By: Seyyed Ali Shahbaz
"Indeed the First House to be set up for mankind is the one at Bakkah; blessed and (means of) guidance for all nations.” (Holy Qur’an 3:96)
Built by the Father of mankind, Adam, as the first-ever structure on Planet Earth in order to serve as the focal point of worship of the One and Only Creator, the Ka’ba or the cube-shaped edifice in Mecca is the world’s holiest spot, towards which the hearts of all Muslims are attracted from all around the globe.
Not a single moment passes of the minutes, hours, days, nights, weeks, and months that make up the years on the basis of the orbit of the Earth around the Sun as it spins on its axis, when people in any part of the Planet are not turned towards the Ka’ba in ritual prayers.
Indeed, this is one of the wonders of monotheist worship that proves beyond doubt God’s decreeing of Islam as the religion of all mankind.
Yet, the Ka’ba is not the residence of any prophet or a priest; neither is its sacred interior a place of rest for anyone; nor should it be used as storeroom for stacking of grains and goods, let alone any object or image.
So what is the logic behind venerating this very simple building, devoid of any decoration, equipment, and architecture, as the Symbolic House of the Unseen but Omnipresent Lord Who is far too glorious to have form, shape, or the limitations of place and time?
The answer is obvious. Definitely there was Divine Wisdom in its making by Adam; in its rebuilding by Prophet Abraham and his firstborn son Prophet Ishmael after the damage it had suffered during the great deluge of the days of Prophet Noah; and its revival as the Supreme Symbol of Monotheism by the Last and Greatest of all Messengers – despite the defilement of its sacred precincts for a brief period in its long history by the pagan Arabs.
Thus, with the emergence of the universal message of Islam in the full limelight of history, the House of God had to be cleansed of the filth of idols.
Although the final purification of the Ka’ba occurred with the surrender of Mecca to the Muslims in Ramadhan 8 AH (630 AD), when the Seal of Messengers lifted on his shoulders his cousin, son-in-law, and Vicegerent to deliver the final blow to idolatry in Arabia by pulling down the chief Arab deity, Hubal from atop the roof of the Holy House, those watching the grand spectacle of the triumph of monotheism, especially the middle-aged and the elderly, recalled two instances in their own lifetime when the gods crafted by their hands, bit the dust to their horror.
The first instance when the idols came crashing to the ground was the birth of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) on Rabi al-Awwal 17 (570 AD) – the year of the miraculous destruction (by a flock of small birds carrying pebbles in their beaks and claws) of the elephant-led army of Abraha, the Abyssinian governor of Yemen, who tried in vain to storm the Holy Ka’ba.
The second purification came thirty years later on the 13th of Rajab when idols fell headlong as the wall of the Ka’ba miraculously parted and then sealed, to allow the monotheist Hashemite lady, Fatema bint Asad (SA), to enter the "sancta sanctorum” for the blessed birth of Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS).
To the utter bewilderment of the pagan Arabs, assembled around it and engaged in the sordid practice of the worship of idols – now broken and scattered around to their dismay – the locks of the door of the Ka’ba held fast as they tried in vain to break them with iron bars.
Here, it would not be out of context to relate what Ibn Qaa’nab, who was present on the scene has narrated: "I was sitting with a group of Abdul-Ozza clansmen when we saw Fatema bint Asad (SA), the wife of Abu Taleb, approach the walls of the Ka’ba. She was obviously in labour, and was heard reciting:
"O Allah! I believe in You; I believe in what You sent to Your Messengers; I believe in Your scriptures; I believe in the message of my ancestor Abraham al-Khaleel. I beseech You by the right of one who built this House and by the right of the baby that I am carrying, to make childbirth easy for me.”
"Then we saw the wall of the Ka’ba suddenly open from the rear and Fatema bint Asad (SA) step inside it, as the wall closed behind her. We tried to break open the door of the Ka’ba but failed. We understood that this was a miracle.”
Four days later on the Rajab 17 the same miraculous scene was repeated when the Lady who had raised the orphaned nephew of her monotheist husband as her own son, stepped outside with a radiant boy in her arms, while nearby stood in expectation the newborn’s 30-year old first cousin, along with the infant’s father.
Fatema bint Asad (SA) said: "I have higher status than all of the
women before me because Asiya bint Muzahem (the monotheist wife of the Egyptian tyrant Pharaoh) worshipped Allah secretly in a place that was not meant for the worship of Allah except when necessary. Maryam bint Imran (the Virgin Mary whom God had commanded to leave the sacred precincts of Bayt al-Moqaddas as the birth of Prophet Jesus neared) shook a dry palm tree and ate ripe dates, but I entered the Holy House of Allah and I ate the food of Paradise.”
Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), who had not yet been commanded by God to declare the universal mission of Islam, stepped forward to take his cousin in his 0arms from his aunt and virtual mother.
Only God knows what transpired between the two cousins when their eyes met with smiles on their lips but definitely, Divine Providence had decided on the final cleansing of the Holy Ka’ba by these two illustrious offspring of Abraham.
No wonder the Prophet used to say: "O Ali your position is like that of the Ka’ba.” (Kunooz al-Haqa’eq)
What could be written of a person, the praise of whom the celestial angels chant and the writing of whose merits exhausts ink and paper!
Born in the House of God, and martyred while in communion with his Creator in the Grand Mosque of Kufa (also a House of God), with face turned towards that very site of his birth (the Holy Ka`ba), every single moment of the 63-year life of Imam Ali (AS), was dedicated to and spent in the service of Islam.
Without the least doubt, the legacy of Imam Ali (AS) that transcends history and historical developments continues to glow as a mirror of Divine attributes for the guidance of mankind.
To be more precise, the 13th Rajab is the day of coming into the transient world of the Barometer of Belief, the Fulcrum of Faith, the Paragon of Piety, the Paradigm of Patience, the Key of Knowledge, the Wizard of Wisdom, the Touchstone of Truth, the Criterion of Courage, the Model of Magnanimity, the Mirror of Munificence, the Epitome of Eloquence, and the Judicator of Justice.
Imam Ali (AS), as administrator of the only instance in history of the rule of social justice, has left lasting statements of guidance for all humanity, whether Muslim or not, as is evident by the tribute paid to him by scholars of various creeds, including the Christian George Jordaq, who has written several volumes, comparing the Imam’s excellence over philosophers, beginning from the Greeks and up to the French Revolution, and calling him "The Voice of Human Justice”.