Kissing the Covers of the Ka'bah

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Imam Ahmad Ridha’ Khan al-Barilwi (r.a.) was a prominent ‘alim from Bareilly, a city in Northern India during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  He was a follower of Hanafi fiqh.  The following is his answer to the question on venerating the cloth from the Ka’bah and goes on to explaining the veneration of the relics of the Prophet (s.a.w.), especially the blessed sandals.

What do the scholars say about the issue that in the city of Morees, there is a piece of cloth from the Ka’bah that measures two feet by one and a quarter foot?  It is hung on the wall that is in front of people when they face the qiblah.  When they finish their five daily prayers, they kiss this piece and after the juma’ah prayer, there is a massive rush of people who gather to kiss the cloth.  Some will kiss it four times, some more and some less.  Due to the rush, some even miss out.  They believe it to be a sacred cloth and try their utmost to get to it.  Those who are learned kiss it out of reverence.  Is this action worthy of reward or is it worthy of punishment due to other reasons?

The kiss of respect is considered to be part of respect in the shari’ah and everyday practice.  Kissing the Ka’bah, the Qur’an and the hands of feet of the pious are from the kisses of respect.  Relied upon books such as Durr al-Mukhtar by Imam al-Haswkafi (r.a.) mention this clearly.  Even in the ahadits themselves, the actions of the companions of kissing the hands and feet of Rasulullah (s.a.w.) are mentioned.  Imam Aĥmed Riđa (r.a.) had explained this extensively in his book al-Bariqat ash-Shariqa’ ‘ala al-Mariqat al-Mushariqa.

Related to the issue is the hadits of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (r.a.) that he wiped his face at the place where Rasulullah (s.a.w.) sat as mentioned in ath-Thabaqat al-Kubra’ by ibn Sa’d al-Baghdadi (r.a.).  It is related about the companions that they would touch the circular parapet that is next to the blessed shrine with their right hand and then make supplications.  Qadhi ‘Iyadh wrote in ash-Shifa’ bi Ta’rif Huquq al-Muswthafa that Nafi’ mawla ibn ‘Umar (r.a.) said that when ibn ‘Umar (r.a.) would say salam, he would say salam on Rasulullah (s.a.w.) and Abu Bakr (r.a.) more than a hundred times.  Then he would go to the blessed pulpit and touch the place with his hands where Rasulullah (s.a.w.) sat and rub them over his face.  ibn Qasit (r.a.) and ‘Utbah (r.a.) narrate that when the companions exited the Masjid an-Nabawi, they would touch the edges of the grave of the Prophet (s.a.w.) with their hands and then make du’a facing the qiblah.

The shari’ah and common practice tell us that anything that deserves respect in the shari’ah warrants respect at all times.  Respecting it is seen as respecting the thing due to which it gained respect in the first place and the same goes for disrespecting it.  For example, throwing the crown of the king to the ground is disrespectful at all times; not only when he is wearing it.  Every sane person knows this.  It is in ash-Shifa’ bi Ta’rif Huquq al-Muswthafa that it is from the respect due to Rasulullah (s.a.w.) that one gives reverence to all things connected with him, all places he stayed in Makkah and Madina, the things he touched and all things that are known due to him.  And indeed respecting connected objects is in fact respect for the reason why these things are themselves honoured and indeed the Ka’bah is from the Signs of Allah (s.w.t.), hence, respect for the cloth of the Ka’bah is respect for the Ka’bah and respect for the Ka’bah is respect for the Signs of Allah (s.w.t.), which is required in the shari’ah:

Such (is his state): and whoever holds in honour the Symbols of Allah, (in the sacrifice of animals), such (honour) should come truly from piety of heart. (Surah al-Hajj:32)

There is no specificity as to which things one can kiss and come into contact with either.  Whichever thing has any connection with anything that the shari’ah commands respect for, it is necessary to respect and love it.  Hence, to kiss and touch the walls of Madina has been the practice of the people of love and has been noted in the works of the scholars, even though these buildings were not even in existence in the time of the Prophet (s.a.w.) let alone being touched by him.  Someone said, “I was in the land of Layla and I kissed its walls.  In my heart resides the inhabitant of this land but I love the other dwellers too.”  This is found in many books such as ash-Shifa as-Siqam, Jawahir al-Bihar and Nasim ar-Riyadh.

It is written in ash-Shifa’ bi Ta’rif Huquq al-Muswthafa: “It is advisable to respect the places whose dust has touched the blessed body of the Prophet (s.a.w.).  So too is must we honour that atmosphere that surrounds those streets and plains and to kiss the walls.”  Qadhi ‘Iyadh (r.a.) then said, “The abode of the best of Messengers, the guide to the worlds and the performer of miracles.  I feel aching, love and yearning for him.  When I see those walls and plains, I will kiss them so much that my white beard will be filled with dust.”

Even more evident than this is that relied upon scholars of all ranks, from the East and West, Arabs and non-Arabs have drawn images of the blessed shrine and sandals, na’al, of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and have kissed them and placed them upon their eyes and heads and have ordered others to do so.  ‘Allama Abu al-Yuman ibn ‘Asakir (r.a.), Shaykh Abu Ishaq ash-Shami (r.a.) and others have written books purely on this issue and Fath al-Muta’al fi Mad Khayr an-Na’al of ‘Allama Ahmad Maqtari (r.a.) is comprehensive in this regard.  May Allah (s.w.t.) Grant them a Good Recompense and Peace by virtue of the blessed sandals.  Amin.  The muhaddits, ‘Allama Faqih Abu ar-Rabi’ Sulayman ibn Salim Kala’i (r.a.) said in Jawahir al-Bihar, “Oh the one who looks at the blessed sandals of the Prophet (s.a.w.) – kiss this image without any pride.”

Qadhi Shams ad-Din Sayf Allah ar-Rashidi (r.a.) wrote, “The one who touches the image of the blessed sandals of Thaha (s.a.w.) will get unmeasured goodness on the day of judgement and indeed he will live in utmost pleasure.  Hence, to get this wish on that day, kiss this honoured relic at once.”

Shaykh Fathullah al-Bayluni al-Halani (r.a.), contemporary of ‘Allama Maqri (r.a.), wrote, “Oh blessed sandals of the leader of the Prophet (s.a.w.), I have witnessed that your image contains those secrets that have extraordinary blessings.  One should rub his face on this image with humility and fulfill the rights of this sacred image that are necessary upon him.”  He also said, “Put your hands forward to kiss the image of those blessed sandals that have touched the Prophet (s.a.w.).  Accept the reverence due to them with your tongue and with a pure belief of the heart, place it upon your eyes and kiss it.  Openly send swalawat upon the Prophet (s.a.w.) and do this action time and again.”

Sayyid Muhammad Musa al-Husayni al-Maliki (r.a.), contemporary of ‘Allama Fath Allah al-Bayluni (r.a.), wrote, “There is such blessing in the image of the blessed sandals of the Best of Creation (s.a.w.) that if you place it on your face with a pure intention, you will be granted your desire.”

Muhammad ibn Farj Sabti (r.a.) wrote, “Oh my face, kiss it as this is the image of the sanctified sandals.  Seek remedy by kissing it so that your illness is removed.”

‘Allama Ahmad ibn Maqtari (r.a.), author of Fath al-Muta’al fi Mad Khayr an-Na’al wrote, “How dignified the image of the blessed sandals is which is more elevated than the whole world. Glad tidings to him who kisses it and expresses his intense love.”

‘Allama Abu al-Yuman ibn ‘Asakir (r.a.) wrote, “Kiss the image of the blessed sandals because even if you get to kiss this, then what an honour this is.’

‘Allama Abu al-Hakam Malik ibn Abd ar-Rahman ibn ‘Ali al-Maghribi (r.a.), who has been called Ahad al-Fudhalah al-Magharibah, wrote in Sharh al-Zarqani, “I befriend the blessed sandals of my Beloved (s.a.w.) and day and night I kiss it.”

Imam Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn Imam Abu Muhammad ‘Abdullah ibn Husayn al-Answari al-Qurthubi (r.a.) wrote in al-Mawahib al-Ladunniya, “I concentrated on the waves of light that emanated from the blessed sandals and as long as we bow down them, we will be honoured.  Hence, keep it above the head as it is in reality a crown and apparently a sandal.”  The above-mentioned translation has been praised in Sharh Mawahib and the scholar has been remembered as a faqih, a muhaddits, an expert; eloquent, pious and unmatched.

Imam ‘Allama Ahmad ibn Muhammad Khathib al-Qasthalani (r.a.), author of Irshad as-Sari Sharh Swahih al-Bukhari, included the above couplets in his book, Mawahib al-Ladunniyah and praised the Madhiyah of ‘Allama Abu al-Hakam al-Maghribi (r.a.), saying, “Maa ahsanaha,” and the poem of ‘Allama ibn ‘Asakir (r.a.) as, “Lillahi darrah,”.

‘Allama az-Zarqani (r.a.) commented on this by writing in Sharh az-Zarqani ‘ala al-Mawahib, “If possible, kiss the dust that has been touched by the sandals, otherwise, kiss an image of the sandals.

‘Allama Taj ad-Din al-Fakihani (r.a.) wrote in the chapter of the image of the sandals in al-Fajr al-Munir, “One benefit of making the image is that whoever cannot see the actual shrine can look at the image and kiss it with a yearning because this image is the same as the actual.  The image of the sandals is full of benefit which makes it the same as the actual – this has been tried and tested.  Hence, the scholars have ordained the same respect for the image as they do for the actual.”

Sayyidi ‘Allama Muhammad ibn Sulayman al-Jazuli (q.s.), author of Dala’il al-Khayrah, also followed ‘Allama al-Fakihani (r.a.) and included the image of the blessed shrine in his Dala’il al-Khayrah and wrote in its commentary, Kabir, that, “I have followed Shaykh Taj ad-Din al-Fakihani by including it.  He included a chapter in al-Fajr al-Munur about sacred shrines and mentioned this in its benefits.

Similarly, ‘Allama Muhammad ibn Ahmad bin ‘Ali al-Fasi (r.a.) wrote in Muthala’a al-Muswarrat Sharh Dala’il al-Khayrat that, “He said that the author included the chapter regarding the blessed shrine and sacred graves after the chapter of names following in the footsteps of Shaykh Taj ad-Din al-Fakihani because in his book al-Fajr al-Munir, he included a chapter on the sacred shrines.  In this chapter, he mentions one benefit that whoever cannot see the actual shrine should see the image of the sandals and kiss it and show deep love for it.  The scholars have written that the respect for the image is the same as for the actual and he has written that scholars have experienced the blessings of this.”

Look at the sayings of the scholars regarding the image of the sandals.  These are images, not the actual.  Then what about the actual cloth from the Ka’bah which has come into contact with the Ka’bah.  There is no doubt in the actions that people perform with it to seek blessings and to show respect.  It is included in the general rulings and there is nothing preventing specific actions.  This is enough to make it permissible.  Praise is to Allah (s.w.t.) who is the Most High.

As for the rush of people around it, then this is nothing new either.  This has been the practice of the people of love with regards to sacred relics in times past.  It is in Swahih al-Bukhari and other books of hadits that when ‘Urwah ibn Mas’ud ats-Tsaqafi (r.a.) went to Hudaybiyyah to see the Prophet (s.a.w.), he saw the bahaviour of the companions: “When the Prophet (s.a.w.) was performing ablution, they would run for the ablution water and it is near they would kill one another for it and when they see the blessed saliva of Rasulullah (s.a.w.), they take it in their hands and rub it on their faces and bodies.”  The state of the companions that they are near to killing one another is proven from the life of the Prophet (s.a.w.) himself.  Their state is far greater than people creating a massive rush.  Similarly, rushes to kiss the black stone are age old.  Hence, the actual practice is totally permissible and when the intention is to gain blessings and show respect for the signs of Allah (s.w.t.), then it is definitely recommended and a requisite of the shari’ah.


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