Al-Hajar Al-Aswad (Black Stone)
This is a stone set in the southeast corner of the Holy Ka'bah about 1.5 yards/meters from the ground. It is black with reddish tones and yellow particles, of ovoid shape about 11inches/28 cm wide and 15 inches/38 high, set in a silver chasing.
Tradition says that Adam placed it in the original Ka'bah. Later it was hidden in the Mekkah mountain of Abu Qubays. When Abraham rebuilt the Holy Ka'bah, the Angel Gabriel brought the stone out and gave it to him.
During the siege of Mekkah in 64/683, the Ka'bah caught fire from a flaming arrow and the heat craked the stone into three large parts and some smaller fragments. In 317/930 the Qarmatains raided Mekkah, captured the stone, and carried it off to al-Hasa or Bahrain, where it was kept. Ransom was offered for it, which was ignored. Then in 340/951 it was thrown, the historian Juwayni relates, into the Friday Mosque of Kufah with a note: "By command we took it, and by command we have brought it back." It was in three pieces before it was stolen; it is in seven pieces today.
Because stone is the most durable of substances and the one that comes closest to being eternal, it offers itself readily as a symbol of eternity. The Old Testament of the Bible calls God the "Rock of Ages," and Jesus says to Simon "thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church" (Mathew 16:18). Symbolically, it can also be said that undifferentiated stone hides within itself the essential and refulgent nature of gems, or precious stones. The Black Stone, because of its color, the absence of light, lends itself especially to the symbolism of the essential spiritual virtue of poverty for God (faqr), that is, a vacare deo, an "emptiness for God", or the necessary extinction of the ego that must precede access to the center which is the heart (qalb)...
The early Semites used unusual stones to mark places of worship and virtually every culture, ancient and modern, has recognized the inherent symbolism of stones in some hieratic usage or other. Jacob set up a pillar and on it the stone on which he had rested his head during his dream. He anointed the stone with oil and it became an altar in the sanctuary, already sacred to Abraham, that he founded at Beth-El, near Jerusalem. Ancient British tradition identifies this stone with the "Stone of Scone" which is under the royal coronation throne in Westminster Abbey.