THE FIRST MUSEUM OF ISLAM FORMED BY THE PROPHET (PBUH) AND CALIPHS,
OF ALL THE PLACES IN THE KHANA KAABA ITSELF, NOW WHO CAN BEAT THAT?
In 608 (or 605) AD, the Khana Kaaba was burnt to the ground by a fire. As the place was a religious center for travelers from everywhere, it had to be rebuilt by the Qurashs as soon as possible. The task was given to Baqum from Ethiopa, and the wood used was from a sunken Byzantine ship. A lot of details are surprisingly known. Not only was it rebuilt, but fresh statues of worship were made for it. In the 360 statues, there was a statue of Hubal, a moon-god of the Mecca people. There was a crescent on the statue itself. To satisfy the Christian travelers, there was also a painting of Bibi Mariam (Mary) in it. All these were made between 608 AD and 629 AD.
In 629 AD, Prophet Muhammed (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and his followers conquered Mecca, and probably one of his foremost actions was to remove all the worshiped statues from the Holy Kaaba, and it is reputed that there were 360 of them. But a very interesting development took place. There was a painting of Bibi Mariam (Mary) and a fresco of Hazrat Ibraheem (Abraham), which he liked and ordered that they were not to be removed. Later the Prophet (PBUH) learnt that there were Divination arrows placed before the fresco of Hazrat Ibraheem and so that was erased too, for Islam forbade that kind of action. This is confirmed by writings of Ibn Ishaq and al-Azraqi, A modern reference affirms this:
Rogerson, Barnaby (2003). The Prophet Muhammad: A Biography. Paulist Press. p. 190. ISBN 9781587680298. Muhammad raised his hand to protect an icon of the Virgin and Child and a painting of Abraham, but otherwise his companions cleared the interior of its clutter of votive treasures, cult implements, statuettes and hanging charms.
One may look at this with different eyes, but in our view, as well as that of Islamic scholars like Oleg Grabbar, this was the first step towards the first museum of Islam. Various lists of the artifacts in Khana Kaaba have survived, which lists the number of items preserved in the Khana Kaaba. It is a long list, but all confirm, that various cultural artifacts from places conquered by Islamic forces, were brought here for the people to see, the culture of far off lands. These lists are narrated in manuscripts over times. Interestingly the list even contains artifacts from Afghanistan at that time. And the people were encouraged to come and view the artifacts on a regular basis. Amazing! When this need was felt by the Prophet (PBUH) and the Caliphs and their followers, when did this urge stop?
We here at Chughtai Museum are proud of this foremost tradition of Islam and keeping the fervour alive, by the heart beats of these new times. M.A. Rahman Chughtai understood this. Spreading peace with the international language of the Arts. We need to reach out to people, to convince them splitting into groups and section can only remind us of the Aesops fable, of the dying man, who gave one stick each to his sons. Break the stick, said he. And they broke it easily. But once all the sticks were tied, no one could break the bundle. Planet Earth unite for a better tomorrow and live your own way of life in peace!