Saudi Clerics Order Destruction Of Centuries Old Areas of Mecca, Including Ancient Columns, In Expansion Project

220px-Makkah-1910It appears that, while Saudi Arabia will kill citizens for blasphemy, they do not appear to have much respect for Islamic history or preservation.  Photos snuck out of Mecca show wholesale destruction of ancient sections of holy sites as part of an expansion project.  What is astonishing is the lack of any effort of preservation due to . . . you guessed it, Wahabi clerics who declared that the sections are better destroyed in the name of Islamic principles. It is ironic that, as a non-Muslim, I am outraged by the loss of such historical areas. Photos of the destruction were published here by The Independent.

Saudi authorities have ordered the demolishing Ottoman and Abbasid sections on the eastern side of the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca. The “Grand Mosque” has long featured columns as the last remaining sections of the mosque which date back hundreds of years and formed the inner perimeter surrounding the Kaaba.

These columns were inscribed with Arabic calligraphy marking the names of the Prophet Muhammad’s companions and key moments in his life. Indeed, one of the columns marked the spot where many Muslims believe Muhammad began his heavenly journey on a winged horse.

The person in charge of this destruction is Wahabi cleric and imam of the Grand Mosque, Abdul Rahman al-Sudais. The work is being done by the Saudi Binladin Group – the kin of Osama Bin Laden and a close family to the Royal family.

It seems bizarre that the expansion (which is clearly needed) would not involve simple preservation of the columns and other historical items. However, an estimated 95 percent of Mecca’s original buildings have been lost in the last two decades. The principal reason for this destruction is the Wahabbi cleric views preservation of Islamic sites as encouraging shirq – the sin of idol worshipping. This “sin” appears to include even areas where Muhammad is believed to have sat and prayed. Thus, you will be killed in Saudi Arabia over a cartoon of Muhammad but not destroying centuries old archeological sites tied to his life.

Academics in Saudi Arabia have been struggling to preserve mosques and other areas also designated for destruction by appealing directly to the King. However, they are finding resistance from the powerful Wahhabi hierarchy in the Kingdom.

While the Taliban shocked the world by their destruction of ancient art and the two ancient statues of the Buddha called Bamiyan, the Wahhabis have shown the same contempt for Islamic historical artifacts and structures. What is astonishing is that such preservation is valued by non-Muslims who are not engaging in any idol worshipping. While I will never be able to see the columns as a non-Muslim barred from Mecca, I still want the columns preserved for history and for those Muslims visiting Mecca.

Source: Newser

25 thoughts on “Saudi Clerics Order Destruction Of Centuries Old Areas of Mecca, Including Ancient Columns, In Expansion Project

  1. If you own the kingdom why can’t you destroy it….. Now, if they want to make irate jihadis….. I’m all for that…. Maybe we can get to some info on the Bush crime syndicate….

  2. I wonder how many kickbacks the clergy there is receiving from these construction projects?

    Perhaps saudi riyals are not considered idols

  3. Darren said,

    I wonder how many kickbacks the clergy there is receiving from these construction projects?

    Perhaps saudi riyals are not considered idols: for nothing…..

    I add…. For nothing….

  4. expansion project

    Yeah, those pesky people wanting to have a place to live interfering with some old buildings

    Swamps are filled in without regard to its religious value to some. Wetlands are cleared, roads are built paving over and destroying who knows how many centuries of artifacts. Resources are mined, mountains are removed, lakes are filled in, rivers are moved. All of which destroys something sacred and of historical value. It is sad that Saudi Arabia is putting people having a place to live over an ancient column.

    I appreciate you knowing what is more valuable. There is a lot of land out there once thought to be a particularly holy place. There is a lot of land that once held or still holds old structures and artifacts.

    Funny how some can be so disgusted at another and ignore what they do. Still, you enjoy your trip to the mall via the highway.

  5. perhaps Mohammed’s old teachings can be construed in ways not to the Saudi’s liking….in destroying ancient artifacts perhaps they feel they can twist the religion more to their own liking….I just read an article in the
    NYTimes about the Saudi’s reluctance to rely on arbitrary beheadings not because of squeamishness with the practice but rather due to a lack of swordsmen…

  6. Darren,

    I presume you are not offended by your “theory” that the contractor must have bribed the cleric. After all, it is a well-known All-American business practice here in the states – it even takes place in the world’s most august deliberative body – Congress! Or is your disgust just tweaked when your imagination confirms that such practices are taking place in a foreign country.

  7. Working Man:

    Corruption is corruption, wherever it is. And I assure you my statements about how I currently feel about congress are well documented on this blog.

  8. The new photos, taken over the last few weeks, have caused alarm among archaeologists and come as Prince Charles – a long-term supporter of preserving architectural heritage – flew into Saudi Arabia yesterday for a visit with the Duchess of Cornwall.

    Mel Brooks said ” It’s good to be King” (or Prince)

    I haven’t flown into Arabia for a “Visit” in quite a while. (never actually)

  9. @ bernard, …. one of my favorite poems

    William Stafford, “At the Un-National Monument along the Canadian Border”

    This is the field where the battle did not happen,
    where the unknown soldier did not die.
    This is the field where grass joined hands,
    where no monument stands,
    and the only heroic thing is the sky.

    Birds fly here without any sound,
    unfolding their wings across the open.
    No people killed—or were killed—on this ground
    hallowed by neglect and an air so tame
    that people celebrate it by forgetting its name.

  10. That arch won’t be standing much longer, Darren.

    We’ve got a dangerous maple syrup gap developing! (To be read in the voice of George C. Scott.)

  11. I’ll leave Saudi Arabia to the Saudis and Mecca to Muslims. What they do or don’t do with these areas may concern me but in the final analysis is really none of my business.

  12. Daren, Very Nice AAy.

    ‘Where in Sam Hill’ is the American peoples drive for neighborliness, respect, and Peace.

    These days every time I hear a politician use peace and liberty in a speech
    they’re proposing a war to “bring” it to other countries.

  13. Darren,

    Where is the corruption? Do you have a source that even hints that the clerics took bribes? I understand the Saudis have made a decision about THEIR holy site with which most of us do not agree. However, it is not our holy place and the explanation is given that it is called for because they link it to idolatry. I’m not much into

    idolatry, but I think an argument could be made that there are many Americans (in their McMansions) that could use a lesson or two on idolatry. Our world views and religious practices are different. For instance, I wonder what they think of eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ. Pretty outrageous, eh? And please try to keep in mind we are talking about stone and rock here – not honor killings.You are always careful to cite the precise law when it comes to charging some American citizen, but out of the blue you charge the cleric with taking a bribe. You don’t know that and I think your charge includes a heap of self-righteousness. And before you ask, I was appalled about the destruction of the Buddas. They had no right to destroy

    elics of another religion. But I would not interfer if they wish to destroy Mecca.

  14. Working Man:

    You might want to reread what I had originally posted:

    “I wonder how many kickbacks the clergy there is receiving from these construction projects?

    What part of this is a declaration of fact requiring a reference? It is an enquiry.

  15. Darren,

    Here’s an inquiry……I wonder what part of your brain has been removed.

    And then there’s the ever popular – have you stopped beating your wife?

    What a bullsh*t reply!

  16. Working Man Contributed:
    “Here’s an inquiry……I wonder what part of your brain has been removed….What a bullsh*t reply!”

    Yes, I agree. Your reply was bullsh*t

  17. Islam does not teach destruction. The Quran’s teachings are derived from the Old Testament and the Bible, which prohibit idol worshiping. Wahhabism, which is little more than a blasphemous insult to Islam, takes this prohibition to an extreme and uses it to destroy the very places that us Muslims have held sacred. This is the real sin. It is tragic that our Islamic sites are controlled by the least Islamic people… We dream of the day when Mecca is an internationally controlled region, influenced by the democratic voice of all Muslims, rather than a few Wahhabis that do not represent our faith.

  18. There are Muslims out there who are outraged by this wanton destruction of the most important historical sites in Islamic history. Future generations will have nothing left to see of the rich history of Islam. I have never seen the well of zam zam or the house of khadijah in my lifetime and feel deprived. As you enter Makkah the first thing that you see is the clock tower a monstrosity that towers over the Kaba as you sit within the haram. I for one would want to see the minarets of the Haram. Yes the expansion is needed as is the modernisation, we can’t forget that Islam led on some of the most important advances and brought about progress in a number of fields. The historical sites could have been preserved within the expansion plans instead of destroying them. Despite having tried to do something about the destruction it has had little impact unfortunately the Saudis care little about the views of others. They’re turning a place of worship into a commercial, holiday destination. It seems they have the status quo and can do what they like. However its encouraging that there are journalist out there who are prepared to question the status quo. So thank you Jonathan for you article.

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