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Saving Mecca from destruction

The following article by Professor Omid Safi was published in islam today magazine UK in November 2012 - Here we republish it as today is relevant even more so

It is time, and past time, to occupy  Mecca. I am not talking about a disastrous  US occupation, of Iraq and  Afghanistan.  What I am calling for is nothing less  than millions of faithful pilgrims saving  Mecca from destruction. I would call the  destruction imminent, except that it is  not imminent. It has already happened.  No, it’s not the Americans, or the Israelis,  who would be destroying Mecca.  It’s the so-called Guardians of the two  holy sites (Mecca and Medina), the  Saudi royal elites, who have negligently  stood by over the last two decades as  the majority of holy places in these two  most sacred Muslim cities have been  destroyed, sacrificed to the false gods of  modernisation, capitalism, and progress.

Saudi Wahhabis have a long history of  destroying shrines, including those of  the family of the Prophet in Saudi Arabia  and Iraq. The historical cemeteries  of the families and companions of the  Prophet, have been completely transformed.The graves of the descendants of the  Prophet are now dusty rubble, with only  stones to identify them.

Armed Saudi policemen beat away and  arrest pilgrims who stop to pay their  respects.  The early Wahhabis even had plans  to destroy the Prophet’s Mosque in  Medina1, as they assumed that Muslims  who were offering blessings and salutations  on the Prophet (as the Qur’an commands  them to do) were in fact idolaters.  The Saudis have destroyed or bulldozed  some 300 sacred sites and shrines in  Mecca and Medina in creating what  many are calling the new “Las Vegas.”  Here is what some local experts in Saudi  Arabia have to say about this cultural  and architectural genocide:  “No one has the courage to stand up  and condemn this cultural vandalism,”  says Dr Irfan al-Alawi who, as executive  director of the Islamic Heritage Research  Foundation, has fought in vain  to protect his country’s historical sites.  “We have already lost 400-500 sites. I  just hope it’s not too late to turn things  around.”  And here is what a Saudi architect, Dr.  Angwai, has to say:  “The house where the Prophet received  the word of God is gone and nobody  cares. I don’t want trouble. I just want  this to stop.”  The Gulf Institute estimates that 95%  of Mecca’s historical religious structures  have been destroyed in the last two decades.  The rush to build 5-star hotels for the  richest pilgrims comes at the expense of  historical mosques, shrines, cemeteries,  and homes that are being bulldozed one  after another to make room for new hotels  and shopping malls. Many Muslims  all over the world see the crass commercialism  of these sites as a gross violation  of the radical egalitarianism of Islamic  teachings so beautifully emphasised in  the Hajj pilgrimage.  What was intended to be an occasion to  symbolise the unity of humanity standing  before the Divine in the most basic  of garments has been turned by the  Saudi royal elite (working in tandem  with Wahhabi clerics) into an occasion  to create the world’s largest market for  spiritual tourism.

The sacred places rooted in Muslim memory have literally been turned into toilets. The house of the Prophet’s wife, Khadija (may God be pleased with her) was recently turned into a row of latrines. The Wahhabis don’t hate all buildings. They are spending more than a billion dollars to build the world’s largest tower. This in an age where one out of every five of God’s creation lives on a dollar a day. Surely we could find a place for this one billion dollars: the wrinkled stomachs of the poorest of God’s children.

The new Clock Tower in Mecca dwarfsthe significance and centrality of the Ka’ba, which is considered by Muslims to be the centre of the Earth and the Temple of God built by Abraham.

It is time and past time to start an Occupy Mecca movement, to save what’s left of Mecca and Medina. What we would be saving would not just be the last remaining
pieces of the Islamic architecture of Mecca and Medina; it would be our own dignity as Muslims •
 

Omid Safi is a Professor of Islamic Studies and Director of Duke’s Islamic Studies Center- Durham, NC. He is also the author of “Memories of Muhammad: Why the Prophet Matters” published by Harper Collins ( Nov 2010)

Saudies and Mecca

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2 Comments on Saving Mecca from destruction

  1. This article by Professor Omid Safi was published in islam today magazine UK in November 2012 – Here we republish it as today is relevant even more so

  2. their westhern masters are remotly urging them on for a heineous muslim selfdestruction. May Allah bless you and all believers

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