According to the Muslim scholars Ibn Abbas and Suddi, after the death of Hagar [Hajar], her son Prophet Ishmael [Ismâ’îl] married, divorced and remarried again. Ibn Kathir says that Ishmael’s first wife was an inhospitable Amalekite woman who was rejected by her father-in-law, Prophet Abraham [Ibrâhîm]. So, Prophet Ishmael divorced her and married an Arab woman from the tribe of Jurhum, which had settled in Makkah.

Ibn Kathir, the well known Quran commentator, mentions two interpretations on the origin of the KâCbah. One is that the shrine was a place of worship for angels before the creation of mankind. Later, a house of worship was built on the location which was lost during the flood in Noah’s time and was later rebuilt by Abraham and Ishmael as mentioned in in Quran 22:26–29. Ibn Kathir regarded this tradition as weak and preferred instead a narration by Ali ibn Abi Talib.

Ali ibn Abi Talib narrated that although several other temples might have preceded it, the KâCbah was the first “House of God,” dedicated solely to the One God, built at His instruction, sanctified and blessed by Him, the ‘Ancient House’ (Quran 22:29).

A hadith in Saḥîḥ Al-Bukhari [#3366] states that the KâCbah was the first monotheistic masjid [place established for worship] on Earth, and the second monotheistic masjid [“mosque”] was the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. While Prophet Abraham and Prophet Ishmael were building the KâCbah, according to some traditions, an angel brought them the Black Stone which Prophet Abraham placed in the eastern corner of the structure.

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Another stone at the KâCbah was the Maqam-e-Ibrahim (literally the Station of Abraham) where Prophet Abraham, it is said, stood for elevation while building the KâCbah structure.

The Black Stone and the Maqam-e-Ibrahim are the only remnants of the original KâCbah structure built by Prophet Abraham and Prophet Ishmael as the KâCbah structure itself has been demolished and rebuilt several times over many centuries.

After the first reconstruction was complete, God enjoined the descendants of Prophet Ishmael to perform an annual pilgrimage [the Hajj] and the Korban [Qurbani], sacrificial offering of cattle. The vicinity of the shrine was also made a sanctuary [Quran 22:32–33], where bloodshed and war were forbidden.

According to Islamic tradition, during the many centuries after Prophet Ishmael’s death, his progeny and the local tribes who settled around the oasis of Zam-Zam returned to polytheism and idolatry. Dozens of idols were eventually placed in and around the KâCbah. Several pagan rituals were adopted in the pre-Muslim Pilgrimage (Hajj) including doing the circumambulation totally naked.

About 400 years before the birth of Prophet Muhammad (circa 170 CE), a man who was the king of Hijaz had placed a Hubal idol onto the roof of the KâCbah. This idol was one of the chief deities of the ruling Quraysh tribe. The idol was made of red agate and shaped like a human, but the red right hand had been replaced with a golden hand. When the idol was later moved inside the KâCbah, it had seven arrows in front of it, which were used for divination.

Prophet Ishmael was a prophet to the people around Makka, the Amalekites and the people of Yemen. According to both Tha’labi and Ibn Kathir, before Prophet Ishmael died, he passed his inheritance to his brother Prophet Isaac and arranged with Prophet Isaac that his daughter Nesmah should marry Prophet Isaac’s son Esau.

Prophet Ishmael died at the age of 137 and was buried in Al-Hijr at the tomb of his mother Hagar.

We do not know how long the monotheistic community in and around Makkah lasted. It might have lasted for many centuries. It might have disappeared in just a few generations.

Almost a thousand years later, when Prophet Solomon dedicated the newly built Jerusalem Temple on the site where Abraham and his two sons Ishmael and Isaac were tested, Prophet Solomon prayed:

“When a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a distant land because of your name, for they shall hear of your great name, your mighty hand, and your outstretched arm, when a foreigner comes and prays towards this house, then hear in heaven your dwelling-place, and do according to all that the foreigner calls to you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel.” [I Kings 8:41-43]

A thousand years later, and two generations after the destruction of Jerusalem and its Holy Temple, following a second major Jewish revolt (132-135 CE) in the land of Israel, the Romans rebuilt Jerusalem as a pagan city filled with idols, That stopped all Jews from coming to the ruined site of the Jerusalem Temple–Beit HaMiqdash in Hebrew and Bayt al-Maqdis in Arabic.

For the next 500 years both the KâCbah, the first monotheistic House of Worship on Earth, and the second monotheistic House of Worship, Prophet Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, were polluted by the idols surrounding them. Then, just before his death, Prophet Muhammad was able to destroy all the idols and purify the KâCbah.

Today, almost 20 centuries after the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, generations of Jews still repeat wonderful tales about their ancestors’ pilgrimage experiences in Jerusalem and at its Holy Temple.

Crowded as Jerusalem was, still, there always seemed to be enough room to squeeze everyone in. Indeed, every year it seemed a continuing miracle that pregnant woman didn’t suffer a miscarriage, a rain shower never quenched the fire on the altar, the wind never blew smoke from the fire into the crowds of worshipers, and no one was ever bitten by a scorpion or a snake. Most amazing of all, no one complained: “It is difficult for me to find lodging in Jerusalem.” (Mishnah, Pirkay Avot 5:8)

Also, the wonderful fragrance of the Temple incense was so widespread throughout the city that brides in Jerusalem did not need to use perfume. (Talmud, Yoma 39b)

Most Jews do not think that the Jerusalem Temple–Bayt al-Maqdis/Beit HaMiqdash will be rebuilt prior to the coming of the worldwide peace of the Messianic Age.

But it is still possible that Christian, Jewish and Muslim pilgrims will, in the future, return in peace and brotherhood to Jerusalem on Haj Sukkot as foretold by Prophet Zachariah:

“In that (future) day all the survivors of the nations who came against Jerusalem will go there from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of Hosts, and to observe Haj Sukkot —the (pilgrimage) Festival of Sukkot. (Bible/Torah, Zachariah 14:16)

And as Prophet Isaiah predicted:

“In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will be the third, together with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying, ‘Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.’ ”  (Bible/Torah, Isaiah 19: 23-25)

Please God, may it happen soon.

Rabbi Allen S Maller

Allen S. Maller was the rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, California for 39 years, from 1967 to 2006. Rabbi Maller edited the Tikun series of High Holy Days prayerbooks, used at Temple Akiba and at seven other congregations in California, Nevada and Arizona. Read Full Bio

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