Page images
PDF
EPUB

“God hath not removed from you the Kiblah which you possessed before : for your Kiblah was hidden in mystery.

You have now returned to the practice of Abraham, and Ishmaël, and Isaac, and Jacob, and Sabat.” For they pretended, says Abbás, that Abraham's Kiblah was the Baitu-lMukaddas, which was the principal cause of their lies and bragging. Upon the verses,

" We have placed on high for you a Kiblah, of good acceptance,” several commentators remark, This was Abraham's Kiblah. . An opponent might here remark, If Abraham and his sons really used the Kaaba as their Kiblah, surely they would have been buried therein; but thou seest where are the fabrics of their sepulchresma manifest proof that they placed their Kiblahs upon the Rock. But to this it may be replied, It is evident that the spot where their tombs were placed is a mere matter of chance. They placed their tombs just where their fixed habitation happened to be, on any side (therefore not towards any particular Kiblah). And it has been said, that a certain individual, possessed of great strength and courage, ascended the steep rock wherein was the cave, and arrived at last as far as the sepulchres, and found our Lord, the Friend, (the peace and blessing of God be with him!) lying in his coffin, on his back.'

Respecting Moses, I have met with three con

fident assertions. One, that he prayed towards the Rock. The argument for this is the observation of Kaab to the Khálif Omar, when the latter requested his advice on the proper position of the Mosque. Place it, said Kaab, behind the Rock, and construct two Kiblahs—the Kiblah of Moses, and the Kiblah of Muhammad. Upon this Omar said, Thou wouldst make it quite Jewish. The second opinion is, that Moses used the Kaaba as his Kiblah. Upon this we will quote from AbuAlíat, in his book called ' A Looking-glass for certain Jews.' A Jew, he says, was using the Rock as his Kiblah; but I was praying towards the venerable Mosque: hereupon certain schismatical people began to quote from the Korán several of those passages which we do not think decisive, repeating them in a clear and distinct manner. We did the same, and thus divided the people into two parties (just as you disputants are). The words which mostly weighed with me, are those which asserted that Moses magnified the two places in question in equal proportion. He mag. nified the Kaaba, because the Sacred Pilgrimage was appropriated thereto.; and he magnified the Baitu-l-Mukaddas, because he prayed at his death to be brought near thereunto, and was shot thither at one shot, like a stone. The third opinion is, that Moses made his Kiblah of the Ark;

called the Ark of the Covenant, which God had commanded to be constructed of cedar-wood, and to be adorned with fine linen, gold and silver. And when he departed, he commissioned his young man, Joshua, the son of Nun, and

gave

into his hand the sure possession of the Holy Land. The ark in question then was founded upon Al Sakhra, and towards this all the sons of Israël prayed. This went on from generation to generation; and when it had perished, from lapse of time, they prayed towards the spot where it had stood, i. e. the Rock. It is evident that all this was pursuant to God's revealed will, and would have still remained if our lord Muhammad had not refused consent. So it passed away; but it had been the Kiblah of all the prophets who had inhabited the Holy Land. Withal, they magnified the Kaaba also, and performed the pilgrimage, according to the word of Al Abbás. Since Abraham, God sent no prophet who did not perform pilgrimage unto the house. From many traditions, this fact is positively brought home to Moses, and Jesus, and Jonas (peace be with them!). Some of these traditions are derived from eloquent expounders of orthodox truth.

It is said also, that Muhammad re-united the two Kiblahs, which had been separated. Much controversy has arisen upon the question of the

possibility of this. A certain Imám says, that whilst Muhammad was in Mecca, he used the Kaaba as his Kiblah; but whilst in Medina, he used the Holy House as his Kiblah, and then also made a general change; so that one period was abrogated by another. In a certain exposition it is said, that he first prayed in Mecca towards the Kaaba, and then changed to the Baitu-l-Mukaddas, which also his followers did at Medina, for three pilgrimages, or even sacred processions ; that after his flight they did the same; but that afterwards the Kiblah was altered to the Kaaba. That is an orthodox opinion, in which the greater number agree, that in Mecca he prayed towards the Baitu-l-Mukaddas; but that he prayed between the right-hand corner and the black stone, viz. the Kaaba. Now, the Kaaba was before him; and, in looking at him from behind, it seemed as if he prayed towards it; and that he did this, either because it was the Kiblah of our father Abraham, or to gratify the Koraish : but that in Medina, he joined the two Kiblahs, praying towards the Baitu-l-Mukaddas; a thing, however, which he reproached the Jews for doing; and, seeing them, forbade them, lest they should pretend that any change or transference was made with regard to Mecca. Those who discourse of this subject differ; yet the most part agree that

[ocr errors]

their Kiblah is the Baitu-l-Mukaddas, when in Medina. Many also say that when he came to Medina, God gave him his option between the two Kiblahs (or, as some say, the two sides), to go towards which he pleased; when he chose the Baitu-l-Mukaddas, and then afterwards chose the Kaaba. To this the following verses bear testimony :-“To God appertaineth the east and the west, and all the borders thereof." After this, God altered the custom, and now binds the universal profession of Islám to use the Kaaba as their Kiblah, except whilst in grievous terror, or whilst performing any meritorious deeds which are over and above the precise rules of the volume of necessary duties. This is now settled in the arguments of Theologians, who have collected that the verses alluding to the alteration are the following: “We have thought fit that the verses should cause thy face to turn to the sky.” There is some dissent as to the days of this descent (of the verses); some saying it took place in Rajab, others in Shabán, in the 3rd year. By reason of this, some doubt hath arisen respecting the length of time during which he made use of the Baitu-lMukaddas as his Kiblah, whether it were sixteen months, or seventeen months. A commentator observes, this doubt consists of several divisions and modifications : one says sixteen months, be

« PreviousContinue »