Unforgettable crime & global silence
By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi
According to the Islamic-Lunar calendar, we are approaching the demolition anniversary of Al-Baqi shrines, in Al-Baqi cemetery of Medina, by the Saudi government and the Wahhabi movement in that country. Eight days after the end of Ramadan in the month of Shawwal or the 21st day of April in 1926, is when this hideous crime took place and shook the Islamic nation at the time. The Saudi State of the time led by King Ibn Saud, carried out this historic crime, which broke the hearts of all Muslims during that time until present day. Through the support of Wahhabi scholars, mainly Mohammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab (Influenced by Ibn Taymiya), Ibn Saud legitimize his action domestically and demolished the shrine and tombs of Baqi, and other historic places in Mecca. The rationale behind such action was, that shrines, tombs and similar places are considered idol worshipping sites and attract such prohibited ritual. Therefore, by calling rest of the Muslim nation as infidels and idol worshippers, the shrines and tombs of Ahlul Bayt (The holy Prophet’s household) were brought down to the ground and demolished.
This site is considered on the holy places to all Muslims, whether Sunni or Shia, as the people buried in this land are respected and glorified by all Muslims. The majority of personalities buried in Al-Baqi are among the holy household of Prophet Mohammad, and their shrines was being visited by Muslims from all over the Islamic nation. Visiting the shrine of such figures like household of the Prophet, his companions, wives and other early Islamic era figures, is a spiritual ritual that majority of Muslims do. The righteousness and piety of those people has been a known fact to all Muslims, through books of narrations and Hadeeth, and therefore, visiting the shrines and tombs of these people is a spiritual deed, which helps Muslims reconnect to their Lord. During visiting such places, Muslims recite supplications, Quran and ask for the intercession of these figures with God to forgive their bad deeds or fulfill a wish or a need. Nevertheless, such a ritual is considered infidelity and polytheism by the Wahhabi sect, as they consider any request aimed at anyone but God is illegitimate and prohibited. One of the main reasons the shrines of Al-Baqi were demolished is due to the hostile position of Wahhabism toward Shia Muslims and Shia Islam in general. The Wahhabi sect, which is officially adopted and supported by the Saudi government, considers Shia Muslims among the greatest of all evils and infidels, and slaughtering them is commendable and in some cases mandatory. Therefore, eliminating any semblance or front that supports their ideology would be a priority and a necessity. Nonetheless, the fact that gave the Saudi government and Wahhabism to demolish the shrines is the burial of several Shia Imams and other figures respected mainly by Shia Muslims. These Imams and individuals are:
- Imam Hassan Al-Mujtaba (Son of Imam Ali and Lady Fatima Al-Zahra, and grandson of Prophet Mohammad. Imam Al-Hassan is the second Imam of Shia Muslims)
- Imam Ali Ibn Al-Hussein (this imam is the son of Imam Al-Hussein, and the fourth Imam of Shia Muslims)
- Imam Mohammad Al-Baqir (son of Imam Ali Ibn Al-Hussein and fifth Imam of Shia Muslims)
- Imam Ja’afar Ibn Mohammad ( son of Imam Al-Baqir and sixth Imam of Shia Muslims)
- Lady Fatima Al-Kolabiya (wife of Imam Ali, and mother of Al-Abbas, who was Imam Hussein’s half-brother and his army commander during the battle of Karbala)
- Abdullah Ibn Ja’afar (he was the husband of Lady Zainab daughter of Imam Ali, and nephew of Imam Ali as well)
- Aqeel Ibn Abi Talib (he was the brother of Imam Ali(
- Othman Ibn Mathoon (one of the companions of the Holy Prophet and a close friend of Imam Ali, which later Imam Ali named of his sons after him)
- Mohammad Ibn Al-Hanafiya (he was one of Imam Ali’s sons, and half-brother of Imam Al-Hassan and Imam Al-Hussein)
- Fatima Bint Assad (she was the wife of Abu Talib and mother of Imam Ali)
- Al-Meqdad ibn Amro (he was a companion of Prophet Mohammad, and a very close companion and pupil of Imam Ali, who is glorified by Shia Muslims)
- Jabir Ibn Abdullah Al-Ansari (Jabir is one of the close companions of Prophet Mohammad, and lived a long life, and as narrated he saw the fifth Imam of Shia Islam, Imam Al-Baqir)
- In addition, tens of other companions and household of Prophet Mohammad and ahlul bayt are buried in the cemetery of Al-Baqi.
The attempts to rebuild these shrines has been very shameful and incompetent with the tragedy, as the support of the global community, political interests, regional conflicts and lack of unity among Shia Muslims has prevented the rebuilding of these sites. The closest attempt to rebuild the shrines of Al-Baqi is credited to the late Ayatollah Sayed Hassan Al-Shirazi. According to observers and close friends of this Shia scholar, he was able to convince the Saudi government about the importance of authorizing rebuilding of these sites, but his assassination by the Ba’ath Party of Iraq in Beirut, Lebanon ended the entire endeavor. Ayatollah Sayed Hassan Al-Shirazi was a leading Shia scholar, thinker, author and preacher of co-existence and tolerance in the Middle East, who had close relations with many politicians and regional leaders. Therefore, he used those credential and relations to persuade the Saudi government to authorize rebuilding operations.
Shia scholars and Ayatollahs yearly urge Muslims to put pressure on the Saudi government to rebuild those shrines and limit the influence of the Wahhabi scholars in Mecca and Medina. Therefore, this tragedy is commemorated by Shia Muslims around the world, through forums, lectures, rallies and mourning sessions, to revive the tragedy and remind Muslims about one of the most vicious crimes against humanity and religion in the modern era.