by Zafar Bangash (Editorials, Crescent International Vol. 43, No. 10, Safar, 1436)
The occupiers of the two Harams appear determined to destroy both for their nefarious agendas. The House of Saud and the Zionists are two faces of the same coin.
Islam’s holy sites are under attack. From al-Masjid al-Haram in Makkah to al-Masjid al-Aqsa in al-Quds (Jerusalem), the occupiers of the holy sites have set their sights on destruction. In Makkah and Madinah, the Saudis are busy wiping out the last vestiges of Islamic heritage under the pretext of expansion of the two hold places. The Zionists are busy trying to physically take control of al-Masjid al-Aqsa in al-Quds (Jerusalem). Zionist occupation troops have attacked Palestinians trying to defend the sacred sanctuary of al-Haram al-Sharif that houses both al-Masjid al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock (symbolized by the huge golden dome) in Jerusalem.
Rabbinical law prohibits Jews from stepping on the noble sanctuary lest they desecrate it. There is even a board erected at one of the entrances warning Jews not to trespass al-Haram al-Sharif. Observant Jews — groups like Neturei Karta — have spoken out against such trespassing and condemned Zionist attempts to occupy the holy sanctuary. Zionist zealots allege that al-Masjid al-Aqsa is built on the site where the Temple of King Solomon (the Prophet Suleiman – a) once stood. There is no proof of this. In fact, the temple was destroyed twice: in 586bce by the Babylonians and in 70ce by the Romans. The latter even dug out the foundations.
Since occupying the whole of Jerusalem in June 1967 (the Zionists had already occupied the western part in 1948), the Zionists have attempted to take over the holy sanctuary through a process of creeping annexation. For decades they have excavated under al-Masjid al-Aqsa ostensibly to find the foundations of the “lost temple.” They have found none. The real aim is to weaken the foundations of the Masjid to cause its collapse so that the Zionists can build their temple on its ruins.
Al-Masjid al-Aqsa has existed for nearly 1,400 years. It came into Muslim stewardship in 15ah/638ce during the khilafah of ‘Umar (ra) and but for the brief interregnum during the Crusaders’ occupation (1099–1187), it has remained under Muslim oversight. It is built on the spot where the noble Messenger (pbuh) led all the other Prophets (Å) in salah (prayer) before his mi‘raj (ascension) in the 12th year of his mission in Makkah. Why should Zionist mythology take precedence over prophetic/Islamic history?
Not only Palestinians but Muslims elsewhere have expressed grave concern about the Zionists’ plan to annex al-Masjid al-Aqsa. Zionist squatters (misnomered as “settlers”) have on numerous occasions trespassed on the holy sanctuary. They are pushing for the “right” to worship there. These alien invaders have come to Palestine from Europe and North America. Their agenda is to dispossess the Palestinians of their land, homes, villages, towns and even the sacred sites such as al-Haram al-Sharif. They want to wipe out Palestinian history and memory; in fact Islamic history and memory.
The Saudi occupiers of the Arabian Peninsula are busy with a similar project that predates the Zionists’ vandalism in al-Quds by decades. The Saudi plans are even more dangerous. They have already destroyed 90% of all the historical sites in Makkah and the rest are about to be bulldozed under the spurious pretext of expanding al-Masjid al-Haram that houses the Ka‘bah. Saudi court ‘ulama have issued fatwas to do so. Aside from the fact that there are other ways to provide space for the hujjaj, the Saudis do not own the two holy cities; they are the common heritage, like al-Masjid al-Aqsa, of the entire Muslim Ummah and all humanity. They have no right to take such unilateral decisions and embark on a destructive spree as they did early last month. They destroyed the historic columns commemorating the noble Messenger’s (pbuh) ascent to heaven (mi‘raj) that links al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa. The Qur’an in its 17th chapter, Surah al-Isra’ or Surah Bani Isra’il, describes this nightly journey.
With Hajj season now over, bulldozers have revved up their engines to begin demolition. One place in particular is their target: the house where the noble Messenger (pbuh) was born. Previous Saudi attempts were stayed when people urged the Makkah municipality to spare it and turn it into a library. It may be difficult to save it this time unless there is worldwide pressure. A royal palace for the aging monarch Abdullah is being built there. It will be five times larger than the current palace and built into a mountain overlooking the Haram. Clearly, in Saudi thinking, the king’s palace is more important than preservation of the house where the noble Messenger (pbuh) was born.
Relics of the Saudi ruling family including items linked with ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Saud are carefully preserved in a museum but anything linked with the blessed life of the noble Messenger (pbuh) is being destroyed. The same mindset is at work in Madinah whose people provided sanctuary to the noble Messenger (pbuh) when the Makkan mushriks drove him out of his city of birth. The Saudis now want to “complete” the unfinished business of the mushriks by demolishing the house where he was born. They want to go even further: the Saudis have the audacity to suggest removing his body from the present grave. It is in the dwelling where he resided in Madinah. The pretext is the same: expansion of al-Masjid al-Nabawi. Other Islamic monuments are similarly targeted.
The idea to remove the body of the noble Messenger (pbuh) from its present grave has been brought up a number of times, the latest in August 2014 when an article appeared in the Royal Journal of the Haramayn. The brainchild of one ‘Ali ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Shabal, a professor at Muhammad ibn Saud University in Riyadh, the 61-page document is both brazen and scandalous. It has been circulated among the supervisors of al-Masjid al-Nabawi and makes the same sacrilegious suggestion as previous rantings of Saudi court ‘ulama: the green dome over Rawdhah al-Mutahharah should be destroyed and the Prophet’s (pbuh) body relocated to an unmarked grave in Jannah al-Baqi‘! After protests from Muslims — and indeed some non-Muslims — the Saudi regime issued a terse statement saying no final decision has been made. They did not deny the plan.
The question that must be asked is: why are the Zionist occupiers of the Holy Land and Saudi occupiers of the Arabian Peninsula so determined to wipe out all traces of Islamic heritage and history? One can see what the Zionists are up to: they want to wipe out Islamic/Palestinian history and since al-Masjid al-Aqsa stands as a symbol of that identity, they are targeting it. Despite their demented thinking, the Zionists know their legitimacy is not complete without their taking control of al-Masjid al-Aqsa and building the “third temple” in its place. While the Zionists’ criminal enterprise must be vigorously resisted, what reason is there for the Saudis’ vandalism in the Haramayn? Unlike the Zionists, they call themselves Muslims yet they have no regard for Muslim sensitivity or sentiment. They seem to be gripped by extreme hatred of Islam, the noble Messenger (pbuh) — nastaghfir-allah — and Islamic history.
The Zionists and the Saudis appear to share a common hatred of Islam. Will Muslims rise up to prevent this or allow their history, historical monuments and indeed their sacred sites to be desecrated in such a manner?