Does the Ka’ba and Black Stone Not Being Protected by Allah Disprove Islam?

Does the Ka’ba and Black Stone Not Being Protected by Allah Disprove Islam? How Exactly is the Ka’ba Protected by Allah?

Question:

How exactly is the Ka’ba protected by Allah? Historically, the Ka’ba and black stone have been destroyed by enemies of Muslims and today we see wind blowing off the kiswah (the cloth covering the Ka’ba) and birds defecting on the Ka’ba, doesn’t this disprove Islam because Allah should be protecting it since its holy? Why was the Ka’ba only protected in the event mentioned in the Quran, but not after Muhammad? Why should we believe that the Ka’ba was protected as it is mentioned in the Quran since it wasn’t protected afterwards?

Answer:

Let’s first give some background. This is the passage in the Quran which the question is referring to:

Do you [Prophet] not see how your Lord dealt with the army of the elephant? Did He not utterly confound their plans? He sent ranks of birds against them, pelting them with pellets of hard-baked clay: He made them [like] cropped stubble.

Quran 105:1-5 (Abdel Haleem)

Mufti Shafi’ gives a concise breakdown of what the Surah is discussing to:

This Surah refers to the story of the People of the Elephants who came with an army of elephants for the purpose of destroying the House of Allah in (The Holy Ka’bah) in Makkah. But their plan backfired and the Divine scourge overtook them. Allah destroyed the army with a flock of ordinary birds. Thus their plans were foiled and thwarted.

Ma’ariful Quran Q 105

While the verses and their context is in front of us, I’ll answer the last question first. Fundamentally, we believe this event in the Quran happened because we believe the Quran is the word of Allah and Allah is all-knowledgeable. For some arguments that the Quran is from Allah, see:

Before I get into the foundational problem in the question, I want to discuss the examples shared in the question and cite narrations which demonstrate that the assumptions regarding the Ka’ba, black stone, etc. which are implicit in the question, were not believed in by the Prophet ﷺ or Sahaba. To recap, here are the examples cited:

  1. Ka’ba being destroyed by enemies of Muslims
  2. Kiswah being blown off by wind
  3. Black stone being destroyed
  4. Birds defecating on the Ka’ba

Regarding points 1, 2, and 3, note the following hadiths:

Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying: The Ka’ba would be destroyed by an Abyssinian having two small shanks.

Sahih Muslim 2909 a

(Nafl’) said: ‘ One day Ibn ‘Umar looked at the House- or – the Ka’bah and said: ‘What is it that is more honored than you, and whose honor is more sacred than yours! And the believer’s honor is more sacred to Allah than yours.’”

Jami’ at-Tirmidhi 2032, Grade: Hasan (Darussalam) (cf. Sunan Ibn Majah 3932, Grade: Da’if (Darussalam); this hadith is weak, but is worth mentioning as it cites the Prophet ﷺ saying that the sanctity of a believer is greater before Allah than the Ka’ba. This report could further substantiate what Ibn Umar (RA) was saying.)

Narrated ‘Abis bin Rabi’a: `Umar came near the Black Stone and kissed it and said “No doubt, I know that you are a stone and can neither benefit anyone nor harm anyone. Had I not seen Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) kissing you I would not have kissed you.”

Sahih al-Bukhari 1597

The idea of the Ka’ba and black stone being destroyed by enemies of Muslims historically (such as with the Qarmatians and Abu Tahir Sulayman al-Jannabi) or in the future shouldn’t be a problem because we already know that it will be destroyed before the Day of Judgement by someone who will obviously be an enemy of Muslims and that its honor is not equal to that of a single Muslim. Furthermore, the Black Stone is important to Muslims simply because the Prophet ﷺ gave it importance by kissing it and we want to emulate him and do so as well. It was never even remotely regarded as some kind of divine entity or something which must necessarily be protected by Allah through miracles.

Regarding point 4, note the following hadiths:

Narrated Hamza bin ‘Abdullah: My father said. “During the lifetime of Allah’s Apostle, the dogs used to urinate, and pass through the mosques (come and go), nevertheless they never used to sprinkle water on it (urine of the dog.)”

Sahih al-Bukhari 174

Narrated Abu Huraira: A Bedouin stood up and started making water in the mosque. The people caught him but the Prophet (ﷺ) ordered them to leave him and to pour a bucket or a tumbler of water over the place where he had passed the urine. The Prophet (ﷺ) then said, “You have been sent to make things easy and not to make them difficult.”

Sahih al-Bukhari 220

Bird’s defecating on the Ka’ba is hard for some people to understand because they seem to believe (for whatever reason) that such a thing can’t ever happen. However, in these narrations we can see that an animal urinating in the Masjid in Madinah (which is a holy site) wasn’t an issue for Ibn Umar (RA), as he didn’t believe that such a thing couldn’t happen due to miracles or something. We also see that it wasn’t a theological issue for the Prophet ﷺ when a man started to urinate inside the Masjid in Madinah either.

The foundational problem here is that the questions are assuming that Allah necessarily has to protect the Ka’ba through miracles from anything negative happening because He protected it once in the past and that because this type of protection hasn’t happened since, Islam somehow becomes false. However, this is simply a non-sequitur. Moreover, this assumption is unfounded as there is no scriptural (or logical) basis to believe that because the Ka’ba is holy and has been protected once in the past miraculously that it necessitates the Ka’ba and anything else considered holy in Islam must necessarily be protected in the future in the same ways. We can also clearly see that the Prophet ﷺ and the Sahaba didn’t have this type of belief regarding Mecca and Madinah.

Finally, we need to discuss the questions:

How exactly is the Ka’ba protected by Allah?

Why was the Ka’ba only protected in the event mentioned in the Quran, but not after Muhammad?

To answer the questions, Allah protects the Ka’ba however and whenever He wishes to. When it comes to questions of this nature, the following verses become relevant:

Allah does what He wills

Quran 3:40 (Mustafa Khattab; cf. 14:27, 22:14)

He cannot be questioned about what He does, but they will ˹all˺ be questioned.

Quran 21:23 (Mustafa Khattab)

We need to understand the meaning behind the asking of “why”. When humans ask, “why”, the underlying assumption is that we have goals because we need things. Allah doesn’t need anything at all, He is self-sufficient (as-Samad, see Q 112:2 cf. 29:6), we need Allah. This “why” questions seems to be asking what Allah receives from doing and not a particular thing and in a particular way. The actions or commands of Allah are not done with any need or goal. In other words, Allah doesn’t need to do A in order to get B. This is projected onto Allah. Allah does what He wills and He gets nothing out it but all of Allah’s actions are based on His knowledge and wisdom. Someone might still say that because they can’t understand how it could be the case that Allah protects the Ka’ba in one instance but not another and that it therefore proves Islam is false or that the event didn’t happen, etc. but this would be fallacious, just because someone finds something hard to believe doesn’t mean its false or didn’t happen. To say that does commits the logical fallacy of personal incredulity. To conclude, this is a non-issue and to argue that it is, is simply fallacious.

Written by Omar Hamid of MuslimResponds SubReddit

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