Article: Mecca’s Hallowed Skyline Transformed.
MECCA, Saudi Arabia These days it’s easier to find a Cinnabon in Mecca than the house where the Prophet Muhammad was born.
The ancient sites in Islam’s holiest city are under attack from both money and extreme religion. Developers are building giant glass and marble towers that loom over the revered Kaaba which millions of Muslims face in their daily prayers. At the same time, religious zealots continue to work, as they have for decades, to destroy landmarks that they say encourage the worship of idols instead of God.
Abraj al-Bait is a complex of seven towers, some of them still under construction, rising only yards from the Kaaba, the cube-like black shrine at the center of Muslim worship in Mecca. “Be a neighbor to the Prophet,” promises an Arabic-language newspaper ad for apartments there.
Saudi Arabia boasts that Abraj al-Bait – Arabic for “Towers of the House,” referring to the Kaaba’s nickname, “the house of God” – will be the largest building in the world in terms of floor space. Developers have said the completed building will total 15.6 million square feet – more than twice the floor space of the Pentagon, the largest in the United States.
Three of the towers, each nearly 30 stories, are already completed, and the others are rapidly going up. A mall at their base has already opened, where customers – many of them in the simple white robes of pilgrims – shop at international chains such as The Body Shop and eat at fast-food restaurants. Other nearby complexes include upscale hotels.
Remember when the Taliban destroyed the giant buddha statues in Afghanistan? Their Salafist Muslim buddies in Saudi Arabia want to do away with all idolatrous historical landmarks right there in Saudi Arabia.
The holy sites have also been targeted for decades by the clerics who give Saudi Arabia’s leadership religious legitimacy. In their puritanical Wahhabi view, worship at historic sites connected to mere mortals – such as Muhammad or his contemporaries – can easily become a form of idolatry. (Worship at the Kabaa, which is ordered in the Quran, is an exception.)
There’s a lot more information in the article about historical sites that have already been destroyed. Worth reading.