The Issue of the Expansion of the two Holy Mosques and Destruction of Islamic Holy Sites

02 Nov

By Bro Ridhuan

The following note is a translation of a note by brother Mahfuz, a third year student of the Islamic University of Madinah regarding the controversial claims spread in the media of the expansion of the Grand Mosque of Makkah Al-Mukarramah and the Prophet’s mosque in Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah and also the destruction of Islamic Historical sites.

A sad reality that keeps repeating itself throughout history is that there are always a certain group of people, mostly made up of orientalists and those envious and have hatred towards Islam, who strive to destroy Islam’s foundations and cause riffs and confusions among Muslims.

One of the many ways they try to do so, is by spreading rumours and lies. What is more exasperating and disappointing is when some Muslims or some of those who are born Muslims themselves start to believe these rumours and lies spread by the enemies of Islam due to their ignorance of the matter and lack of research and understanding.

Every year, during the hajj season, millions of Muslims go to the two holy lands of Makkah Al-Mukarramah to perform their hajj rituals and then for most, also to Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah, before or after hajj itself. And the numbers of pilgrims have been increasing as the years go by.

Makkah itself is only about 854 km2 (just a little bigger that the city of Singapore at 710 km2) and the numbers have increased to over 4 million pilgrims, not including the dwellers of Makkah.

It is unimaginable when such a staggering number of pilgrims move from one point to another when performing the rites of hajj, from Mina to Arafaah to Muzdalifah, back to Jamaraat area in Mina and towards the Masjidil Haram for the circumambulation of the Ka’bah and also the laps of walking between As-Safa and Al-Marwa. It requires a great deal of research and planning and proper execution of the plans to ensure the safety and ease of the millions of pilgrims and to avoid disasters from happening such as a mass stampede or the spread of infectious diseases and also to avoid lack of proper lodging and so on.

To accommodate the pilgrims during the hajj season, a concerted effort by the Saudi government, working together with many other organizations was needed and billions of dollars have been spent. Among these efforts is the expansion of Masjidil Haram, the grand and holy mosque of Makkah, where as we can witness now, pilgrims could perform circumambulation of the Ka’bah on the second or third level when it becomes congested at the main level. Also the Sa’i area, the walkway between As-Safa and Al-Marwa where it is currently at five levels including specified ‘wheelchairs only’ walkway and also the jamaraat area or the stoning area, where it has been accident-free since its construction in 2007 and the nightmares of reoccurrences of past mass stampedes have been vanquished.

There are more efforts and developments that I have personally witnessed, being a third year student here, living in Saudi. And such efforts are also being witnessed by many pilgrims who have had the blessed opportunity to regularly return to the two holy lands to perform hajj and umrah (the lesser pilgrimage).

Now going back to the main topic, it seems that whenever hajj season arrives, there would be a certain effort by certain groups and individuals to try to divert the focus of hajj and the blessed month of Dhulhijjah to other matters which have no benefit to the nation.

More recently is the issue of the construction of the Clock Tower of Makkah, where they claim that it is a waste of money and space. Another issue is the destruction of Islamic historical sites by the Saudi government, to make space for the continuous expansion of the Holy Mosque where they claim that the house of Khadijah radhiallaahu ‘anha, the first wife of Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu’alayhi wassalam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is now a public toilet, for example. And many other examples that were cited that became a topic of debate and discussion among Muslims and non-Muslims on top of its spread in the western and other mainstream media.

Let us reflect on a reminder by Allah Almighty when such issues arise. Allah says in the Qur’an in Surah Al-Hujuraat 49:6,

{“O you who believe! If a ‘Faasik’ (liar – evil person) comes to you with any news, verify it, lest you should harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful for what you have done.”}

[According to Ibn Katheer’s commentary on this verse, Allah the Exalted ordered investigation of news that sinners and the wicked bring, to ensure of its authenticity. Otherwise, if the sinner’s word is taken for granted and a decision is based on it, regardless of whether the information is true or not, the authorities will be taking the lead of the sinners. Allah the Exalted and Most Honored forbade taking the path of the corrupted and sinners. This is why groups of the scholars of Hadeeth (Prophetic tradition) refuse to accept narrations from narrators whose reliability is unknown, for they might be from among the wicked people, in reality.]

I admit that the Saudi government is not perfect, similarly to other governments, where there are always room for improvements and imperfections within them. However as Muslims, we have been taught to always be fair and just in judgement and to have a proper research and understanding of a matter before making further judgements and not just to believe and act on rumours or news from only one source and spreading news or information that we are not sure of.

I will now address and relate some of my understanding of the issues that have been brought up which is different from the claims of orientalists and those envious and have a hatred for Islam or even the Saudi government.

1) Makkah Clock Tower

The construction of Makkah Clock Tower serves a greater purpose unlike the Westminster clock tower of London or more commonly known as the Big Ben, for example, which is a tourist attraction. The Makkah clock tower is part of a shopping complex and hotel and residence management which has a capacity of more than 800 rooms that can accommodate more that 100,000 pilgrims.

One of the things that many don’t know is that the rent from the spaces and also the residences are sold using a ‘waqaf’ system where the buyers don’t own the asset for more than 20 years and after that, it will go back to the open market. The profits from this business will then actually go back to the expenditure for the maintenance and expansion of Masjidil Haram itself.

The Makkah clock tower could also be noticed within a 30 km radius, which aids people to be directed to Masjidil Haram. Just above the clock, a huge Arabic script reading: “God is the Greatest” can be seen as well as dhikr (words of rememberence of Allah) such as subhaanallaah wa bihamdihi, subhaanallaahiladheem,

سبحان الله و بحمده سبحان الله العظيم” (How perfect Allah is and I praise Him. How perfect Allah is, The Supreme) on another part. It is also an indicator for the masses, for the time of prayers where it would flicker when the call for prayer comes and it also promotes the Makkah time zone to the whole world.

2) The destruction of Islamic Historical sites

If we were to discuss regarding the issue of the destruction of Islamic historical sites, then we should firstly look back into the Islamic history books of how Umar ibn Al-Khattab, one of the foremost companions of the Prophet sallallaahu’alayhi wassalam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) handled the issue of preserving such sites.

Ibn Sa’ad recorded in his book “At-Thobaqaat Al-Kubra” that there was an incident when Muslims started to visit the ‘Ridhwan’ Tree [the tree where the companions made the pledge of allegiance to the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu’alayhi wasallam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)], and the visitors to this tree, started to make a new innovation in worship by making prayers under it instead of spending more time praying in the Prophet’s mosque which is highly recommended by the Prophet himself. When news of this newly found practice came to knowledge of Umar ibn Al-Khattab, he ordered for the tree to be cut down.

Umar ibn Al-Khattab’s judgement was based on one of the principles of fiqh “akhaffu dhararain” which is to take into consideration the lesser of two harms, to perform a lesser degree of harm to prevent a bigger and more serious harm from happening. Although he had to destroy an important historical site, but it paves well for the future and well being of Muslims as it prevents many from falling into sins and deviating from the true teachings of the Prophet sallallaahu’alayhi wassalam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

3) The issue of toilets

The issue of toilets or also called W.C. (water closet) around the Prophet’s mosque and the grand mosque of Makkah is something subjective but has been used to confuse Muslims and others who have no knowledge of the true situation behind it.

True, the building of these toilets around the mosques is something new, which started in the modern era and something unheard of if we were to look back in history. However it is a necessity in these times. The construction of W.C.s around the compounds of the two holy mosques are mostly done a few levels underground to accommodate the pilgrims and this kind of constructions allows more spaces to be opened up and especially for the original space of worship to be preserved.

One could only imagine if there were no toilets or ablution area available near the compounds of the mosque; it would be chaotic and cause a greater harm to the compounds of the mosques and its surroundings.

Another issue is the claim that the current toilet areas are built directly on the bases of the Prophet’s companions’ former homes including the home of Prophet’s wife Khadiijah radhiallaahu’anha. What is the basis and proof for this claim?

What is known and seen by many is that the toilet areas are built underground, near the compounds of the mosque where they are constructed and designed in a way to minimise the disruption of praying areas and to maintain the original spots of praying area.

There are more claims and issues being brought up which have no basis and strong proof of its authenticity but they are being spread in the media and sadly, we have Muslims who believe it and started spreading these rumours.

Let us keep reminding ourselves of the verse of Al-Hujuraat and let’s return to the true knowledge of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Never allow our judgement be based merely on emotions and assumptions, without doing any further research on the claims and news from anyone especially concerning the religion. May Allah Almighty grant us all understanding. Also, let us remember the advice of our dear Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu’alayhi wassalam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him);

Narrated from Abu Hurayrah radhiallaahu’anhu, the Messenger of Allah sallallaahu’alayhi wassalam said (translated): ((I remind you (to refrain) from assumptions as verily, assumptions are whispers in the form of the worst of lies. And never search for secrets (others weaknesses, one’s flaws and imperfections and bad attitudes of another Muslim), don’t assume (nonsensical ideas), don’t you start a quarrel, don’t be envious and hold grudges, don’t have hatred for each other, don’t avoid (your brother/sister in Islam). And be slaves of Allah as one brotherhood (united).)) [Al-Bukhari]


May Allah guide us towards the path that He pleases.. Amin.

Wallaahu A’laam.


Posted by on 2 November 2012 in Perkongsian


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2 responses to “The Issue of the Expansion of the two Holy Mosques and Destruction of Islamic Holy Sites

  1. hilail

    21 November 2012 at 3:32 am

    mohon share ..:)


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