01-04-2006, 12:48 PM #1
Religious Muslims Destroying MeccaThe Destruction Of MeccaBy Daniel Howden
Saudi Hardliners Wiping Out Their Own Heritage
The Independent - UK
Historic Mecca, the cradle of Islam, is being buried in an unprecedented onslaught by religious zealots.
Almost all of the rich and multi-layered history of the holy city is gone. The Washington-based Gulf Institute estimates that 95 per cent of millennium-old buildings have been demolished in the past two decades.
Now the actual birthplace of the Prophet Mohamed is facing the bulldozers, with the connivance of Saudi religious authorities whose hardline interpretation of Islam is compelling them to wipe out their own heritage.
It is the same oil-rich orthodoxy that pumped money into the Taliban as they prepared to detonate the Bamiyan buddhas in 2000. And the same doctrine - violently opposed to all forms of idolatry - that this week decreed that the Saudis' own king be buried in an unmarked desert grave.
A Saudi architect, Sami Angawi, who is an acknowledged specialist on the region's Islamic architecture, told The Independent that the final farewell to Mecca is imminent: "What we are witnessing are the last days of Mecca and Medina."
According to Dr Angawi - who has dedicated his life to preserving Islam's two holiest cities - as few as 20 structures are left that date back to the lifetime of the Prophet 1,400 years ago and those that remain could be bulldozed at any time. "This is the end of history in Mecca and Medina and the end of their future," said Dr Angawi.
Mecca is the most visited pilgrimage site in the world. It is home to the Grand Mosque and, along with the nearby city of Medina which houses the Prophet's tomb, receives four million people annually as they undertake the Islamic duty of the Haj and Umra pilgrimages.
The driving force behind the demolition campaign that has transformed these cities is Wahhabism. This, the austere state faith of Saudi Arabia, was imported by the al-Saud tribal chieftains when they conquered the region in the 1920s.
The motive behind the destruction is the Wahhabists' fanatical fear that places of historical and religious interest could give rise to idolatry or polytheism, the worship of multiple and potentially equal gods.
The practice of idolatry in Saudi Arabia remains, in principle at least, punishable by beheading. This same literalism mandates that advertising posters can and need to be altered. The walls of Jeddah are adorned with ads featuring people deliberately missing an eye or with a foot painted over. These contrived imperfections are the most glaring sign of an orthodoxy that tolerates nothing which fosters adulation of the graven image. Nothing can, or can be seen to, interfere with a person's devotion to Allah.
"At the root of the problem is Wahhabism," says Dr Angawi. "They have a big complex about idolatry and anything that relates to the Prophet."
The Wahhabists now have the birthplace of the Prophet in their sights. The site survived redevelopment early in the reign of King Abdul al-Aziz ibn Saud 50 years ago when the architect for a library there persuaded the absolute ruler to allow him to keep the remains under the new structure. That concession is under threat after Saudi authorities approved plans to "update" the library with a new structure that would concrete over the existing foundations and their priceless remains.
Dr Angawi is the descendant of a respected merchant family in Jeddah and a leading figure in the Hijaz - a swath of the kingdom that includes the holy cities and runs from the mountains bordering Yemen in the south to the northern shores of the Red Sea and the frontier with Jordan. He established the Haj Research Centre two decades ago to preserve the rich history of Mecca and Medina. Yet it has largely been a doomed effort. He says that the bulldozers could come "at any time" and the Prophet's birthplace would be gone in a single night.
He is not alone in his concerns. The Gulf Institute, an independent news-gathering group, has publicised what it says is a fatwa, issued by the senior Saudi council of religious scholars in 1994, stating that preserving historical sites "could lead to polytheism and idolatry".
Ali al-Ahmed, the head of the organisation, formerly known as the Saudi Institute, said: "The destruction of Islamic landmarks in Hijaz is the largest in history, and worse than the desecration of the Koran."
Most of the buildings have suffered the same fate as the house of Ali-Oraid, the grandson of the Prophet, which was identified and excavated by Dr Angawi. After its discovery, King Fahd ordered that it be bulldozed before it could become a pilgrimage site.
"The bulldozer is there and they take only two hours to destroy everything. It has no sensitivity to history. It digs down to the bedrock and then the concrete is poured in," he said.
Similarly, finds by a Lebanese professor, Kamal Salibi, which indicated that once-Jewish villages in what is now Saudi Arabia might have been the location of scenes from the Bible, prompted the bulldozers to be sent in. All traces were destroyed.
This depressing pattern of excavation and demolition has led Dr Angawi and his colleagues to keep secret a number of locations in the holy cities that could date back as far as the time of Abraham.
The ruling House of Saud has been bound to Wahhabism since the religious reformer Mohamed Ibn abdul-Wahab signed a pact with Mohammed bin Saud in 1744. The combination of the al-Saud clan and Wahhab's warrior zealots became the foundation of the modern state. The House of Saud received its wealth and power and the hardline clerics got the state backing that would enable them in the decades to come to promote their Wahhabist ideology across the globe.
On the tailcoats of the religious zealots have come commercial developers keen to fill the historic void left by demolitions with lucrative high-rises.
"The man-made history of Mecca has gone and now the Mecca that God made is going as well." Says Dr Angawi. "The projects that are coming up are going to finish them historically, architecturally and environmentally," he said.
With the annual pilgrimage expected to increase five-fold to 20 million in the coming years as Saudi authorities relax entry controls, estate agencies are seeing a chance to cash in on huge demand for accommodation.
"The infrastructure at the moment cannot cope. New hotels, apartments and services are badly needed," the director of a leading Saudi estate agency told Reuters.
Despite an estimated $13bn in development cash currently washing around Mecca, Saudi sceptics dismiss the developers' argument. "The service of pilgrims is not the goal really," says Mr Ahmed. "If they were concerned for the pilgrims, they would have built a railroad between Mecca and Jeddah, and Mecca and Medina. They are removing any historical landmark that is not Saudi-Wahhabi, and using the prime location to make money," he says.
Dominating these new developments is the Jabal Omar scheme which will feature two 50-storey hotel towers and seven 35-storey apartment blocks - all within a stone's throw of the Grand Mosque.
Dr Angawi said: "Mecca should be the reflection of the multicultural Muslim world, not a concrete parking lot."
Whereas proposals for high-rise developments in Jerusalem have prompted a worldwide outcry and the Taliban's demolition of the Bamiyan buddhas was condemned by Unicef, Mecca's busy bulldozers have barely raised a whisper of protest.
"The house where the Prophet received the word of God is gone and nobody cares," says Dr Angawi. "I don't want trouble. I just want this to stop."
© 2005 Independent News & Media (UK) Ltd.
01-04-2006, 03:08 PM #2
I believe that if Muslims didnt live in such poverty, illiterrate and under oppresive regimes, then it would be a much more prosperous, tranquille and tolerant society. Poverty and oppression is the root cause for recruiting extremist elemants. Some of the fundamentalists have really perverted the religion.
01-04-2006, 03:15 PM #3
well putOriginally Posted by Prada
01-04-2006, 03:37 PM #4Originally Posted by AIZ
Muslims dont worship those buildings and dont adore it, they are just buildings, thats it. As times change it can be changed. There is nothing wrong with change and modernization.
The Prophet's Mosque in Medina for example was once a mud hut, and today is a modern beautiful mosque.
Contrary to popular belief Muslims dont want to go back and live in the 7th century.
01-04-2006, 03:38 PM #5Originally Posted by Prada
Saudi Arabia is a rich country.
Its not poverty that aids terrorism, its anger, and wanting revenge. Thats it.
01-04-2006, 03:43 PM #6
For example some of my family just left for the Hajj in Saudi Arabia last week. They are staying in the Hilton Hotel in Medina, and the Sheraton in Mecca. As Islam as a religion grows, we need bigger and higher and buildings capable of acceptings these new people from all over the world.
01-04-2006, 03:44 PM #7Originally Posted by CAUSASIAN
01-04-2006, 03:46 PM #8
but as Causasian said its mostly anger/believes motivated acts but that does not mean those believes are always right.
01-04-2006, 03:46 PM #9Originally Posted by smokethedays
01-04-2006, 03:50 PM #10
Dude Im am not an arab or Muslim, my father worked for a few years in an American compound in Saudi Arabia, which was immune to S.A laws. I have never seen such poor and opressed people. Saudis ARE NOT rich people only the Royal family is. The Royal family benefits from letting the people remain ignorant and giving a satisfactory standard of living. America the great preacher of Democracy and freedom turns a blind eye on S.A. Why? Because they have a friendly corrupt govt. Why doesnt America overthrow the family? Why doesnt America demand freedom of press and people?
Oh yes because the hypothetical fundamental elected govt would be infinite times worse then the puppets in power right now. It is hypocrisy to the fullest extent. As far as this issue is concerned. I slightly support OBLs POV
01-04-2006, 03:51 PM #11
stupid is as stupid does..........Originally Posted by CAUSASIAN
01-04-2006, 03:53 PM #12Originally Posted by Prada
01-04-2006, 03:56 PM #13Originally Posted by Logan13
01-04-2006, 03:56 PM #14Originally Posted by Logan13
so i don't think these ppl think like: oh the US is bad, let's kill some ppl over there.
01-04-2006, 03:58 PM #15
Ignorance, oppression and poverty lead to desperation. Of course there are exceptions to the rule. See how easy to recruit poor kids into Al qaeeda? See how many poor and minorities are recruited into the US army? See how desperate a man is when he is on the verge of dieing from cancer with no hope? Would your vulnerablility not be exposed. Would you not try ANYTHING had you 24 hours before death?
01-04-2006, 03:59 PM #16Originally Posted by Prada
01-04-2006, 03:59 PM #17Originally Posted by Prada
Your right about oppression being a good recruiting tool for extremist elements.
01-04-2006, 04:01 PM #18Originally Posted by smokethedays
01-04-2006, 04:02 PM #19
The Saudi Royal Family is hated as much as Israel by Islamic extremists. I think their number 1 goal is to overthrow the Royal family. I also hope it happens.
01-04-2006, 04:08 PM #20Originally Posted by CAUSASIAN
01-05-2006, 04:57 AM #21Originally Posted by smokethedays
Last edited by AIZ; 01-05-2006 at 05:01 AM.
01-05-2006, 11:50 AM #22
01-05-2006, 02:24 PM #23Originally Posted by smokethedays
01-05-2006, 02:28 PM #24Originally Posted by AIZ
01-05-2006, 02:33 PM #25Originally Posted by zOaib
As for the need of a "complete overhaul"...the whole world needs one..not just the Muslims.
01-05-2006, 02:41 PM #26
01-05-2006, 03:01 PM #27Originally Posted by CAUSASIAN
Thanks for the history lesson.
Zoaib said: "other than that the whole muslim empire not just saudis but every muslims country needs a complete overhaul fast Inshallah !"
His answer made it sound like there is some present-day Muslim empire. That's why I replied, "Muslim empire? Didn't know there was one. ". Follow?
I am familiar with the empires of the past.
01-05-2006, 03:25 PM #28Originally Posted by zOaib
I thought they were tough?
C, I'm Just playing with you. He's cute!
01-05-2006, 03:33 PM #29
Chechens are most powerful fighting force. If we were in West Bank and Gaza, Israel would be defeated in 6 hours.
01-05-2006, 03:56 PM #30Originally Posted by CAUSASIAN
About your above comment: Cool, bring it on. The IDF could actually use the time for some on-the-side training fun.
It's been a while since we've practiced sending letter bombs
01-05-2006, 03:57 PM #31
The last couple of posts was my bad...lets get back to the topic.
So, Muslims are destroying the holiest site in Islam...interesting
01-05-2006, 04:04 PM #32
01-05-2006, 04:06 PM #33Originally Posted by AIZ
We need buildings capable of taking in the large number of tourists. We need mosques capable of handling hundreds of thousands of people.
01-05-2006, 04:16 PM #34Originally Posted by CAUSASIAN
01-05-2006, 04:23 PM #35Originally Posted by CAUSASIAN
"According to Dr Angawi - who has dedicated his life to preserving Islam's two holiest cities - as few as 20 structures are left that date back to the lifetime of the Prophet 1,400 years ago and those that remain could be bulldozed at any time. "This is the end of history in Mecca and Medina and the end of their future," said Dr Angawi."
I agree that you need more buildings and larger mosques...no problem..still no reason to destroy structures that date back to the time of Muhammad.
It's like Jerusalem: more room is needed for tourism, sure but we don't destroy 2,000 year old structures. Makes no sense...people come to be part of these ancient relics.
The truth is that this is typical Whabbist behavior...plain and simple. Why defend it? They're Whabbists...you're not. They're destroying the city for their own warped interpretation of Islam.
01-05-2006, 05:15 PM #36
so pilgramage is a tourist trap set by the prophet to boost local economy of his so called kingdom?
01-05-2006, 05:25 PM #37
Over Under On When Sharon Is Dead Anyone
01-05-2006, 05:38 PM #38Originally Posted by AIZ
The King when he died, was buried in the same manner that the poorest people in Arabia were buried, it was also an unmarketed grave, people shouldnt go to that grave and worship that grave, or adore it. The person is dead.
Wahhabis have somethings correct. I am a mix of Wahhabi and Sufi teachings because of my surroundings. Wahhabism is super conservative and Sufism is super liberal.
01-05-2006, 06:45 PM #39Originally Posted by AIZ
as for the specific topic of this post , the headlining is quite out of focus or should i say extreme , "muslims destroying mecca" , mecca is a very big city , and under the stated headding it is not being destroyed but being renewed into modern times , yes some specific building related to the prophets (pbuh) time should have been conserved instead they are only focussing on expanding the kaba (masjid ul haram) and preserving the graveyard next to it janat ul muallla .............. and they r expanding the masjid nabvee (prophet's (pbuh0 mosque) in medina ............... and the graveyard next to it janat ul baquee ........... which are the main holy sites and are more priority , but still i would have liked to see some placed which could have been marked where the prophety (pbuh) once stopped for tea , or met someoen or rested , but in true light of islam these things dont hold importance , what is important is we define our lives in the light of Quran n sunna , and which is the greater mission and goal of life .................. so that said there isnt really any destruction , but i get amazed how u firefly the headdings for every thread regarding arabs n muslims , and just maybe you r not what i thought u were ! but i look forward to being proven wrong in my judgement about u.
01-05-2006, 06:50 PM #40Originally Posted by 3Vandoo
and the pilgrimage site had been a pilgrimage site for thousands of years even in the time of abraham when it was renewed by him n ismaeel (pbuht) , people who worshipped one god came there for pilgrimage , so its not something Muhammed (pbuh) created he merely continued and revived the true worhip of one God , instead of the people who deviated to idolatory in the place !
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