One of Islam’s most revered holy sites – the tomb of the Prophet Mohamed – could be destroyed and his body removed to an anonymous grave under plans which threaten to spark discord across the Muslim world. The controversial proposals are part of a consultation document by a leading Saudi academic which has been circulated among the supervisors of al-Masjid al-Nabawi mosque in Medina, where the remains of the Prophet are housed under the Green Dome, visited by millions of pilgrims and venerated as Islam’s second-holiest site. The formal custodian of the mosque is Saudi Arabia’s ageing monarch King Abdullah.
Ahmed Mater, one of Saudi Arabia’s leading artists, showed an audience at Sotheby’s London last night, Tuesday 12 August, the rampant development in Mecca that has transformed Islam’s holiest site into a luxury destination. Even the official logo of the municipality features a bulldozer alongside Islamic iconography. The discussion, part of Sotheby’s Tuesday talks programme covering the Middle Eastern art world and organised with Ibraaz, the publishing arm of the Kamel Lazaar Foundation, focused on Mater’s experiences in Mecca.
The destruction in recent years of much of old Mecca, which dates back to the Ottoman empire and earlier, has aroused protests in the artistic community and beyond. It has been estimated that since 1985 about 95% of Mecca’s historic buildings have been demolished. Now, however, the Saudi government is investing money in renovating around 30 of the country’s museums, and religious buildings in Mecca and Medina.
Read More: A New Awareness of Conservation
Many historic mosques in Madinah are in need of urgent repair, maintenance or complete reconstruction to preserve and keep them intact for many years to come, local daily Al-Madinah reported Monday [December 16th] quoting a noted Saudi historian. “These mosques are part of our history. They need skilled people who use state-of-the-art technology in their work to repair them,” Dr. Tinaidib Al-Faydi said.