Statement from Libyan `Ulama’ on the Salafi Destruction of Mosques and Tombs

Aug 30

I am reposting the following statement by ‘Umar Mawlud ‘Abdalhamid, a member of the League of Libyan `Ulama’, concerning the recent wave of destruction of tombs and places of worship at the hands of some Libyans who claim themselves to be Salafis:

28 August 2012


For inquiries: 091 3226168 – 092 5159497     LIBYANOLAMA@YAHOO.COM

In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Dispenser of Grace

Statement by the League of Libyan Ulema 

Regarding the Assault on Libya’s Mosques and Mausoleums 

Praise be to God, the Lord of the Worlds, and peace and blessings on the Prophet Muhammad, his Family, and his Companions.

The Libyan revolution, which was launched on February 17th of last year, initially sought to achieve legitimate goals through peaceful means. Despite the fact that the government was flagrantly killing innocent Libyan men while carrying out sexual assaults on Libyan women, many young men remained in their homes, under the influence of scholars who argued that the government was legitimate, and accordingly, rising up against it was an act of sedition.


Only after the Lord granted the revolutionaries victory did these youth join the fray, trying to present themselves as leaders of the movement – this despite the fact that up until that moment (and even afterwards) they had allied themselves with Saadi Gaddafi who financed the establishment of a puritanical Salafi school for them in one of the mosques of Tripoli.

This group has repeatedly attempted to undermine the stability of our country to achieve their fiendish goals. To this end, they have set off bombs at the tombs of saints, destroyed places of worship, burned down religious schools, pillaged libraries with rare and priceless manuscripts, and abducted and tortured dozens of those whose only crime was to refute their errors or stop their destruction, as in Zliten. In this, the more radical elements of the security apparatus have been complicit.

These renegades are inspired by a school of thought foreign to our venerable and indigenous traditions, a school of thought comprised of the most errant positions at odds with the teachings of the vast majority of Muslim scholars.

Assaulting a tomb and exhuming its inhabitant is a grave sin in Islam. The classical jurist Malik narrated in his Muwatta that the Prophet (peace be upon him) cursed those who dig up the graves of others.[1] Similarly, the Prophet (pbuh) declared, “Breaking the bone of a dead Muslim is as grave as breaking their bone when they are alive.”[2] And at the funeral of the Prophet’s wife Maymouna, Ibn Abbas firmly instructed the pall-bearers: “When you raise up the bier, make sure not to let it shake back and forth, but carry it with the utmost care.”[3] It should go without saying that digging up someone’s body and blowing up their grave is that much more blasphemous. [4]

These renegades claim that visiting the mausoleums of the saints amounts to idolatry, a position which contradicts the Prophet (pbuh)’s saying that “While I used to forbid you from visiting people’s graves, feel free to do so now, since visiting them is a good remembrance of one’s own mortality”[5] not to mention that it contradicts the well-established practice of Muslim society from its very beginnings. To the extent that there are some people who pray to these saints to the exclusion of God, this is due to their own ignorance and does not in any way call for the destruction of these sites or the murder of its attendants.

The Grand Mufti of Libya recently published a fatwa legitimizing the destruction of mosques built around a tomb; this fatwa is inappropriate for several reasons. First of all, the mufti should well know that all tombs in Libya, without exception, which are attached to a mosque are separated from the actual prayer area by a wall. Secondly, the mufti bases his fatwa on the isolated position of the medieval jurist Ibn Taymiyya, whom he describes as “the great sage of Islam (shaykh al-Islam)” – as if there have not been scores of scholars who have shared this encomium. The fact is that the vast majority of Muslim scholars have found no problem with having a tomb adjoin a mosque in the manner found in our society. And in any case, the Great Mosque of Medina contains not only the tomb of our Prophet (pbuh), but those of his close Companions Abu Bakr and Umar – and not a single Muslim from the Prophet’s generation ever suggested that their bodies be moved out of the mosque precinct or that the mosque should be relocated. Furthermore, the fact that the Companions debated whether to bury the Prophet (pbuh) beneath his pulpit only underlines the acceptability of this. And the Prophet himself (pbuh) commanded that “A prophet should be buried wherever he breathes his last.” [6] And Lady Ayesha, who was well-versed in Islamic law, would perform her prayers next to his grave. Thirdly, the mufti has contravened the position of the dominant school of law here in Libya – namely, the Maliki school – even though he formally committed himself to its rulings through the Fatwa Law which he himself drafted.

Accordingly, those who murder civilians and destroy our very heritage are renegades who defy God’s law. Islam enjoins on us to restrain them by force and hold them accountable for all their crimes, for as the Lord says in scripture: “It is but a just recompense for those who make war on God and His apostle, and endeavour to spread corruption on earth, that they are slain in great numbers, or crucified in great numbers, or have, in result of their perverseness, their hands and feet cut off in great numbers, or are [entirely] banished from [the face of] the earth: such is their ignominy in this world. But in the life to come [yet more] terrible suffering awaits them” [7] and “Hence, who could be more wicked than those who bar the mention of God’s name from [any of] His houses of worship and strive for their ruin, [although] they have no right to enter them save in fear [of God]? For them, in this world, there is ignominy in store; and for them, in the life to come, a terrible suffering.” [8]

In conclusion, it is the responsibility of the National Conference and the Interim Government to take measures to deter these renegades and hold them to account; to rebuild what they destroy and retrieve what they steal; as well as to hold to account those elements in the security apparatus who have betrayed their office to aid these criminals.

Similarly, the League of Libyan Ulema calls on the venerable National Conference and Interim Government to pressure the government of Saudi Arabia to restrain its clerics who meddle in our affairs in the following ways: providing intensive courses for Libyan youth where they are brainwashed with extremist ideas and taught to give their allegiance to the Saudi clerics to the exclusion of the just Lord Himself; promoting millions of free books and tapes in Libya which attack our moderate religious traditions; and pounding the simple masses with the propaganda that Libyan scholars are worthless and should not be heeded.  Accordingly, a formal complaint should be submitted to the League of Arab States and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation regarding this flagrant intervention in our domestic affairs.

Neglecting the grave responsibility of the security and stability of our country is a dereliction of duty; as the Prophet himself (pbuh) stated, “Those who do not actively care for the well-being of the Muslim community are not part of it.” [9]

Sedition ever lies below the surface; May God curse those who would stir it up.

Peace be upon you and the blessings of God


The League of Libyan Ulema

Dr. Umar Mawloud Abdu l-Hamid


[1]  The Book of Funerals, On Matters of Disappearance, No. 44.

[2]  Narrated by Imam Malik in The Muwatta’, The Book of Funerals, On Matters of Disappearance, No. 45.

[3]  Sahih Al-Bukhari, The Book of Marriage, Chapter on Having Several Wives.

[4]  Refer to the Al-Mabsut (The Unravelled) of Al-Sarakhsi, vol. 1, p. 190; Al-Sharh Al-Kabir (The Great Commentary) of Al-Dardir, vol. 1, p. 188; Al-Hawi (The Container) of Al-Mawardi, vol. 2, p. 336 and Al-Insaf (The Equity) of Al-Mawardi, vol. 1, p. 348.

[5]  The Sunan of Abu Dawud, The Book of Funerals, Chapter on Visiting Graves, No. 3235.

[6]  The Sunan of Ibn Majah, The Book on What Has Been Related Regarding Funerals, Chapter on What Has Been Related Regarding His (PBUH) Death and Burial, No. 1628.

[7]  The Holy Qur’an [Al-Ma’idah 5:33]

[8]  The Holy Qur’an [Al-Baqarah 2:114]

[9]  Narrated by Al-Bayhaqi in The Branches of Faith, Chapter on Asceticism, No. 10586.

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