World Bulletin / News Desk
A controversial proposal to destroy the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad and relocate his grave from the al-Masjid al-Nabawi mosque in Medina, Islam’s second-holiest site, has emerged in Saudi Arabia.
The proposal made by a leading Saudi academic, which is part of a consultation document that has been circulated among the supervisors of the mosque, looks likely to stir division and unrest among Muslims all over the world.
Another Saudi academic who is known for his criticisms of the destruction of holy places and artefacts by the Saudi authorities brought the 61-page document to light to The Independent newspaper. The plans would see the remains of the Prophet Muhammad transferred to the nearby al-Baqi cemetery where they would be buried without markings among the unmarked graves of his companions.
Although there are currently no indications that the Saudi authorities plan to go through with the proposal, their past destruction of the graves of the Prophet's companions at the al-Baqi cemetery have led many to fear the same eventual fate for the tomb of the Prophet.
The Saudi government however has on numerous times insisted that it treats any changes to Islamic sites with “the utmost seriousness,” including those to the al-Masjid al-Nabawi mosque, which is under the custodianship of the Saudi king.
The grave of the Prophet Muhammad was originally outside the premises of the mosque, but due to an increase in the number of worshippers attending the mosque, the mosque was gradually expanded to the point that the grave became incorporated inside the building.
On one hand, some Muslims argue that the Prophet Muhammad forbid the building of tombs and warned Muslims against placing graves inside places of worship as a precaution against polytheism and innovation.
On the other hand, some Muslims argue that because the grave was not originally part of the mosque structure it does not fall into the same ruling. They also argue that the Prophet had instructed his followers to bury him on the spot he died.
Others argue that Saudi attempts to destroy religious monuments in the country are in fact a bid to rid the region of its Ottoman remnants, as they have done in the past. Notably, the plans also include the destruction of the iconic green dome and decorations around the tomb that were set up during the Ottoman era.
According to The Independent, the Washington-based Gulf Institute declared that up to 95 per cent of millennium-old buildings Mecca, Islam's holiest city, had been destroyed only to be replaced with luxury hotels, apartments and shopping malls. However, some of these changes have been considered necessary to cope with the increasing number of Muslims attending the Hajj pilgrimage.Last Mod: 02 Eylül 2014, 15:23