Restoration of Monuments might lead to Shirk – Shaykh Ibn Baaz

Ruling on restoration of monuments

All praise be to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah, his family and Companions.

Some newspapers have published articles on reviving and paying attention to monuments, written by some authors, including Professor Salih Muhammad Jamal. These articles have been responded to by His Eminence, Shaykh `Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn Humayd. He efficiently and instructively answered to the claims included therein, may Allah reward him. However, Professor Anwar Abul-Jadayil, may Allah guide and inspire him with what is right, was not satisfied with that reply or had not seen it. Therefore, he wrote an article on the subject, published by the ‘Madinah’ newspaper, issue number 5448, dated 22/4/1402 A.H. In this article, which is entitled “The Way of the Two Hijrahs”, he stated: “This is a review of the word published in the ‘Madinah’ newspaper, issue 5433, on 7/4/1402 A.H., by Professor `Abdul-Quddus Al-Ansary, as a commentary on the investigation done by the researcher and man of letters, Professor `Abdul-`Aziz Al-Rifa`y, of the sites which the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) passed through on his Hijrah (emigration) from Makkah to Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah. It urges us to stimulate officials to set signs indicating such posts such as, for example, two tents as close as possible to the two tents of Um Ma`bad with whatever else is suitable for the rest of posts, after taking the necessary precautions to prevent any transgression that could impart to them the tinge of sanctity or glory, and any deviation from the requirements of Shari`ah (Islamic law). For, the aim is to inform students, researchers and tourists who want to know about this path and these posts, to perceive the difficulties that the Messenger (peace be upon him) went through during this secret and covert trip.This is meant only to give lesson and example and inure people to hardships in Da`wah (calling people to Allah), following the example of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

However, side roads should be built and paved, off the main roads, with rest houses for the tourists, making it easier for people to enter the places where the Prophet (peace be upon him) passed, starting with Hira’ Cave, then Thawr, and the place where the Prophet (peace be upon him) was pursued by Suraqah ibn Malik, until we reach Quba’. This should also include the preceding sites in Makkah Al-Mukarramah, such as Dar Al-Arqam ibn Abul-Arqam, the pass where he and his family were boycotted, the pathway he assumed during the Conquest of Makkah, and then the places he stopped at in Al-Abtah, and also in Al-Hudaybiyah, Hunayn, and Badr. This also applies to sites he stopped at in Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah, the battlefields of the conquests, and his places of presence in their rural areas, then his path toKhaybar and to Tabuk. This is thus meant to provide people with more information about his unique efforts in spreading the Da`wah, and to teach them to follow the Prophet’s example in that regard. [End of quote]

Likewise, Dr. Faruq Akhdar recommended in his article, published in Al-Jazirah newspaper, issue number 3354, dated 13/1/1402 A.H., the development of archaeological sites in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by the Muslims on a continuing basis, to ensure income; as he alleged that petrol reserves would run out. Maintaining his viewpoint, he stated “that Christian religious tourism in the Vatican is one of the main sources of income in Italian economy. Israel sold empty bottles to the Jews in America, under the claim that such bottles were full of holy air from Al Quds.” He also pointed out that among the benefits this will bring about is that it will “Engrave knowledge about Islam in the minds of Muslim children…”

Due to the bad effects that reviving religious monuments have on the `Aqidah (creed), I wanted to clarify the truth and corroborate the writings of scholars on this issue, cooperate with those scholars in righteousness and Taqwa (fear or wariness of offending Allah), advise people for the Sake of Allah, expose suspicious points, and illustrate supporting evidence.

Hence, I would like to say that taking care of monuments in the way mentioned above would lead to Shirk (associating others with Allah in His Divinity or worship). This is because people’s souls are weak and are prone to cling to that which they deems beneficial. Besides, there are many types of Shirk, which are imperceptible for most people. Hence, those who stop at these monuments – whether they are real or fake monuments – will realize that ignorant people wipe themselves with the dirt of these places, and with the trees and stones therein. Those ignorant people also pray there and invoke those to whom the sites are attributed, thinking that this is a means of approaching Allah (Exalted be He), attaining Shafa`ah (intercession), and having theirs distresses relieved. Such an ignorance-based approach is maintained by misleading callers whose souls are impregnated with idolatry, and who exploit these monuments to misguide people and encourage them to visit these monuments in order to acquire some financial gains. Regretfully, there is no one at these monuments to inform people that they are meant only for people to derive an example. Rather, the opposite usually takes place.
This is evident to the wise people in some countries that are afflicted with the obsessive attachment to shrines, where people are accustomed to worshipping them besides Allah, and circumambulating them in the same way Muslims circumambulate the Ka`bah, on the pretext that people entombed therein are Awliya’ (pious people). So, how far worse would it be if they were told that such monuments are attributed to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), knowing that Satan unremittingly seizes the most suitable times to mislead people, and therefore Allah (Exalted be He) says about him: [Iblîs (Satan)] said: “By Your Might, then I will surely mislead them all, “Except Your chosen slaves amongst them (i.e. faithful, obedient, true believers of Islâmic Monotheism).” He (Exalted be He) also says about Satan, the enemy of Allah: (Iblîs) said: “Because You have sent me astray, surely I will sit in wait against them (human beings) on Your Straight Path. Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left, and You will not find most of them as thankful ones (i.e. they will not be dutiful to You). Satan deceived Adam (peace be upon him) and caused him to be driven out of Jannah (Paradise), although Allah (Exalted be He) had warned Adam against Satan, and showed him that Satan was his enemy, asAllah (Exalted be He) says in Surah (chapter) Ta-ha: Thus did Adam disobey his Lord, so he went astray. Then his Lord chose him, and turned to him with forgiveness, and gave him guidance.

Another example is the story of the Children of Israel with Al-Samiry when he molded for them, out of their possessions, a calf to worship instead of Allah. Then, Satan made this act fair-seeming to them, although it was clearly false. It has been authentically reported in Jami` (Hadith Compilation of) Al-Tirmidhy and others through an authentic Isnad (chain of narrators) from Abu Waqid Al-Laythy (may Allah be pleased with him) that he said: We went out with the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) to Hunayn, when we had just recently left Kufr (disbelief). The Mushriks (those who associate others with Allah in worship) had a lote-tree which they would frequent and would hang their swords upon. They called it ‘Dhat Anwat’. When we passed by a lote-tree, we said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, assign for us a Dhat Anwat just like the one they have?’ The Messenger (peace be upon him) said, ‘Allahu Akbar (Allah is the Most Great)! By the One (Allah) in Whose Hand is my soul, you have said what the Children of Israel said to Musa, ‘Make for us a god as they have gods.’ Certainly, you will follow the ways of those who came before you. Thus, the Prophet (peace be upon him) likened their saying: “Assign for us a Dhat Anwat just like the one they have” to that of the Children of Israel who said: “Make for us a god as they have gods.” This indicates that the meanings and purposes are what count, not merely the words. And due to the gravity of the crime of Shirk and its threats in ruining one’s work, we find the Khalil (beloved, close elect) of Allah, Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham, peace be upon him), invoke Allah to safeguard him and his children against Shirk. Allah (Exalted be He) says: And (remember) when Ibrâhîm (Abraham) said: “O my Lord! Make this city (Makkah) one of peace and security, and keep me and my sons away from worshipping idols. O my Lord! They have indeed led astray many among mankind. If the prophets and messengers – who are the best of creation, the most knowledgeable about Allah, and the most fearful of Him – were afraid of this, then others are more likely to fall into this trap. Hence, they should be warned of it, and all the means leading to it should be blocked.

No matter how much precautions or reservations the followers of the truth take, this will not protect the ignorant people from the corruptions that result from sanctifying monuments. This is because people differ in terms of their understanding,vulnerability, and their search for the truth to a great extent, and therefore the people of Nuh(peace be upon him) worshipped Wadd, Suwa`, Yaghuth, Ya`uq and Nasra (these are the names of their idols), although the original purpose of hewing them out was to remind people of the good deeds of those individuals and thus encourage them to emulate these persons, not to idolize or worship them besides Allah. However, Satan misguided those who came after those people who carved such sculptures, and led them to worship these idols instead of Allah. This was the reason of Shirk among the Children of Adam, as was reported by Al-Bukhari (may Allah be Merciful with him), in his Sahih.

Regarding the Tafsir (exegesis of the meanings) of Allah’s saying: And they have said: ‘You shall not leave your gods: nor shall you leave Wadd, nor Suwâ‘, nor Yaghûth, nor Ya‘ûq nor Nasr’ (these are the names of their idols). Ibn `Abbas was reported to have said that these are names of righteous men from the people of Nuh.He added that when they perished, Satan inspired their people to set statues in the seats where those righteous men used to sit, and to name the statues after the names of those people. Sure enough, they did it. Then, they were worshipped only after those who had made them perished and knowledge was discarded.

As for examples from the practices of the Jews and Christians, Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) ordered us to guard against their ways, because it is the path to aberration and loss. It is impermissible to imitate them in their ways since they contradict our Shari`ah. They were also known for their misguidance, following their own whims, distortion of what was revealed to them through their prophets. Due to these reasons and others, we are forbidden to imitate them or to copy their ways. Consequently, the corruption which would result from restoring and reviving monuments are inescapable, and none other than Allah (Exalted be He) can know the extent and types of their evil consequences. Therefore, it is Wajib (obligatory) to prevent the revival of monuments in order to avoid that which could lead to further corruption. It is known that the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him, and may Allah be pleased with them) were the most knowledgeable people regarding the Religion of Allah, the most loved by the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), and the best to give advice to the slaves of Allah. However, they did not revive or sanctify these monuments, or even advise others to revive them.

Rather, when `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) saw some people travel to the tree by which the Companions pledged allegiance to the Prophet (peace be upon him), he orderedthat it be rooted out lest people would idolize it and thus stoop to worshipping it besides Allah. The Muslims thanked him for doing so and considered this as one of his commendable acts (may Allah be pleased with him).

Moreover, if reviving these monuments or visiting them were a lawful act, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would have done so in Makkah and after the Hijrah (Prophet’s migration to Madinah) or ordered people to do so, or his Companions would have either done so themselves or recommended others to do it, knowing that it has been previously mentioned that they were the most knowledgeable among people of the Law of Allah, the most loved by the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), and the best to give advice to the servants of Allah. It has not been proven that he (peace be upon him) or his Companions visited Hira’ Cave when they were in Makkah or inThawr Cave. They did not even do so during the `Umrah (lesser pilgrimage), the Year of Conquest, or the Farewell Pilgrimage. Besides, they did not go to the place of the two tents of Um Ma`bad or the place of the tree of the pledge. Therefore, it became known that visiting these places, and paving the roads which lead to them is a newly-invented practice (in religion), which has no basis in the Law of Allah, and is among the gravest things that lead to major Shirk (associating others with Allah in His Divinity or worship that takes the Muslim out of Islam). Since establishing buildings on graves and using them as Masjids (mosques) is one of the gravest matters that lead to Shirk, the Prophet (peace be upon him) forbade it, and he cursed the Jews and Christians for making the graves of their prophets places of worship, informing us that anyone who does so is the most evil of creatures.

It was authentically reported in Sahih Muslim (may Allah be merciful to him) on the authority of Jundub ibn `Abdullah Al-Bajaly (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: Beware of those who preceded you and used to take the graves of their prophets and righteous men as Masjids. You must not take graves as Masjids; I forbid you to do that. It was also reported in Sahih Muslim on the authority of Jabir ibn `Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) that he said: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) forbade the plastering of the graves, sitting on them, and building on them. Al-Tirmidhy added the following through an authentic Isnad: …and inscribing on them. There are many Hadiths carrying a similar meaning.

In addition, the perfect Shari`ah has indicated the obligation of blocking all verbal and practical means leading to Shirk, and scholars corroborated this with countless proofs. Among these proofs, the scholar Ibn Al-Qayyim (may Allah be merciful to him) mentioned in his book [I`lam Al-Muwaqi`in] ninety-nine proofs, all of which prove the obligation of blocking all the means leading to Shirk or to sins. Such proofs include Allah’s saying: And insult not those whom they (disbelievers) worship besides Allâh, lest they insult Allâh wrongfully without knowledge. And the saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him): No Salah (Prayer) is to be offered after the Subh (Morning Prayer) until the sun rises, and no Salah is to be offered after `Asr (Afternoon Prayer) until the sun sets. This is meant to block the means leading to worship of the sun instead of Allah.

It is also meant to prevent imitation of those who do such acts. Another mentioned proof is that the Prophet (peace be upon him) forbade building Masjids over graves, and cursed those who do so. He (peace be upon him) also forbade the plastering of the graves, venerating them, and taking them as places of worship. Moreover, he forbade facing it in Salah or offering Salah there. Likewise, he (peace be upon him) ordered leveling them (to ground), and forbade that people light lamps on them or travel to them, so that this would not be a pretext to taking them as idols or associating them with Allah in worship. Indeed, this is deemed forbidden for all people, those who idolize them and those who do not mean to do so, in order to block the means leading evil.

What is Wajib for the Muslim scholars and governors is to follow in the footsteps of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) in this and other matters. They are also obliged to forbid whatever the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) forbade, and to prevent anything which could lead to Shirk, mischief, sin or idolization of the prophets and the Awliya’ in order to protect Tawhid (monotheism) and block the means leading to Shirk. We ask Allah to mend the affairs of Muslims and grant them comprehension of the religion, and to guide Muslim scholars and governors to that which will bring about their prosperity and salvation in this world and the hereafter. We also ask Allah to guide the Muslim to act upon the Law of Allah in all affairs, and to place all Muslims on His Straight Path. Indeed, He is the Patron, Capable of all things. May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon His Servant and His Messenger, our Prophet Muhammad, and his family and Companions and those who uprightly follow his guidance until the Day of Judgment.

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