In The Name Of God The Most Merciful, Most Compassionate

Pictures Saudi Arabia doesn’t want seen: destruction of ancient parts of the Haram

by JEROME TAYLOR
Source: independent.co.uk

Filed under: Featured,Islam,Islam Today |

By: JEROME TAYLOR

Source: The Independent

The authorities in Saudi Arabia have begun dismantling some of the oldest sections of Islam’s most important mosque as part of a highly controversial multi-billion pound expansion.

Photographs obtained by The Independent reveal how workers with drills and mechanical diggers have started demolishing some Ottoman and Abbasid sections on the eastern side of the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca.

The building, which is also known as the Grand Mosque, is the holiest site in Islam because it contains the Kaaba –  the point to which all Muslims face when praying. The columns are the last remaining sections of the mosque which date back more than a few hundred years and form the inner perimeter on the outskirts of the white marble floor surrounding the Kaaba.

The new photos, taken over the last few weeks, have caused alarm among archaeologists and come as Prince Charles – a long-term supporter of preserving architectural heritage – flew into Saudi Arabia yesterday for a visit with the Duchess of Cornwall. The timing of his tour has been criticized by human rights campaigners after the Saudis shot seven men in public earlier this week despite major concerns about their trial and the fact that some of the men were juveniles at the time of their alleged crimes.

Many of the Ottoman and Abbasid columns in Mecca were inscribed with intricate Arabic calligraphy marking the names of the Prophet Muhammad’s companions and key moments in his life. One column which is believed to have been ripped down is supposed to mark the spot where Muslims believe Muhammad began his heavenly journey on a winged horse, which took him to Jerusalem and heaven in a single night.

To accommodate the ever increasing number of pilgrims heading to the twin holy cities of Mecca and Medina each year the Saudi authorities have embarked upon a massive expansion project. Billions of pounds have been poured in to increase the capacity of the Masjid al-Haram and the Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina which marks where Muhammad is buried. King Abdullah has put the prominent Wahabi cleric and imam of the Grand Mosque, Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, in charge of the expansion while the Saudi Binladin Group – one of the country’s largest firms – has won the construction contract.

While there is little disagreement over the need to expand, critics have accused the Saudi regime of wantonly disregarding the archaeological, historical and cultural heritage of Islam’s two holiest cities. In the last decade Mecca has been transformed from a dusty desert pilgrimage town into a gleaming metropolis of skyscrapers that tower over the Masjid al-Haram and are filled with a myriad of shopping malls, luxury apartments and five star hotels.

But such a transformation has come at a cost. The Washington-based Gulf Institute estimates that 95 per cent of Mecca’s millennium-old buildings have been demolished in the past two decades alone. Dozens of key historical sites dating back to the birth of Islam have already been lost and there is a scramble among archaeologists and academics to try and encourage the authorities to preserve what little remains.

Haram destruction / Pic Source: The Independent

Many senior Wahabis are vehemently against the preservation of historical Islamic sites that are linked to the prophet because they believe it encourages shirq – the sin of idol worshipping.

But Dr Irfan al-Alawi, executive director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation which obtained the new photographs from inside the Grand Mosque, says the removal of the Ottoman and Abbasid columns will leave future generations of Muslims ignorant of their significance.

“It matters because many of these columns signified certain areas of the mosque where the Prophet sat and prayed,” he said. “The historical record is being deleted. A new Muslim would never have a clue because there’s nothing marking these locations now. There are ways you could expand Mecca and Medina while protecting the historical heritage of the mosque itself and the surrounding sites.”

There are signs that King Abdullah has listened to concerns about the historical destruction of Mecca and Medina. Last October The Independent revealed how new plans for the masjid an-Nabawi in Medina would  result in the destruction of three of the world’s oldest mosques on the west hand side of the main complex. However new plans approved by King Abdullah last week appear to show a change of heart with the bulk of the expansion now slated to take place to the north of the Masjid an-Nabawi.

However key sites are still at risk. The Independent has obtained a presentation used by the Saudis to illustrate how the expansion of Mecca’s main mosque will look. In one of the slides it is clear that the Bayt al-Mawlid, an area which is believed to be the house where Muhammad was born in, will have to be removed unless plans change.

The Independent asked the Saudi Embassy in London a number of questions about the expansion plans and why more was not being done to preserve key historical sites. They replied: “Thank you for calling, but no comment.”

17 comments
makhdoomh
makhdoomh

It's ironic. Muslims across the world will debate, protest, burn, and even kill in order to prevent anyone from drawing offensive cartoons of Mohammad, the Islamic prophet. Yet, when it comes to the actual destruction of the Kaba, a building that is so central to Islam, Muslims can only write a few articles. It's not a funny irony. It's more of a disgusting irony. But here is another irony.

Mohammad's direct lineage has been, for the most part, killed by Muslims. That's right. Not Jews. Not Christians. Not athiests. Not idol-worhshippers. But Muslims. Muslims have killed Mohammad's grand-children, great-grandchildren, and the list goes on. In fact, even Muhammad's famous daughter Fatima was socially abused by Muslims, and his adopted son, cousin, and hier Ali was killed by Muslims, attacked by Muslims, and robbed by Muslims. 

The most aredent opponents of Mohammad's family, his legacy, and his traditions are Muslims. It's ironic. But like I said, it's not a funny irony. Rather it's one of those disgusting ironies. You know the type right? 


jawad
jawad

This is a multi billion dollor game now, when money is involved who cares the true spirit of Islam, i have read some where Islam forbid to construct high rises like hovering over  Holy mosques. Islam stress on simplicity not luxury like we see in current construction, waist of billions of dollars, which can be helpful to poor Muslims. 

May ALLAH give us the strength to follow the true spirit of Islam (ameen) 

KaisorChouduhry
KaisorChouduhry

Our Islamic heritage of beloved prophet[swa] and ahla bayt and sahaba should be preserved.We muslim are proud of our rich Islamic past ,we want keep it in our memory alive.

Ahmed Kilani
Ahmed Kilani

We should contemplate that is haraam to chop down a tree in the noble sanctuary of the Haraam.....yet the Saudis are destroying entire mountains!

Malek
Malek

Wahabis and the extremism knows no limit. 

Elena Porcelli
Elena Porcelli

Every expansion of the Haram has destroyed something old, that's how it works. Most Muslims do not believe the masjid itself to be some holy untouchable architectural marvel that must be preserved, but a functional and beautiful space meant to accommodate all those who come to do as God bade them and worship before the Kaaba. That said, its still sad to see some of the old stuff torn down just due to memory.

Aniq Farooqi
Aniq Farooqi

How els should they expand the holy mosque for those thousands upon thousands of people who goes there? We need to concentrate upon the destruction of the prophets house and other valueable sites. I see this as an important job for the sake of all who goes there. One more thing, who is the working force:)

Halyahosh Ali
Halyahosh Ali

this article s so obvious as against d expansion...d word 'distruction' s so crucial...my brother s one of d engineers d'r and they are not distructing the haram! and Allah(s.w.t.) knows best.

Shaziya Rahman Nadeem
Shaziya Rahman Nadeem

That is really alarming.........they are not answerable to ALLAH for people doing shirk,they are khadame harmain,they are not supposed to destroy our holy sites

MuslimVillage.com
MuslimVillage.com

Please preserve the Islamic heritage of our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (sal allahu alayhi wa salaam) and both the Ahl Bayt and Sahabah. The Saudi Monarchy has torn down the structures of our rich Islamic past and replaced it with Starbucks, KFC, & Paris Hilton products, and other anti-spiritual materialistic distractions. If you agree, please LIKE and SHARE the post above. May Allah give barakah to those who kindly do so, insha'Allah.

hibrahimpop
hibrahimpop

@makhdoomh know that it is not the buildings that are holy, but it is the land which the Mosque and the ka'bah are on. for example, if you have a relative who has died before (no offence) and has a nice gravestone, will you care about the gravestone or what is in it (i.e the person). likewise, is the ka'bah and the mosque. Also, Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) was in no way or form the heir, know that in Islam, there is no monarchy and it is not allowed.


NeezamAli
NeezamAli

@makhdoomh The kaaba it's self has been demolished and rebuilt multiple times, it is a building there is no significance of the building other than that.  we do not worship the kaaba.  to me this article really does not really say something that we should be concerned with.  and yes as much as we would like to emulate the prophet(saw) and being close to him the fact is that outside of symbolism with reguards to columns there is no value in them.  in terms of the picture of the prophet(saw) this was expressly forbiddened, making and destroying builldings is not forbidden.

makhdoomh
makhdoomh

*note: not destruction of the kaba per se, but all surrounding buildings

makhdoomh
makhdoomh

@MuslimVillage.com Commendable effort. Really. Email me, at the user name at g mail d o t com

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