1,000,000 SIGNATURES TO SAVE ISLAMIC HISTORICAL SITES
Al Azhar University, ISNA, ICNA, Organization of the Islamic Conference , Motamar Al- Alam Al-Islami , Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, United Nations.
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The Saudis are now set on unprecedented onslaught of demolishing the birthplace of Prophet Muhammad and other historical structures in the heart of Mecca and Medina, the cradle of Islam, revered by the world's 1.5 billion Muslims. Over the last two decades most of Makkah's 1000-year-old historic sites have been bulldozed and replaced by hotels and other concrete jungles. Failure to protect them from destruction is the biggest tragedy for the Islamic architectural heritage. The Saudi royal family claims to be guardians of the holy places of Islam, and profit hugely from the centuries by visiting believers to Makkah and Medina for pilgrimage. And yet, they are party to this barbaric desecration of the holiest sites in the Islamic world.
Today, the religious zealots in Saudi Arabia are not alone. Commercial developers such as Bin Laden Group have joined hands with them and are making hundreds of millions in profits as they build ugly, but lucrative high-rises that are shadowing the Grand Mosque know as the Kaaba. Today Saudi petrodollars have the ability to silence even its most vocal critics, but when all is said and done, history will render a harsh judgment on those who try to wipe out its footprints and steal the heritage of all humanity.
The problem is the Saudi's interpretation of Islam; they are opposed to the preservation of the old historic structures due to the belief that some Muslims in their ignorance would be overcome with love and awe that historic sites may invoke, leading to idolatrous thoughts. Destruction of the most precious sites in Islam for fear of idolatry by some is like killing a child for fear that he may grow up to be less than pious. In effect, behind the obsessive fear of idolatry lies a complete lack of understanding and total fanaticism of radical Islam, unable even to appreciate its own past.
Saudi Arabia, in which Wahhabism is the state form of Islam, has a long history of vandalizing and demolishing historical monuments. Cultural devastation of Islamic heritage sites is not a new phenomenon. In 1801 the Saudis-Wahabbis waged a campaign against the Shia Muslim destroying and defacing the sacred tomb of the Imam Hussein in Karbala, Iraq. Then in early 1920 Saudi rulers Aal-e-Sa'ud bulldozed and leveled a graveyard in Medina - Cemetery of Al-Baqee -and Jannatul Moualla - in the holy city of Makkah that housed the shrines of the holy Prophet Muhammad, his family and his companions. This anniversary falls on Oct 9th, (8th Shawal 1426) and is Known as Yaum-e-Ghum.
The Saudis followed their conquest of Mecca and Medina in the mid-1920s with an orgy of destruction. They levelled the "Jannat al-Baqi" or "Heavenly Orchard" at Medina that included graves of the Prophet Muhammad's son Abraham, as well as numerous of the Prophet's relatives and companions. They also looted the Prophet's Shrine in Medina and demolished the cemetery in Mecca that included the graves of Muhammad's mother and grandfather. They completely destroyed mausoleums, mosques, and other honored sites, including the Prophet Muhammad's own house. It was even said that they wished to uproot the grave of Muhammad himself and tear down the Kaaba, the stone temple at the centre of Mecca. They were prevented from this last act by pressure from Muslims around the world. Wahabism vandalism continues today, by leveling of five of seven mosques built in the cities of Mecca & Medina by Muhammad's daughter and four of his companions. These structures are the Mosque of Sayyida Fatima bint Rasulillah, Salman al-Farsi Mosque, Abu Bakr Mosque, Umar ibn al-Khattab Mosque, and Mosque of Ali ibn Abi Talib. Wahhabism is not about faith, but about power and tribalism. Nothing better illustrates the power of the state, in the mind of the Saudi rulers, than the desecration of holy places--including Islamic sites dating from the time of the Prophet Muhammad himself.
What will it take to shake our deep slumber? We Muslims should be in no doubt that acts of terrorism do not speak for Islam, and that the perpetrators will get no shelter and no moral support from the people who love God. Today, the muslim community needs to find the resources within it to combat this type of unprecedented extremism.