Friday, 29 July 2011

Recent Research on The destruction of Mecca By Salafi Wahabis : Maulana Md Abul Kalam Azad

Saudi hardliners are wiping out their own heritage

By Daniel Howden 
Saturday, 6 August 2005, the independent.

Historic Mecca, the cradle of Islam, is being buried in an unprecedented onslaught by religious zealots.
Almost all of the rich and multi-layered history of the holy city is gone. The Washington-based Gulf Institute estimates that 95 per cent of millennium-old buildings have been demolished inthe past two decades.
Now the actual birthplace of theProphet Mohamed is facing the bulldozers, with the connivance of Saudi religious authorities whose hardline interpretation ofIslam is compelling them to wipe out their own heritage.
It is the same oil-rich orthodoxy that pumped money into the Taliban as they prepared to detonate the Bamiyan buddhas in 2000. And the same doctrine -violently opposed to all forms of idolatry - that this week decreed that the Saudis' own king b
A Saudi architect, Sami Angawi, who is an acknowledged specialist on the region's Islamic architecture, told The Independent that the final farewell to Mecca is imminent:"What we are witnessing are thelast days of Mecca and Medina."
According to Dr Angawi - who has dedicated his life to preserving Islam's two holiest cities - as few as 20 structures are left that date back to the lifetime of the Prophet 1,400 years ago and those that remain could be bulldozed at anytime. "This is the end of history in Mecca and Medina and the end of their future," said Dr Angawi.
Mecca is the most visited pilgrimage site in the world. It is home to the Grand Mosque and, along with the nearby city of Medina which houses the Prophet's tomb, receives four million people annually as they undertake the Islamic duty of the Haj and Umra pilgrimages.
The driving force behind the demolition campaign that has transformed these cities is Wahhabism. This, the austere state faith of Saudi Arabia, was imported by the al-Saud tribal chieftains when they conquered the region in the 1920s.
The motive behind the destruction is the Wahhabists' fanatical fear that places of historical and religious interest could give rise to idolatry or polytheism, the worship of multiple and potentially equal gods.
As John R. Bradley notes in his new book Saudi Arabia Exposed , the practice of idolatry in the kingdom remains, in principle at least, punishable by beheading. And Bradley also points out this same literalism mandates that advertising posters can and need to be altered. The walls of Jeddah are adorned with ads featuring people missing an eye or with a foot painted over. These "deliberate imperfections" are the most glaring sign of an orthodoxy that tolerates nothing which fosters adulation of the graven image. Nothing can, or can be seen to, interferewith a person's devotion to Allah.
"At the root of the problem is Wahhabism," says Dr Angawi. " They have a big complex about idolatry and anything that relates to the Prophet."
The Wahhabists now have the birthplace of the Prophet in their sights. The site survived redevelopment early in the reignof King Abdul al-Aziz ibn Saud 50 years ago when the architect for a library there persuaded the absolute ruler to allow him to keep the remains under the new structure. That concession is under threat after Saudi authorities approved plans to"update" the library with a new structure that would concrete over the existing foundations and their priceless remains.
Dr Angawi is the descendant of arespected merchant family in Jeddah and a leading figure in the Hijaz - a swath of the kingdom that includes the holy cities and runs from the mountains bordering Yemen in the south to the northern shores of the Red Sea and the frontier with Jordan. He established the Haj Research Centre two decades ago to preserve the rich history of Mecca and Medina. Yet it has largely been a doomed effort. Hesays that the bulldozers could come "at any time" and the Prophet's birthplace would be gone in a single night.
He is not alone in his concerns. The Gulf Institute, an independent news-gathering group, has publicised what it says is a fatwa, issued by the senior Saudi council of religious scholars in 1994, stating that preserving historical sites "could lead to polytheism and idolatry".
Ali al-Ahmed, the head of the organisation, formerly known as the Saudi Institute, said: "The destruction of Islamic landmarks in Hijaz is the largest in history, and worse than the desecration of the Koran."
Most of the buildings have suffered the same fate as the house of Ali-Oraid, the grandson of the Prophet, which was identified and excavated by Dr Angawi. After its discovery, King Fahd ordered that it be bulldozed before it could becomea pilgrimage site.
"The bulldozer is there and they take only two hours to destroy everything. It has no sensitivity to history. It digs down to the bedrock and then the concrete is poured in," he said.
Similarly, finds by a Lebanese professor, Kamal Salibi, which indicated that once-Jewish villages in what is now Saudi Arabia might have been the location of scenes from the Bible,prompted the bulldozers to be sent in. All traces were destroyed.
This depressing pattern of excavation and demolition has led Dr Angawi and his colleagues to keep secret a number of locations in the holy cities that could date back as far as the time of Abraham.
The ruling House of Saud has been bound to Wahhabism since the religious reformer Mohamed Ibn abdul-Wahab signed a pact with Mohammed bin Saud in 1744. The combination of the al-Saud clan and Wahhab's warrior zealots became the foundation of the modern state. The House of Saud received its wealth and power and the hardline clerics got the state backing that would enable them in the decades to come to promote their Wahhabist ideology across the globe.
On the tailcoats of the religious zealots have come commercial developers keen to fill the historic void left by demolitions with lucrative high-rises.
"The man-made history of Meccahas gone and now the Mecca that God made is going as well." Says Dr Angawi. "The projects that are coming up are going to finish them historically, architecturally and environmentally," he said.
With the annual pilgrimage expected to increase five-fold to20 million in the coming years as Saudi authorities relax entry controls, estate agencies are seeing a chance to cash in on huge demand for accommodation.
"The infrastructure at the moment cannot cope. New hotels, apartments and services are badly needed," the director of a leading Saudi estate agencytold Reuters.
Despite an estimated $13bn in development cash currently washing around Mecca, Saudi sceptics dismiss the developers' argument. "The service of pilgrims is not the goal really," says Mr Ahmed. "If they were concerned for the pilgrims, they would have built a railroad between Mecca and Jeddah, andMecca and Medina. They are removing any historical landmarkthat is not Saudi-Wahhabi, and using the prime location to makemoney," he says.
Dominating these new developments is the Jabal Omar scheme which will feature two 50-storey hotel towers and seven 35-storey apartment blocks - all within a stone's throw of the Grand Mosque.
Dr Angawi said: "Mecca should bethe reflection of the multicultural Muslim world, not a concrete parking lot."
Whereas proposals for high-rise developments in Jerusalem have prompted a worldwide outcry and the Taliban's demolition of the Bamiyan buddhas was condemned by Unicef, Mecca's busy bulldozers have barely raised a whisper of protest.
"The house where the Prophet received the word of God is gone and nobody cares," says DrAngawi. "I don't want trouble. I just want this to stop.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

CHRISTIANS ARE MORE MILITANT THAN MUSLIMS, SAYS GOVT'S EQUALITIES BOSS


Muslims are integrating into British society better than many Christians, according to the head of the Government's equality watchdog





By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent
9:00PM BST 18 Jun 2011








Trevor Phillips warned that "an old time religion incompatible with modern society" is driving the revival in the Anglican and Catholic Churches and clashing with mainstream views, especially on homosexuality.
He accused Christians, particularly evangelicals, of being more militant than Muslims in complaining about discrimination, arguing that many of the claims are motivated by a desire for greater political influence.
However the chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission expressed concern that people of faith are "under siege" from atheists whom he accused of attempting to "drive religion underground".
In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph ahead of a landmark report on religious discrimination in Britain, he said the Commission wants to protect Christians and Muslims from discrimination, admitting his body had not been seen to stand up for the people discriminated against because of their faith in the past.
In a wide-ranging intervention into the debate over the role of religion in modern Britain, Mr Phillips:
* warned it had become "fashionable" to attack and mock religion, singling out atheist polemicist Richard Dawkins for his views;
* said faith groups should be free from interference in their own affairs, meaning churches should be allowed to block women and homosexuals from being priests and bishops;
* attacked hardline Christian groups which he said were picking fights - particularly on the issue of homosexuality - for their own political ends;
* told churches and religious institutions they had to comply with equality legislation when they delivered services to the public as a whole.
The report, published by the Commission tomorrow, says that some religious groups have been the victims of rising discrimination over the last decade.
It shows that in the course of the last decade, the number of employment tribunal cases on religion or belief brought each year has risen from 70 to 1000 - although only a fraction of cases were upheld.
Mr Phillips spoke after a series of high-profile cases which have featured Christians claiming they have been discriminated against because of their beliefs, with a doctor currently fighting a reprimand from the General Medical Council for sharing his faith with a patient.
While the equalities boss promised to fight for the rights of Christians, he expressed concern that many cases were driven by fundamentalist Christians who are holding increasing sway over the mainstream churches because of the influence of African and Caribbean immigrants with "intolerant" views.
In contrast, Muslims are less vociferous because they are trying to integrate into British "liberal democracy", he said.
"I think there's an awful lot of noise about the Church being persecuted but there is a more real issue that the conventional churches face that the people who are really driving their revival and success believe in an old time religion which in my view is incompatible with a modern, multi-ethnic, multicultural society," Phillips said.
"Muslim communities in this country are doing their damnedest to try to come to terms with their neighbours to try to integrate and they're doing their best to try to develop an idea of Islam that is compatible with living in a modern liberal democracy.
"The most likely victim of actual religious discrimination in British society is a Muslim but the person who is most likely to feel slighted because of their religion is an evangelical Christian."
Senior clergy, including Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, have attacked equality laws for eroding Christianity and stifling free speech, but Phillips said many of the legal cases brought by Christians on issues surrounding homosexuality were motivated by an attempt to gain political influence.
"I think for a lot of Christian activists, they want to have a fight and they choose sexual orientation as the ground to fight it on," he said.
"I think the whole argument isn't about the rights of Christians. It's about politics. It's about a group of people who really want to have weight and influence."
He added: "There are a lot of Christian activist voices who appear bent on stressing the kind of persecution that I don't think really exists in this country."
However, Mr Phillips, who is a Salvationist from a strong Christian background, expressed concern over the rise in Britain of anti-religious voices, such as Richard Dawkins, who are intolerant of people of faith.
"I understand why a lot of people in faith groups feel a bit under siege," he said.
"There's no question that there is more anti-religion noise in Britain.
"There's a great deal of polemic which is anti-religious, which is quite fashionable."
Phillips said that the Commission is committed to protecting people of faith against discrimination and also defended the right of religious institutions to be free from Government interference.
The Church of England is under pressure to allow openly gay clergy to be made bishops, while the Catholic Church only permits men to be priests, but the head of the Government-funded equalities watchdog said they are entitled to rule on their own affairs.
"The law doesn't dictate their organisation internally, in the way they appoint their ministers and bishops for example," he said.
"It's perfectly fair that you can't be a Roman Catholic priest unless you're a man. It seems right that the reach of anti-discriminatory law should stop at the door of the church or mosque.
"I'm not keen on the idea of a church run by the state.
"I don't think the law should run to telling churches how they should conduct their own affairs."
The intervention by the Commission comes after criticism of its £70 million annual budget, which is to be cut drastically.
Mr Phillips, a former Labour chairman of the Greater London Assembly and television producer was criticised for his £110,000 a year salary and was accused of "pandering to the right" by Ken Livingstone, the former Labour London mayor, for saying that multiculturalism had failed.