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 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.
What is the reason for this silence: "Is it because so called Muslim nations have become so overwhelmed by the power of the Saudi denial of Visas for Pilgrimage (Hajj), that we have lost all courage and self-respect? Or is it because we feel a need to cover up Muslim-on-Muslim violence; Muslim-on-Muslim terror; Muslim-on-Muslim oppression?
We Muslims constantly rally against any wrongs inflicted on fellow-Muslims by non-believers, but hold our silence when Muslims kill, exploit and terrorize other Muslims. Thus, when the Americans kill Iraqis, or the Russians persecute Chechens; we are rightly offended and resentful. But when Saddam Hussein massacred Kurds and Shias for years, Muslims around the world maintained a discreet silence. So why this conspiracy of silence? Thousands demonstrated against the desecration of the Holy Book Quran at Guantanam and in USA and thousands complained at the remark by Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado, referring to Makkah and Medina when he said "If there is another 9/11 we should take out their holy places," Where are those zealots now? Why aren't preachers at mosques demanding that the Saudi government halt their destructive plans? Alas, these double standards are what now define the Muslim Community. We have become completely neutered when it comes to criticizing other Muslims. This is not of washing our dirty linen in public but this is the time to self-analyze and self-criticize and these things need to be said out loud, clear and often.
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 levelled 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 Sept 18/19th, (8th Shawal 1426) and is Know as Yaum-e-Ghum - The Day of Grief for Muslims.
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 Makkah that included the graves of Muhammad's mother and grandfather. They completely destroyed mausoleums, mosques, and other honoured sites, including Muhammad's own house. It was even said that they wished to uproot the grave of Muhammad himself and tear down the Kaaba. They were prevented from this last act by pressure from Muslims around the world. Wahabism vandalism continues today, by levelling of five of seven mosques built in the city Makkah & Medina by Muhammad's daughter and four of his companions. These structures are the Mosque of Sayyida Fatima bint Rasulillah, Salman al-Farsi Mosque and Mosque of Ali ibn Abi Talib a.s. and many others. Wahhabism is not about faith, but about power and 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 pbuh himself.
My pain is what type of opium we Muslim masses are on anyway? 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 (Allah). Today, Islam needs to find the resources within it to combat extremism. More importantly, the moment has come to shift our the struggle to warn the West about jihadism and campaign to organize mainstream, traditional Muslims, throughout the world, for the liberation of our communities and our faith from the grip of corrupt rulers - whether in Saudi Arabia, or elsewhere throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds. What is all more disturbing is that the so called Muslim Nations around the world (except only Iran) continue to remain silent at the desecration of our Holy sites.