Disclaimer: the information in this post is controversial. i just published another view point, which may or may not be historically perfect.
Hinduism.co.za has a very interesting article that trace back Kaaba, the holiest place of Islamic faith with Hindu Civilization. Even some of the rituals performed during the Hajj has close connection with those of Hindu sacred practices.
I quote from the website: "As the pilgrim proceeds towards Mecca he is asked to shave his head and beard and to wear special sacred attire that consists of two seamless sheets of white cloth. One is to be worn round the waist and the other over the shoulders. Both these rites are remnants of the OLD VEDIC PRACTICE of entering Hindu temples clean- and with holy seamless white sheets.
The main shrine in Mecca, which houses the Siva emblem, is known as the Kaaba. It is clothed in a black shroud. That custom also originates from the days when it was thought necessary to discourage its recapture by camouflaging it.
According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Kaaba has 360 images. Traditional accounts mention that one of the deities among the 360 destroyed when the place was stormed, was that of Saturn; another was of the Moon and yet another was one called Allah. That shows that in the Kaaba the (pre-islamic) Arabs worshipped the nine planets in pre-Islamic days. In India the practice of 'Navagraha' puja, that is worship of the nine planets, is still in vogue. Two of these nine are Saturn and Moon.
In India the crescent moon is always painted across the forehead of the Siva symbol. Since that symbol was associated with the Siva emblem in Kaaba it came to be grafted on the flag of Islam.
Another Hindu tradition associated with the Kaaba is that of the sacred stream Ganga (sacred waters of the Ganges river). According to the Hindu tradition Ganga is also inseparable from the Shiva emblem as the crescent moon. Wherever there is a Siva emblem, Ganga must co-exist. True to that association a sacred fount exists near the Kaaba. Its water is held sacred because it has been traditionally regarded as Ganga since pre-Islamic times (Zam-Zam water).
[Note: Even today, Muslim pilgrims who go to the Kaaba for Haj regard this Zam-Zam water with reverence and take some bottled water with them as sacred water.]
Muslim pilgrims visiting the Kaaba temple go around it seven times. Hindus invariably circumambulate around their deities. This is yet another proof that the Kaaba shrine is a pre-Islamic Indian Shiva temple where the Hindu practice of circumambulation is still meticulously observed.
The practice of taking seven steps- known as Saptapadi in Sanskrit- is associated with Hindu marriage ceremony and fire worship. The culminating rite in a Hindu marriage enjoins upon the bride and groom to go round the sacred fire four times (but misunderstood by many as seven times). Since "Makha" means fire, the seven circumambulations also prove that Mecca was the seat of Indian fire-worship in the West Asia.
It might come as a stunning revelation to many that the word 'ALLAH' itself is Sanskrit. In Sanskrit language Allah, Akka and Amba are synonyms. They signify a goddess or mother. The term 'ALLAH' forms part of Sanskrit chants invoking goddess Durga, also known as Bhavani, Chandi and Mahishasurmardini. The Islamic word for God is., therefore, not an innovation but the ancient Sanskrit appellation retained and continued by Islam. Allah means mother or goddess and mother goddess."
Read the reference for more details. I'm sure Muslims as well as non-Muslims will find it quite stunning, isn't it.
Some ultra-orthodox Muslim may feel bit offended with such connections. But my point here is not to offend but to show the underlying unity among religions. There is no harm in it since its the humanity as a whole for which religion was given, NOT as if for religion humanity was formed. We better not forget that truth and if we remember it, it will always help to create harmony among faiths. God bless us all.
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