam Husain (a.s.) on the barren desert of Karbala provided residence to 72 people Hazrat Ismail (a.s.) was offered for sacrifice  The sacrifice of Imam Husain (a.s.) has been lauded as the Great Sacrifice by Allah Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) exhorted his progeny to establish Prayers While in the Ziarat of Imam Husain (a.s.) we recite ‘I testfy that indeed you established prayers.

4. Direction for Mankind
The Holy Kabaa is the direction for namaz. It is obligatory for all Muslims to pray while facing the Holy Kabaa. Imam Husain (a.s.) is the direction of faith. No man’s faith is complete till the time he does not steer his attention towards Imam (a.s.) and does not enlighten his faith with the love of Imam (a.s.) Just as when one rejects the Holy Kabaa his prayers become void, rejecting the Ahle Bait (a.s.) makes all actions void.

5. Emphasis on Visitation
When Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) caused his son to settle down in the desert, he beseeched Allah:

‘…therefore make the hearts of some people yearn towards them…’

(Surah Ibrahim (14) : 37)

It is due to this supplication that Muslims of all ages and hues from the most obscure parts of the world converge for the visitation of the House of Allah. The desire for seeing it, doing the Tawaaf and paying homage to the House draws Muslims to that place in a manner that cannot find an expression in words.

As regards Imam Husain (a.s.), the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) narrated:

‘Surely the killing of Husain (a.s.) will give rise to a fervour that will never subside.’

(Mustadrak Al-Wasael, vol.10, pg. 318)

In another tradition Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has declared:

‘Whoever wants to be attached to Allah’s Strong Rope which Allah has mentioned in His Book, must love Ali (a.s.), Hasan (a.s.) and Husain (a.s.), as Allah on the Exalted Throne loves them.’

In another tradition, it is narrated – Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was kissing Imam Hasan (a.s.) and Imam Husain (a.s.) and was saying

‘Whoever loves Imam Hasan (a.s.) and Imam Husain (a.s.) and is attached to their progeny, he shall never see the face of Hell even if the magnitude of his sins equal the sand particles of desert except that he commits a sin that would expel him from the realm of faith.

(Kaamiluz Ziaraat, pg. 51, tradition 4 and 7)

It is noteworthy how Allah and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) have invited the people towards the love of Imam Husain (a.s.). Everyone who has a pure soul will yield to this invitation and will find the love of Imam Husain (a.s.) in his heart.

The martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.) has ignited a fire in the hearts of the believers, which will never abate. Due to this reason tens of thousands of believers overcome all difficulties and proceed for the visitation of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) shrine in Karbala. No sacrifice is too big in Imam’s (a.s.) way. History is witness to many incidents of Imam’s (a.s.) lovers who sacrificed even their children but did not abandon his (a.s.) visitation.

6. Maqam-e-Ibrahim (as):
An important place in the precinct of the Holy Kaaba is Maqame Ibrahim. It is that location on which Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) stood while he was erecting the walls of the Holy Kaaba. This stone has the honour of kissing the feet of Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) and paying homage to him. It took into its heart the marks of the upright and steadfast feet of Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) and those marks remained engraved on it permanently. Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.), while armed with the divine mandate, invited the people for the pilgrimage (Hajj), he did so while firmly rooted on this very stone. A very valid question that could arise in the minds of readers is – if this is the stone, which witnessed Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) constructing the Holy Kaaba, then it should have been a lot nearer to the Holy Kaaba. But in reality it is at significant distance of 25 yards from it. The reply to this is that initially this stone was adjoining to the Holy Kaaba, but later the second caliph decided to relocate it at a distance. Inshallah when Hazrat Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) will reappear, he will place it back in its original position.
(Rawzatul Muttaqeen, vol. 5, pg. 252)

The Holy Quran has declared Maqame Ibrahim as a place of prayer i.e. it has ordered worshippers/pilgrims to pray namaz behind this sacred stone. Although within the precinct of the Holy Kaaba, namaz may be prayed from any side, but Maqaame Ibrahim is the most superior place. In fact it is obligatory on every pilgrim performing the obligatory circumbulation (tawaaf) of the Holy Kaaba to pray two units of namaz behind Maqaame Ibrahim after completing the circumbulation. That is why this spot is the most crowded place in the entire vicinity of Masjidul Haram.

Those who have declared turning towards anything other than Allah as disbelief are speechless at this place when Allah Himself orders in the Holy Quran ,

‘…And appoint for yourselves a place of prayer on the standing position of Ibrahim…’

(Surah Baqarah (2) : 125)

Thus in the most sacred place (Masjidul Haram) on the land of Mecca, while wearing the Ehram, by declaring Maqame Ibrahim as a place of prayer, Allah has clearly indicated that while the pilgrims are facing the Holy Kaaba during their prayers, Maqame Ibrahim should be the medium so that along with the Holy Kaaba the worshippers may also recall its architect viz. Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.). Since he has constructed this House for worship, it is only fitting that he should also be remembered as a part of that worship. Despite being so proximate to Allah (in the state of worship), Allah’s Order clearly underlines the divine edict – whenever you come in my My Presence come through the medium appointed by Me. Among those medias are the Prophets (a.s.) whom Allah has appointed as a Door to enter His Court.

Allah declared Maqame Ibrahim as a place of prayer and the earth of Karbala as a medium for prostration. And He conferred upon this earth such peculiarities and honour which He has not granted to any other earth. As for Maqame Ibrahim, it is possible to pray namaz behind it only by actually visiting the Holy Kaaba for pilgrimage. But for the earth of Karbala (Khake Shifa) it is found in traditions that the infallible Imams (a.s.) used to carry it along with themselves. And prostrating on Khake Shifa is the cause of acceptance of prayers.

There is difference between Maqame Ibrahim and Khake Shifa. Maqame Ibrahim only consists the footprints of Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.), whereas Khake Shifa is mixed with the pure blood of Imam Husain (a.s.) as well as with that of his selfless and gallant companions (r.a.).

Maqame Ibrahim is restricted to a particular spot within the precinct of the Holy Kabaa and while the Khake Shifa is all over the length and breadth of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) mausoleum.

Maqame Ibrahim is limited for namaz while Khake Shifa is the cure for everything.
This is that earth on which when one prostrates; it illuminates the seven earths and the seven skies. For further details one may refer to ‘Al Muntazar’ Muharram Special Issue 1423 A.H. under the topic ‘Khake Shifa’.

7,8. Center of circumbulation of the Prophets (a.s.) and Angels (a.s.)

One of the peculiarities of the Holy Kaaba is that the Prophets (a.s.) have circumbulated around it and continue to do so till date. The angels also circumbulate around this Sacred House.

The sanctified grave of Imam Husain (a.s.) has always been the center of pilgrimage for the Prophets (a.s.) and their Successors (a.s.) and as also the Angels. It is narrated in a tradition:
‘No prophet has passed except that he has visited the land of Karbala.’

Even before the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.) at Karbala and his burial there, it has been a revered land and the center of visitation of the Prophets (a.s.).

One of the highly recommended actions of the night of 15th Shabaan is visiting the venerated grave of Imam Husain (a.s.). There are several traditions that underscore the significance of this visitation thus:
‘Anyone who wishes to shake hands with 124,000 Prophets (a.s.) should visit the grave of Imam Husain (a.s.) on this night.’
(Mafaatihul Jinaan, chap. Acts of the night of 15th Shabaan)

This implies that 124,000 Prophets (a.s.) converge on the land of Karbala for visiting Imam Husain’s (a.s.) consecrated mausoleum. As far as the Angels are concerned it is mentioned in traditions that a large multitude of Angels descends from heaven for visiting the grave while another multitude ascends. It is noteworthy that the Angels not only visit the holy grave but they also pay homage to the visitors of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) shrine. (For details please refer Al Muntazar Muharram Special Issue 1422 A. H.)

9. Curtailed prayers become complete

According to Islamic laws, the four-unit prayer is curtailed to two units in travel. If one intentionally performs four units of prayers while travelling then his prayers are void. But this is not the case in Masjidul Haraam. If a person wishes, he may complete his four-unit prayer even while travelling. In fact, it is even recommended to do so.

The sacred shrine of Imam Husain (a.s.) is also included among the places wherein it is permitted to complete the prayers even on a journey. If the prayer was established in the Holy Kabaa, it was most certainly preserved for posterity in the battlefield of Karbala. With his martyrdom, Imam Husain (a.s.) extended a fresh of lease of life to namaz. It is mentioned in the Ziarat of Imam Husain (a.s.)
‘Surely you established the prayer.’

If the prayer was established in Mecca among the infidels and polytheists, it should be noted that Imam Husain (a.s.) also established the prayer in the battlefield of Karbala amidst the enemies of Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.a.). In fact, he established namaz in the midst of arrows and lances that were incessantly showered upon his holy person. His devotion and faithfulness to prayers and its survival reached the zenith when his holy head was detached from his body while he was in prostration.

10. The purity of the Holy Kabaa
When Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) and Hazrat Ismail (a.s.) completed the construction of the Holy Kaaba, Allah ordered them:

‘Purify My House for those who visit (it) and those who abide in it for devotion and those who bow and those who prostrate themselves.’

(Surah Baqarah (2) : 125)

Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) and Hazrat Ismail (a.s.) purified the Holy Kaaba. As a result, anyone in an unclean state was not permitted to enter or stand in the precincts or even pass through the Holy Kabaa. He should immediately leave the Holy Kabaa.

Allah has purified Imam Husain (a.s.). He is one among those for whom the Verse of Purification (Ayate Tatheer) was revealed.

Janabe Safiyah binte Abdul Muttalib narrates,

‘When Imam Husain (a.s.) was born, he was in my custody. I looked after him and tended to him.. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) told me: ‘Aunt, give me my son.’ I replied, ‘I have not cleaned him as yet.’ On this the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said:
‘Aunt, will you purify those whom Allah Himself has cleaned and purified and made them among the purified ones.’

(Behaarul Anwaar, vol. 17, pg. 243, tradition 43)

Now on one hand is the purification of the friend of Allah (Ibrahim) and the sacrifice of Allah (Ismail) while on the other are the ones purified by Allah Himself. Maybe this is one reason that anyone can go to visit the Holy Kaaba, but only those of pure linage have the love of Ahle Bait (a.s.) in their hearts.

11. The Black stone (Hajare Aswad)

Hajare Aswad is a black stone which is adjoining the wall of the Holy Kabaa. It is due to this stone that the people have been ordered to begin their circumbulation from and end it at this point. Imam Sadiq (a.s.) informs about this stone:
‘In Aalame Zar when Allah questioned the creation – ‘Am I not your Lord?’ Everyone replied, Yes, we witness.’

In this manner, Allah took the oath and covenant of His divinity from the people. Then Allah ordered Hajare Aswad to protect these covenants within himself and it did so. (Thus Hajare Aswad is the treasurer of these oaths). This is the reason that when a believer goes for Hajj, he kisses Hajare Aswad and says I have fulfilled my covenant. You bear witness that I have remained steadfast upon my covenant.’
(Usul-e-Kaafi, vol. 4, pg. 184)

Imam Husain (a.s.) is himself a part of that covenant and promise which Allah took in Aalame Zar. On that day not only did Allah take the promise of His divinity but He also took along with it, the covenant of the prophethood of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and the Imamat and mastership of the Ahle Bait (a.s.) from the people.

Bakeer b. Ayun (r.a.) narrates from Imam Sadiq (a.s.):

‘Allah took the covenant of our mastership from the Shias on the day of ‘Zar’ when He took the covenant of His divinity and the prophethood of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)’

(Basaaerud Darajaat, vol. 1, chap. 16, pg. 109)

All the Muslims kiss Hajare Aswad whereas Imam Husain (a.s.) (a.s.) has been kissed by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). If Hajare Aswad has come from Paradise, Imam Husain (a.s.) is also the leader of the Youths of Paradise. In fact, Paradise is the reward for the love of Ahle Bait (a.s.).

12. The covering of the Holy Kabaa

Although the Holy Kaaba is a cube-shaped structure made of stones, it has always been covered. It is narrated that the first person to drape the Holy Kabaa was the king of Hameer, named “Tubba Asad”. He covered the Holy Kabaa with a curtain made of silver strings.
(Al-Mizaan, vol. 3, pg. 297)

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) also prepared a covering for the Holy Kaaba made of Yemeni cloth. The cover of the Holy Kabaa enjoys a very honorable position in Islam. It has the distinction of being wrapped around the Holy Kabaa and is consequently also a part of the circumbulation.

While undoubtedly this cover is honorable and revered, it is nevertheless the creation of mortals. On the other hand, Imam Husain (a.s.) is the one for whom clothes made in Paradise descended, on the command of Allah Himself. Every thread of that exquisite cloth was weaved by the inhabitants of Paradise.

13. Hajare Ismail

On the left side of the Holy Kabaa there is a semi-circular wall called Hajare Ismail. In this portion are the graves of Hazrat Ismail (a.s.) and his respected mother Janabe Haajra (s.a.). Moreover, this is also the place where a number of Prophets (a.s.) have been buried. It is necessary to include Hajare Ismail while circumbulating the Holy Kabaa. It is rather surprising that those who object to the circumbulation of the graves of the holy infallibles (a.s.) and proclaim it as polytheism, (shirk), themselves circumbulate the Hajare Ismail in Hajj. Hajare Ismail is a structure distinct from the Holy Kabaa, but is included in the circumbulation. And in this stone (Hajar) is the grave of Janabe Ismail (a.s.) who was one of the two architects of the Holy Kabaa.

Similarly, next to the grave of Imam Husain (a.s.) is the grave of his son, Janabe Ali Akbar (a.s.) the replica of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). The martyrdom of Janabe Ali Akbar (a.s.) was in the way of protecting Islam.

14. The Holy Kabaa itself is honourable
In fact, the entire atmosphere is conducive for the acceptance of supplications. Nevertheless, there are some special locations within its vicinity, which are particularly favourable for prayers and supplications. It is the best place for seeking forgiveness of sins.

Abu Hashim Jafari narrates,

‘I went to meet Imam Ali Naqi (a.s.). Imam (a.s.) was unwell and had fever. He told me – O Abu Hashim, send a person as my representative to Haaer (the holy shrine of Imam Husain (a.s.)) so that he prays for me over there. I told Ali b. Bilal to go to Haaer to pray on behalf of Imam (a.s.). He said – I shall definitely go but Imam (a.s.) is himself superior to Haaer. The personality of Imam (a.s.) has the same status as that of Haaer, if he himself prays, it will be much better than my praying for him in the Shrine.’

On hearing this Imam (a.s.) retorted,

‘Tell him that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was superior to the Holy Kabaa and Hajare Aswad yet he circumbulated the Kabaa and kissed Hajare Aswad. Surely Allah has selected some places where He prefers to see his servants come and seek their needs from Him so that He may accept them. The Haaer is one such place.’

(Kaameluz Ziaaraat, pg. 274)

Imam Moosa b. Jafar al Kazim (a.s.) informs,

‘If someone performs the visitation of Imam Husain (a.s.), by recognising his right, honour, and mastership, then the least reward which he will get is that all his past and future sins will be forgiven.

(Kaameluz Ziaaraat, pg. 153)

15. The call for Hajj
It is mentioned in the Holy Quran,

‘And when We assigned to Ibrahim the place of the House, saying: Do not associate with Me aught, and purify My House for those who make the circuit and stand to pray and bow and prostrate. And proclaim among men the Pilgrimage: they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, coming from every remote path.’

(Surah Hajj (22) : 26-27)

Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) invited the people for Hajj as per the orders of Allah. Likewise, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) introduced Imam Husain (a.s.) to the Muslims. Huzayfa b. Yamani narrates,

‘I saw the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) while he was holding the blessed hand of Imam Husain (a.s.) and was saying – O people, this is Husain b. Ali, recognise him. I swear by the One in Whose hands is my life, he will definitely go to Paradise and his lovers will go to Paradise and the lovers of his lovers will also go to Paradise.’

(Behaarul Anwaar, vol. 43, pg. 262, tradition 6 Al-Awaalim, vol. 17, pg. 37)

There are many similarities between Imam Husain (a.s.) and the Holy Kabaa. A detailed discussion on each of these will necessitate the compilation of a voluminous book. With taufeeq from Allah’s side and the blessings of Imame Zamana (a.t.f.s.), we shall mention these at a future date. Over here we outline a few more similarities:

The Holy Kabaa and Imam Husain (a.s.) It will remain till the Day of Resurrection  The grief over Imam’s (a.s.) tribulations too will remain forever.

It is Ummul Qura (mother of all cities)

Imam (a.s.) is Abul Aimma, (father of 9 Imams)

Leader of all houses

Leader of Youths in Paradise.

It is the best land

Imam’s (a.s.) lineage is the most superior and eminent.

Place of refuge

Imam (a.s.) and his shrine are places of refuge.

One who enters it is protected

One who attaches himself with Imam Husain (a.s.) will be safe from all calamities.

Before Hazrat Ismail’s (a.s.) advent the land of Kaaba was a barren land.

Karbala was also a barren land before the martyrdom of Imam.

Acceptance of supplications;
When Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) and Hazrat Ismail (a.s.) were raising the walls of the Holy Kabaa they were beseeching Allah,

‘Our Lord! Accept from us; surely Thou art the Hearing, the Knowing.

(Surah Baqarah (2) :127)

When the oppressive soldiers of Yazid’s army took the Ahle Bait (a.s.) as captives on the 11th of Muharram and were set to depart from Karbala, the womenfolk requested them to take them through the battlefield one last time. When their eyes fell on the corpses of the martyrs, their bodies mutilated in pieces, pierced with scores of arrows, the earth dyed with their blood and their chests trampled by the hooves of horses, they started beating their chests and heads and began wailing and crying. Janabe Zainab (s.a.) cried out in anguish –

‘O Muhammad! O grandfather, Husain is lying in the desert, dyed in blood and his body is in pieces and your daughters are captives and your progeny has been martyred.’

On hearing this distressful complaint everyone started crying, including the horses. Then Janabe Zainab (s.a.) placed her hand under the mutilated body of Imam Husain (a.s.) and raised it towards the sky and supplicated:

‘O My Lord! Accept this sacrifice from us.’

(Maqtalul Husain, Muqarram pg. 307)

Readers are already aware that when Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) and Hazrat Ismail (a.s.) were beseeching Allah to accept their efforts, they were in the process of building the Holy Kabaa. All the parts of the House were together and the conditions around them were peaceful.

But the conditions in which Janabe Zainab (s.a.) prayed for the acceptance of the sacrifice were indeed heartbreaking. Bodies of the loved ones strayed on the earth in pieces, without shrouds, ashes of burnt tents, the unveiled heads of the womenfolk of the Ahle Bait (a.s.), the handcuffed daughters of Janabe Zahra (s.a.) surrounded by the oppressive enemy and an agonising journey ahead. Such a prayer under the circumstances could only have been the work of a great woman like Janabe Zainab (s.a.) who was brought up under the constant supervision of Prophethood and Imamat.

O Allah! We beseech You to accept this humble and insignificant work for the sake of the honour and grace of these chaste personalities.