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Peace be on Hussain, and on Ali son of Hussain, and on the children of Hussain, and on the friends of Hussain.
 Articles \ BAQEE TRAGEDY: Desecration of the Signs of God 
By Jerrmein Abu Shahba

As we approach the 86th anniversary of the tragic occasion of demolition of the holy graves of Baqee in Medina which took place on the 8th of Shawwal in the year 1345 Hijri, we are greatly saddened as this holy piece of land is the burial place of great personalities without whom the history of Islam is incomplete, and most notably, it is the burial place of four of our great Infallible Imams, Al Hasan Al Mujtaba, Imam Ali Zainul Abideen, Imam Muhammad Al Baqir, and Imam Jafar Al Sadiq (peace be upon all of them). Unfortunately, the destruction of sacred sites in Hijaz by the Saudi government continues today and that aggression has extended its evil even to the tombs in Mecca where some of the Prophet’s family members are buried.

It is important for us as Muslims to stress the importance of preserving the signs and holy symbols of God. The concept of preserving the signs and Shaa’er of Allah (SWT) is logical and any intellectual mind would agree that if you love, respect, and sanctify someone or something, it is natural for you to also show similar respect and veneration to any thing or any symbol that is associated with the loved one. For example, if you are a teacher who is very devoted to your work and you love the process of educating and gaining knowledge, then it is natural for you to respect the book, the chalkboard, the pen, and anything associated with literature and knowledge. Likewise, the idea of protecting and preserving the signs of God is supported by logic and it is also supported by Islam. The Holy Quran supports this concept in several verses like: “Whoever respects the signs of Allah, it surely is from devotion of the hearts.” [22:32] and in Surat Al Maeda when He says, “O you who believe! Violate not the sanctity of the symbols of Allah…”

It is important to gain an understanding of the definition of Sha’er Allah? Shaer Allah refers to every sign and ayah which serves to give us knowledge about the essence of God and remind us of Him and His bounties, mercy, wrath, and His other attributes. Allah (SWT) gives us many examples of His signs in the Quran, some which are explicit and others which are not. The “signs” of God can be places, events, personalities, catastrophes, and many other things. For example, among the signs which have been given special status is the staff of Prophet Musa which Allah (SWT) selected to be the means by which he defeats Pharoah. This staff may seem simple in its appearance, but has been given great divine importance and it will be among the special items that our 12th Imam (AFS) will reappear with. You also have an example in the shirt of Prophet Yusuf (AS) which has been mentioned several times in the Quran and it brought about the miraculous cure of his father’s blindness. You have another example in the camel of Prophet Saleh which Allah (SWT) designated as His representative to the people of Thamood and was a test for them. But they violated the trust or rather the sign of God that was put at their disposal and they killed the camel and its siblings without mercy. So what was the divine response to their heinous crime of disrespecting His sign? Swift destruction after 3 days!

Each of these signs may be materialistic in nature, but they represent something divine and very sacred. His sign is a reminder to His mercy and endless bounties. One of the greatest examples of His Shaa’er is the Holy Quran which must be respected and venerated at all times. The Kaaba situated in Mecca represents the Holy House of God and unfortunately even this holy symbol has been desecrated by the Saudis by building western-style luxurious buildings in its periphery! Now, if we analyze history we will find that as soon as a man called Abraha attempted to destroy the Holy Kaaba, the punishment of God upon him and his army was swift and fatal! Here, the Almighty directly intervened to save His House and teach a lesson for all mankind to learn from, and He (SWT) revealed a whole chapter in the Quran narrating this incident in the Chapter of the Elephant. In today’s world, even when some of the envious and hypocrite Muslims repeatedly attempted to remove or cover up the crack on Rokn Al Yamani of the Kaaba which resulted from its opening to accommodate the birth of Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), divine intervention took place time and time again to protect this symbol which is great in Allah’s eyes.
The Kaaba itself holds a very special heavenly black stone (Al Hajar Al Aswad) which all Muslims sanctify, not for its physical nature, but for what and whom it represents. When Muslims perform Tawaf and embrace the Hajar Al Aswad, they renew their covenant with Allah (SWT) which is the essence of Tawheed. Some people in their ignorance attribute veneration of these symbols as "shirk" and condemn these actions. However, we need to realize that when we respect material symbols such as Maqam Ibrahim, we are not worshipping a stone or a place, rather, we are cherishing the memory of Prophet Ibrahim whom we love. And we love Prophet Ibrahim for his love for Allah and because Allah loves him... Therefore, when we trace this line of "love", we find that it originates from and ends at the Almighty Creator!! In answer to the accusations of shirk by those who reject these signs and symbols and violate its sanctity through aggression, Allah (SWT) responds to them in Surat Luqman 31:32, “But none reject Our signs except only a perfidious ungrateful wretch!”

The best examples of the symbols of Allah are the representatives He sent to us who are the prophets and divine guides. Even though we did not live at the time of the great personalities of our Prophets and Imams, we have been blessed with their relics and their traces, and that is why things and places associated with them become so important. Islam encourages us to strengthen our love and belief through symbols which remind us of them, and subsequently, of the divine path and struggle of these blessed people. That is why Muslims revere the water of Zamzam, the city of the Prophet, the cave of Hira and the dust of Karbala. These signs help form our symbolic and material bonds to the pure remembrance of these divine personalities. On the other hand, we also condemn and express disdain to signs and symbols that represent personalities or events who are the enemies of God. For example, in Hajj, we stone the Devil’s pillar not because the pillar itself is evil, but because it is a symbol which represents the devil, so stoning it would be an expression of disapproval to the Shaytan.

When we discuss the issue of respecting holy sites and places, it is interesting to note that when Prophet Musa went to the sacred land of Mount Sinai, Allah (SWT) ordered him to take off his shoes, not only out of respect to meeting his Lord, but also in respect to that sacred piece of land which only Allah (SWT) knows its real origin, that is Karbala. Furthermore, when it came time for Lady Maryam bint Imran to give birth to her son Prophet Isa, Allah (SWT) ordered her to leave the sacred land of Jerusalem because it is not a place of birth or worldly affairs to take place. Rather, it is a holy piece of land which the Muslims must exert all their efforts to preserve and return it to its rightful owners.

So, how can anyone, especially Muslims, have the audacity to destroy, demolish, eradicate or belittle the holy shrines, mausoleums, and graves of special personalities who are very near and dear to the Holy Prophet (SA)? Did they not read verse of Mawada (42:23) which clearly states that the best reward that we can give to Prophet Muhammad (SA) is love to his near relatives?! Is this how the so-called Muslims attempt to reward their Prophet? In view of the atrocities that have been committed against the Shaer Allah time and time again, one can not help but question why this aggression and animosity towards the signs of Allah (SWT)?? The answer is quite simple. Bulldozing the Islamic signs is equivalent to bulldozing the ideologies of Muhammad and his purified Household because they represent the perfect example and role model for mankind to follow. It is clearly an attempt to annihilate, erase, and hide these great symbols and wipe out its sanctity from the people’s hearts and memories, and to end the remembrance of the Prophet and his family.

Hence, it is our responsibility and obligation as Muslims to defend our sacred Shaer and preserve the signs of Allah (SWT) at all times. We must do all we can to restore the honour and dignity of holy places like Jannat Al Baqee and Jannatul Moalla. We must raise our voices and protest not only when the Holy Prophet is being made fun of in Danish cartoons, but also when the holy shrines of Imamayn Al Askariyayn in Samara are being demolished repeatedly! It is no wonder then, that one of the greatest signs of God, Imam Husain (AS), has been slain brutally in the plains of Karbala without mercy or compassion. After all, when the blessed head of the best man of his time was raised on a spear for people to stare and gloat over, it opened the door for all tragedies to come and all signs to be disrespected! If a person does not respect a living body, how can you expect him to respect a dead body, never mind his grave?
In the end, Allah (SWT) assures us that although they try to put out the His Light with their mouths, He (SWT) insists to perfect His Light though the nonbelievers despise that.

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