SHAFAQNA – If we do not learn from History, if we do not draw wisdom from our traditions to build a better future we are not only bound to repeat past errances, but we are betraying that which we should be – The Baqee Organization, Washington DC, July 3rd 2017
To the risk of breaking western socio-political taboos – not to speak of our good old propensity to deflect guilt, I will venture and say that our greatest failure before Terror has been to allow its markers to define us, and claim our right to be different, to be many, and yet together. For all the claims the so-called West posited against the Islamic World on account it deemed its faith dangerous and prone to be perverted, isn’t it true that whatever space Terror claimed against us, we actually forfeited by our apathy?
This Terror you see today is old … not only is it old but it forever speaks of that exclusion fascism needs to assert itself a powerhouse over communities. And though this particular Terror maybe the deadliest, and most despicable in its manifestation to date, its architecture, its terminology, and the manner in which it has moved against those who still dare be independent echos too much of History for us to ignore.
Ironically enough it is in History our salvation may lie if only we cared to look.
Terrorism is not limited to those acts of terror mainstream media has so eloquently portrayed as being quintessential to the Islamic faith, forgetting in a hurry that Islam is a multitude of flavours and colours, and that the very school of thought Terror claimed to its name actually exists on the fringe of the fringe – often in negation to the tenets it said to speak.
Terrorism is not limited to bloodshed and murder, war crimes, and military occupation. Terrorism exists today in the actions of those parties, those so-called clerics and ideologues whose crusade has seen our religious heritage disappeared.
While we argue politics, ethnicity and one’s righteous claim to a particular flag, Terror has bulldozed its way through humanity’s treasure so that our collective memory would be erased.
And while you may well raise your eyebrows in disdain, imagining yourself immune from such degenerative cultural amnesia, consider the following: every tyrant, every empire, and every exclusionist ideology has imposed itself the norm by redacted which that came before – either by assimilation or obliteration. Wahhabism choose the latter …
For centuries the House of Saud has carried a vicious campaign against the World Religious Heritage and for the most part the world has looked on in a daze, oblivious to the ravages done to our cultural and religious capital on account of geography.
What is it about the Middle East that permits for crimes to be somewhat less repugnant than when committed on western soil?
In 2015 Edek Osser wrote on the matter: “Historic mosques, tombs, mausoleums, monuments and houses: more than 90% of the old quarters of the holiest cities of Islam has been razed to make room for a new urban landscape of hotels, shopping centres and apartment blocks.”
And: “This obliteration has been happening for decades but the public outcries have been few and far between, limited to rare reports in the UK and US press. Up-to-date photographs are impossible to find since they are carefully censored … Quietly, an official programme for the dissolution of the country’s own cultural heritage has been authorised and planned by the state authorities.”
But such destruction is only the tip of the iceberg, Saudi Arabia’s little house of horrors lie beneath the surface, tucked away under layers of self-righteous barbarism dressed in self-proclaimed sanctimonious religiosity. Al Saud you see has long fought a war to the death with the one house, who, for centuries and an eternity before that, has towered over Islam never to be refused by its followers: the progeny of the Prophet Muhammad – AhlulBayt.
Beyond the clamours of war, outside the violent rhetoric demented Wahhabi/Salafi/Deobandi clerics have kept to denounce Shia Islam, the goal has been to deny AhlulBayt’s legitimacy to bring about that of the House of Saud.
It is THAT very ambition which, for several centuries has motivated Saudi Arabia and its mercenary-armies to burn History pages.
If in doubt, I would suggest you look to al-Baqee cemetery in the holy city of medina … where shrines should have been raised and prayers forever recited only silence and rubbles.
The last resting place of so many of Islam’s heroes, personalities and revered figures, al-Baqee has suffered the most abject of oppression. Those names the Prophet commanded we held in the greatest esteemed as an expression of faith al-Saud ordered not to be pronounced … instead the princes of its house must be hailed and their power adored.
But not all voices have been shut down. Many now have rallied against such injustice to demand that History be set free from the shackles of Terror, and all of our treasures restored.
“Our duty is not only to the reconstruction of the Baqee Cemetery, in that its ground is holiest of all to Islam, but the preservation as a whole of all our religious historical heritage. The right to religious freedom does not stop at the practice of one’s faith, but all that made a faith: its history, its culture, its traditions, its monuments, its art. Losing our past to sledgehammers and exclusionism would be tragedy too far! We will not stand for it.” – THE BAQEE ORGANIZATION
By Catherine Shakdam – Director Shafaqna Institute of Middle Eastern Studies