Destruction of Religious Heritage: How and Why?

SHAFAQNA- Ziauddin Sardar*

Dr Irfan Al -Alawi**

The ongoing systematic obliteration of the Islamic heritage sites including those linked to Prophet Mohammad, his household and followers, amount to nothing less than heritage terrorism. Historic monuments such as Mausoleums, mosques, birth places of prominent Islamic figures, shrines and ancient artefcats have been systematically destroyed in Islam’s birthplace in Arabia, Bahrain, Syria, Iraq, Mali and Libya. The main justification for this destruction is to eradicate apostasy (shirk) according to narrow religious interpretations of this concept. Most Muslims love to preserve this heritage which belongs to mankind, to show it to their children and deepen their religious convictions. What can be done to achieve this?

Date: Tuesday, 10th March 2015

*Ziauddin Sardar is Chair of the Muslim Institute, a learned, fellowship society that promotes knowledge and debate, and editor of Critical Muslim, an innovative quarterly on contemporary Muslim ideas andthought. He is also the Director of the Centre of Postnormal Policy and Futures Studies, East West Chicago, and the editor of its journal East West Affairs.

He has been described as a ‘critical polymath’ and works across a number of disciplines ranging from Islamic studies and futures studies to science policy, literary criticism, information science to culturalrelations, art criticism and critical theory. He was born in Pakistan in 1951 and grew up in Hackney, East London.

Ziauddin Sardar has worked as science journalist for Nature and New Scientist and as a television reporter for London WeekendTelevision. He was a columnist on the New Statesman for a number of years and has served as a Commissioner for the Equality andHuman Rights Commission and as a member of the Interim National Security Forum.Ziauddin Sardar has published over 45 books.The Future of Muslim Civilisation (1979) andIslamic Futures: The Shape of Ideas to Come (1985) are regarded as classic studies on the future of Islam. He pioneered the discussion on science in Muslim societies, with a series of articles in Nature and New Scientist and a number of books, including Science,Technology and Development in the Muslim World (1977), The Touch of Midas: Science,Values and the Environment in Islam and theWest (1982), which is seen as a seminalwork, The Revenge of Athena: Science, Exploitation and the Third World (1988)acquired a cultish following and Why Do People Hate America? (2002) became aninternational bestseller.

*Irfan Al Alawi **Irfan Al Alawi Studied at Al-Azhar University-C. Phil, Islamic History is Executive Director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, International Director of the Centre for Islamic Pluralism and PhD lecturer in Islamic theology and Tasawwuf. He has written extensively on the destruction of the Islamic heritage with particular emphases on the holy sites in Hijaz, Saudi Arabia. He is considered an authority on the subject, having spent many years in Mecca and Medina, studying them and documenting their destruction by the Saudi authorities. He contributed articles to international newspapers. Dr Alawi has spent much of the past 25 years trying to highlight the destruction of early Islamic sites. He also participated in producing several documentaries on the ongoing destruction of holy sites in the Muslim world, especially after the rise of ISIS and its policy of systematic destruction of mosques, graves, Mausoleums and shrines. He is currently a Professor at the University of London and Netherlands. He is member of many leading professional Islamic governing bodies across the Globe: The International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization

Visiting fellow at The Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars (Washington).A regular visitor at the United Nations GenevaAs well as being a writer for many of the leading British Newspapers including The Independent, The Guardian, The Times, The Weekly Standard Washington, The Gatestone Institute New York, He regularly does talks on BBC Radio 4, The Voice of Cape radio, The Cinnetwork Johannesburg Radio, Al Jazeera Arabic/English TV, CNN TV, BBC World Service TV he also writes for and many Islamic journals across the world. He has translated many works in Arabic, English, Swahili and Urdu.Dr. Irfan studied and other relevant disciplines at the traditional schools and learning circles at the hands of many leading sheikhs across the Arab world, particularly the senior Sheikhs of Mecca/Medina and Hadhramaut .He is forthcoming author of the Encyclopaedia of Mecca and Medina. Executive Director Islamic Heritage Research Foundation

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