Refuting some of the misconceptions of Orientalists
Q: Orientalists claim that Islam retained some sorts of idolatry such as kissing Al-Hajar Al-Aswad (the Black Stone in a corner of the Ka'bah); how can we refute this?
A: Kissing Al-Hajar Al-Aswad is not a sort of idolatry. Rather, it is something that Allah (Exalted be He) has ordained for us for a great wisdom. Muslims who kiss Al-Hajar Al-Aswad do not imitate the practice or the 'Ibadah (worship) of Jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic time of ignorance) for Allah commands His Servants to do whatever He wills as His independent Shar' (Law) that has no relation to the conditions of Jahiliyyah. In fact, the affairs of Jahiliyyah comprised some good issues that Islam consented to such as Diyah (blood money) as being one hundred camels, Qasamah (exoneration from an accusation of murder by swearing fifty oaths), and kissing Al-Hajar Al-Aswad.
To get to the point, kissing Al-Hajar Al-Aswad entails exalting Allah (Glorified be He) and seeking His Pleasure but not seeking blessings from Al-Hajar Al-Aswad itself or invoking it. Facing Al-Hajar Al-Aswad and Yemeni Corner (southern corner of the Ka'bah facing Yemen) is an act of obedience to Allah Who tests His Servants as to whether they obey or disobey Him.
Allah thus affirmed facing Al-Hajar Al-Aswad and the Yemeni Corner to test His Servants. Accordingly, when 'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) kissed Al-Hajar Al-Aswad; he addressed it saying: "I know that you are just stone that does neither harm nor benefit. Had I not seen the Prophet (peace be upon him) kissing you, I would not have kissed you.
Another quality of the people of Jahiliyyah that Islam affirms is that they used to treat their guests hospitably. Likewise, the Prophet (peace be upon him) called to all other good traits that Allah loves of people of Jahiliyyah and that Islam affirms.