The view of Islam towards destroying shrines

On the first and second of July 2012, an Islamic movement, called Ansar Dine, that is an ally of Al-Qaeda organization, destroyed seven out of 16 shrines erected for Muslim guardians (the righteous believers who have a certain advanced level in piety and earned the satisfaction of Allah) in Timbuktu city, Mali. This movement is dominating the city situated in the north-west of Mali for more than the last three months. The movement is also destroying the other historical shrines in Timbuktu mosque, as they started to destroy two new shrines in the grand mosque in the city which has been newly designated as part of UNESCO World Heritage sites…

A member of the movement’s media committee had stated that they will destroy everything, even the shrines found inside the mosques, and that later, they will destroy all the other shrines found in Timbuktu city.

Previously, some Fatwas that deem permissible the act of destroying shrines, including those of the guardians and the righteous, were circulated based on a certain Ijtihadi interpretations of some Hadiths narrated on the account of the Prophet (p.).

In a statement by the late Religious Authority, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra), on the issue of destroying shrines, he pointed that the Ijtihadi opinion on the basis of which these Fatwas are founded is still controversial in the Islamic scholarly circles, both Sunnis and Shiites alike, and that it is not a general Islamic opinion so that the supporters of this opinion would impose it on those who do not agree with it…

His Eminence (ra) further points out to the issue of imposing an opinion and trying to apply it in reality regardless of the repercussions of this imposition at the scientific level, for science and Ijtihad accept the other opinion and there is no room in Ijtihad for the dictatorship of making one opinion prevail, for that induces the paralysis of the intellect and creativity at the level of Ijtihad itself… Moreover, there are several negative repercussions for actually forcing others into adopting an opinion, for it disturbs the entire Islamic reality and places it in a state of chaos and regression….

The shrines of prophets, guardians, scholars and religious figures are found in several Islamic countries, which means that imposing the Fatwa of destroying these shrines will affect the entire Islamic world, which might lead to big disturbances in the Islamic world that no one can stop…

His Eminence (ra) also relates that many Muslims visit the shrines of the guardians and salute them without committing an act of idolatry and ascribing partners to Allah. As for the negative behaviors in this regard, they are criticized and denounced by many aware religious scholars.

His Eminence (ra) warns that the Fatwas regarding destroying the shrines are controversial and they should be dealt with first through dialogue among the religious scholars to come out with an Ijtihadi solution for the issue, for things cannot be left untreated in the reality that already suffers from several points of weakness through which the evildoers infiltrate to create dissension and strife among the Muslims.

His Eminence (ra) ends by alerting the people from the danger of this issue and highlights his concern for the unity of Muslims at a time the arrogant go on with their schemes that aim at destroying Islam, which necessitates taking the highest levels of caution so as to drive away any flame of sedition among the Muslims, which would only weaken their fortitude and disperse their ranks…

[A statement by His Eminence (ra) on 21/08/2007]

It is worth mentioning that a cultural war is waged in the name of religion against the principles of the Islamic faith, regardless of the different Islamic schools of thought, reaching the level of threatening the very existence of Islam.

By Muhammad As-Sayyed

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