Oct 30, 2012
In its 26th October edition, The Independent revealed that the project means to expand the mosque toward the west where the tombs of Islam’s Prophet Mohamamd and his two successors, caliphs Abu Bakr and Umar, are located. The paper reported that this kind of thoughtless expansion has already started causing concern among some Muslim academics and only a few of them are ready to speak against the kingdom’s authoritarian government. Dr Irfan al-Alawi was quoted saying that the Saudi authorities “want to knock it all down.” As told in the paper’s story, the Saudi officials have not responded to calls for comment on the issue.
Pakistan’s widely read English daily The Express Tribune reported on Monday that the expansion may even include razing the graves of Prophet Mohamamd, his two caliphs, and the area called Riyad-al-Jannah, which the papers says was declared one of the “gardens of Paradise”.
The interesting question that comes out of this expansion project is whether razing holy sites is not something offensive to the clerics who create uproar against Christians and even some poor Muslims in countries like Pakistan under accusations of blasphemy. So far, Pakistani media and clerics are all quiet about the issue. Maybe they don’t know, which is strange for somebody who keep tabs even on children of religious minorities, not to be aware of such a huge project affecting the most sacred sites of Muslim faith. But maybe it is another important point that is keeping them silent: if the rich Saudis do it for business interest, it’s okay; but if a poor child does it, he/she is declared punishable by death. Does not it call for some serious skepticism?