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Author Topic: Developers and purists erase Mecca's history
Hephaestion
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posted 13 July 2005 11:05 AM      Profile for Hephaestion   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post
quote:
(Mecca) Some of Islam's historic sites in Mecca, possibly including a home of the Prophet Mohammad, are under threat from Saudi real estate developers and Wahhabi Muslims who view them as promoting idolatry.

Sami Angawi, an expert on the region's Islamic architecture, said 1,400-year-old buildings from the early Islamic period risk being demolished to make way for high rise towers for Muslims flocking to perform the annual pilgrimage to Islam's holiest city.

"We are witnessing now the last few moments of the history of Mecca," Angawi told Reuters. "Its layers of history are being bulldozed for a parking lot," he added.

Angawi estimated that over the past 50 years at least 300 historical buildings had been leveled in Mecca and Medina, another Muslim holy city containing the prophet's tomb.

Wahhabism, Saudi Arabia's dominant doctrine which promotes a strict narrow interpretation of Islam, was largely to blame, he said.



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salaam
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posted 15 July 2005 01:44 PM      Profile for salaam     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I've been to Mecca and Medina and was shocked and saddened by all the new hotels and shopping malls in the area.

Many people do consider historical sights blessed, they crowd around them, and rub the walls as if to take some of the blessing with them. Its moving to see them sometimes, I know its just old rocks no different than the ones on the side of the roads, but tearing buildings down isn't going to change the way people think.

Historical sights are valuable in educating people of their history and connecting them to past generations. They must be preserved for this purpose.

But then Mecca has always been a commercial center, since ancient times, and I see the new development in that region is also a natural part of the cities development. But the encroachment on historical sites is simpy the result of capitalist expansion all over the world. The Saudi-appointed religeous leaders will make up any excuse to sell whatever they are paid to sell. The whole world can reject what they say, but we live in a world where money is god, and what money says goes. That is the source of the problem.


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Mandos
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posted 15 July 2005 03:51 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I'm familiar with the mentality, though. For instance, the Salafists (what they'd rather be called) don't allow any religious celebrations except that minimum two Eids. My mother follows a tradition with a much more extensive religious calendar, though. When she called the mosque to confirm a particular religious date, she got the cold shoulder, so to speak, from the person who answered the phone, who evidently considered any other celebrations to be idolatrous. My mother knew immediately that this must be a Salafist.
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Cueball
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posted 15 July 2005 09:05 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
This whole thing about idolatry has been going on for a long time has it not?

Little shrines and stuff being deemed to be "idols" by certain types of believers. My understanding is that there are many secondary holy sites throughout the Arab world, marking various events, and that some find the "shrines" used to mark them offensive.


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Mandos
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posted 15 July 2005 10:34 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
A case in point is one of my grandmother's aunts, who made hajj well before I was born. She was already very old, and she expired during the proceedings. Now, for all Muslims, such a death in hajj is a sublime act and a blessing, and of course she was buried in Mecca. However, my family discovered that the Salafist authorities did not allow graves to be marked because they fear ancestor-worship. So there is no record of where she was buried. This attitude extends to veneration of prophetic locations. All that is requires, according to Salafists, is the Word.

However, I should add that Salafists are maligned a little TOO strongly. They are, as I understand it (not totally certain), more liberal about divorce and remarriage than other sects. Since they are very invested in what they perceive to be correct form, it's quite likely that they are also willing to consider that a more "liberal" reading is the correct one, as opposed to being stuck to a particular sectarian line of thought.

Also I am not totally unsympathetic to the the anti-idolatrous spirit as such. Excessive veneration of historical figures has brought about pretty nasty and destructive divisions within the ummah, such as the Shia/Sunni split, which is by far the largest case in point.


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Nikita
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posted 15 July 2005 10:37 PM      Profile for Nikita     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
What's hajj? I am curious.
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Mandos
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posted 15 July 2005 10:38 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Also I should add that most Muslims will not recognize the term Salafist as the name for them in most OTHER sects is...Wahhabi. But this is, I think, a term of disparagement and not preferred by the Salafists.
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Mandos
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posted 15 July 2005 10:43 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
hajj is the annual pilgrimage made to Mecca for a very elaborate series of rituals. All Muslims who can afford it are encouraged to do it at least once (and, IMO in modern times, they should not do more than once). The overall structure of much of it symbolizes the story of Hagar, actually. Millions of people go every year, and it is a logistic nightmare. A modern problem.

Umrah is a mini-hajj that can be performed at any time and frequently is by politicians in trouble.

[ 15 July 2005: Message edited by: Mandos ]


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Mandos
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posted 15 July 2005 10:45 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Also, as a bit of cognitive dissonance, though it is the central ritual in Islam, it is the only one where the Authorities do not enforce a segregation of the sexes.
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Nikita
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posted 15 July 2005 10:45 PM      Profile for Nikita     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Wow. Thanks Mandos
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Michelle
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posted 15 July 2005 10:47 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Have you done it, Mandos?
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Mandos
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posted 15 July 2005 10:52 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
No, it's a little bit beyond my means at the moment, but I think I will do it while I am still young. A lot of my middle-aged aunts and uncles are doing it now, as well as some married cousins.

But seriously, not every Muslim would be able to do it even if every Muslim would be able to afford it. 1.2 billion Muslims and counting, and it is already way past the bursting point with the Saudis offerring a maximum of 4 million licenses. Do the math.


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Mandos
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posted 15 July 2005 10:54 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
You might notice that one of the ads was for "Zamzam" mixed with Canadian Spring Water. Zamzam is the natural spring in the desert that appeared for Hagar, and part of the ritual of the hajj is to drink from this spring. Sometimes relatives who have made the trip get bottled zamzam water and distribute it to the rest of the family.

[ 15 July 2005: Message edited by: Mandos ]


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Cueball
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posted 15 July 2005 11:26 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Mandos:

Also I am not totally unsympathetic to the the anti-idolatrous spirit as such. Excessive veneration of historical figures has brought about pretty nasty and destructive divisions within the ummah, such as the Shia/Sunni split, which is by far the largest case in point.


I'' be the Devils advocate here and ask... what is this, then:

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/gulf/images/mecca-26.jpg


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Mandos
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posted 15 July 2005 11:58 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
That's the Ka'aba. It is supposed to be a symbolic focal point of the presence of God.
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