Islam Is Repackaged Polytheism: Documentation
Studies On The First Century Of Islamic Society, Editor G.H.A. Juynboll, Chapter 2: The Origins of the Muslim Sanctuary at Mecca, G.R. Hawting, p23-48
Islam: Truth or Myth?start page
Studies On The First Century Of Islamic Society, Editor G.H.A. Juynboll, Chapter 2: The Origins of the Muslim Sanctuary at Mecca, G.R. Hawting, p23-48
THE ORIGINS OF THE MUSLIM SANCTUARY AT MECCA
This paper is concerned with the question of how the pre-Islamic sanctuary at Mecca became the Muslim sanctuary.1 I intend to put forward some of the evidence which has led me to think that the way in which the question is usually answered, both in the traditional Muslim literature and in works of modern scholarship, produces an inadequate account of the origins and development of the Muslim sanctuary, and I wish to propose the outlines of an alternative way of envisaging the islamization of the Meccan sanctuary.2
The traditional view emphasizes continuity of development and places the adoption of the Meccan sanctuary by Islam in the context of the career of the Prophet Muhammad in the Vijaz. It seems that Muhammad adopted the Meccan sanctuary, after an initial attraction towards Jerusalem, because it was the religious centre of the society in which he had grown up. The process of islamization is not seen to involve any radical changes in the organization of the sanctuary, nor in the ceremonies associated with it. The one important concomitant of Muhammad's takeover of the Meccan sanctuary, the destruction of its idols, is seen as a reimposition of the monotheism for which it had been founded by Abraham, a purification of the sanctuary from the abuses which had been introduced in the Jahiliyya. Generally, the features of the Muslim sanctuary at Mecca and the ceremonies which are performed there are explained as a continuation of those which had existed in pagan times but which had originated in the time of Abraham.3 In spite of some extensive modifications to this traditional account proposed by modern scholars, what seem to be its essential features have not been disputed. Scholars such as Wellhausen and Lammens have suggested that the islamization of the Meccan sanctuary involved changes in its organization and rituals which were rather more significant than one would gather from the traditional Muslim literature,4 and western scholars in general, of course, have been unable to accept that the islamization of the sanctuary was merely the restoration of its original monotheism. Nevertheless, the Muslim sanctuary at Mecca continues to be seen as basically a continuation of the sanctuary of pagan times in the same place, and the islamization of that sanctuary continues to be associated with the prophetic career of Muhammad.
Now, in so far as the theme of this colloquium is concerned, this stress on continuity of development in the Muslim sanctuary implies, conversely, that the Muslim sanctuary is an element of discontinuity for the Middle East as a whole in the transition from Late Antiquity to the Islamic period. According to the generally accepted account just summarized, the Muslim sanctuary at Mecca is to be seen as a legacy of the origins of Islam in the pre-Islamic Hijaz, not connected with the pre-Islamic history of the wider Middle East outside Arabia. In this respect Islam is to be seen as something brought out of Arabia by the Arab conquests and accepted by the conquered peoples at the hands of their new rulers. The traditional account of the origins of the Muslim sanctuary, then, supports the view that the coming of Islam marks an almost complete break in the history of the Middle East.
The evidence which I wish to concentrate upon in this paper, and which I think is difficult to reconcile with the generally accepted version of the islamization of the Meccan sanctuary, is provided by the use in the Muslim literature of certain terms or names which are connected with the sanctuary at Mecca. There are certain names and terms which, with reference to the Muslim sanctuary at Mecca, have fixed and precise meanings but which sometimes occur in the traditions in the Qur'an and in the poetry in a way which conflicts with their usual meanings, or at least suggests that they are being used with a different sense. It seems likely that these cases date from a time before the Muslim sanctuary became established at Mecca in its classical form, the form in which we know it, since I can see no way in which the sort of material which I will discuss could have originated once the Muslim sanctuary had taken its final shape. These names or terms, it must be emphasized, are now applied to some of the most important features of the Muslim sanctuary at Mecca, but the evidence seems to show that they originated independently of that sanctuary and only later came to be used to designate features of it. Furthermore, in some cases it is possible to indicate the likely source of the name or term in question or to suggest its probable original associations, and when we can do this it is to Judaism that we have to look. It appears that certain Muslim sanctuary ideas and certain names which Islam applies to its sanctuary at Mecca originated in a Jewish milieu, in the context of Jewish sanctuary ideas, and that they were then taken up by Islam and applied to the Meccan sanctuary.
This evidence, as already said, is very difficult to reconcile with the usual version of how the Meccan sanctuary was adopted by Islam. When scholars have recognized that certain features of Islam parallel those of Judaism or are to be explained as having their origins in Judaism, they have generally had recourse to two distinct theories in order to explain the phenomenon. The usual explanation is that the Prophet or the Muslims "borrowed" beliefs, rituals or institutions from Judaism and elsewhere as Islam came into contact with other religions. Such "borrowing", would have been possible, according to the traditional accounts of the origins of Islam, either in' Medina in the time of the Prophet where there existed a significant Jewish community, or after the conquests outside Arabia when the Muslims came into contact with the Jews and others in Iraq and elsewhere. The other theory which has been used is that parallels between Judaism and Islam are to be explained by the fact that both are descendants of one hypothetical "Semitic Religion", the religion of the Semitic people before it became dispersed into the various groups which are known in historical times. In other words, there is a mentality or stock of religious ideas which is common to the various Semitic peoples and which explains why so many Muslim ideas and institutions seem to be related to those of the Old Testament and of Judaism.
Regarding the sanctuary at Mecca, both theories have been used by scholars to explain obvious points of contact between it and sanctuary ideas found in the Old Testament, in Judaism and sometimes in other "Semitic" religions like Syriac Christianity.5 But it seems that neither theory can be used to explain the sort of material to be discussed here. On the one hand, the sort of contacts between Muslim and Jewish sanctuary ideas with which we are concerned are more than simply parallels of a general kind.
They indicate a close historical contact between the two religious traditions, the Muslim sanctuary ideas growing directly out of those of Judaism, and thus the theory of an underlying "Semitic Religion" cannot provide an adequate explanation of them. On the other hand, the traditional version of the origins of Islam does not really allow for the "borrowing" of ideas from Judaism in the period before the Meccan sanctuary became the Muslim sanctuary, which is what must have happened in the cases to be discussed in this paper. According to the traditional accounts, Muhammad made the Meccan sanctuary the Muslim sanctuary early in the Medinan period of his career, and there is nothing in the traditional accounts which would explain how he could have "borrowed" ideas from Judaism in the period before the Hijra. In the case of the material to be discussed here, therefore, if one wanted to maintain the theory of "borrowing" in the way in which it is usually used, one would have to postulate some way in which Muhammad could have become conversant with and adopted Jewish sanctuary ideas while still at Mecca, for which there is no supporting evidence in the sources.
Only one scholar has attempted to argue in detail that this happened: the Dutch scholar R. Dozy in his work Die Israeliten zu Mekka (1864). Impressed by the points of contact and parallels between the Muslim sanctuary at Mecca and its rituals and the sanctuary ideas of the Old Testament and Judaism, Dozy thought that the Muslim sanctuary had to be seen as a development of those ideas. But at the same time Dozy accepted the traditional Muslim version of the origins of Islam in the Vijdz at the beginning of the seventh century A.D. In order to reconcile his conviction with the traditional information, therefore, Dozy put forward his hypothesis that there had been a number of migrations of Jews to Mecca, beginning even before Jerusalem had become established as the Israelite sanctuary, and that the sanctuary of Mecca had been founded originally by these Jewish immigrants to Mecca. In the course of time many of the original practices and beliefs had become deformed and it was in this form that they were taken over by Muhammad as he grew up in Mecca. In particular, Dozy argued that the tradition that the Meccan sanctuary had been founded by Abraham was current in Mecca in the lifetime of Muhammad and had been accepted by him even before his Hijra.
C. Snouck Hurgronje's Het mekkaansche Feest (1880) was intended largely as a refutation of Dozy's work and was so successful that since its publication scholars have generally rejected Dozy's ideas or have ignored them. Snouck Hurgronje's argument, which has become one of the most widely accepted ideas of modern scholarship on the beginnings of Islam, was that the adoption of the Meccan sanctuary by Muhammad has to be seen as a reaction to the rejection of him by the Jews of Medina. Only in the face of this, rejection, according to Snouck Hurgronje, did Muhammad move towards the arabization of his religion, a move in which the adoption of the Meccan sanctuary was an important step. And only at this time did Muhammad begin to formulate the doctrine that the Meccan sanctuary had been founded by Abraham, an idea which grew out of his contact with the Jews of Medina.6 This thesis, therefore, rules out direct borrowing from Judaism in the period before the Hijra and restricts the influence of Judaism on Islam to a period after the adoption of the Meccan sanctuary by Islam. In cases where it is not possible to use this explanation, it seems one has to fall back on the theory of the underlying common "Semitic Religion". Accepting the traditional version of the islamization of the Meccan sanctuary as it is expressed in the thesis of Snouck Hurgronje, therefore, scholars who have discussed the parallels and points of contact between the Muslim sanctuary and Jewish and Old Testament sanctuary ideas have used now one, now the other explanation, according to the material under discussion.
If, then, neither of the theories offers an adequate explanation of the sort of material to be discussed here, how can we explain it without introducing a hypothesis that would seem as improbable as that put forward by Dozy? It seems that it is possible to propose an alternative scheme for the islamization of the Meccan sanctuary which would allow for Muslim "borrowing" of Jewish sanctuary ideas before the Meccan sanctuary became established as the Muslim sanctuary, a scheme which has been suggested in part by the evidence to be discussed in this paper. There is other evidence too which seems to support the scheme I wish to propose, but it is not possible to discuss it all here. The scheme can, of course, only be envisaged in its broad outlines, and precise details, in particular the question of chronology, remain unclear, but it does seem that the general scheme which will now be outlined makes sense of and is in accordance with the evidence to be discussed.
It seems that the Muslim sanctuary at Mecca is the result of a sort of compromise between a pre-existing pagan sanctuary and sanctuary ideas which had developed first in a Jewish milieu. I envisage that Muslim sanctuary ideas originated first in a Jewish matrix, as did Islam itself. At a certain stage in the development of the new religion the need arose to assert its independence, and one of the most obvious ways in which this could be done was by establishing a specifically Muslim sanctuary. The choice of sanctuary would have been governed by already existing sanctuary ideas and when a suitable sanctuary was fixed upon these sanctuary ideas would themselves have been modified to take account of the facts of the sanctuary which had been chosen. It seems likely that the Meccan sanctuary was chosen only after the elimination of other possibilities--that in the early Islamic period a number of possible sanctuary sites gained adherents until finally Mecca became established as the Muslim sanctuary. And it also seems likely that one reason for the adoption of the Meccan sanctuary was that it did approximate to the sanctuary ideas which had already been formed--although they had to be reformulated, the physical facts of the Meccan sanctuary did not mean that already existing notions and terminology had to be abandoned. The precise details of this process, as I have said, are still unclear, especially with regards to chronology. It does seem likely, however, that it took longer than is allowed for by Muslim tradition and that it was only concluded at a relatively late date in the Islamic period, not at its beginning as has been generally accepted. If this theory, which can be supported by evidence other than that which is to be discussed here, is accepted, then the Muslim sanctuary at Mecca should no longer be regarded as simply a remnant of Arab paganism. In part at least, it is a continuation of ideas which had developed in non-Arab circles before the conquests.
One of the most striking characteristics of the traditional Muslim material on the sanctuary is the surprising degree of change and movement within the Meccan sanctuary which it allows for. I have already indicated that the traditional version of the islamization of the Meccan sanctuary suggests an essential continuity between the sanctuary of the Jahiliyya and that of Islam, but, in spite of this, one would gather from the Muslim traditions that the sanctuary or features of it were continually subject to rebuilding and changes of position. The Ka'ba itself is frequently said to have been demolished and rebuilt.7 The Black Stone is on a number of occasions removed from the Ka'ba and then restored to its place.8 The stone called Maqam Ibrahim is moved around by floods and by human actions.9 The well of Zamzam is "discovered" on two separate occasions.10 Al-Masjid al-Varam, explained as the mosque containing the Ka'ba at Mecca, is several times rebuilt and enlarged.11 It is true that in the way in which they are presented these details do not conflict with the essential continuity between the Jahili and Muslim sanctuaries: the reports about changes in the organization or form of the sanctuary, or aspects of it, refer to specific occasions in the Jahiliyya and early Islam and to features of the Meccan sanctuary as it is known in its Muslim form, so that they do not necessarily indicate that the traditional version has to be revised in the way I am suggesting. Nevertheless, the preservation of so much detail, much of which is self-contradictory, does seem to be noteworthy and possibly to indicate that even Muslim tradition recognized that the history of the sanctuary and its incorporation by Islam could not be presented as a simple, straightforward development.
Furthermore, the traditional material on the history of the sanctuary is hardly of a sort to inspire confidence in it as a record of historical events. Sometimes we find the same basic material being made to refer to two allegedly separate events: compare, for example, the accounts of the demolition and rebuilding of the Ka'ba by Ibn al-Zubayr with those of its earlier demolition and rebuilding by al-Walid b. Mughira,12 or the traditions about the fire which is said to have damaged the Ka'ba in the Jahiliyya with those about the fire which destroyed the Abyssinian church of al-Qallls at San 'a'.13 Elsewhere we find a sort of overlapping of material --two allegedly distinct features of the sanctuary having the same or related traditions attached to them. The overlapping of the material on the Black Stone and the Maqam Ibrahim will be discussed later, and a similar phenomenon occurs in the material on the well of Zamzam and the hollow (bi'r or jubb) which is said to have existed inside the Ka'ba.14
Even if we could discount the information which is obviously legendary or unhistorical in character, then, the contradictions, overlapping and duplications which occur in the traditions about the history of the Meccan sanctuary would make it a hazardous, in my view, impossible, undertaking to write a straightforward narrative history of the sanctuary and its islamization. If there is a historical basis to the traditions, it seems likely that it is to be sought in their general presentation rather than in the specific details which they present. On this level the details about change and movement within the sanctuary seem to be suggestive. They seem to prepare the way for a hypothesis which envisages even more radical developments in the process which led to the adoption of the Meccan sanctuary by Islam. If we now look more closely at the use of a number of important names or terms in the traditions, it appears that on some occasions it is only with difficulty that they can be understood in the sense in which they are now used with reference to the Muslim sanctuary at Mecca. It seems that they have been redefined at some stage so that they have come to be used in a sense which is not their original one.
a. Maqam Ibrahim. In the Muslim sanctuary at Mecca the name Maqam Ibrahim is given to a stone which is situated a little distance from the north-east wall of the Ka'ba. The stone has a place in the pilgrimage rituals, two rak'as being made there at the end of the tawaf. Muslim tradition preserves a number of different explanations for the sanctity of the stone and the reason for the application to it of the name Maqam Ibrahim. The traditional material on the stone has been summarized most fully in a recent article by Professor Kister.15 With the Maqam Ibrahim, as with most other aspects of the sanctuary and its rituals, the main concern of modern scholarship has been to explain its significance for the religion of the Jahiliyya, to detach it from the Muslim traditions which associate it with Abraham and to explain it as a relic of paganism. Wellhausen suggested that it was a pagan sacrificial stone, a suggestion which Gaudefroy-Demombynes supported by reference to the indentation or hollow which it contains; Lammens preferred to see it as a bethel.16
The most obvious reference which seems at odds with the idea that the Maqam Ibrahim is the sacred stone bearing that name at the Muslim Sanctuary is the Qur'anic verse 2:125: "Take for yourselves a place of prayer from the Maqam Ibrahim" ("wa'ttakhidh min Maqami Ibrahima musallan"). In connection with this verse the exegetes give a number of different explanations of what is meant by Maqam Ibrahim. In addition to the view that the name here refers to the stone which is now so called, it is also said to indicate the whole of the haram or various extended areas within the haram 17. The context seems to require explanations such as these since it is necessary to explain away the preposition min as a redundant particle if it is desired to see the Qur'anic reference as to the stone which is now called Maqam Ibrahim.18 on the whole, therefore, the verse seems inconsistent with the usually accepted signification of the name Maqam Ibrahim.
Furthermore, in some traditions and verses of poetry the name Maqam Ibrdhim, or more frequently simply al-Maqam occurs in contexts which suggest that we are dealing with something other than the stone which now bears the name. In one tradition there is reference to Quraysh sitting in the "groups" (scil. "in the Maqam").19 In a verse of Hudhayfa b. Ghdnim included in Ibn Hishdmls Sira, 'Abd Manaf is said to have "laid bare (?) Zamzam by the Maqam" ("taw& Zamzam linda al-Maqam").20 This latter reference is typical of several in that it seems to give the Maqam undue prominence if it is envisaged that the name refers to the sacred stone which is now called Maqam Ibrahim. On evidence of this sort Lammens argued that al-Maqam was a synonym for al-Ka'ba,21 and he also cited in support of this view a verse of 'Umar b. Abi Rabl'a which refers to the pilgrims making the takbir at the Maqam: "la wallladhi ba'atha al-nabiyya Muhammadan bill-nciri wall-Isl7am . . . wa-bima ahalla bihi al-~ajlju wa-knbaru 'inda al-Maqami wa-rukni bayti al-l~ardm . . . ... Although the verse does not support Lammens's contention fully, it is easy to see how he formed the opinion that al-Maqam here means the Ka'ba: this is another example of the use of the word al-Maqam where, if we have the Muslim sanctuary at Mecca in mind, we might expect from the, context some expression broadly synonymous with "the sanctuary," such as al-ka'ba or al-bayt. Possibly another example of the same sort would be Azraql's statement that the Prophet used the Maqam as a gibla while he was in Mecca (fa-kdna yu!~alli ilall-Maqam md kana bi-Makka"). 23
At this stage I am concerned only to indicate the difficulty in attaching the references to the Muslim sanctuary at Mecca as we know it. As yet it is not possible to say what the names al-Maqam and Maqam Ibrahim do refer to in the sort of examples cited above, but one thing that should be borne in mind, and which discussion so far has ignored, is the possibility that references to al-Maqam are not always to Maqam Ibrahim, whatever the latter indicates. Sometimes it seems that a gloss has been inserted into a text in order to make it clear that; al-Maqam does mean Maqam Ibrahim, and it may be wondered why such glosses, which affect the continuity of the text, were considered necessary. For example, Azraqi reports that when al-Mahdi came to Mecca to make the hajj, 'Ubayd Allah b. 'Uthman came to him where he was staying in the Ddr al-Nadwa bringing with him al-Maqam Maqam Ibr&hlm.24 In the section dealing with Quraysh's rebuilding of the Ka'ba, Azraqi has two versions of a tradition describing in almost identical terms the fear of Quraysh in face of the serpent which God had caused to dwell in the bayt. According to one version, Quraysh withdrew 'inda al-Maqam, according to the other 'inda Maqam Ibrahim. 25 The possibility is obvious that the latter is a standardizing gloss.
Leaving this question on one side, however, it seems clear that, whether the references are to al-Maqam or Maqam Ibrahim, there is frequently some difficulty in reconciling the references with the Meccan sanctuary as we know it, or some suggestion that they are not to the stone which now bears the name Maqam Ibrahim. Since it seems impossible that such references could have originated after the Muslim sanctuary had become established at Mecca in the form in which we know it, it seems to follow that they must date from an earlier period when the name Maqam Ibrahim meant something else. The name has then been reinterpreted and applied to the stone which is now so called.
Such material, I agree, is frequently somewhat ambiguous, and it is often not possible to say with certainty that al-Maqam or Maqam Ibrahim does not refer to the sacred stone of the Muslim sanctuary at Mecca. The attempt to reconcile the Qur'anic reference with the facts of the Meccan sanctuary, however, seems obviously forced, and when the evidence is taken as a whole it does seem to indicate a development of the sort suggested. In general, it seems likely that the literary sources we have for early Islam represent the outcome of a long process of editorial amendment and revision made necessary by the gradual development of the new religion. If this is accepted, then it seems probable that the remnants of the earliest traditions which would survive would be those which have escaped the editorial process precisely because of their ambiguity: it was not impossible to reconcile them with later ideas and so it was not necessary to remove or alter them. The survival of references like those above which indicate that the Maqam Ibrahim was not originally a sacred stone at Mecca, I suggest, can often be attributed to their ambiguity. In the case of the Qur'anic reference, where the contradiction between its conception of Maqam Ibrahim and that of later Islam is more clear, amendment of the text would not have been so easy for obvious reasons. In this case the necessary reconciliation was attempted in the tafslr literature rather than by alteration of the text itself.
b. Al-Hijr. A similar development, I think, has occurred in the case of this term. At the Muslim sanctuary at Mecca the name al-Hijr designates the semi-circular area adjacent to the north-west wall of the Ka'ba. The area is regarded as of special sanctity, and the pilgrims perform the ritual circumambulations (tawdf) around the whole of the area covered by the Ka'ba and al-Hijr, not just around the Ka'ba.26 The special status of the Hijr is explained in Muslim tradition in a number of ways: at various, times it is said to have-been included in the Ka'ba, but ultimately its sanctity derives from its association with Hagar and Ishmael. Most frequently the hijr is explained as the place where Ishmael and his mother are buried.27 Modern scholarship has again concentrated on the question of the significance of the hijr in the religion of the Jahiliyya, rejecting the association with Ishmael and Hagar. Lammens argued that it was originally an independent pagan sanctuary which Islam subordinated to the Ka'ba, others have given it some place in the performance of sacrifices in or near the Ka'ba.28
Again, however, there are references to al-Hijr which suggest that it has changed in meaning. For example, there is mention of Quraysh meeting in al-Hijr in the Jahiliyya and in the lifetime of the Prophet,29 something which would hardly have been possible in the rather small area which now bears the name. This is reminiscent of the tradition about Quraysh in their "groups" in the Maqaam, and just as the name al-Maqam sometimes occurred where we might expect a term indicating "the sanctuary," so too al-Hijr is sometimes used apparently interchangeably with al-bayt or al-Ka'ba. Ibn al-Zubayr, having taken refuge from the Umayyad Caliph Yazid I, it is said, in Mecca, is usually reported to have taken the title 'Alidh bill-b t because he was claiming sanc-tuary at the Ka'ba. In Ibn 'Asdkir's version, however, Ibn al-Zubayr is described as "clinging to al-Hijr (lazima bill-Hijr),31 and the title '&Iidh bi'l-Hijr can be found_in hadith as a variant of 'a' idh bi'l-bayt.32 'A'isha too is said to have taken refuge in al-Hijr when, after the murder of 'Uthman, 'All was recognized as amir al-mulminin: finazalat lal& bdb al-masjid fa-qaspadat li'l-Hijr fa-suttirat flhi."33 Al-Hijr is also named in some traditions as the place where Muhammad was sleeping when he was miraculously taken on his Night Journey and too as the place where his grand-father, 'Abd al-Muttalib, was sleeping when he experienced his dreaming which the place of the hidden Zamzam well was revealed to him.j5 In these cases it would not be impossible to see al-Hijr as the area adjacent to the Ka'ba but the material suggests that we are dealing with a different concept. Lammens suggested, on the evidence of these traditions, that the religious practice of incubation was performed in the independent sanctuary called al-Hijr in the Jdhiliyya.36
There are some indications of a dispute about the status of al-Hijr. The inclusion of al-Hijr inside the bayt is the most striking feature of the sanctuary constructed by Ibn al-Zubayr and, similarly, the exclusion of al-Hijr appears to be the chief alteration made by al-Uajjaj when he destroyed and rebuilt the sanctuary after his defeat of Ibn al-Zubayr.37 Ibn al-Zubayr's decision is said to have been justified by reference to a hadith transmitted by 'Tk'isha, according to which Muhammad said that, if it had not been for the fact that Quraysh (?ahluki) had only recently given up polytheism or unbelief (shirk or kufr), he would have demolished the Ka'ba and rebuilt it to include al-Hijr.38 In a related tradition 'Rlisha is said to have been encouraged by the Prophet to pray in al-Hijr because it was a part of the sanctuary (al-,Hijr min al-bayt).39 Against this, however, Mu4ibbal-DTnal-Tabarl reports that 'Umar b. al-Khattab "invoked God against a woman who prayed in al-Hijr" I"alzimu billl&h lala 'mra'atin ~allat 0 and in spite of Tabarl's denial, this seems to be a clear reference to 'Rlisha. A tra-dition given by Azraql, apparently citing non-Qur'dnic divine revelation, says that al-Hijr is a gate of Paradise,41 but Maqdisi cites a prohibition of the use of al-Hijr as a gibla.42
From material of this sort, then, it seems that al-Hijr sometimes designates an entity rather different from that which is so called at the Muslim sanctuary at Mecca, and again it is difficult to see how such material could have originated after the term had become established in its application to the sanctuary at Mecca. The possible earlier associations of some of the material in which the name al-Hijr occurs will be discussed shortly.
c. Al-vatim. Unlike the two previous terms, there does not seem to be any generally accepted definition of what is meant by the name al-Vatim'at the Muslim sanctuary at Mecca. Apparently most frequently it is taken to refer to the semi-circular wall which marks the boundary of the area adjacent to the Ka'ba called al-Hijr, but the name is also explained as a synonym for al-Hijr, as referring to the wall of the Ka'ba beneath the water-spout (mizab)f and sometimes as designating that part of al-Hijr beneath the water-spout. Other, fuller definitions say that al-Vatim is the area "between al-Rukn, al-Maqam, Zamzam and al-Hijr," or "between the door and the corner (rukn, to be discussed shortly) in which is the stone." There does not seem to be any satisfactory explanation of the meaning of the word, most attempts at an etymology connecting it with the root VTM with the sense "to break, to smash.',43 Lammens, of course, suggested that al-Vatim was a bethel, "un nouveau rokn, non encore catalogue 44
Again we find that there are references to al-Uatim in the traditions which suggest that none of these conflicting definitions is adequate.
Ibn al-'Abbas is reported to have attempted to forbid the mentioning of al-Uatim "because in the Jdhiliyya men swore oaths and threw down their whips, shoes or bows (there)."45 In particular the Kh&rij-ite Ibn Muljam is said to have taken at by or near ('inda) al-Uatim his oath to kill 'All.46 One isolated tradition calls into question the conception of al-Vatim as a place or area and explains it as the name of a destroyed idol.47 It was this last tradition which was decisive in forming Lammens's view that al-Uatim was a pre-Islamic bethel which had been abolished by Islam.48
This lack of consensus regarding the meaning of the name distinguishes the case of al-Vatim from those of Maqam Ibrahim and al-Hijr. The last two are well known as the names of features of the Muslim sanctuary at Mecca, but traces of what we have suggested are earlier, superseded meanings for them are occasionally to be found in the literary material. With al-Vatim, however, the name really seems superfluous with regard to the Meccan sanctuary 49 and I suggest that here we are dealing with a remnant of early Muslim sanctuary ideas which it has not proved possible to attach definitively to any feature of the sanctuary when it was islamized.
There must remain some doubt about the earlier meaning of al-Uatim or its source, but the view that it was an idol or sacred stone of some sort is not convincing. The majority of the traditions seek to explain it as the name of an area and it is difficult to see why they should do so if it was an object of limited size. Presumably Lammens would have seen the various definitions of al-Vatim which have been given above as called forth by embarrassment on the part of Muslims at the memory of this remnant of the pagan past of the Meccan sanctuary. This view, which underlies most of Lammens's efforts to explain the inconsistencies which he had noted in the Muslim traditions, seems wrong. There is no reason why the Muslims should seek to hide the pagan past of the sanctuary, and indeed it is a prominent feature of the Muslim sanctuary traditions. The pagan deities and ceremonies are explained as aberrations which had been introduced in the period after Abraham had founded the sanctuary.5 It seems that it is necessary, in order to provide a satisfactory explanation of the material which has been noted here and much of which was adduced by Lammens, to go beyond the traditional version of how the Meccan sanctuary was incorporated into Islam, a version which Lammen's explanations accept, and to envisage instead an attempt to apply sanctuary ideas to a sanctuary to which they did not originally refer.
d. Al-Masjid al-liardm. In the Islamic period al-Masjid al-Var&m designates the mosque at Mecca with the Ka'ba at its centre. Since Muslim tradition attributes the origin of this mosque to the caliphate of 'Umar, and since there are a number of references to al-Masjid al-Vardm in the Jahiliyya and the life-time of the Prophet, however, it is necessary for Muslim tradition to allow for the existence of al-Masjid al-Vardm before the existence of the building which now bears that name. In traditions referring to the earlier period, then, the name is taken to indicate the empty space around the Ka'ba even though this was not yet enclosed by a wall, covered with a roof, or dignified architecturally or decoratively. The walls of this pre-Islamic al-Masjid al-Vardm, it is said, were no more than the walls of the houses which enclosed the empty space, and its gates (abwab), which are frequently named, were merely the main streets between the houses giving on to the empty space. In the early Islamic period, beginning with 'Umar, the empty space is said to have been several times enlarged, enclosed with walls, and covered with a roof to form the mosque which now bears the name.51
It may seem that the data already require a surprising amount of accompanying explanation which is not entirely satisfying. In addition to this, however it is possible to find in the Qur'an and traditions a number of examples where the name al-Masjid al-VarAm occurs and does not seem to coincide with either of the definitions already given.
Sometimes it is necessary for Muslim tradition to see al-Masjid al-Vardm as a synonym for the Ka'ba. This interpretation appears most often in connection with Qur'dn 2:139, 144 and 145, the gibla verses: "Turn your face towards al-Masjid al-Vardm." These verses are said to have been revealed when Jerusalem was superseded as the Muslim gibla, and since it is the Ka'ba, or even more specifically a particllar part of the Ka'ba, which is the Muslim gibla, it is necessary to see al-Masjid al-Vardm here as a refer-ence to the Ka'ba rather than to the space around it.52 The same interpretation sometimes occurs in commentaries on Qurldn 3:96-7: "the first bayt established for the people was that at Bakka." The bayt at Bakka is seen as a reference to the Ka'ba at Mecca and sometimes in this connection a l~adith is cited in which it is said that al-Masjid al-Vardm was founded a certain amount of time before al-Masjid al-Aq!~& (understood here as the Jerusalem Temple).53 Again, therefore, we have the equation of al-Masjid al-Uardm with the Ka'ba.
Sometimes, however, we find a very different interpretation: al-Masjid al-Varam means the whole of the haram, an area bigger than that of Mecca itself. This appears most frequently concerning Qur'dn 17:1, the isra' verse: "Praised be He who transported His servant by night from al-Masjid al-Vardm to al-Masjid al-Aq!~A. . . ." Several of the traditions about Muhammad's miraculous Night Journey, to which the Qur'anic verse is seen as an allusion, contain information about its starting point which would conflict with the Qur'an if al-Masjid al-Uardm in 17:1 were seen as a reference to the empty space around the Ka'ba. Of these traditions, perhaps the most common is that which says that Muhammad was sleeping in the house (ddr) of Umm H&nil when Gabriel came to take him.54 Whatever the house of Umm H&nil might be, it was clearly not possible to locate it in al-Masjid al-VarAm if that is understood as a desig-nation of the empty space around the Ka'ba (or of the Ka'ba itself). In commentaries on the isr&l verse, therefore, it is frequently stated that al-Masjid al-Vardm means the whole of the haram, such an interpretation allowing the house of Unun H&nil to fall within it.55 This extended interpretation of the expression also occurs, for example, in commentaries on Qur'an 9:28 which prohibits the mushrikun from entering al-Masjid al-Varam. Several traditions make it clear that it is the whole of the haram, not just the mosque or the Ka'ba, which is forbidden to the mushrikan.56
I do not wish here to enter on a discussion of what al-masjid al-Var&m might have meant originally, merely to make the point that, if we accept the traditional version of the history of the Meccan sanctuary, there seems no satisfactory reason for the fluctuation in the meaning of the name in the ways illustrated. If al-Masjid al-Var&m always meant what it now means at the Muslim sanctuary at Mecca, why would it be used in the Qur'an and the traditions in ways which can only be made to coincide with that meaning with some difficulty? It seems more satisfactory to try to dissociate the name from the Muslim sanctuary at Mecca in cases like those mentioned, to try to make sense of the material without using the concepts of later Islam to interpret it. It seems, for example, that the need to equate al-Masjid al-Uardm with the Ka'ba in connection with the gibla verses only arises if we accept the traditional Muslim exegesis of these verses and the traditional accounts of the institution of the gibla. If, as seems more likely, it is considered that the practice of facing the Ka'ba at Mecca in prayer developed independently of these Qur'anic verses and that the scriptural support for the practice was only provided later, then it is possible to try to reach some understanding of what al-Masjid al-Varam means in the Qur'an without prejudging the outcome. Again, there-fore, I suggest that we have a term which has been adapted in order to provide it with some application to the Meccan sanctuary but which probably originated in a different context.
e. Al-Rukn. This term is explained in two senses: it can mean either the Black Stone which is fixed in the south-east corner of the Ka'ba, or the corner itself which contains the Stone. Sometimes al-Rukn al-Aswad occurs, also with this possible dual meaning. Sometimes the name al-Uajar al-Aswad is used, but only with reference to the Stone, not the corner containing it. The plural form, al-ArkAn, is also found in connection with the sanctuary, and is explained as referring to the four corners of the Ka'ba.57 We have, then, one name (al-Rukn) which can refer to two different things, and two names (al-Rukn and al-Vajar) which are used to refer to one thing, the Black Stone.
Lammens noted that the Arkan are sometimes mentioned in contexts where it seems inappropriate to envisage them merely as the four corners of the Ka'ba, and he suggested, again, that they were bethels, not necessarily four in number, which at some time in the Jahiliyya were fixed in the walls of the Ka'ba; the Rukn he saw as the most important of these bethels, the Black Stone. Again he explains the application of the name al-Arkan to the four corners of the sanctuary by reference to Muslim embarrassment and concern to obscure the pa an significance of the Ka'ba and its attachment-.98
There is some evidence, however, that, as with the other terms which have been mentioned above, the name al-Rukn has been subjected to a redefinition aimed at bringing it into line with later Muslim sanctuary concepts, a redefinition of a sort rather different to that proposed by Lammens.
In some cases it seems that al-Rukn cannot be either the Black Stone or the corner containing it. For example, in the accounts of Ibn al-Zubayrls rebuilding of the sanctuary it is reported that he placed the Black Stone (variously al-Vajar al-Aswad or al-Rukn) in an ark (tdbat) while the bayt was demolished and then ceremoniously replaced it in the south-east corner of the new building.99 Other traditions relating to this rebuilding, however, mention that Ibn al-Zubayr dug in al-Hijr and found there a stone.60 In some of the traditions this stone appears as a foundation stone, for its uncovering causes all of Mecca to tremble, and one of the traditions refers to it as a rukn min arkdn al-bayt.61 A further series of traditions concerns a text which was found, either during the demolition of the Ka'ba by Ibn al-Zubayr or that by Quraysh in the Jahiliyya, containing a divine promise of sustenance for the people of the sanctuary.62 These traditions are adduced A propose of Abraham's request to God as given in Qur'dn 14:40/37: "Oh my Lord, I have settled some of my offspring in an unfruitful valley by your sacred House . . . . Provide them with fruits that they may be grateful." The traditions, which give the text with only relatively minor variants so that it is clear they are referring to the same phenomenon, variously report that the discovery was made "in al-Maqam," "in a stone of the foundations (bajar min al-asas) of Abraham," "in a stone (bajar) of al-Hijr," "fl ba'(~i al-zabrir,"63 "in the well (bilr) of the Ka'ba," and finally, "in al-Rukn.11 In these traditions, then, the Rukn seems to be something buried or hidden, and it seems likely that there is a degree of overlap between the traditions about the stone discovered by Ibn al-Zubayr, the foundation stone, and those about the stone with the text--we seem to be talking about the same stone in both cases, and the word rukn is used in connection with each.
Such a connection might help to explain a report of Mas'udi which Perplexed Gaudefroy-Demombynes.64 According to this report, Ishmael was buried in al-Masjid al-Uaram in the place where the Black Stone (al-Vajar al-Aswad) was. As we have nientioned, Ishmael is most frequently said to have been buried in al-Hijr, while the Black Stone is usually said to have been found in the hill called AbU Qubays. It may be that al-Mas'Qdl or his source had in mind the stone found in al-Hijr, which one tradition says marked the grave of Ishmael and another calls al-Rukn, and that the later generally accepted identification of the term al-Rukn with the Black Stone of the Ka'ba led to the substitution in the report of al-Vajar al-Aswad for al-Rukn. There are other cases where it can be shown that this has happened.65
One of the traditions regarding the burial of certain sanctuary objects in the Zamzam well by the last Jurhuml chief of Mecca before the tribe was expelled says that the Vajar al-Rukn was among the articles which were buried.66 As Caetani has noted, it seems unlikely that this is a reference to the Black Stone: there is no mention that the Black Stone was missing from the Ka'ba in the period following the expulsion of Jurhum, and it would be difficult to account for the persistence of the cult without it.67
A tradition of Ibn Sa'd mentions that Ishmael was buried "between al-Rukn and al-bayt.,'68 This makes no sense if the bayt is identified as the Ka'ba and the Rukn as the Black Stone in its corner.
It is hoped to show that it is possible to go further in discussing the significance of the term al-Rukn before it came to be used to designate the Black Stone of the Meccan sanctuary. The way in which the term was redefined and developed seems a sort of paradigm for the development of the Muslim sanctuary at Mecca.
If we look beyond the evidence provided by the Muslim literature, in some cases it is possible to relate names and ideas, which are now attached to the Muslim sanctuary at Mecca, to certain Old Testament passages and Jewish traditions associated with them. While we cannot be as precise as we would like, it looks from the evidence as though at least some of the sanctuary ideas and terminology of early Islam had developed first in a Jewish milieu and that they were then, as already said, adapted and redefined so that they could be attached to features of the Meccan sanctuary. I have already indicated why the usual theories of "borrowing" by Islam from Judaism or of the common underlying "Semitic Religion" cannot be used to account for the relationship between Muslim and Jewish ideas and traditions in this case. I wish to illustrate the relationship, as far as possible, with regard to the Maqam Ibrahim, al-Hijr and al-Rukn.
Sidersky suggested, on general grounds, that there may be a link between the name Maqam Ibrahim in Qur'an 2:125/119:"And take for yourselves a place of prayer from the Maqam Ibrahim," and a passage in the Babylon- ian Talmud, Berakhot 6b.69 In that passage the Talmud recommends that each believer should have a fixed place (maq(3 ) for his prayer, and in support reference is made to Abraham's practice of keeping a fixed place for his prayer. As evidence of Abraham's practice, there is cited Genesis 19:27: "And Abraham got up early in the morning to the place (mag6m) where he had stood." This maq6 was the place where Abraham had previously stood asking for God's mercy on Sodom, and the Talmud makes it clear that by "stood" is meant liprayed.,,70 From the wording and ideas of the Talmudic passage, therefore, it does not seem far to the Qur'anic passage mentioning the maqam of Abraham.
Nevertheless, the Qur'anic passage is clearly not just a variant of the Talmudic--where the latter is simply recommending a fixed place for prayer, the former uses the expression Maqam Ibrahim, apparently, as a proper name, possibly as the name for the sanctuary or a part of it.71 It seems possible, therefore, that the Qur'anic Maqam Ibrahim is not derived from the Talmudic passage as such but rather from the Genesis passage to which it refers. In Genesis 18:22 ff. Abraham stands before the Lord in the Maqam which is referred to in 19:27, and this indication that the: maqam had been visited by God may have been strengthened by the later use of the word maga to refer to God, a usage which seems to fit some of the occurrences of the word maqam in the Qur'an.72 It may be, therefore, that the association of the place with the divinity suggested the designation Maqam Ibrahim for the sanctuary and maybe it was considered that the place where Abraham prayed was the site of the sanctuary he had founded. Some support for this may be found in the Muslim traditions which describe Abraham's journey to found the bayt in the company of three heavenly beings, one of which is named as the sakina, a word used by the Rabbis for the Divine 'f~res-ence.73 This is reminiscent of Abraham's three visitors in the Genesis story, one of whom could be identified with the Lord before whom Abraham ministered in the maqd .74
The associations here are rather imprecise and one cannot point to the occurrence of the expression Maqam Ibrahim in pre-Islamic Jewish sources. Nevertheless, there does seem to be enough to suggest that the name Maqam Ibrahim arose first in the context of elaborations on the Genesis Passages, and I can see no obvious alternative explanation for the use of the term in the way in which it occurs in the Qur'an and some of the other material cited above. I envisage, therefore, that the name first arose as a designation for the sanctuary because it was there that Abraham had stood in the presence of God; when the Meccan sanctuary was taken over, for reasons which are not clear, Maqam Ibrahim could no longer be used as a name for the sanctuary as a whole and so it became attached to the stone which now bears the name, a literal interpretation of the root from which maqam is derived giving rise to the story which is most commonly used to explain why the stone is called Maqam Ibrahim: it is a stone on which Abraham had stood while building the bayt. I would agree that this proposed scheme goes beyond the evidence provided by the sources, but it does make sense of the evidence in a way which the traditional accounts do not.
In the case of al-4ijr, it is possible to establish in rather more detail a link between some of the Muslim material and the account of Jacob's dream in .Genesis chapter 28 as it was elaborated in Jewish traditions. I have not, however, been able to find any connection between the name al-Hijr itself and the traditions concerning Jacob's dream.
As we have seen, al-Hijr often occurs in the Muslim traditions where we might expect a term indicating the sanctuary--in classical Islam al-bayt or al-ka'ba. Indeed al-Hijr sometimes appears as a variant for al-bayt or al-Ka'ba. Now, in Jewish traditions the place where Jacob experienced his dream of the heavenly ladder is regarded as the site of the sanctuary: it is the very same place where Abraham prepared to sacrifice Isaac and later the Temple was to be built there.75 The possibility that the Muslim traditions about Muhammad's Night Journey have been in part influenced by or derived from the story of Jacob's dream of the heavenly ladder has sometimes been suggested,76 but in this connection the significance of the names given for the starting point of the Night Journey seems to have been over-looked: one of the most common versions says that he was sleeping in al-4ijr at the time.77 The possibility that the Night Journey was a dream is allowed for by Muslim tradition.78
In Genesis 28:17, Jacob awakes from his dream and exclaims "There is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." Reference has already been made to Azraqils tradition according to which God revealed to Ishmael that he would open for' him a gate of heaven in al-Hijr, and in the traditions about the Night Journey al-Hijr functions as a gate of heaven--from there Muhammad goes up through the seven heavens. The idea, of course is part of the Navel of the Earth circle of ideas,19 but the important point is that in Muslim tradition it is associated particularly with al-Hijr rather than with the sanctuary in general, and, if we accept the traditional explanation of the meaning of al-Hijr, there seems no reason for this.
The phrase "the land whereon thou liest" in Genesis 28:13 could be taken to mean that Jacob was buried in the place where he had experienced his dream, the site of the sanctuary. God's promise that He would give "the land whereon thou liest" to the descendants of Jacob is taken to be a divine promise of the whole of Palestine for Israel since at that time Palestine was reduced in size to the spot where Jacob was sleeping.80 As mentioned before, the sanctity of al-Hijr in Muslim tradition derives in part from the fact that Ishmael is buried there, and the descendants of Ishmael possess the Muslim sanctuary.81
It seems, then, that some of the Muslim traditions about al-Hijr developed out of Jewish traditions which had grown up around the narrative of Jacob's dream and that they originated independently of the Meccan sanctuary. I cannot see any way in which the name al-Hijr itself may have originated in the traditions about Jacob's dream, but , if we now come to discuss the possible meanings of the term al-Rukn before it became fixed as the Black Stone or the corner containing it, the link between Muslim sanctuary ideas and the traditions associated with Jacob's dream becomes even stronger.
In the story in Genesis, Jacob erects a stone in the place where he had slept: this is the stone which had served for his pillow, and Jacob calls it "Gods house." The stone is, naturally, made much of in the elaborations on the story: it is identified with the Eben Shetiya, the corner stone of the Temple and the pivot on which the whole world is balanced; after Jacob had set it up, God cast it down into the abyss where it serves as the corner stone for the whole world.82 It seems that al-Rukn was originally, before it became the Black Stone, the name for this Eben Shetiya or a development of it.
In at least one of the traditions about the stone which Ibn al-Zubayr turned up in al-4ijr, and the uncovering of which caused all of Mecca to tremble, the stone is referred to as a rukn. Evidently in this guise it is a foundation stone. A similar stone is said to have been unearthed when Quraysh demolished the Ka'ba in the Jahiliyya: when they attempted to move it, all of Mecca shook and the stone gave out a blinding light.83 Although the term rukn does not appear in this latter version, it is obvious that we are dealing with the same phenomenon as in the tradition about Ibn al-Zubayr--the two traditions are variants.84
The blinding light which the stone gives out in the tradition about Quraysh's discovery is a further indication that we are dealing with the Rukn and a further link with the Eben Shetiya. One of the most common traditions about the Black Stone or al-Rukn is that it was originally dazzlingly bright and that, if God had not effaced it, it would have illuminated everything between east and west.85 Muslim tradition ascribes the blackness of the stone sometimes to pollution by sin, sometimes to the action of the several fires which have engulfed the Ka'ba.86 In Jewish tradition the first ray of light which illuminated the whole world issued from the Eben Shetiya ' 87 and the Eben Shetiya also parallels the Rukn in that it is said to have come down to earth from heaven and is one of the few things of heavenly origin in this world.88
The idea that the Rukn was buried, like the Eben Shetiya, seems well established. In addition to the stone which Ibn al-Zubayr and Quraysh found in al-Hijr, we have al-Mas'Qdl's reference to the Black Stone buried in the same place as Ishmael,89 and the tradition of the burial of the Vajar al-Rukn by the last Jurhumi chief of Mecca.90 Even the traditions about the bringing down of the Black Stone from Aba Qubays by Ishmael and Abraham sometimes say that they had to dig it up.91 This feature seems too persist-ent to be insignificant, and again it appears to link the three apparently separate objects--the Eben Shetiya, the stone in al-Hijr and the Black Stone.
In Jewish tradition the Eben Shetiya is stamped with the name of God;92the inscription which, according to Muslim tradition, was found on the stone discovered in al-Hijr or elsewhere begins: "I am Allah, the Lord of Bakka ("innani Alldh DhQ Bakka").93
If we simply had to explain parallels between the Black Stone and the Eben Shetiya, it might be possible to do so by reference to a borrowing by Islam of Jewish material and the application of it to Muslim institutions in the period when Islam came into con-tact with "foreign" religions--the usual form of the "borrowing" theory in fact. But any explanation of this sort seems to be belied by the fact that, as I have argued, in Muslim traditions the name al-Rukn may refer to two stones which are in theory quite distinct, that the material on the Eben Shetiya which was "borrowed" is applied to the stone buried beneath the sanctuary as much as to the Black Stone embedded in the wall of the Ka'ba. If the traditions about the Eben Shetiya were "borrowed" in the way which is usually envisaged, there would not seem to be any way in which the stone beneath the sanctuary, overlapping with both the Black Stone and the Eben Shetiya, could be explained. Again the most satisfactory explanation is to see the Rukn as a remnant in Muslim tradition of the Jewish sanctuary ideas out of which the earliest Muslim ones arose. The Rukn was originally the corner stone of heavenly origin buried beneath the sanctuary. When the Meccan sanctuary was taken over by Islam, the name and some of the ideas associated with it came to be applied to the stone of that sanctuary, the Black Stone. But, since the name al-Rukn (pillar, support, foundation) means something more than merely "stone," the name was also applied to the corner containing the stone. This development, I suggest, typifies that whereby the earliest Muslim sanctuary ideas were modified and adapted to take account of the facts of the Meccan sanctuary when it was taken up as the Muslim sanctuary.
But it is not only the Black Stone and the stone buried beneath the sanctuary which seem to share some of the same traditional material. Overlapping occurs too between the material on the Rukn (in both senses) and that on the stone now called Maqam Ibrahim, and this suggests that the redefinition of terms which accompanied the islamization of the Meccan sanctuary took some time to achieve.
Some sources report that on the stone called Maqam, Ibrahim there is an inscription in "foreign" characters.94 The historian al-Fakihi reports that he saw this inscription when the stone was being restored in 256/870, and he reproduces the foreign letters as far as he could read them. It seems that this inscription, as it is given in Arabic in the sources, is basically a variant of that found by Ibn al-Zubayr and Quraysh when they demolished the Ka'ba, the text promising sustenance to "its people." Introducing his discussion of the text on the Maq-am Ibrahim, al-F&kihi specifically says that it was found by Quraysh in the Jahiliyya. 5 It will be remembered that the traditions about the discovery of that text give several different versions of where it was found, including "in a stone in al-ljijr," "in al-Rukn," and "in al-Maq7am.,,96 One of the traditions about Quraysh's discovery, one which names al-Rukn as the Dlace where the text was found, says that it was a kiiab written in Syriac which Quraysh got a Jew to read for them.97 Al-Fdkihi says that the inscription was in Hebrew or Himyaritic, although one of his informants offered a translation on the basis of his many years study of al-Bardbi.98
Finally, al-Fakihf cit-es a tradition from Ibn al-'Abbds mentioning that there is an inscriution (kitab) in the Maqam Ibrahim which could ~e read ifit were washed. Notwithstanding, Ibn al-'Abbas gives the text of the kitdb, and it is another variant on the other texts promising sustenance to "its people.', 99 It seems, then, that Muslim tradition applied the story of the inscription to the stone called Maqam Ibrahim as well as to the Rukn.
Several other traditions give broadly similar information about the stone called Maqam Ibrahim and the Black Stone. Both are said to have come down to earth from heaven and both were originally dazzlingly bright.100 Both were brought down from AbQ Qubays when Abraham was building the Ka'ba.101 The two stones are also linked in eschatology: on the Last Day they will both appear as big as AbQ Qubays, both will have eyes and lips, and both will testify in favour of those who visited them.102
The information about the inscription which is applied both to the Maqam Ibrahim and the Rukn suggests that there is more to this than merely a desire to link two important features of the sanctuary. Provisionally, I suggest that this overlapping of material is evidence that the redefinition of terms involved in the adoption of the Meccan sanctuary by Islam took some time to carry through. It seems possible that, before the Rukn finally came to be identified with the Black Stone and then with its corner, there was a tendency to attach some of the ideas about the Rukn, and perhaps the name too, to the stone which eventually came to be called Maqam Ibrahim. Possibly the fact that the stone now called Maqam Ibrahim did bear an inscription led to application of traditions about the Rukn to it . 103
I have, of course, left many questions about the terms and institutions discussed in this paper unanswered, but should like to conclude by saying again that I think the evidence put forward is difficult to make sense of if the usual version of the adoption of the Meccan sanctuary by Islam is accepted, and that the alternative scheme suggested here seems to me necessary to account for the evidence I have presented.
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