Six years had now passed away since he and his followers had left Mecca, and
no doubt many of them wished to revisit the old familiar places. Again, Muhammad
had some time before changed the Qibla (or direction in which prayer should be
said) from Jerusalem to Mecca. The sacred temple there was still a holy place to
the Muslims in Madina. Every day of their lives they turned towards it in acts
of divine worship, though for six years they had not seen it. The longing to
enter its courts and to go round its walls was now very great. The way had to be
carefully prepared and Sura Al-Hajj (xxii), or such portions of it as are not
late Meccan, was revealed for this purpose.1 The Meccans are reminded
that the Ka'ba is for all men.
'As a man of the Quraish, Muhammad had himself grown up in pious reverence
for the Ka'ba and the black stone. Properly speaking, this reverence was at
variance with the principles of his religion; but he managed to adjust matters
by his theory that these holy things had been established by Abraham, and only
abused by the heathen.' 2 The ceremonies of the old pagan ritual are
declared to be 'rites of God,' the performance of which shows 'piety of heart.'
The continued sacrifice of camels is enjoined. Thus did Muhammad claim the Ka'ba
and all its ceremonies for Islam. It was a master-stroke for gaining influence
at the time.