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The Day of Sorrow

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In his book Wahhabism, Ayatollah Ja'far Subhani states the following (translated): "Amongst the matters about which the Wahhabis are most sensitive is the matter of renovation of graves and construction over the graves of Prophets, Imams and the pious ones. This matter was at first initiated by Ibn Taymiyya and his famous student Ibn al-Qayyim, and they gave their verdicts (Fatawa) in prohibiting the construction of a structure and the necessity of its destruction."

The destruction of holy graves is a matter which the followers of Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon him) should be well-aware of. On the 8th of Shawwal, Muslims will commemorate the Day of Sorrow, marking the 85th anniversary of destruction of the Jannat al-Baqi cemetery.

When the Sauds gained control of Mecca and Medina in 1925 CE (1345 AH), they sought to destroy the symbols of the greatest leaders in Islam. As described in the book Wahhabism by Ayatollah Subhani, "The entire traces of Ahlul Bayt and the companions of the Holy Prophet disappeared, and the valuable properties of the shrine of the Holy Imams at Baqi were plundered. The graveyard of Baqi was turned into a heap of dung which would fill one with horror while looking at it."

Among the burial sites that were desecrated included those of Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba, Imam Zainul Abideen, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir, and Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (peace be upon him), the one attributed to Lady Fatima Zahra (peace be upon her), as well as those of several wives, uncles, relatives, and companions of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny).

If the Wahhabis had their way, they would have destroyed the dome over the Holy Prophet Muhammad's grave as well. So what stopped them?

Maybe the politics of the situation were more important to the raiding groups than the religious façade they took on. Maybe they figured that if the mausoleums of Ahlul Bayt were destroyed, it would only aggravate the Shias, but if the Prophet's mausoleum was targeted, the Wahhabis and the Sauds would have the entire Muslim world in outrage.

Whatever the case may be, it is clear the symbols of Ahlul Bayt have been targeted in the past and – with the recent bombings of the 10th and 11th Imams' (peace be upon them) shrine in Samarra, Iraq – continue to be targeted. But what can we do about it? Or even more importantly, can we do anything about it?

Yes, indeed. At the very least, if we do not already have a decent understanding of the arguments for and against grave destruction, we should strive to become educated on the matter. Any critic may come forth and say, "Hold on. Don't these 'Wahhabis' have a point though? Wouldn't it be a form of worshipping idols to maintain shrines on the graves of saints and other holy figures?"

Do we have a tendency to agree with this questioning critic? If yes, then we should probably seek knowledge on this issue until our faith is solidified.

Are we equipped with the reasoning to respond appropriately? If our answer is no, then maybe we should take the time to read up on the suitable proofs which our scholars have put forth. (Try Ayatollah Subhani's Wahhabism for starters.)

If we are well-grounded with respect to the first two points, then the next step would be to actively educate others. Many may not be aware of the serious threats which the close-minded mentality poses to the body of Islam. If we as Muslims do not confront the ignorant views of the delusional Wahhabis, then those who are weak in intellect and/or faith may be swayed away from the truth any way that the wind blows. It is our duty to speak out against heinous acts and it is also our duty to teach those who are ignorant of the truth.

So, "Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation, and reason with them in the better way. Lo! Thy Lord is Best Aware of him who strays from His way, and He is Best Aware of those who go aright." (16:125)

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