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Old December 13, 2008, 04:05 PM
sandpiper sandpiper is offline
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Exclamation Plans to revamp Islam’s holiest city are worrying Muslims around the world

Just read the news in The Economist magazine.

Refacing Mecca

FIVE times a day, Muslims around the world turn to face Mecca in prayer. At least once in their lives, Muslims are also urged to join the annual pilgrimage to Islam’s holiest city. This year, as in years gone by, millions of Muslims flocked to Mecca at the beginning of December on the haj, crowding its streets and filling the central Haram mosque to bursting. The city has always struggled to deal with this massive influx of visitors and there is now talk of redesigning the mosque to increase its capacity.

At present the Haram mosque can hold up to 900,000 worshippers. The new plans envisage creating space for 1.5m people in the main part of the complex, with the intention of expanding capacity still further in the future to allow up to 3m people to congregate there.

Norman Foster and Zaha Hadid, two respected and influential British architects, are among those who have apparently been approached to take on the project by King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia’s monarch whose list of titles also includes “custodian of the two holy mosques”. Their involvement has raised hackles in Saudi Arabia.

Lord Foster may have won the prestigious Pritzker architecture prize but he is not a Muslim. The idea of a non-Muslim redesigning one of the world’s most important mosques has provoked deep unease in Saudi Arabia. And as only Muslims are permitted to enter Islam’s holiest city, were he to win the commission, Lord Foster would have the tricky task of seeing through his design from a distance.

This would not the first time that foreign firms have been involved in sensitive building projects in the Middle East. Ten years ago, United Automation, an American firm, was given the job of redesigning the sound system in Mecca’s central mosque. The entire system was successfully planned and built without those in charge in attendance. But rebuilding large sections of the world’s biggest mosque without ever setting foot inside would be quite a proposition. Sami Angawi, a Saudi architect who founded the Haj Research Centre, which aims to preserve the history and architecture of Mecca and Medina, Islam’s second city, is apprehensive about the plans, reasonably pointing out that in order to design a mosque, you have to visit it. Mr Angawi has also expressed his concern at the apparent lack of Saudi involvement.

Even before the plans to give the Haram mosque a facelift emerged, many Muslims were uneasy about the renovations already underway in Mecca. The modern city bears little resemblance to the birthplace of the prophet Muhammad. Visitors to Mecca can buy a latte from Starbucks and a snack from KFC or McDonald’s. Moreover, the first Islamic school where Muhammad is believed to have taught as well as the house of Khadija, his first wife, are believed to have been destroyed as construction in Mecca has boomed. Critics such as Mr Angawi fear that if these plans go ahead, more damage will be wrought upon Mecca’s historic buildings. Some suggest that Saudi Arabia’s rulers don’t concern themselves much about preserving these historic sites because their interpretation of Islam regards venerating holy places as akin to idol worship.

The proliferation of global chains, high-rise apartment blocks and five-star hotels has already raised fears that Saudi Arabia’s rulers are less worried about the welfare of the millions of pilgrims who voyage to Mecca every year than they are about squeezing as much money out of them as possible. Tourism is a valuable component of the Saudi economy and of the 9m visitors each year some 2.5m come for the haj.

Taking part in the haj is a precarious business. People are often killed in the crush as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims jostle their way through tunnels and over bridges to complete the various rituals that form the pilgrimage. And as travelling to Saudi Arabia has become easier, more and more people are making the journey. The Saudi authorities have come under considerable criticism in the past for failing to prevent the stampedes in which many have died.

The Saudi rulers are doubtless well aware of the sensitivities involved in the attempts to renovate Mecca. And Lord Foster and Ms Hadid are used to criticism of their uncompromising modern architectural style. But if they do end up revamping Mecca, they should be prepared for a particularly hostile reaction.

source: http://www.economist.com/world/midea...tures_box_main

Last edited by sandpiper; December 13, 2008 at 04:11 PM..
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Old December 13, 2008, 05:08 PM
Banglatiger84 Banglatiger84 is offline
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Saudi involvement in Haj is good and bad at same time.

The good is that they have spent billions in organizing and making Haj safer.

The bad aspect is that they have allowed many Saudis to use Haj as a money making revenue. I am appaled at people being allowed to do "Luxury Haj", with access to spas during Haj, something which defeats the whole purpose if Haj,

And while I am against grave worshipping,I am a bit concerned at people who believe all historic sites should be demolished, so that people dont do shirk there.
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Old December 14, 2008, 12:16 PM
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Rabz Rabz is offline
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Well, personally, i believe the Holy Mosque needs an expansion to accomodate the ever growing number of the Hajjis. But at the same time, "The Custodians of the Holy Mosques" needs to realise the importance of preserving the history and heritage of Islam.

Getting both done at the same time wont be an easy task and one would have to give away a bit for the other. The expansion could still be done with preserving those precious buildings and historical places.

I have always felt the Saudi Govt have not done "enough" to secure the safety and overall comfort of the millions of pilgrims who travel to Saudi every year with enormous devotion. They probably get away as most of these people are there for the Hajj and try to overlook the material wellbeing.

The issue of stampede during Stone Throwing to the Devil has always been something of great concern to every Hajji and thier family back home. This time i heard from my Father, who recently returned from Hajj, the situation and the arrangement has improved a fair deal. But now they have live so far away from the stone pillars, that it makes an near impossible task for the elderly and women Hajji to perform the throwing rituals. Instead they'd let someone from the family to do the part on their behalf. Where my father was stayng, he had to walk and back for about an hour, plus the time it takes to throw at thos pillars. It is an extremely exhausting task on behalf of the Hajjis esp, right after the day of Hajj (staying in Arafat)

Eagerly waiting to see how the whole revamption shapes up.
Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest [Al-Qur'an,13:28]
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Old December 14, 2008, 01:00 PM
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BANFAN BANFAN is offline
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Doesn't really matter much who designs the Msjidul Haram. Let the nonmuslims be allowed to grow afiliation with Islam's holiest place, in some way. That might lead to changing their attitude towards islam and it's holiest place, resulting more non-muslims coming to Islam. Allah knows what's best for Islam & Mecca.

After all, Quran, Prophet Muhammad, Islam is not anyones sole property, all these were sent/given by Allah for the entire mankind.
[Post CWC15 Consistency Record: [B]Test: W-0 L-1 D-1/B]// ODI: W-3 L-0 // T20: W-1 L-0]
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Old December 14, 2008, 01:19 PM
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auntu auntu is offline
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খবরটা শুনে খুব একটা ভালো লাগলো না। পরে ডিটেইল আলাপ হবে
﴾اَلَاۤ اِنَّ اَوۡلِيَآءَ اللّٰهِ لَا خَوۡفٌ عَلَيۡهِمۡ وَلَا هُمۡ يَحۡزَنُوۡنَ ۖ ۚ‏ ﴿۶۲
"Listen, the friends of Allah shall have no fear, nor shall they grieve" (Yunus: 62)
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Old December 16, 2008, 04:49 AM
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Alien Alien is offline
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The mosques does need proper expansion. I did Hajj in 2001 and days prior to actual Hajj its very difficult to pray without getting sandwiched badly. Almost impossible to kneel in proper posture.
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Old December 18, 2008, 11:13 PM
nsd3 nsd3 is offline
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This year during the Jummah right after Hajj I had to stand on the road outside the premise and had to do Sizda in 'Ishara' as there was no space to do sizda (because of huge crowd). The capacity needs to be expanded that's for sure.

The rule of non muslims cannot enter Makkah/Medina was enacted during or Prophet (SM) time, I believe. There must be some reason behind it and as muslims all are happy with whatever was decided back then.

Saudi govt is particularly careful against anyone doing kissing on mazars even touching sometimes etc. Someone standing by the Kabah or Mazar is ensuring communicating to the people of the fact that has nothing to do with Islam. I liked this approach. I'm happy with the way the Hajj is managed this year. The distance to walk to Jamarat for (stoning) is part of the Hajj and some will have to walk less distance if their tent is nearer to the Jamarat. Ours was 1.5 hour walk away (one way). I heard Bangladeshi pilgrims (going from BD) was nearer to the Jamarat this year. To accommodate all the Hajis they have to spread the Mina tents and some will have space near the Jamarat and some will be far away. It all depends on how one's fate is fixed regarding one's Hajj and one has to accept it and keep on performing own rituals with utmost patience.
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Old December 20, 2008, 02:08 PM
Niceman70 Niceman70 is offline
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To the left the king is reaching out to a Talmud-Jewish rabbi - a pharisee - showing a cabalistic hand sign, which means - according to Texe Marr - commitment to the adversary of Jahweh.

follow link to see more sign and symbols.
Those who still have their parents living please don't forget to do your best to your parents. Cause you never know when the opportunity will be gone.-- Warwolf
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Old December 22, 2008, 09:03 AM
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Puck Puck is offline
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we seem to forget that arabs are jews are from one race, they are both semitic people. both faiths share a common monotheistic gods. the troubles in between the two faiths are nothing to do with how this one god is incanted but more around the concept of land. once we can rise above this materialistic idea of property, we might start to appreciate each other a little more. there is more to gain from dialogue than blowing up each other.
'immerse your soul in love' - thom yorke
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Old December 22, 2008, 12:08 PM
nsd3 nsd3 is offline
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Originally Posted by Puck
we seem to forget that arabs are jews are from one race, they are both semitic people. both faiths share a common monotheistic gods. the troubles in between the two faiths are nothing to do with how this one god is incanted but more around the concept of land. once we can rise above this materialistic idea of property, we might start to appreciate each other a little more. there is more to gain from dialogue than blowing up each other.
What do you mean by incant?
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