Ka’bah And Islaelite Prophets

Question

If Ibrahim and Ismail (sws) built the Ka'aba as a center of pilgrimage for all mankind, why did the other sons of Ibrahim and their grandsons and other Prophets mentioned in the Bible never made it a point to visit Ka'aba. We don't find any evidence at all in the Bible or the New Testament of anybody going to Mecca for pilgrimage. On the contrary, Jerusalem seems to have been the center for Prophets of old including Jesus. We do find a hint in the Qur'an below, but is there one in the Bible? Hajj has been a practice that has been followed by successive generations of Prophet Abraham (pbuh). It was even known to the father in-law of Prophet Moses (pbuh) before Prophet Moses (pbuh) received his Prophethood from God. In the following verse, we note the use of Hajj as a marker to signify a contractual period. 028.027 "He said: "Indeed I intend to marry you to one of these two daughters of mine on condition that you hire thyself to me for (the term of) eight pilgrimages (Arabic: Thamaniya Hijajin). Then if you complete ten, it will be of your own accord, and I would not wish to make it difficult for you. God willing, you will find me of the righteous". Just wondering what I am missing here?


Answer

The Qur'an in verse 3:96 refers to Mecca with the word Bacca. Imām Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, while explaining why this word has been mentioned here, writes:

… this word is one example of the interpolations done by the Jews by distorting the recital of a word (called layy al-lisān by the Qur'ān) in order to do away with the signs of the advent of the last prophet. The Jews garbled it from Bakkah to Bukā' and by regarding it to be a verbal noun translated it to mean "to cry". In this manner, by converting the valley of Bakkah into the valley of Bukā', they obliterated the greatest sign which could have guided people to the last prophet. By mentioning Makkah with its ancient name of Bakkah, in this verse the Qur'ān has reminded us of its name which was mentioned in the Torah and which even exists today in certain scriptures like the Psalms. (Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, Tadabbur-i Qur'ān, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), 145)

Abdus Sattar Ghauri in his book "Isaac or Ismael" presents the results of his extensive research into the texts of Bible. He brings out evidences to conclude that there are a number of references to Mecca, pilgrimage to Mecca and important places near Mecca in the Bible and that all these references have been transformed or have made vague in an attempt to divert any attention from prophet Ishmael (pbuh), son of prophet Abraham (pbuh) (the ancestor of prophet Muhammad - pbuh) and to introduce his brother, prophet Isaac (pbuh) (the ancestor of the rest of the prophets of Bani Israel) as the one who Abraham (pbuh) attempted to sacrifice.

The site of sacrifice where Abraham (pbuh) wanted to sacrifice his son is referred to as Moriah in the Bible (Gen. 22:2, II Chon. 3:1). According to Abdus Sattar Ghauri, this is what Arabs know as Marwah, that is a mountain in Mecca and one of the places included in the acts of pilgrimage. David (pbuh) has referred to pilgrimage to Baca in the 84th Psalms. As quoted above, it is our understanding that this refers to Mecca. According to Abdus Sattar Ghauri, the well of Beersheba that is referred to a number of times in the Bible is actually Zamzam in Mecca. He also analyzes the text of Isaiah chapter 60 to show that according to this text Mecca was a place of offering sacrifices.

At present I am not in a position to argue that pilgrimage to Mecca was an essential part of the Jewish law, however, based on the above, enough references and importance is given to it in the Bible.

For more details please refer to the above mentioned book.

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