Saudi Arabia has risked the ire of the Muslim world, following the publication of a report in the Journal of the Two Presidencies, which suggested the country may consider destroying and relocating the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The report came in the midst of a multi-billion dollar redevelopment project being planned for Makkah, which may also include the demolition of a building reported to be the birthplace of the Prophet.
The report was written by Saudi born scholar Dr. Ali bin Abdulaziz al-Shabal, and calls for the chamber that holds the grave of the Prophet to be removed from Masjid un-Nabawi.
It also reportedly calls for the destruction of the iconic Green Dome, as well as the erasing of all historical verses and eulogies written on the vicinity of the holy chamber. Al-Shabal’s motivation for these removals was that they held no significance to the holy Mosque.
Dr Irfan Al Alawi, a renowned UK-based researcher with the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, was extremely critical of the scholar’s suggestions.
“By removing or separating the Hujrah Sharif, which has never happened during the history of the Prophet’s (SAW) companions, or the Abassi and the Ottoman period, what right does this scholar have,” he said.
He also questioned the decision of the journal of the Two Presidencies to publish the report, suggesting it may have been an attempt to “test the waters” and see how Muslims would react to the issue.
“Clearly if he has asked for these things to take place, and they did not agree with any of his thought, then they would not have published in the Haramain Journal,” he suggested.
The Presidency of the Two Mosques has since played down the suggestions, insisting the reports was based purely on a study by a ‘private researcher’.
“What was mentioned in that study doesn’t represent the view of the Presidency or the State, both always keen to serve the two holy mosques and seek their honor and esteem without turning detrimental to anything of the past,” they said, in a statement released over the weekend.
They also urged researchers and media personnel not to entertain any talk that may trigger “evocation, sedition and chaos”. Dr Al-Alawi however suggested this was an attempt by the Presidency to absolve themselves of any blame.
He also took aim at the Saudi leadership, highlighting the fact that at present, only four sites remained in Madina for ziyarat. He also pointed to the closure of five historic mosques in the country, claiming the Saudi authorities were initiating plans to have them razed.
Some analysts have questioned the accuracy of the original report in the UK’s The Independent newspaper, saying it was meant to create sensation in the Muslim world. However al-Alawi defended the paper, saying it had been completely accurate in its reporting. The paper reported that aim of the Saudi authorities was to completely destroy the tomb of the Prophet (S.A.W), which al-Alawi asserted was the eventual plan.
“The Independent never said that they will do this. What we said was that a report has been submitted to the presidency, and yes there is a call to demolish the Green Dome, and to destroy the Kabah Sharif,” he said.
With the report having gone viral, he expressed confidence that any possible plans to demolish the tomb of the Prophet (pbuh) would likely be put on hold.
Nevertheless, he warned the Muslims not to be lulled in a sense of security now that the issue had subsided, suggesting such plans may be reignited by the Saudi authorities in the near future.
“Momentarily we are secure of the grave of the Hujrah, but at the same time we should look out for what is going to happen to house of Mawlid. If it goes, then every single Muslim will be held responsible,” he said. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)