Do you know which is the only Aayah in the Qur’an that was revealed inside Ka’abah, that is Masjid al Haraam, the Sacred Mosque or Baitullah, the House of Allah??
Today let us learn about this Aayah, understand the amazing reason for which it was revealed, and also appreciate the miracle that exists to this day!!
In pre-Islamic times (that is, before Allah conferred Nubuw’wah, Prophethood, on Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam), the Arabs used to regard the sanctity of Ka’abah but in their own way. During the days of Hajj, the services of providing water to the pilgrims was entrusted to Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu), the uncle of the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam).
The custodial duty of keeping the keys to the House of Allah and, of opening and closing it during fixed days had been given to ‘Uthman ibn Talhah.
After the conquest of Makkah, when Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) took the keys of the door of Ka’abah from Uthman ibn Talhah, opened its door and entered Ka’abah, Allah revealed this aayah instructing His beloved Messenger to return the trust (in this case, the Key) to its rightful trustee:
“Indeed, Allah commands you to render trusts to whom they are due and when you judge between people to judge with justice. Excellent is that which Allah instructs you. Indeed, Allah is ever Hearing and Seeing.” (Surah An-Nisaa 4: 58)
Let us first understand the historical background:
“According to a personal statement of ‘Uthman ibn Talhah, the Ka’abah was opened every Monday and Thursday during the period of Jahilliyah and people would use the occasion to have the honour of entering the sacred House.
Once before Hijrah, the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) came with some of his Companions in order to enter the Ka’abah. ‘Uthman ibn Talhah had not embraced Islam until that time. He stopped the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) from going in, displaying an attitude which was very rude. The Holy Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) showed great restraint, tolerated his harsh words, then said: ‘O ‘Uthman, a day will come when you would perhaps see this key to the Baitullah in my hands when I shall have the power and choice to give it to anyone I choose.’
‘Uthman ibn Talhah said: ‘If this happens, the Quraysh will then be all uprooted and disgraced.’
He (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said: ‘No, the Quraysh will then be all established and very honourable indeed.’ Saying this, he went into the Baytullah.
After that, says Talhah, when I did a little soul-searching, I became convinced that whatever he has said is bound to happen. I made up my mind that I am going to embrace Islam then and there. But, my own people around me vehemently opposed the idea and everybody joined in to chide me on my decision. So, I was unable to convert to Islam. When came the conquest of Makkah, the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) called for me and asked for the key to Baitullah, which I presented to him.’
The area in white (in the above image) is the spot inside the Ka’abah where the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallal) is believed to have prayed after entering it
So he went into the Baitullah, offered his prayers there, and when he came out, he returned the key to Talhah saying: ‘Here, take it. Now this key will always remain with your family right through the Last Day. Anyone who will take this key from you will be a tyrant.’ (By this he meant that nobody has the right to take back this key from Talhah)
He also instructed him to use whatever money or things he may get in return for this service to Baitullah in accordance with the rules set by the Shari’ah of Islam.
The key of the Ka’abah
‘Uthman ibn Talhah says: ‘When I, with the key in my hand, started walking off all delighted, he called me again, and said: “Remember ‘Uthman, did I not tell you something way back? Has it come to pass, or has it not?’ Now, I remembered what he had said before Hijrah when he had said: ‘A day will come when you will see this key in my hand.’
I submitted: ‘Yes, there is no doubt about it. Your word has come true.’ And that was the time when I recited the Kalimah and entered the fold of Islam.’ (Mazhari, from Ibn Sa’d).
Sayyidna ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab (radhiyallaahu anhu) says: ‘That day, when the Holy Prophet sallallaahu alaihi wasallam came out of the Baitullah, he was reciting, this very verse …… ﺇِﻥَّ ﺍﻟﻠَّـﻪَ ﻳَﺄْﻣُﺮُﻛُﻢْ ﺃَﻥ ﺗُﺆَﺩُّﻭﺍ ﺍﻟْﺄَﻣَﺎﻧَﺎﺕِ ﺇِﻟَﻰٰ ﺃَﻫْﻠِﻬَﺎ I had never heard him recite this verse before this.’
Obviously, this verse was revealed to him inside the Ka’abah exactly at that time. Obeying the Divine command in the verse, Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) called ‘Uthman ibn Talhah again and made him the trustee of the key. This was the background in which this verse was revealed.
At this point let us bear in mind an important rule on which there is consensus. The rule is that even if a Qur’anic verse is revealed in a particular background, the rule laid down by it in general terms must be taken as of universal application and must not be restricted to that particular event.
(The above explanation is taken from the commentary, Maa’riful Qur’an, by Mufti Muhammad Shafi)
The key of the door of Ka’abah is still in the possession of the family of the original Key-Bearer, Uthman ibn Talhah (radhiyallahu anhu).
Even the king of Saudi Arabia needs permission from this blessed family to have the key to enter Ka’abah. Subhanallah!
Another point we learn from this aayah is that apart from commanding us to fulfill our trusts, we are also instructed to judge between people with justice.
The ayah concludes by reminding us that Allah Hears all that we say and Sees all of our actions, and that nothing is hidden is from Him.
May Peace, Mercy and Blessings of Allah be upon Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam), his family and companions.