Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Last Moments of Makkah?

The last moments of Makkah?

‘We are witnessing the last few moments of Makkah,’ said Sami Angawi, a Saudi architect who is an expert on 1400-year old buildings in Saudi Arabia.

The last few moments of the City of the Ka’bah? The birthplace of the Prophet? What could he be talking about?

Angawi is not crazy, nor delusional. The Saudi government, as part of its ongoing campaign to destroy any historical vestiges in Makkah and Madinah, are soon to reduce a 230,000 square metre area near the Makkah Haram to a commercial centre with towers, flats, shops and restaurants. But it’s not just any 230,000 square metres; it’s 230,000 square metres that contains buildings that date back to the time of the Prophet (s).

And, according to Angawi, a house of the Prophet that remains standing could also soon face the demolishers’ ball, like the Darul Arqam – the House of Arqam in Makkah where the Prophet (s) taught the first community of Muslims – did. Not long ago, Angawi had identified and excavated a house of a grandson of the Prophet (s). Soon after its discovery, King Fahd had it demolished.

Over the past 50 years, the Saudis have razed over 300 historical buildings that reflected the Islamic past.

Readers who have been to Makkah and Madinah on hajj or umrah recently will know how utterly history-less these two cities seem because of the campaign to destroy everything old and replace it with tall buildings, hotels and malls. Particularly, there is a campaign to destroy anything of Islamic historical value.

The Saudis claim historical sites could result in people worshipping at them and, thereby, committing shirk (polytheism). So, rather than Muslims visiting Darul Arqam to see the place where the Prophet (s) held his first halaqat and to feel the presence of our 1400-year heritage, the Saudis feel we will go there and pray to the house itself. A bit daft, if you ask me.

I’ve visited historical sites in Cairo and Palestine. Many date back thousands of years – some to before the Prophet (s). Do people come to these sites with a sense of reverence? Definitely! I felt overawed inside the Masjid Ibrahimi in Khalil (Hebron) as I stood before the graves of the prophets Ibrahim, Ishaq and Ya’qub, as I touched the rocks with which the mosque was built, placed centuries ago. I felt transported when I stood inside the Dome of the Rock and tried to see the ‘footprint of the Prophet’ on the rock (whether the footprint exists or not is another question). I felt connected to our intellectual and spiritual heritage as I stood before the tomb of Imam Shafi’i in Cairo’s City of the Dead. I felt numbed as I walked on hallowed ground in Karbala. I gazed with a feeling of timelessness as I stared at Jabal Rahmah on Arafah, where Adam and Eve are supposed to have reunited after years of separation and loss.

At many of these places, I felt like rolling on the ground, in the sand, to absorb some of the glory that lay here. Does that make me a mushrik?

No, it makes me a Muslim who sees himself as part of a long tradition, the last part of which is over 1400 years long. A tradition that stretches back to the first human beings created.

And I did not see, at any of these places, people worshipping these buildings or graves or otherwise doing anything that might lead one to regard them as polytheists. I’m not suggesting these things do not happen. I remember, for example, people in the Haram in Makkah bathing themselves with zam-zam water or praying facing the well. I have no hesitation is saying this is wrong. But I also have no hesitation in saying that the well has an important place in our history, in our tradition, in our understanding of hajj and that visiting it and drinking from it is a means of reconnecting us to that tradition.

But this is not the attitude of the self-proclaimed ‘guardians of the two holy mosques’ and their followers. Theirs is an attitude of holy arrogance. For them, there is no history, no tradition, no culture – except theirs. Nothing exists from the beginning of time until they did – with the exception of the Prophet (s). And even his existence must be sanitised so that it is a legalistic existence only. Not a human one, not a cultural one, not a historical one.

And that is why, for them, leaving a house of the Prophet (s) that Muslims can visit, marvel and celebrate at is so dangerous: because we might suddenly ‘see’ the Prophet (s) beyond his legalism, as a human being. A human being who lived in a house. Who had wives with whom he had sex – as opposed to someone who just gave us laws about sex. Who enjoyed socialising – as opposed to someone who gave instructions on socialising. Who lived within a cultural context – as opposed to someone who made statements about what kind of culture (or lack of it) his followers should have.

But sanitisation is not that simple or innocent. Replacing 1400-year old buildings with a parking lot is not simply neutralising what existed; it is, rather, replacing that with something else. Erasing the physical existence of the greatest human being to walk this earth and replacing it with a commercial enterprise.

If we remain silent witnesses to this outrage of the destruction of the one of the great cultural monuments in our tradition – the house of the Prophet (s) – then why do we complain about the destruction of the Babri Masjid or the Masjid al-Aqsa? Is it because in the one case the cultural massacres are committed by Muslims and in the other by Hindus and Jews? Surely this cannot be a good reason.

The destruction of Islamic history, Islamic cultures and Islamic traditions and the attempt to make all Islamic and Muslim practice uniform – a project the Saudis have undertaken with vigour over many decades – will leave us all poorer, colder and less able to face the civilisational challenges of our world. For without a history, without culture and without a tradition, we will have no civilisation to speak of or to fall back on. And who will we blame when our children marvel at symbols of age and tradition in the capitals of Europe, symbols which have stood the test of time, and we are unable to show them time-honouring symbols from our Islamic tradition?

15 comment(s):

  • These people are criminals. They are not Muslim. The land, the houses, it is NOT theirs to dispose of any way they want. Mekkah and Medina should be made international cities and should be run by an international group of Muslim nations.

    By Blogger أبو سنان, at 8/25/2005 01:46:00 PM  

  • Muslims worship GOD not stones Mr Ihsan, I hope that you know that Kaaba was demolished and build again many times, its not the same stones since it was first build by Ibrahim (AS). The prophet (PBUH) itself when he pray in makkah never consider stones as holy, but the place is maked holy by God !

    If you came to makkah you'll see that people who first come there start touching and kissing the first stone they find. This is not called bid'a and shirk ?? The same thing is happening in madinah ..

    So imagine if they find the house of the prophet or sahaba ? I'm sure that it will be so crouded that people will start turning around it exactly like kaaba ... This is what you want ?

    Sorry but the prophet (PBUH) when he die he said that he left for us "Kitab allah wa sunnaty", which are the Quraan and Sunnah. He didn't said my house, or anything else !

    Islamic history, Islamic cultures and Islamic traditions will never been distroyed until the day of resurrection, because it is just two things : Quraan and Sunnah.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/26/2005 05:28:00 AM  

  • Salam
    It's scary the amount of distaste for history they have in Saudi Arabia. Thank God the Pyramids arein Egypt or I am sure they would have been dismantled by now.

    By Blogger Anna in PDX, at 8/28/2005 03:51:00 AM  

  • Salam
    Also Hatem, what you are saying makes no sense. Anyone can use anything for a good use or a bad use. Will you destroy all Qurans if someone uses one to hit his wife with? Why destroy important historical sites because you are afraid people will kiss the ground there? This makes absolutely no sense at all.

    By Blogger Anna in PDX, at 8/28/2005 03:52:00 AM  

  • Salaam,

    Totaly agree with Anna on the commemnt about Hatem. Hatem is just one of those idiotic wahabis

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/28/2005 02:21:00 PM  

  • It is absurd and sacreligious for the criminal Family of Saud to deny us Muslims to see with our own eyes the ancient heritage left by Rasulullah SAW either his birthplace or the buildings built in the times of the Prophet SAW.

    Destroying Mecca's heritage will not stop people from going astray in their lives .

    As it is , Saudis who come to Malaysia and other Asian countries, cast away their abayas and Saudi men wear shorts exposing their knees here in public.

    I once confronted an Arab couple where the wife was wearing a low cut dress and exposing more flesh than our local Chinese population. When asked about their transgression, the couple has the cheek to reply,'It's okay in Malaysia!'

    There you have it. Saudi's double standards and hypocrisy!

    There was no king during the Prophet's time. The present Saudi Kingdom is a farce and a hypocritical dynasty staged by the British and American colonials!

    They robbed Palestinians of their lands and handed it over to the Zionist Jews on a silver platter!

    Far from being the 'Waris ' of the Prophet SAW , the present day Saudis are the traitors of the Ummah!

    They allow Americans to bomb Iraq to oblivion from the bases in Arabia and are partner to many American genocides against the Muslims in Iraq!

    Makkah should be ruled by a Caliph, selected by the Muslims of the world and be the Champion of Islam. Sadly, we see today's Keeper of the Two Haramains, reduced to just be a stooge of the British and American imperialists!

    Damn those responsible for the destruction going on in Makkah!
    May Allah punish those responsible right now as an example that He meted out to Abrahah in the ancient times!


    By Blogger ABANGTANJONG, at 8/31/2005 04:44:00 AM  

  • Anna : Quran is protected by God until the day of resurrection al hamdulellah, nobody can touch it be sure ! And read history how shirk and kufr started. And we are talking about islamic culture, what represent "Pyramids" for muslims ??

    Anonymous : I'm not wahabis, I'm muslim. Also wahabis are muslims, does the prophet told us to insult muslims ??

    abangtanjong : Don't judge all a country with what few of them are doing. There is everywhere the good and the bad.

    And in what those stones are so important ???? Please be objectif and tell in what those stones could help muslims to worship God !

    And forget about wahabis or saudis ... They're also muslims and doing more than their best to protect this religion. Also remember that its the only country in the world that Quran and sunnah is its constitution. I'm not defending saudi, but there is truth that we should know before talking like ignorant.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/01/2005 03:06:00 AM  

  • hatem.

    Im sorry but your logic is disgraceful.
    I don't recall any of the Rashidin destroying ANY pre islamic heritage in Egypt, Persia or Syria.
    The old cities of Mecca and Medina have been the SAME throughout th Rashidin, Umayyad, Abassid, Ottoman eras, WHAT makes the Wahabis think that theyre more entitled, more righteous, more CORRECT than any of these?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/05/2005 06:35:00 AM  

  • @ Hatem

    Prophet said I leave behind me the Qu'ran and my Ahlul-Bayt. Even sunni sources state that. My sunnah was never the word used, and that is why the Shia of Ali are on the right path.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/05/2005 11:58:00 AM  

  • Tiba : Just think about it, which is better Ahlul-Bayt or the prophet (PBUH) ? Even if I'll agree with you on Ahlul-Bayt (because I didn't find it in any source), it does not mean "the persons" themselves but because they were near him and they can teach us lot about our Prophet. Otherwise from where we know the hadith today ? If you want to follow Ahlul-Bayt themselves they're gone since years, in paradise inshallah !

    Did I mention Shia or Sunni somewhere ? I'm talking about "ISLAM" and "MUSLIMS". When I said "Sunnah" I mean the hadiths of the Prophet (PBUH), his life, what he was doing, and what he wasnt ... etc. Its not about persons.

    Anonymous : Its disgraceful to follow other than the Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH). Just try to answer "in what could Stones help muslims to worship God?".

    Take a look on the satellite picture of the Madinah :

    The mosque enclosure is one hundred times bigger than the first mosque built in the Prophet time and can accommodate more than half a million worshippers. Is that what you call "destroying" ?

    ثبت عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه قال: "من أحدث في أمرنا هذا ما ليس منه فهو رد" متفق على صحته. وفي رواية أخرى لمسلم "من عمل عملا ليس عليه أمرنا فهو رد" وقال عليه الصلاة والسلام في حديث آخر: "عليكم بسنتي وسنة الخلفاء الراشدين المهديين من بعدي تسمكوا بها وعضوا عليها بالنواجذ وإياكم ومحدثات الأمور فإن كل محدثة بدعة وكل بدعة ضلالة" وكان يقول في خطبته يوم الجمعة: "أما بعد فإن خير الحديث كتاب الله وخير الهدي هدي محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم وشر الأمور محدثاتها وكل بدعة ضلالة"

    What I find really disgraceful is that most of you are attached to history and stones more than to the Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH).

    NB: I mention Sunnah of the prophet (PBUH) so you don't understand it wrong again.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/06/2005 01:16:00 AM  

  • Those of you who are attached to the "quran and sunnah of the prophet" are no better than those of you who are attached to "stones". Why do you put so much faith in the quran, which was not even read by Muhammad who was illeterate?

    Have any of you ever wondered why there has not been any prophet since Muhammad? It's because all of you have been too busy reading the quran that you fail to hear God trying to speak with you. Why do you spend your entire prayer speaking, without so much as ten seconds listening?

    I do not deny that the quran contain's holy teachings. But they were for a people and civilization a thousand years ago, not for you! People change, the world changes. So does God's message. Why must you consider "change" as an admission of mistake?

    Anyway I think the destruction of those buildings is wrong. Not because of religion, but because of history. It is inevitable that we have to destroy those buildings eventually, but not until we have learnt the many lessons that the area has to teach us.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/09/2005 08:21:00 PM  

  • FRZ : Quran is for us, and for all the civilisation after us too. And we put so much faith because its the words of God.

    There is lot of proves, but I'll give you just small example from Surah Qamar - verse 1 : "The Hour has drawn near, and the moon has been cleft asunder". This have been revealed in the 7th century by an illeterate prophet (PBUH). And scientifics in the 20th century discovered that there is a layer of material that splits the moon into two halves and the only explanation to this discovery that the moon was split at some times in its history and rejoined. This research costs for NASA $100 000 000 000 (one hundred thousand million dollar).

    Maybe you may think that Quraan isn't for you, since you never read it or knew what's talking about. But it is the holy book of muslims that nobody can change until the day of resurrection

    God say in Quraan (Surah Saad - verse 26) "O Dawud (David)! Verily! We have placed you as a successor on earth, so judge you between men in truth (and justice) and follow not your desire for it will mislead you from the Path of Allah . Verily! Those who wander astray from the Path of Allah (shall) have a severe torment, because they forgot the Day of Reckoning. "

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/10/2005 03:16:00 AM  

  • hatem, which part of that 'verse' actually means anything? There are a thousand ways of interpreting it. And even if it is the word of God, it is still in the handwriting of Man. Which gives me more than enough reason to treat it as possibly full of mistakes.

    I'm not asking for anyone to change the quran. I'm asking them to change their beliefs. The quran SHOULD stay intact due to its rich history and lessons, but there is no reason for man today to be bound by it. And what makes you think I haven't read the quran?

    As for that crap about straying from the path of allah, what makes you think that I'm the one straying, instead of you? I could easily say that quote and apply it against you too. So please don't try to impress me with these quotes.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/13/2005 07:53:00 PM  

  • I don't want to impress anyone, but you should know that Quraan is transmitted until today from the prophet (PBUH) to us by the same teaching (by heart) and not handwriting ! It have been written so people who don't know Quraan can read it.

    And I can give you the full list of those who learned Quraan by heart from the Prophet (PBUH) himself until my quraan teacher today.

    And its not you or me who will say if the Quran SHOULD stay intact. It will be until the day of resurrection, because its protected by God, its also one of the miracles of Quraan.

    What makes me think that you never read it is that you didn't understand it. Reading something without understanding its meaning is a loss of time !

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/16/2005 06:18:00 AM  

  • What's left any ways. They destroyed all the Hujras, they destroyed Baqi, they closed up the room of Bibi Fatima (SA)...they locked up the Grave of Prophet(PBUH) where you can barely see it...they made Prophet's Original house of birth into King Fahad Library.

    May Allah's curse be upon these people, and may He send these cowards into the deepest pit of Hell, Inshallah.

    May Allah hasten the re-appearance of Imam Mehdi (as).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/29/2005 03:46:00 PM  

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