A very big thank you to Rafiq for the reference.
It is heartening to know at least someone is looking
after these things of what some people say here on
IMO, this issue of pictures and what not in the
Kaabah are good to know for general knowledge. Of
course it could come in handy to answer the occasional
critics who pop up :)
Wait a minute: If Rafiq knows of this, I am sure
others in this line know of this as well. And if others
know this, it is all the more disconcerting that there
still exist people who will dredge "old hats" present
to others as "evidence" of another discredit
Marvelous how some are actively seeking after
their "rewards." But that's my personal opinion.
> Muhammad (SAAW) found pictures or representations of 'Ibrahim (AS)
> casting divine arrows as the pagan Quraish used to do. He immediately
> got rid of them and became angry because he knew 'Ibrahim (AS) never
> did that.
> If this is what he meant by chritianity's iconism in the kabah, I
> beg to differ. Makkah was where 'Ismail (AS) grew up and his father
> 'Ibrahim (AS) used to visit him also. 'Ismail (AS) of course being
> a prophet preached of One Absolute Allah to the tribes who had then
> settled in Makkah. So for a time they were monotheists and they liked
> to look at the heavens and see the beautiful stars and great creations
> of Allah.
I surely owe both gentlemen a more detailed exposition of the item. It
was only because I was absorbed by professional duties and journeys that
I had to delay this answer. I apologize.
The Islamic tradition handed down to posterity in a lot of reports - and
in this case there is no reason to not trust them - that the Kaaba in
Mecca, before the Muslimes conquered it in 632, was decorated in its
interior with pictures at its walls and pillars and even with pieces of
sculpture. For instance, al-Azraqi, the old Arabic historian of the city
of Mecca, names the following parts of the interior decoration of the
pre-islamic Kaaba (my translation, mistakes against English grammar are
"... pictures of the prophets and pictures of trees and of angels.
Among them there was a picture of Ibrahim as of an elderly man,
drawing lots with arrow lots, and the picture of Jesus, the son of
Mary, and of his mother and a picture with angels." (I quote
al-Azraqi according to the Arabic text edited by Ferdinand
Wuestenfeld, Chroniken der Stadt Mekka, Band 1, Leipzig 1858, reprint
Beyrouth 1964, p. 110 s. There is, to my knowledge, no translation
into an European language.)
Especially about this picture of Mary with the child Jesus there can be
no doubt since Azraqi reports in detail under which circumstances this
picture eventually was destroyed like all the other ones:
"On the day of the conquest of Mecca the Prophet entered the House (=
Kaaba; my comment) and sent al-Fadl ibn al-Abbas ibn Abdalmuttalib to
water from the well of Zemzem. He ordered to bring pieces of cloth and
imbue them with water and then he commanded to wash off these
pictures, as it was done. He stretched his arms, however, over the
picture of Jesus, the son of Mary, and of his mother and said: 'Wash
off all except what is under my hands!' But eventually he took away
his hands away from Jesus, the son of Mary, and his mother."
(al-Azraqi p. 111, cf. p. 76)
The islamic tradition understood these reports as if the Christian
pictures in the Kaaba had been there in harmony with pagan gods and
goddesses. But this peaceful co-existence of Christian pictures and
pagan gods is a totally
impossible idea. And indeed, there are no descriptions of these pictures
allegedly pagan gods in and at the Kaaba which were nearly as clear as
descriptions of the Christian pictures, and these allegedly pagan idols
easily can be explained as Christian pictures and pieces of sculpture.
But that is another item and should be the matter of another posting.
Finally I should comment on another objection against my earlier posting
about the Christianity of the Quraysh: I explicitely didn't rule out
that there were pagans, pagan elements and pagan traditions, for
instance pagan names, extant in pre-islamic Mecca. In particular, it's
not astonishing that the Qurayshi clan of Abd Shams - according to the
Muslim tradition the most stubborn opponents against Muhammad - didn't
change their old name when they became Christians.