The International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor has said that the destruction of tombs in Mali is a war crime. Checking out the many media articles about what is happening in Northern Mali I found that every article written about the destruction of tombs shows a picture of one of the very distinct mosques of that region, but which do not show the location of any tomb, like this one in the Telegraph. Islam makes a distinction between tombs or shrines and religious places of worship but the media does not.
The hardline Islamists who seized control of Timbuktu along with the rest of northern Mali three months ago, consider the shrines to be idolatrous and have wrecked seven tombs in two days.
No doubt the International community is outraged by such reports of “war crimes” against shrines of people long dead yet to put it in perspective what happened about the war crimes committed in Gaza during “Cast Lead” ? A report from April 2012 in Al Jazeera tells us
International Criminal Court says it cannot investigate alleged Israeli crimes in Gaza because Palestine is not a state.
It appears you may have to be dead for a few hundred years to expect some kind of justice from the I.C.C.
Another news item involving tombs is the annual pilgrimage of Jews to the tomb of a “Holy man” in the Nile Delta in Egypt.
Born as Yaccov Aharon in Morocco in 1807, the legend has it that on a trip from his homeland to the Holy Land, Abuhatzeira crossed the Mediterranean riding on a hassira (mat) until he reached Alexandria.
The Egyptian government said that they cannot guarantee the safety of Jewish people this year.
“Normalization (of relations) with Israel is forced on the people, and the visits too come against the will of people and despite popular rejection,” said Heshmat, who recently won a seat in parliament in the country’s first elections following the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak.
The Egyptian people clearly do not want any normalisation with Israelis, the pilgrimage was no doubt forced on them in the past and went ahead with Mubarak’s police making sure that security was not breached. Here is the reaction from an Israeli newspaper and a blog which posted this picture
Of course Israel has been preventing and hindering the entry of Palestinians and activists for Palestine for years on the grounds of security.
There is both a political reason and a religious one for not wanting the pilgrimage. In Islam going to the graves in the belief that prayers are more likely to be answered because of the piety of the person buried there is forbidden, so the more Islamic Muslim Brotherhood is unlikely to be sympathetic towards such a pilgrimage.
The building of structures over graves was forbidden by the Prophet Mohammed s.a.w. and there are many recorded narrations which have been authenticated by scholars saying
Jundub reported: I heard from the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) five days before his death and he said: I stand acquitted before Allah that I took any one of you as friend, for Allah has taken me as His friend, as he took Ibrahim as His friend. Had I taken any one of my Ummah as a friend, I would have taken Abu Bakr as a friend. Beware of those who preceded you and used to take the graves of their prophets and righteous men as places of worship, but you must not take graves as mosques; I forbid you to do that.
Similar narrations by Aisha r.a. the wife of the Prophet s.a.w. and by his companions such as
‘A’isha and Abdullah reported: As the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) was about to breathe his last, he drew his sheet upon his face and when he felt uneasy, he uncovered his face and said in that very state: Let there be curse upon the Jews and the Christians that they have taken the graves of their apostles as places of worship. He in fact warned (his men) against what they (the Jews and the Christians) did.
Some sects of Islam do not accept these narrations.
Whilst I do understand the value of historic buildings, I very much feel that human lives are worth so much more than buildings, yet there is evidently much more consternation about the destruction of tombs than of humans. We still have to live in the hope of seeing Bush, Blair, Cheney, Obama and others being convicted for their war crimes against innocent human beings – during our life time.
14 – If you invoke them, they do not hear your supplication; and if they heard, they would not respond to you. And on the Day of Resurrection they will deny your association. And none can inform you like [one] Acquainted [with all matters].