What is it about Islam that leads so many Muslims to see their cultural patrimony as something to be despised and even destroyed? And why would a Muslim group destroy the mausoleums of Muslim holy men and say that “Allah doesn’t like” those mausoleums?
According to a hadith attributed to Aisha, Muhammad’s favorite wife and notorious child bride, as Muhammad lay dying, “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” (Sahih Muslim 1082).
Another tradition has the dying Muhammad saying, “Allah cursed the Jews and the Christians, for they built the places of worship at the graves of their prophets,” and Aisha adding: “And if that had not been the case, then the Prophet’s grave would have been made prominent before the people. So (the Prophet) was afraid, or the people were afraid that his grave might be taken as a place for worship” (Sahih Bukhari 2.23.472).
Muslims who consider the shrines of saints to be idolatrous reason from those traditions that if the grave of Muhammad himself was not to be taken as a place of worship, neither should the graves of lesser Muslims become shrines for prayer and pilgrimage. This is akin to the Islamic disdain for the pre-Islamic cultural patrimony of Muslim lands: any manifestation of idolatry, however artistically or culturally significant, is to be regarded with disdain at best.
“Mali Islamists destroying more Timbuktu mausoleums,” by Serge Daniel for AFP, December 23 (thanks to Lookmann):
BAMAKO “” Armed groups occupying Timbuktu in northern Mali used pickaxes to smash up any remaining mausoleums in the ancient city, an Islamist leader said.
The rebels’ ruthless implementation of their version of Islamic law comes just days after the United Nations approved a military force to wrest back control of the conflict-ridden area.
“Not a single mausoleum will remain in Timbuktu, Allah doesn’t like it,” Ansar Dine leader Abou Dardar told AFP. “We are in the process of smashing all the hidden mausoleums in the area.”
Witnesses confirmed the claims and one resident, who said he belongs to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), another militant group occupying the city since a March coup plunged the west African state into chaos.
Anything that doesn’t fall under Islam “is not good. Man should only worship Allah,” Mohamed Alfoul said of the mausoleums, which the armed Islamists consider blasphemous.
The vandalism of the Muslim saints’ tombs in the UNESCO World Heritage site came a day after other Islamists in the northern city of Gao announced they had amputated two people’s hands.
The continued strict application of sharia law is seen as a sign that the armed Islamist groups are unfazed by the UN’s green light for the African-led military operation….
Mainstream media reports frequently reference a “strict application of Sharia,” as if the form of Sharia we see in Mali, with its amputations and destructive hostility to the “blasphemous” mauseoleums, were somehow aberrant. But actually, these elements of Sharia are not rejected by any Islamic school of jurisprudence. They are part of Sharia wherever it is fully applied. What causes the confusion is that it isn’t always fully applied even in “Islamic Republics.” Compounding that confusion are Western Muslim spokesmen lying about the nature and content of Sharia.