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    Posted: 27 August 2013 at 12:15pm

AbuKhalid Muhammad Ziyaad

Many people get emotional when talking about historical sites in Saudi Arabia. They share links from newspapers talking about “desecrate, demolish, raze, destroy, bulldoze” etc... and then come to the conclusion that Saudi Rulers and wahabis are Zionists or something of that sort.

But there is a problem with this conclusion. These articles they post, you will read them in the newspaper mainly from the West, Israel, Iran and its Shia allies, as well as Shia influenced sects. Any and every opportunity counts for them when trying to bash Saudi Arabia's decisions. Of course, these are not really KSA's decision. Some people with an agenda take situations out of context and promote hate of Saudis. Have you ever come across situations where people would complain no matter what? When there was a lack of facilities, they complained and now that the authorities are doing something, they complain. Let me reassure you before we continue, that Saudi Rulers are not planning to desecrate the prophet’s grave. It is just that you have probably been brainwashed, when you decided to follow the wrong news sites.

Changes have always happened throughout the history of Madeenah:

-     The first one occurred after the Khaybar expedition, in Muharram 7 Hijri. This was done by the Prophet (saws) himself who decided to expand it from 30x35m to 50x50m, eastward, nothward and westward to accommodate the growing number of Muslims. The height was raised to 3.5 m. The additional land needed was purchased by Uthman bin Affan (RA).

-     During the reign of Abu Bakr (RA) the pillars and roof that the Prophet ordered to be placed were removed and replaced by similar ones. The doorway from Aisha’s hujra was sealed off by the companions resulting in complete separation from the masjid.

-     In 17 hijri, Umar bin Khattab (RA) further extended it to 70 x 60 m to the west, south and north. Palm trunks were used for the pillars. The number of doors increased from 3 to 6. Notice how so far, the east side was not touched. Hence Aisha’s hujra which contains the graves remained outside the masjid.

-     Uthman bin Affan (RA) extended it again by 5 m on the north, west and south. Stones and lime mortars were used. The roof was made of teak wood and the columns were made of molten lead and iron bars.

-     Now comes the era of major renovations! Must be those wahabis isn’t it? In 88 Hijri, the Caliph Walid bin Abdul Malik ordered the governor to extend and renovate the masjid. The hujraat of the family of the Prophet were purchased, demolished and incorporated into the masjid. For the first time, expansion happened on east side. Four minarets were added. But, no dome yet? Yes! No dome yet. “why are wahhabis destroying historical sites of ahlul bayt, where is the green dome?” ask the ignorant ones.

-     Expansions continued with Abbasid caliph, Al Mahdi in 161 hijri. Then in 655 H due to a fire, caliph Mutassim Billah started reconstruction but it was interrupted by Tartar’s invasion of Baghdad. That fire was so extensive that it revealed the resting place of the Prophet (saws)

-     In 678 H or 1279 CE, Mamluk Sultan Qalawoon al Salaahi built the first dome over Aisha’s house. Before that, there was nothing on the roof. Hence the real historical site had no dome, a point many should consider if they want to see the real history closer to the Prophet’s time. It was made of wood, painted white and then painted blue (or purple-blue).

-      In 886 H, a lightening fell on one minaret and caused a fire. Sultan Qaitabai reconstructed it in 888 H and a 5th minaret was added at Baab al rahmah. Both fires had destroyed many original architectures and that time, the dome included. In 1265 H, sultan Abdul Amjeed of the Ottoman empire did reconstruction with red stone found in Aqiq valley near Madeenah.

-     In 1253 Hijri (less than 200 years ago), the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hameed ordered that the dome is painted green and this color remained until now. The color attracted the attention of some sects and they now revere it as sacred. The idea of having a dome happened during the decline of the Islamic empire when the Caliphs did not pay much attention to religion. Shaykh Shamsuddeen Al Afghani said that it was an idea taken from the Christians in Egypt and Syria. Previously, domes were not part of Muslim culture. We should also note that Shias are keen on having domes over their shrines. So when the ignorant one asks “Why do the Saudi scholars want the dome removed?”, you know it was not part of the Muslim culture and was never even there for the first 600 years. Of course, I’m not suggesting they will remove it. If anyone was going to remove it, Muhammad bin AbdulWahhab would have. But he didn’t. What ignorant people call “desecrating”, in fact Muhammad bin AbdulWahhab enter the Prophet’s grave, took the gold and silver and a huge amount of wealth that ignorant people brought for the prophet (saws) and he distributed that among the poor. The Prophet (saws) in his life never saved anything for more than 3 days but he would distribute it to the needy. What was the need now to have this huge amount of wealth at his grave. See who was closer to the sunnah? This practice of bringing wealth to shrines are closer to the traditions of Christians and Shias, not Sunnis.

Now, the issue of “razing” graves

According to the Hanafis, Al Kaasaani said in Badaa’I Al San’aa, 320/1: It is disliked (kurrih) by Abu Hanifa the building on top of a grave, and the disliking if shown then it is declared haram”

This understanding comes from the teachings of the Prophet (saws) himself. It was the practice of Christians of that time to build places of worship over what was believed to be graves of saints. He (saws) cursed anyone who would imitate them in the future. Umm Salam (RA) told the prophet (saws) about a church she had seen in Ethiopia. He (saws) said “If a righteous man dies among those people, they build over his grave a place of worship and paint in it those pictures. They are the most evil of creation in Allah’s sight” (Bukhari)

Let see some more of this "wahhabi-razings and demolishings". Who are those who did it?

Yes, it was the sahaba themselves! But let’s not confuse that with the issue of tabarruk (seeking blessings) in the Prophet and his belongings. This is allowed as it is known to be accepted by the Prophet (saws) himself and his sahaba (RA). While this is allowed, we should not practice our religion based on our desire and make up ideas about seeking blessings in other things. Acts of worship are TAWQEEFIY (i.e not based on personal opinions). Hence the issue of going to historical places and worshipping there is different.

This is what I mean:

‘Umar came near the Black Stone and kissed it and said, "No doubt, I know that you are a stone AND CAN NEITHER BENEFIT ANYONE NOR HARM ANYONE. Had I not seen Allah’s Apostle kissing you I would not have kissed you." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 26, Number 667). We only do what the Prophet (saws) taught his sahaba to do.

Umar ibn Al Khattab once saw a group of people taking turns praying in a place in which the Prophet peace be upon him used to pray. He asked the people "What is this?". They said, "The place in which the Prophet peace be upon him used to pray". Umar replied back, "Do you want to take the relics of your Prophets as places of worship? Those before you were destroyed for this. (Ibn Waddaah Al Qurtubi narrated this in his book Al Bida' wal Nahi A'anha, page 41, and ibn abi Shaybah in Al Musannaf, 376/2

Al-Hafiz said in al-Maghazi (7:448): “Further, I found that according to Ibn Sa‘d, with an authentic chain from Nafi‘, ‘Umar was informed that a group (of people) approached the tree and prayed near it, so he admonished them, and commanded it be cut (down) so it was cut (down).”

In saheeh Muslim, it is narrated that Ali (RA) reported that the Prophet (saws) ordered him to demolish all idols (anything that people worship, not just statues) he came across and to level all graves more than a palm’s width high.

Ibn Waddaah al-Qurtubi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “Maalik ibn Anas and other scholars of Madeenah regarded it as makrooh to go to those mosques and historical sites connected to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), apart from Quba’ and Uhud.” (al-Bida’ wa’l-Nahiy ‘anhaa, p. 43).

The sahaba did not make any other relics special such as the houses of ahlul bayt or the birth place of the Prophet (saws). Visiting places gives wrong ideas to ignorant people; when they see many people visiting those mosques and historical sites, they will think that this is an action which is prescribed in Islam.

Imam Al Shatibi: After the death of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), none of the Sahaabah (may Allaah be pleased with them) did anything of that nature with regard to those who succeeded him as leaders. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not leave behind in the ummah anyone who was better than Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq (may Allaah be pleased with him), who was his successor, and he did not do anything of that sort, and neither did 'Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him), and they were the best of the ummah after him. Neither did 'Uthmaan, or 'Ali, or any of the Sahaabah, and there is no one in the ummah who is better than them. There is no report from any of them via any sound isnaad that they sought blessings in any of these ways or similar ways. Rather they limited themselves to emulating the actions, words and conduct of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). So there is consensus among them that all such things should be avoided. [Al Aitesa'am Vol 1 page 286,287]

The prominent scholar Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah preserve him) said: “There are no places in Madeenah to be visited apart from these: al-Masjid al-Nabawi, the grave of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), al-Baqee’, the martyrs of Uhud, and the Mosque of Quba’. As for other sites, there is no basis for visiting them.” (Fiqh al-‘Ibaadaat, p. 405)

Ref. for details:

The Development of Al Masjid Al Nabawi, Imam Mohammad El Mezain

Fundamentals of Tawheed, Dr Bilal Philips
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