SHAFAQNA – It was Albert Einstein who said: “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” Such a statement absolutely encapsulates the tragedy which has hit al-Baqee cemetery. There lies too the solution to the injustice a people has suffered by the hands of radicals.
The last resting place of some of Islam most brilliant personalities – together a historical treasure and a religious anchor, al-Baqee cemetery was desecrated, its monuments torn down and its memory sullied, in the name of a dogma which has risen itself tyrannical over all faiths: Wahhabism.
While al-Baqee cemetery sits central stage to Islam, its cultural value is universal – the story it recalls, the testimony it echoes, the faith its stones embodied, and celebrated belong to all since al Baqee is part of our collective History.
We have lost too much of our world heritage already for our silence to still offer cover to the abominable hunger of radicalism. We have stood helpless as the Taliban exploded Afghanistan Buddha, we have watched in horror as Palmyra Temple was laid waste to … how much more of our History are we willing to give up before our recollection of past events becomes but a vague concept?
The World Heritage cannot be measured in political or financial terms. Our past is inherently valuable for it stands a keeper of our global consciousness.
Radicalism it needs to be said stands an enemy to all faiths, cultures and manners of thinking. Radicalism knows no border … radicalism only knows destruction and violence. Radicalism did not stop at al-Baqee cemetery, its wrath has not limited itself to the obliteration of Islam’s monuments and tradition.
Its legions have long vowed to forever disappear all which does not testify to its absolutism. Will you stand with us to stop such a tide? Will you add your voice to the very movement which ambitions to reclaim cultural pluralism as a fundamental human right?
Since Wahhabism first rose its head in the desert of Nejd (desert inn Saudi Arabia) in the 18th century, Islam, Christianity, Judaism and all other religious denominations have suffered a veritable cultural genocide.
Over 7000 Islamic sites have been destroyed to assuage Wahhabis’ own sense of self-righteous bigotry – still the world has sat in silence. Firmly anchored in intolerance for they think their ideology holy, and pure, Wahhabi clerics have rationalized religious oppression and brutality, turning it into a well-honed system.
Amid the many crimes which were committed over the years al-Baqee cemetery has towered over all as it speaks of a hate so entrenched in itself it could never be defined other than in ideological absolutism.
As it lies in ruins, al Baqee came to represent Resistance – the call of a people against the injustice of radicalism, the need for a people to reclaim its History so that cultural and religious identity would not be lost.
Before Wahhabism, the world stands to see its memory erased. It is this violence, this insane pursuit for religious absolutism which the Baqee Organization ambitions to denounce, and oppose so that justice could be reclaimed.
In the face of tyranny, we are all minorities. It is how we face injustice which truly defines our character.
With this petition we are calling on the United Nations to fulfil its mandate and act a guardian to the World Heritage.
We, hereby demand that al-Baqee cemetery be restored to its former glory, and access to its ground restored.
No more will we stand as pilgrims are being brutalized for they aspire to pay homage to one of Islam’s holiest sites.
No more will we be made silent as Islam is being redacted by a radical few.
No more will we tolerate for Islam’s principles of Truth, Justice and Tolerance to be sullied by the violence of a minority few.
No more will our silence offer cover to the abomination which claims itself Islamic when its legions have desecrated all which Islam holds holy.
We call on all people, whatever their faith, and whatever their belief to recognise Islam’s right to be, just as Islam recognizes others’ right to be.
Our collective History is being plundered so that another reality could be risen upon the ashes of our consciousness.
It needs not be so.
1.Immediately halt the destruction and desecration of shrines, graves, cemeteries, relics and in good faith begin the process of rebuilding these sacred sites to their original beauty.
2.Stop sponsoring, supporting, aiding terrorism and terrorist organizations. Prevent any funding reaching to such organizations through Saudi-based channels.
3.Stop Human Rights Violations by stopping harassment of pilgrims at Jannat-al-Baqee, allowing pilgrims to pay homage to The Prophet (PBUH) his family and companions in peace
4.Permit women to enter the Jannat-al-Baqee and Jannat-al-Moalla, (currently women are debarred from entering the cemeteries).
5.Allow Muslims to pay their respects, celebrate birthdays and commemorate martyrdoms of notable personalities buried in Saudi Arabia.
According to the UK-based Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, over 98 percent of Saudi Arabia’s historical and religious sites have been destroyed since 1985.
The Saudi rulers have a long history of destroying heritage sites, but experts say the scope has increased dramatically of late. Key mosques and historical sites from the time of Muhammad and the Ottoman-era have been demolished relentlessly.
The expansion of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, begun in 2011 with a staggering $21 billion budget, has created the biggest controversy. To implement the project, the arched porticos erected three centuries ago by the Ottomans and the eighth-century columns that encircle the Kaaba—the sacred black cube located in the centre of Mecca—have been completely flattened.
Saudi officials argue that the expansion is necessary to accommodate the increasing number of pilgrims to the city, currently in the realm of 17 million individuals each year. But activists say that this project and all other recent demolitions are part of a government campaign to erase historical and religious sites across Saudi Arabia, in keeping with the Wahhabi doctrine.
Wahhabism, the prevailing Saudi strain of Islam, disapproves of visits to religio-historical sites in order to prevent Islam’s gravest sin: worshiping anyone other than God (also known as “idolatry”).
There have even been rumours of a project to destroy the tomb of the prophet Muhammad and move his remains to an anonymous grave. “It’s as if they wanted to wipe out history,” Ali al-Ahmed, director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs in Washington DC, said in an interview.
Many have questioned why, in light of such dramatic events, international response has been so subdued. But, in the case of Mecca, for example, the Saudi government never submitted the city for inclusion on the list of World Heritage Sites, so technically speaking, UNESCO can’t intervene.
The Baqee Organization nevertheless believes that it is the United Nations’ duty to step in, if anything on humanitarian and moral grounds.