Monday, February 20, 2006

What if Mecca were destroyed? Answer to max's question.

Mecca, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is holy by itself and holy because of the Grand Mosque therein. The Grand Mosque is holy because within it is the Ka'bah (literally, "cube"). It is the Ka'bah which is the qiblah (direction of prayer) for Muslims, and which is called the House of God (baytullaah). In Arabic, the Grand Mosque is often called al-masjid al-Haraam, the Haraam Mosque. Most of the time, "Haraam," an adjective, means "forbidden." In this case it means "sacred" or "restricted." It is forbidden to non-Muslims, and violence in its vicinity is forbidden. When "Haraam" is in the dual ("Haramaan" or "Haramayn"), it refers to the Grand Mosque of Mecca and the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah. A title of the King of Saudi Arabia is khaadim al-Haramayn ash-shareefayn, which may be translated as "the Custodian of the Two Holy Sanctuaries" but which also means "the Custodian of the Two Noble Restricted Areas." The Prophet's Mosque in Madinah is also off limits to non-Muslims.

Great importance and sanctity is attached to the Ka'bah. It has been rebuilt a number of times, the last time being in 1996 by the House of Saud.

In this thread of the Ace of Spades Headquarters, max asked what would happen if Mecca were destroyed, either by anti-Saudi Muslims or Western powers. The answer depends on a few factors. One thing that would not vary would be that various buildings in Mecca (the Ka'ba, the Grand Mosque, the Zamzam well, Maqaam al-Ibraheem, etc.) would be immediately rebuilt. The Sauds would spare no expense in doing so, in rebuilding them swiftly and rebuilding them extravagantly. Donations from around the world would flow in.

If Mecca were destroyed by Muslims, the reaction would be relatively subdued. Undoubtedly, Saudi forces would enlist the assistance of the armed forces of other Muslim states (and, perhaps, quietly ask for assistance from Western powers) and would annihilate any remnant of the involved Muslim group. There might be protests around the Muslim world against the involved Muslim group. Such an event not be entirely unprecedented, to a degree. In 1979, Juhayman, a Saudi, and his followers took the Mosque hostage. Juhayman was a descendent of a member of the old Ikhwaan (literally, "Brothers"), Wahhabi tribal militants who assisted the House of Saud seize power. They were disbanded when they began striking against the House of Saud, accusing the House of Saud of corruption and abandoning Islam. This takeover of the Mosque stunned the world and, more importantly, the House of Saud. It took them time to respond (such a violation of the Ka'bah is literally inconceivably by Muslims, which is why most have forgotten it by now), then it took them time to mobilize for action. After getting the necessary permissions from religious leaders, and assembling the necessary forces, the hostage-takers were dislodged. The males were beheaded.

What is interesting is that many Muslims would have been sympathetic to Juhayman's claims and demands. The very same claims and demands were being made by Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Musavi Khomeyni in Iran. However, by seizing the Mosque (which broke two very important rules: no violence in Mecca, and no endangering the Grand Mosque or the Ka'bah), they lost all support from the Muslim world.

Back to max's question. If Mecca were destroyed by Muslims but the Muslim world were to be convinced it was actually done by Western powers, Muslims would launch World War III (or World War IV if World War III is going on right now). Even Muslim states that did not want to fight may not be able to control their people.

If Western powers directly destroyed Mecca, Muslims would launch World War III (or World War IV if World War III is going on right now).

In either case, if the West were believed to be involved (in this case, reality is irrelevant: perception matters), there would be a massive reaction against the West by Muslims throughout the world. It would be a cataclysmic war of civilizations. No matter which Western powers were involved or were to be perceived to be involved, all Western powers would come under attack. The West would win, of course, but only after an immense amount of violence.

To what extent Muslim states would become officially involved would have to be seen. Many might become involved despite whatever the government may want: it might become an issue of getting involved to avoid a popular revolt. If the governments are involved at their highest level, the use of unconventional weaponry should not be ruled out, with or without a warning. (Pakistan and Iran would be of major concern here. If North Korea joined on the Muslims' side, it would add to the concern the US as well as the Asian powerhouses (China, Japan, South Korea).)

Their response would make these riots on Muhammad cartoons look like hopscotch.

Of course, this will never happen. Westerners are too smart.

Now, if a Christian were to enter Mecca and leave a cross/crucifix/Bible - ah, that's an interesting issue. (We'd do it, except We might be killed. Even if We were not, many thousands of innocent Christians and Westerners might be in the raging flames of the Muslims' reaction.)

inna naHnu-l-a'lamoon.


At 7:10 PM, Anonymous sandy burger said...

Wasn't the black rock broken into several pieces at some point in the past, or am I just misremembering?

At 7:43 PM, Blogger Muslihoon said...

Yes, it was! I'm impressed someone remembers. Not even Muslims know it (and even if they do, they don't know when it happened or how).

In the 10th century CE, a radical Ismaili sect, the Qaramatians, who established a state in what is now Bahrain, attacked Mecca and its Mosque, slaughtering pilgrims, and taking away the Black Stone (al-Hajar al-aswad). Despite the strong condemnation and pleas of the Fatimid caliph-imam (who belonged to another Ismaili sect) and the offer of a large ransom by another Muslim ruler, the Qaramatians refused to return the Black Stone. Finally, however, they did after keeping it for about 22 years. It was returned broken.

There is a difference in opinion on the significance of the Black Stone in Islam. Muhammad kissed it and evidently honored it. Umar ibn Khattab (who would become the third caliph) didn't find it to be so honorable. When he kissed he, he said he did so only because Muhammad did. Even today, some believe it's just a stone. (Placed in the southeast corner of the Ka'bah, rukn al-Hajar al-aswad, it marks the beginning and end of one's circumambulation around the Ka'ba.) Others believe it to have supernatural power or significance.

At 7:48 PM, Anonymous adolfo velasquez said...

Wow, lots of good information. I wonder if any Christians or non-Muslims have been able to sneak in to see it in recent years.

At 8:27 PM, Blogger Muslihoon said...

Thank you, adolfo!

A few non-Muslims have snuck into Mecca. I doubt this is very possible now. (One needs a visa from the Saudi embassy in order to go to Saudi Arabia, and the embassy makes sure people going to Mecca or Madinah are Muslims.)

At this link (albeit biased), one may find out about a number of non-Muslims who visited and wrote about Mecca. The most famous, of course, was Sir Richard Francis Burton. There was a website that listed non-Muslims who visited Mecca with links to the text of their travelogue. I can't find it right now, but will post it once I do.


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