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Saudi’s ‘testing the waters’, claims academic

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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)

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  1. Assalamu alaykum

    Attached is the YouTube response by Dr. Ali al-Shabal. I have tried to translate the Arabic as faithfully as possible and any mistakes are my own and are not intended to mislead anyone. The original article was carried by the Independent on 1Sept ( A response was posted on the 3 Sept on ( I have sourced the YouTube link from the response on ( from someone who commented on the article on 7 Sept. What follows is the translation of Dr. Shabal’s response to the question of removing/destroying the the Prophetic quarters and grave and moving his remains:

    Questioner: Some news outlets report that you have recommended, in a research paper, the removal of the Prophetic grave and similarly the Prophetic chambers or demolishing it.

    Dr. Shaykh al-Shabal: I seek refuge in Allah, I seek refuge in Allah, I seek refuge in Allah from His wrath. Glory be to Allah, this is a most serious slander! What our brother [the questioner] has mentioned regarding what has been reported from me via the media and specifically the Independent newspaper-is that it’s name? That it has been reported from me in a research paper regarding the expansion of the Prophet’s (s) mosque that I have recommended the moving of the Prophet’s (s) quarters or its destruction or the moving of the Prophet’s (s) remains to the Baqee’ [Madinah’s cemetery], is a false claim. I have never said this and it is not correct for me to say this nor is it correct for anyone else to say this. Rather, this is a lie and an invented falsehood. We say nothing other than Glory be to Allah, this is a serious slander. [This is with reference to the verse in Q. 24:16].

    The Prophet (s) was buried where he died which is the place where every Prophet is buried [that is, where he died]. It is for this reason when the Companions (ra) differed regarding where the Prophet (s) should be buried after his death; some of them said he should be buried in the Baqee’ with the Muslims while others said he should buried alone, Abu Bakr (ra) gave the decisive view stating: I heard the Messenger of Allah saying, “A Prophet is buried where he died”. So they lifted him, raised his bed, dug his grave and buried him (s) in the quarters of Aysha (ra) where he had died [Tirmidhi, 1018 with the same meaning].

    It is not permissible to change this [ruling]. Rather, this is our shari’ah and the sunnah of our Prophet [s] and the religion with which we worship Allah. As for attributing this [statement] to me or anyone else that I said the remains of the Prophet (s) should be moved to the Baqee’ [There seems to be some overlap/slight distortion in the audio for a few seconds (1:53-1:57) and I will thus translate from Baqee’ onwards] I have not said this and it is not correct for me or anyone else to say this. But the lies in these times and the fabrication of lies and confusing [people] and the fabrication of lies through people, is the characteristic of the people of fitan (trials) and the characteristic of people who occupy others with matters by which they [ahl al-fitan] can execute their plans.

    Here in the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] we are in the enviable position (maghbuteen) of maintaining the two sanctified harams [of Makkah and Madinah]. Whenever our enemies find a opening or means to confuse the people regarding this matter, they publicize it thereby inciting dissension after dissension [ithaarat li al-fitnah marratan ba’da ukhraa]. We merely say Allah suffices for us and He is the best Disposer of affairs (hasbunaa Allah wa ni’ma al-wakeel) and what Allah has said regarding the factionalists in the chapter of Ahzaab (Confederates): ” Allah has turned back the disbelievers with all their rage, having achieved no good; and Allah sufficed the believers against fighting. And Allah is Powerful, Mighty” (Q. 33:25).

    Allah has commanded the believers and the address [in the verse] refers to them. As for the disbeliever, his animosity and hatred [towards the believers] is clear and he will not be satisfied, whoever he is, until you follow his religion. Allah has commanded the believers with the statement ” O you who believe, if a sinful person brings you a report, verify its correctness…” meaning validate and authenticate ” verify its correctness, lest you should harm a people out of ignorance, and then become remorseful on what you did [Q. 49:6]. If the one conveying the information is a known Muslim he is considered a faasiq (open and rebellious sinner). What still if the one conveying the information is a disbeliever, then his statement is of no consequence. (And what still) if the one conveying the news is unknown (and he twitters it like a bird), or he publishes news without identifying himself, his statement is [also] of no consequence [I had some difficulty translating the parts in brackets of this sentence]. If the believer who is a faasiq is a believer by virtue of his belief and a faasiq by virtue of his sin [having conveyed false information] and we have been commanded to verify and validate his conveying [of information] then what still regarding someone else [that is, a disbeliever]. That is why Allah says: ” lest you should harm a people out of ignorance, and then become remorseful on what you did [Q. 49:6].

    We ask the Almighty Allah to rectify the matter of the believers and that he turns us back from the misguidance of trials, that He protects the religion and that He assists the sunnah of the Prophet (s) and that He returns the plot of every schemer towards any Muslim or the Muslims [in general], their lands, scholars and rulers to himself. And Allah is capable of all things. And Allah knows best. And may the peace and blessing of Allah be on His Prophet and his Companions.

    The additions in square brackets are mine.

    I encourage the reader to check out the following links to understand the mechanisms at work to continuously create strife between Muslims; Sunnis and Shiites and Salafis (Wahhabis) and Sufis etc. I will not respond to anyone, as I am quite aware of the 50c party at work in China which turns critical posts against their government against the poster and sway public opinion because they are paid to do so. So, I am not easily going to fall for the trick to be drawn into a prolonged to-and-fro debate which leads to nowhere and is merely a mechanism to distract.

    I am merely doing my duty as a Muslim by giving advice to unsuspecting Muslims, according the Prophetic hadith, who may now start arguing and debating things which have been initiated by the enemies of Islam. It is my hope that the Muslims will soon be able to avoid a lot of dissension and disunity by understanding the Hegelian dialectic. Here are the links:

  2. I think VOC should have first investigated the facts and responses to the original prior to publishing the
    is article – it all stems it seems from a source which intends to cause disunity and mayhem within our ranks as Muslims.

    Do not fall into the trap by giving it the publicity the perpetrators had hoped for!!! Ignore their stupidity and rather focus on publishing articles which will be the source of educating and uplifting the community than to add to the disunity being pushed down our throats.

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