Reconstruction of the Ummah - Who Should Install the Cornerstone?

The Holy Ka‘abah symbolized the Muslim Ummah from the first day it was constructed by Prophet Ibraaheem and Ismaa‘eel ‘alayhimussalaam.

Shortly before Prophet Muĥammad ŝall-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was appointed prophet by Allaah Subĥaanahu wa Ta‘aala through the first revelation, the Holy Ka‘abah was in dire need of reconstruction. The passage of time and the ravages of storms and floods had taken its toll and had resulted in cracked walls and damaged foundations. The Quraish decided to demolish the crumbling structure and reconstruct the building.

Initially, they were scared to demolish the House of Allaah out of fear that its demolition, though for the purpose of reconstruction, would be disrespectful. Just about half a century ago, they had seen the terrible end of Abraha, who had come to demolish the Holy Ka‘abah. Once they overcame the fear by understanding the difference between demolition for reconstruction versus demolition for desecration, the work started in full force.  

Various clans of Quraish participated enthusiastically in the project and adopted portions of the structure for reconstruction. Once the walls were constructed to the desired height, at which point the Black Stone was to be installed in the corner, every clan wanted the privilege of carrying out that sacred task. The credit and honour emanating from this privilege was too much to be passed over. Every clan had their own reasons to justify why they should be the ones who deserved the honour of placing the Black Stone in its designated corner. The disagreement led to arguments and quarrels. In the quest to earn honour for a small though sacred task, the unity of purpose was forgotten. Rather, it was replaced by infighting. In fact, swords were drawn and the Quraish were at the brink of settling the issue by the edge of the sword; this would have caused such bloodshed that  almost all Quraishi men of fighting age would have been killed. It would have also started a never-ending chain of revenge killings and battles to continue for all the generations to come. In short, it would have been the end of the strength, respect, power and status of the Quraish. Realizing the devastating implications of what was at hand, an old wise man suggested that arbitration be given a chance before deciding by swords.

Although people were willing to consider arbitration, the tough question was where to find an impartial arbitrator who would deliver a just verdict. Everyone in Makkah was associated by blood or by treaty with one clan or another involved in the dispute. Anyone chosen would decide in favour of his own clan. The issue of selecting an arbitrator created the same problem as the issue of deciding who should install the stone. The wise man came up with a creative way to make the selection of the arbitrator completely random. He suggested that the next person who entered the Ĥaram would be the arbitrator. Nobody inside the Ĥaram had any idea who would walk in next. They had no control over who that could be. And as it was not a planned exercise, the next person to enter could be anyone from anywhere.
People agreed to try the idea, but deep inside everyone was worried: Who would this arbitrator be? Would he be acceptable to people? Would he be wise enough to handle a delicate matter such as this? Whom would he favour or disfavour? Would everyone accept his decision? What if his decision were rejected by some? Would swords end up deciding it anyway? And so on and so forth! They started looking towards the door with anxiety and apprehension.

This was a lucky day for the Quraish. When all eyes were fixed at the door, Muĥammad entered. Everyone shouted with joy, “This is Muĥammad. We are happy to accept him as the arbitrator.” Everyone was so relieved and so happy. They knew that his decision was going to be wise and impartial.

Muĥammad was told about the situation and that he was now the arbitrator to settle the dispute. He thought for a moment and called the leader of each clan present at the scene to come forward. He spread his mantle on the ground right, put the stone in the center of the mantle and asked all the clan leaders to hold all sides of the mantle and carry the stone up to the height at the corner where the stone was designated to be placed. As soon as it was brought up to the designated spot, he picked up the stone and placed it in its place. Leaders of the fighting clans had an equal opportunity to participate in the sacred task; nobody was preferred over the other, and no one was left out. Every one was happy and bloodshed was averted because of the respect and credibility Muĥammad ŝall-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam enjoyed in the society and because of his creative wisdom and quick thinking.

As everything else in the life of the Prophet ŝall-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, this story has profound lessons for us. The Muslim Ummah is breaking apart like its greatest symbol, the Holy Ka‘abah, had been at that time. In fact, the Ummah has already been demolished by abrogation of Khilaafah. Since that demolition, various people have taken the initiative and worked hard to build a portion of the structure. Alĥamdulillaah, considerable work has been done and is being done in building different parts of the structure by different groups. Although it is true for the whole Muslim world, it is especially applicable to the Ummah living in North America. Quite a few organizations have done good work to help rebuild the Ummah in the United States and Canada. Today we are at a stage at which each group is positioning itself for the honour of leading the local Ummah. Every little group and clan is discounting contributions of other groups to claim all the honour for itself. In this posturing, we are putting ourselves on the brink of disaster just as the Quraish had done by drawing their swords.

Should not all the leaders of clans (Islamic groups) hold the mantle of Islam from their own respective side and raise it in unison? Once we have raised the mantle in a coordinated manner to the desired height, perhaps Allaah will provide us with a natural leader from among ourselves who will put the stone in its place.  

The activities of various Islamic groups must be coordinated to achieve common Islamic goals. Coordination of activities requires open communication and consultation between all active Islamic groups. Regardless of which Islamic group you belong to, and irrespective of how dissimilar the views of other groups may be to your own, you must urge your leadership to sit down, communicate, consult and coordinate with other Islamic groups.

The mantle of the Prophet is spread in front of us. Let each of our leaders hold it from their side and raise it in coordination!

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