A History of Wahabi Desecrations in the Holy Land of al-Hijaz
[excerpts from Notebooks from Makkah & Madinah: A modern journey to Islam’s two Holy Cities
an unpublished work by Shafiq Morton]
Jannat ul-Ma'la is as bleak and unprepossessing as a Saudi graveyard can be. Its whitewashed mausoleums were reduced to rubble in 1925. I have a blurry photograph of Jannat ul-Ma'la snapped before the Salafi-Wahhabi rampage. A beautifully inscribed dome used to mark Khadijah's grave. Her contribution to Islam, however, is difficult to ignore.
Khadijah's house was situated in Sagah Street, which is where the jewelry shops can be found today. The Prophet's noble children, Umm Kulthum, Ruqqayah, Fatimah, Zainab, Qasim and 'Abdullah , were all born there. Scandalously, the Wahhabis demolished this genteel house and built, of all things, a public toilet on the site.
Cannons were fired [by the Wahabi soldiers] at the Ka'bah and its covering cloth, the kiswa, caught alight. Jannat ul-Ma'la, the cemetery housing Khadijah and the Prophet's family, was flattened and the house where he was born was demolished.
Just some of the many burial sites and historical places destroyed were the grave of Hawwa or Eve in Jeddah, the grave of the Prophet's father in Madinah, the house of the scholar Ja'far as-Sadiq , the house where Imam Hasan and Imam Hussain were raised, the house where the Prophet was born and the house of Hamzah .
last year the authorities demolished the historic Ottoman fort in Makkah.
What you should do:
Please download the petition forms available at the following link in order to raise your voice in protest. You may use email or fax to send your protest to the Saudi Embassy in the US, addressed either to Prince Bandar or Adel al-Jubeir.
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The Wahhabi armies vandalised it in 1804 and in 1925 ibn Sa'ud's Ikhwan completely laid waste to the ornately decorated tombs, only being prevented at the last minute by the citizens of Madinah from destroying the Dome of the Holy Prophet's burial chamber.
The well-known Andalusian traveller, ibn Jubair, arrived in Madinah in 1183 and reports in his Rihla that Jannat ul-Baqi’ was situated to the east of Madinah. He mentions that there were white domes over the auspicious graves. He adds that Hasan, the son of ‘Ali had a raised tomb, its walls “panelled with yellow plates and studded with beautiful star-shaped nails”.
He mentions that behind the grave of ‘Abbas ibn Muttalib was a house attributed to Fatimah [ra], daughter of the Prophet [SAW]. Called Bait ul-Ahdhan it was where she used to go to grieve the death of her father. Ibn Battuta, who arrived in the radiant city 150 years after ibn Jubair, gave the same description of al-Baqi’.
I was told that the Salafi-Wahhabis had been so intent in erasing Aminah [Mother of the Prophet ra] from the landscape when they invaded Madinah they had poured gasoline on her grave.
The well-known Makkan scholar, Shaikh Sayyid Muhammad al-Maliki who, in spite of his busy schedule had graciously granted me an appointment, gave me the underlying reason for this vitriol. On the wall of his Zawiyyah I had seen the picture of a humble grave marked by a pile of stones.
‘Ali Hafiz, in his Chapters from the History of Madinah, the well of 'Uthman is covered with big black stones and has been leased to the Saudi Ministry of Agriculture and Water.
probably the most famous well in Madinah: al-Ghars. now...a neglected ruin cum rubbish dump. Located about a kilometre east of Quba, al-Ghars is a well from which the Prophet drank and made ablution.
According to Hadith, the Prophet also spat in the well and poured in some honey. Having done this, he told his Companions that al-Ghars was a fountain of Paradise. Ibn Majah quotes 'Ali as saying that the Prophet [SAW] then ordered his Companions to ceremoniously wash him with seven waterskins from this well after his death.
Another important well in Madinah is as-Suqya, from which the Prophet used to drink. It was buried when al-Anbariyyah Street was constructed and, according to 'Ali Hafiz, located to the southeast of the railway station 100 metres from al-Anbariyyah square.
The now deserted and unused well of Yasira was utilised by the Prophet for drinking and ablution. According to Hadith, he enquired about its name and was told it was called 'Asira (difficult, or hard). He replied that its name was not 'Asira but Yasira (easy or soft) and, having spat in it, prayed for its blessing.
The well of Budha'a inspired the Prophet to give a ruling on the purity of water if foreign matter was introduced into it. This occurred after the Companion Sahl ibn Sa'd took the water in his hands to the Prophet to drink. I was told that Bir Budha'a had been lovingly preserved by a family that lives near to it.
Another watering point with Prophetic significance is Busah, which belonged to Abu Sa’id al-Khudri. At this well the Prophet washed his head and, having done so, poured the water with a few hairs back into it. Today this well (which is on the road to the villages of Quba and Qirban) apparently has water in it, but is in need of redigging and renovation.
Bir Ha, a well from which the Prophet used to drink, can no longer be found. Shaikh Yusuf Rifa’i in his famous treatise, Advice to our Brothers the Scholars of Najd, writes that the Salafi-Wahhabis buried it forever when they extended the Madinah haram [sanctuary]. This well had watered the famous garden of Abu Talha who had given it to the Prophet after hearing a Qur’anic verse concerning personal sacrifice1.
...outside the great Persian Companion Salman al Farsi's garden, my heart sank. A well next to the road was in a terrible condition and looked like it had caved-in through a neglect that indicated more than just oversight.
...the authorities had not approved of pilgrims taking ceremonial ablution, or wudu, from this well and performing salah at the site of Salman al Farsi's garden, a grove of palm trees planted by the Prophet himself. The now barren area was fenced off and his 1,400-year-old dwelling stood in ruins.
This was insanity! But worse was to follow: all evidence of these 300 date palms originally planted by the Prophet on the site had disappeared. In the middle of what was once a sacred piece of Madinah was a modern school.
I was horrified. The noble Prophet had expressly forbidden the wanton destruction of fruit trees in the two Holy Sanctuaries. Furthermore, next to water, the date palm was the most important symbol of life in the desert. Fresh dates had been the food of Maryam, the mother of Jesus, and Imam Bukhari had once stated that Madinah’s famous ‘ajwat2 dates were a great cure for sickness.
I recalled a passage from Ahmad Thompson's The Way Back3, a diarised account of his Hajj in 1977, when he was given three dates from the last two surviving palms planted by the Prophet :
We were joined by a tall smiling man from the Sudan who was one of the fuqara of Shaikh ul-Bukhari. He greeted us warmly and then produced three small wrinkled dates from one of the pockets of his voluminous white robe and handed them to me with a quiet,“Bismillah!”
These are some of the last dates to be harvested from the last two surviving date palms planted by the Prophet ," explained 'Abd ul-Jalil. "They were recently cut down by the Wahhabis because, they said, some people were idolising them.
...the Prophet planted all but one of the 300 palms with his own hands [as a ransom for his enslaved Companion Salman al-Farsi]. Some of the trees he inserted into the earth seemed dead, but soon sprouted after he had pressed the soil around their roots.
there had been a mosque ... commemorating the place where the great collector of Prophetic traditions, Imam Bukhari , had once stayed. Unfortunately, it had been demolished thirty years [ago].
A place where the Prophet rested on the way to Uhud is marked by masjid ul-Mustarah. Mustafa told us that a rock the Prophet actually sat on had been removed in an attempt to dissuade pilgrims from visiting it. Traditions say that the Prophet used to frequent the mosque on Thursdays.
At this stage we were not surprised to see that visits to this site were aggressively discouraged. A chain and a padlock on its green gate ensured that no pilgrims entered to pay their respects. Through the bars of the gate I could see that the small mosque on the site was now a pile of rubble.
[recently] the tomb of Sayyid ‘Ali al-Uraidhi ibn Ja’fr as-Sadiq was flattened in Madinah. A well-known scholar and Saint ninth in line from the Prophet , al-Uraidhi was one of the forefathers of the Ba ‘Alawi Sayyids of Hadraumat.
1 Surat ul–Baqarah (Chapter of the Heiffer), verse 92: “You shall not attain to goodness until you spend of that which you love best1”.
2 Related by Bukhari through A’isha [ra]. It has also been related through ‘Amir ibn Sa’d in Bukhari that if a person eats seven ‘ajwah dates in the morning no harm through black magic or poison will befall them.