Why Islamists (Occasionally) Desecrate Islamic Holy Sites – Background to the Terrorist Attack on Prophet Muhammad’s Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia

[This is an expanded version of the article originally published under the title “The Historical Roots of Islamist Terrorism” in The Toronto Sun]

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“The moral of the story is that no matter how often Muslims refuse to acknowledge our history, it will not hide the mess we have created that we now refuse to cleanse. Let us own up to it and stop blaming others for it.”

July 6, 2016

Tarek Fatah
The Toronto Sun

Monday’s suicide bombing outside the tomb of Prophet Muhammad in Medina, Saudi Arabia, sent shock waves throughout the Islamic world.

The fact a Muslim carried out this act of terror during the holy month of Ramadan has left many followers of the Islamic faith in disbelief.

Too many Muslims have fallen for the common refrain, trumpeted by Islamists, that no Muslim could carry out such an act and hence neither Islam nor Muslims can be held accountable for it in any way.

These arguments have been used every time Islamist terrorists engage in mass killings, from 9/11 in New York to the massacre in Dhaka, Bangladesh, last week.

But the facts tell us a different story regarding the turbulent history of Islam and the roles played by Muslims within it.

Academics and scholars are reluctant to discuss these historical facts for fear of being accused of bigotry and racism.

Thus ordinary Muslims, to say nothing of non-Muslims, do not commonly know them.

The result is a Muslim community unaware of its own often bloody history, going back centuries, when both our holy cities — Mecca and Medina — were attacked, ransacked and destroyed, not by the “kufaar” (non-Muslims), but by Muslim leaders.

They fought for power, using Islam as a tool to enhance or entrench their political hold on the states they created.

Fanatical, politically motivated and radicalized Muslims have never hesitated to desecrate Islam’s holy sites.

Kaaba & Black StoneAs early as October, 683 AD, the Umayyad caliph of Damascus invaded Mecca, then under the control of a rival caliph, and bombarded the ancient shrine of Black Kaaba, the holiest site in Islam.

The Kaaba, where Muhammad preached, was destroyed in the fighting. A new one was constructed, but the worst was yet to come.

As schisms increased within the Muslim world based on who was the rightful heir to Islam, in 899 AD a new sect of Islam emerged known as the Qarmatians. It embraced elements of Ismaili Shia Islam with Persian mysticism and was based in what is today Bahrain and Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province.

Black stoneDuring the Hajj season of 930 AD, the Qarmatians invaded Mecca, destroyed the Kaaba and stole the pre-historic “Hajarul Aswad,” the Black Stone that was embedded in the eastern corner of the Kaaba itself.

They further desecrated the Zamzam Well by stuffing it with corpses of the defenders. It wasn’t until 22 years later that the Black Stone was brought back and placed back into the Kaaba’s eastern corner.

Skipping over the centuries, we have the 1805 invasion of the Prophet’s city, Medina, by the first Saudi state.

Imbibed with a fierce zealotry, the Wahhabi warriors of Muhammad Ibn Saud overran Medina and started to destroy Islamic shrines. They even tried to destroy the magnificent dome structure over the tomb of Prophet Muhammad, removed all precious objects from his gravesite and looted the treasury of the mosque itself.

After occupying Medina these Muslims, who came from the neighbouring region of Nejd, systematically leveled the “Jannat al-Baqi” cemetery, the vast burial site adjacent to the Prophet’s mosque that housed the remains of many of the members of Muhammad’s family, close companions and central figures of early Islam, including his beloved daughter, Fatima.

These acts of sacrilege were re-enacted by a new generation of Wahabbi zealots led by Abdel-Aziz Ibn Saud during the second Saudi state, a century later.

On April 21, 1925 the rebuilt tombs and domes in Medina were once again bulldozed.

Had it not been for intervention and diplomacy by then Prince Faisal (later King), who was in command of the regular Saudi army, the Wahabbis would have destroyed Prophet Muhammad’s tomb as well.

As recently as November, 1979, radicalized Muslims from around the world, including the U.S., Pakistan and Egypt, led by Saudi fanatic Juhayman al-Otaybi, took over the Holy Kaaba and killed many people during a two-week siege.

The moral of the story is that no matter how often Muslims refuse to acknowledge our history, it will not hide the mess we have created that we now refuse to cleanse.

Let us own up to it and stop blaming others for it.

9 comments for “Why Islamists (Occasionally) Desecrate Islamic Holy Sites – Background to the Terrorist Attack on Prophet Muhammad’s Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia

  1. El Cid
    July 6, 2016 at 1:56 PM

    Tarek said: “Too many Muslims have fallen for the common refrain, trumpeted by Islamists, that no Muslim could carry out such an act and hence neither Islam nor Muslims can be held accountable for it in any way.”

    Thank you for that perspective. It explains the apparent collusion to ensure total denial of reality that is the subject of the current Senate hearings under Ted Cruz. It is simple. If it is an atrocity, then by Islamic definition, Muslims could not have done it. For Muslims, that makes the “evil” Jews very convenient to have around to blame. And for Non-Muslims, it makes ‘moderate’ Muslims appears to be collaborators with terrorists.

    We better start talking to each other about the facts!

  2. pawan mittal
    July 11, 2016 at 1:16 PM

    What the peace loving muslim should do ln these circum stances

  3. ashish
    July 14, 2016 at 2:31 AM

    sir i like your views. but you never written on jnu issues from both sides. i would like to listen to your views on kanhaiya’s speeches. majority bashing is in fashion in india

  4. July 15, 2016 at 2:16 PM

    What I concluded is Islam is born from terror. Even Muhammad looted and raided the caravans going through Syria to Mecca and vice versa.

  5. July 23, 2016 at 10:00 PM

    hi Tarekh sir Rohit sharma here, I am writing a book called “Body Needs sex and survival”. the tag line is

    “”In life body needs sex and survival, we reproduce children and one day we die with a clinical death,mind is a myth, a mystery an illusion, mind is not Intelligent, It reacts in a particular situation moment to moment towards life, things, people, nature. If you abuse me I will also abuse you and if you love me I will also love you and one day we both will die with a clinical death,””

    “All Gods were made by men”

    In my opinion you want to change Ideology, their is only one way to change it and that is education. else their is no way out.

    Thanks and keep smile and eat less sugar bad for diabetes.

    • Patrick Keaney
      July 29, 2016 at 5:00 AM

      idiot

      • Pratyush
        August 20, 2016 at 7:59 PM

        The guy actually came to promote his new book… Real idiot

  6. S.J.Moitra
    September 19, 2016 at 3:18 AM

    Dear sir,
    I believe that Muslims all over the world should stop blaming others for each and everything. They should be educated about their own history and they should learn to respect all other religion.
    thank you.

  7. Shakeel Khan
    January 20, 2017 at 2:49 PM

    What you right depicts on your face….
    Shame on you….
    Lanat Allah e Alal Kazibeen

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