Demolition of Al-Baqi Shrines

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.

Al-Baqi Cemetry

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.

Rebuilding Attempts

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.

Planning a Summer Getaway? Why Washington, D.C. Should be on your Family’s Must-See List

By Maryam A.

Summer is a great time to get away and enjoy the nice weather while seeing different parts of the United States. There are so many amazing places to explore that are filled with history, beauty, and excitement. One place that captures all of this and more is Washington, D.C.  The heart of our country, this city is home to a multitude of historic sites and helps to tell the story of our nation. There are plenty of family-friendly activities to keep everyone interested and engaged. Here are just a few reasons why Washington, D.C. should earn a place on your must-see list:

It is a Government Hotspot

Washington, D.C. is where the White House, Capitol, Pentagon, and Library of Congress are located. You can tour many of these facilities and learn more about how our country is run. See where the President and his family live and where all of the decisions that govern the United States take place. Give your children an up-close look at where history is made and help them to gain a better understanding of government.

There are Museums Galore

The city is rich with museums that cover many facets of history, science, art, and more. Some highlights include the National Air and Space Museum, the Natural History Museum, the American History Museum, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Building Museum, and the National Museum of the American Indian. There is something to appeal to everyone and many hands-on and interactive exhibits to keep your children interested and make learning fun. You can also check out the International Spy Museum which explores how spying and espionage have shaped history and the world as we know it.

Memorials are Scattered Throughout

Washington, D.C. pays honor to many who have served our country. The Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, and Thomas Jefferson Memorial are just a few that you can stop to see along your travels. Each one shares its story and tells how those honored contributed to our nation.

A major landmark is the Arlington National Cemetery. Here there are thousands of military members, veterans, and their families who have been laid to rest. You can stop to watch the changing of the guard in front the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The guard holds vigil 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. You can also see John F. Kennedy’s gravesite where the Eternal Flame burns.  The cemetery also has memorials and monuments paying tribute to a wide range of events and service members.

Take a Break to see the Animals

Not only is the nation’s oldest aquarium, the National Aquarium, located in Washington, D.C., the National Zoo is as well. The National Zoo is free to visit and has more than 2,000 animals from around the world to observe. Your children can see their favorite animals up close and also learn about a wide variety of ones they may not have known about before. At the aquarium they can check out all of the animals that call the water their home. There are even exhibits where they can touch some of the animals.

There are also plenty of places to enjoy the lush green grass, flowering cherry trees, and sparkling ponds. The city has many gardens and parks where you can take in the beauty of nature. Relax have a picnic or simply wander through the landscaped grounds.

There is so much to see and do in Washington, D.C. that it can be hard to fit it all in. Do a little research so that you can map out your day accordingly and fit in all of the activities that you want to do. Plan to spend a few days here to really appreciate all that the city has to offer and immerse yourself in the rich history that it presents.

Travel Review: What to See in New York City

and What to Skip in New York

By Amanda C
Edited by Ali Reza

New York City (NYC) is commonly referred to as “the city that never sleeps.” It is a melting pot of culture and activities. From business to entertainment, it encompasses it all. Years ago when people from around the world migrated to the United States, Ellis Island is where their journey into the country began.  The city continues to be a major tourist attraction where millions of people go every year, and for good reason. There is so much to experience there and it is unlike anywhere else.

But with the wealth of things to do, it is practically impossible to fit everything in. If you’re planning a trip to NYC, here are some must-sees, and a few things you could you skip.

Must-See Locations:

    • Times Square: This stretch of street is where a multitude of experiences collide. It is where the ball drops each year on New Year’s Eve and is surrounded by digital billboards advertising everything imaginable. There are billboards for the numerous on and off-Broadway shows going on as well as stands for purchasing tickets to these shows. Madame Tussauds’ wax museum is nearby, as are the flagship stores for many retailers such as Toys “R” Us. You will also find vendors selling souvenirs, jewelry, purses, and more.
    • Central Park: Nestled in amongst the tall buildings and bustling streets is the 843-acre Central Park. In a city where trees and grass can be sparse, it is a beautiful getaway. Walk through the park and take in the sculptures, bodies of water, Central Park Zoo, and Friedsam Memorial Carousel. In the winter there is even an ice skating rink.
    • Empire State Building: Travel up to the observation deck of the Empire State Building and enjoy the picturesque view of the city. From the 86th floor there is plenty to see and you can take in the diverse features and spectacular lights of the city. You can catch a glimpse of many famous attractions from here.
    • 9/11 Memorial: Following the events of September 11, 2001, the city of New York turned the area where the World Trade Center stood into a memorial that pays respect to the lives lost. It is free to visit and shares the history of how things unfolded. There is also a museum with artifacts, pictures, videos, and more.
  • Art Museums: NYC is home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), the Guggenheim Museum, and more. Depending on your taste, there are plenty of museums to explore and check out a little bit of history.
  • Rockefeller Center: This could go on either list. In the winter it is exciting to see the gigantic tree all lit up and try your hand at ice skating, but it can also be packed with other visitors. The shops surrounding Rockefeller Center are much like retailers you would find in other places.

 

What to Skip:

  • The Statue of Liberty: This is not to say avoid it all together, because it truly is a sight to be seen, but you can skip the dedicated tour unless you have a few hours to devote to it. Instead, hop on the Staten Island ferry which will take you close enough to take pictures and enjoy the magnificence of the statue, but also let you take in other sights as well. The Staten Island ferry is free and runs every half hour.
  • South Street Seaport: While there are some historical sites to be seen here, overall there are many other more attractive places to visit. It is a little off the beaten path, especially from the convenient subway, and mostly offers souvenirs that can be found elsewhere.
  • Sightseeing Tour Buses: These may seem like a good way to go but only offer a very minimal glimpse at some of the city’s attractions. Your better bet would be to take a walking tour or do a little bit of your own research on what to see.

There are plenty of other attractions scattered throughout the city as well. With tons of great places to eat, shop, and explore, it is a trip worth taking. Make sure you have several days here to really make the most of your visit and enjoy the diversity and history of the city.