The Black Stone


Bibi Zainab Dowlut

As thousands, nay millions, of Muslims flocked to perform Hajj, they formed queues to touch the black stone and perhaps even fought to kiss it. But what is the black stone? And what is its significance in Islam?

The black stone was sent down from Paradise, as we learn from the Hadith narrated by Ibn Abbas that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “The Black Stone came down from Paradise.” (At-Tirmidhi)

On another occasion, the Prophet (peace be upon him) described the Black Stone saying, “When the Black Stone came down from Paradise, it was whiter than milk, but the sins of the sons of Adam made it black.” (At-Tirmidhi)

This hadith means that the sins of those who touched the stone, caused it to turn black.

Al-Haafiz ibn Hajar said, “Some heretics tried to criticize this Hadith by saying, ‘How come the sins of the disbelievers turned it black and the worship of the people of monotheism did not make it white?’ I answer by quoting what Ibn Qutaybah said, “If Allah had willed, that would have happened. But Allah has caused it to be the case that black usually changes other colors and it is not itself changed, which is the opposite to what happens with white.”

Imagine if sins can have such an adverse effect on a rock, then what about our hearts which are made of flesh?

This reminds us of another Hadith, in which the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) mentions the effects of sins on the heart.

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “When the believer commits sin, a black spot appears on his heart. If he repents and gives up that sin and seeks forgiveness, his heart will be polished. But if (the sin) increases, (the black spot) increases. That is the Ran (covering or stain) that Allah mentions in His Book: {Nay! But on their hearts is the Ran (stain from their sins) which they used to earn.} (Chapter 83, verse 14) (

This Hadith was reported in Ibn Majah.

Let us clean and polish our hearts. Let us seek the forgiveness of Allah and utilize our time in His remembrance. May Allah purify our hearts.

We will return to the subject of the black stone.

Did you know that the black stone will speak on the Day of Judgment and testify?

It was narrated that Ibn Abbas said, “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said concerning the Stone: ‘By Allah, Allah will bring it forth on the Day of Resurrection, and it will have two eyes with which it will see and a tongue with which it will speak, and it will testify in favor of those who touched it in sincerity.’” (At-Tirmidhi)

Should Muslims performing Haj or Umrah touch the black stone? Did Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) touch the Black Stone during his pilgrimage?

It was narrated by Jabir ibn Abdullah that when the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) came to Makkah, he came to the Black Stone and touched it, then he walked to the right of it and ran three times and walked four times (around the Ka’bah). (Muslim)

Hence, touching the black stone is to be done before the tawaf, circumambulation around the Kabah.

It is also encouraged to kiss it, for the Prophet (peace be upon him) was seen doing so.

The companion, Umar ibn Al-Khattab came to the Black Stone and kissed it, then he said, “I know that you are only a stone which can neither bring benefit nor cause harm. Were it not that I had seen the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) kiss you, I would not have kissed you.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

However, one should know that it is merely a stone, and has no ability or power in and of itself. It cannot cause harm nor bring benefit. Many a times, people become extreme in kissing it, they rub their faces on it, rub their clothes, and if they could, would probably try and take a piece home with them! We should beware of exaggerating, and know that benefit and harm are only from Allah.

Nonetheless, touching the stone is a means of expiation.

It was narrated that Ibn Umar said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say, ‘Touching them both (the Black Stone and al-Rukn al-Yamani) is an expiation for sins.’” (At-Tirmidhi)

If one is unable to reach it due to the crowds or some other reason, then he should touch it with something else and kiss that object. And if he is unable to do that then he should point towards it and say Allahu-Akbar, as these were all reported from the Prophet (peace be upon him).

To conclude, when one goes to kiss or touch the stone one should maintain Islamic etiquettes, and should not cause harm to others. Pushing, shoving, and stepping on people are all common in Haj and Umrah crowds, and we should aim to change this. Islam teaches us good manners, and we should uphold these manners when we are at these holy sites, performing such honorable rituals, otherwise we will incur sin upon ourselves. Pushing and shoving in crowds are often the reason for unnecessary injury, and at times even death or stampedes. Similarly, foul language and yelling at people should also be avoided. Keep your temper calm so as to be sincere and gain the reward of expiation of sins.