Is the Ka’bah a Safe Haven from Satan’s Lures?
Published on: 27 July 2017
written by: Dr. Spahic Omer
Al-Masjid al-Haram was always about its site in particular and the site of Makkah’s haram in general, its direction, safety and incalculable blessings
Satan was set to lose where he thought was strongest. Additionally, but most painfully, he omitted the ground or lower, as well as the above or upper sides of man, where, though, man’s strengths and Satan’s weaknesses are furthermost.
Satan did not mention the lower or ground side of man due to his arrogance and contemptible view of man, but that exactly is the spot and dimension of prostration as a sign of one’s ultimate submission to the Will and Word of God, and of a person’s spiritual growth and accomplishments.
It also signifies a platform from where one rises to and conquers other dimensions of life. Moreover, Satan could not — rather than did not — mention the above or upper side of man because he was not allowed to do so. To rise above especially believing men and women, both conceptually and realistically, is just a wish and fantasy of Satan, never a real thing.
The above vertical direction is left to man to freely and unhindered rise, transcending all the inhibiting levels and dimensions of existence, if he only so wills. If he so decides, the sky is the limit. Nothing stands between him and his trajectory towards the spiritual fulfillment.
If all this shows one thing then it is the indisputable truth that Satan was so wrong in his assessments, strategies and predictions, insofar as genuine servants of God and their fates were concerned.
He wanted the notion of time, but little did he know that believers, though trapped inside its powerful sway and constraints, operate only for the interests of the world of the transcendental as well as eternal meanings and realities, patiently and ardently looking forward to joining it, and using the former merely as a means for achieving the latter.
It is in this sense that believers are allegorically said to be existing at another level. It is Satan, not them, who is entrapped in the finity of the terrestrial concept of time.
As a small digression, in the Quranic chapter Al-‘Asr (Time), the idea of time is closely linked to the idea man and his potential existential loss:
…except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.” (103: 3)
It stands to reason that based on the chapter in question, he who allows time to absolutely control and restrain him, is a loser. But he who manages to “control” time and sets himself “free” from its bounds – such as what believers normally do — is only saved.
There are many other verses in the Quran which tend to demystify the notion of time and present it as something relative rather than absolute, as an accident rather than a substance. The same applies to the concept of space as well.
Furthermore, Satan wanted the notion of space, but chose its dimensions where believing men and women are least vulnerable. He left out man’s lower and upper sides not knowing that it is exactly those sides where believers enter and vertically rise through the degrees and stations of the spiritual kingdom, attaining in the process ultimate felicity and spiritual excellence.
The spiritual life therefore is in a state of constant ascent primarily via regular prostrations in prayers. The Prophet is thus reported to have said that the prayer (salah) is the ascension (mi’raj) of a believer.
It is likewise unsurprising that the prayer is the main pillar of the whole body of the religion of Islam, as well as that the culmination of each and every prayer is prostration (sajdah) on the ground.
It was reported, accordingly and most fittingly, that when a man reads in the Quran a prostration verse and then prostrates to God, Satan isolates himself and in despair weeps and exclaims:
“A son of Adam was ordered to prostrate and he did so; I too was ordered to prostrate but refused to do so. Consequently, for the son of Adam is the reward of Paradise and for me the punishment of Hell.”
Without a doubt, just as Satan’s greed, arrogance and flawed judgments were behind his mischievous and rebellious tendencies, his outright ignorance and one-dimensionality, mainly, were behind his faulty and ineffective existential strategies meant for believers. They were no match for the latter’s intellectual and spiritual multidimensional competence.
As an illustration of the nature and intensity of that perennial warfare on earth, and the nature of its outcomes, a companion Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet said:
A strong devil from the jinns called ‘Ifrit came to me yesterday suddenly, so as to spoil my prayer, but Allah enabled me to overpower him, and so I caught him and intended to tie him to one of the pillars of the mosque so that all of you might see him, but I remembered the invocation of my brother (Prophet) Sulayman: ‘And grant me a kingdom such as shall not belong to any other after me,’ (38:35), so I let him go cursed. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith No. 634)
It is noteworthy that the Prophet was in a state of prayer facing the qiblah when the incident occurred. Hence, the main focus of the devil’s attempts to unsettle the Prophet’s concentration must have been the Prophet’s front site.
On the Day of Judgment when all masks will fall, everything will become clear and the matters pertaining to the terrestrial life will be conclusively and justly decided.
Satan, too, will then have to admit the truth, outlining to those who followed him why and where things went wrong. To this effect God says in the Quran:
And Satan will say when the matter is decided: ‘It was Allah Who gave you a promise of Truth: I too promised, but I failed in my promise to you. I had no authority over you except to call you, but you listened to me; then reproach not me, but reproach your own souls. I cannot listen to your cries, nor can you listen to mine. I reject your former act in associating me with Allah. For wrong-doers there must be a grievous Chastisement.” (14:22).
Due to the central importance of Al-Masjid al-Haram in the lives of believers, the meaning of it as the qiblah to be faced from anywhere in the world, is readily apparent.
As far as the significance of the downward or the ground side of believers’ existence is concerned – as a symbol and direction of prostration (sajdah) — it could be, and God knows best, that the same has been symbolically suggested by the continuous emphasis on the foundations of the Ka’bah, the Sacred Mosque that existed since its inception only for the sake of accommodating and facilitating the needs of people.
Raising the Ka’bah on its holy foundations might have also indicated the intellectual and spiritual growth of believers and their rising through a range of degrees and stations. That the Ka’bah was built roofless could likewise be interpreted in the spirit that there are neither limits nor obstacles in believing men’s and women’s continuous progression towards spiritual perfection.
This close correlation between the Ka’bah (Al-Masjid al-Haram), as a means, and the case of the spiritual progression and fruition of believers, as an end, was clearly demonstrated by Prophet Muhammad who, when once circumambulated the Ka’bah, affirmed the immensity of its reputation, character and honor by saying to it:
How wonderful you are and how wonderful your fragrance is! How great you are and how great your honor is!
But then he added, demonstrating thereby the truest transcendental purpose of al-Masjid al-Haram:
By Him in Whose hands Muhammad’s soul is, indeed the honor of the believer is greater with God than your honor: his property, his blood and that only good (positive) is assumed about him.
Accordingly, as stressed earlier, Al-Masjid al-Haram or the Ka’bah is not about stones, timber and other building materials of which it might have been composed. The matter was always spiritual, rather than physical, in the sense that the form of the Ka’bah, and later its Al-Masjid al-Haram, followed, facilitated and promoted its primordial humankind-oriented function with all of its dimensions: corporeal, intellectual and spiritual.
Al-Masjid al-Haram was always about its site in particular and the site of Makkah’s haram in general, its direction, safety and incalculable blessings (barakah).
Moreover, it was about the place of annual Hajj, the symbol of unfaltering obedience to God and His injunctions, and about the sign as well as source of strength for warding off Satan and his advances.
It is not surprising therefore that one of the key Hajj rituals is ramy al-jamarat that involves stoning the three pillars that represent Satan. The ritual is conducted in the locality of Mina just east of Makkah for three or four consecutive days starting with ‘Id al-Adha or the Feast of the Sacrifice.
It is recounted in the books of history that when the angel Jibril taught Ibrahim the rites of Hajj, subsequent to his construction of the Ka’bah, Satan appeared to him three times, seeking to disturb and demoralize him. At each of the appearances, Jibril asked Ibrahim to pelt or stone Satan. So Ibrahim threw seven stones for each appearance at him. After Satan had been stoned for the third time, he finally, defeated, withdrew from Ibrahim.
That particular Hajj ritual has been prescribed to commemorate Ibrahim’s victory over Satan and to remind every pilgrim that he or she has a similar battle of his or her own. The battle, of course, is primarily about Satan. But, in addition, it is also about repudiating and casting aside one’s low desires and wishes through which Satan tends to penetrate and dominate one’s self.
While every believing person intends to initiate and keep up sound relationships with physically and spiritually the safest Al-Masjid al-Haram sanctuary and its direction, creating then from his personality a safe haven for all forms of goodness and virtue, Satan, on the other hand, craves and plots to severe such relationships, isolate and make a person directionless and lost, and then embark on crafting of his being a sanctuary for himself and all forms of felony and vice.
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