Black Stone: The black stone, placed at the eastern corner of the Holy Kaaba which is commonly known as Hajr-e-Aswad is not an ordinary stone. The stone is sacred and important for Muslims. It is the stone that was sent down to Prophet Ibrahim from the heavens by Allah Almighty.
The pilgrims of hajj and umrah go near the stone, see it and kiss it. Muslims have a great affiliation with it as the stone has been sent down from heaven and has been kissed by Prophets and Sahaba.
8 pieces of Black Stone: The stone, originally, was a single big stone. However, due to various historical events, it has broken down into eight pieces. These 8 pieces are of different size and shape. To avoid further breakdown, the stone was placed in a silver frame by Abdullah Bin Zubair (may Allah be pleased with him).
The black stone was once Stolen: The silver frame, since then is changed when required. The stone was once stolen. The stone was taken away by the Qarmatian warriors in 930 CE. They attacked the holy place, killed Muslims and threw their corpse in the Zamzam well. They took away the stone with them at kept it in Ihsaa base.
It was later recovered and bought back in 952 CE. Since then the black stone is kept under security and supervision, so much so that 24 guards have been appointed for the very purpose. If you ever visit the Holy Kaaba, you will see that a guard is always standing next to the Hajr-e-Aswad.
24 guards protect it for 24 hours: The guard stands there holding onto a rope. For every hour, a different guard is appointed. So 24 guards change shift after every hour in 24 hours.
Each guard appointed for an hour has various tasks to perform. The guard must remain alert to the happening around.
He must not only protect the black stone but shall also be vigilant about the surroundings. He must see that if anyone needs medical assistance. During Hajj days, due to a large number of people around the Holy Kaaba, accidents and suffocation occur.
The guard appointed at the black stone shall see if any pilgrim needs help and shall inform other guards to reach the victim. Major Sameh Al-Sulami, who is the spokesperson at the Grand Mosque Police also briefed about the duties of a guard appointed at the Hajr-e-Aswad.
How to kiss the black stone? He said that the guard shall guide the pilgrims about how to kiss the black stone. In order to avoid hustle and misfortunate incident, the guard shall make sure that pilgrims who wish to kiss the stone, make a queue and wait for their turn.
A guard appointed at the Hajr-e-Aswad has multiple tasks to perform. Every guard is appointed for an hour per day. The Grand Mosque Police has appointed 24 guards at the Hajr-e-Aswad.
Source: Saudi Gazette