Demolition of Masjid al-Dirar

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The demolition or burning of Masjid al-Dirar (Arabic: مسجد الضرار‎), also referred to as the Mosque of Opposition, the Mosque of Dissent, or the Mosque of Harm is mentioned in the Qur'an. Masjid al-Dirar was a Medinian mosque that was erected close to the Quba' Mosque and which the Islamic Prophet Muhammad initially approved of but subsequently had destroyed while he was returning from the Battle of Tabuk (which occurred in October 630 AD[1]). There are two version of what happened in this event.[2] . In the main account narrated by the majority of scholars, the mosque was built by twelve disaffected men from the Ansar on the commands of Abu 'Amir al-Rahib; a Christian monk who refused Muhammad's invitation to Islam and instead fought along with the Meccan non-Muslims against Islam in the Battle of Uhud.[3] Abu 'Amir reportedly urged his men to establish a stronghold and prepare whatever they can of power and weapons as he promised and insinuated to them that he will lead an army, backed by Heraclius, to fight Muhammad and his companions, and defeat his message by expelling him from Medina.[4] Ahmad ibn Yahya al-Baladhuri however, also relates that the Mosque was built by some men who refused to pray in Masjid al-Quba because it was built in a place where a donkey was tied up.[5]

Muhammad prepared himself to go to the Mosque, before he was prevented by a revelation about the hypocrisy and ill design of the builders of the Mosque[2]

Muhammad and his companions believed they were Hypocrites (munafiqs) and had ulterior motives for building the Al-Dirar mosque. Thus he ordered his men to burn it down.[4][6]

According to the Islamic tradition, Muhammad was asked to lead prayer there but received a revelation (mentioned in the Qur'anic verses 9:107 and 9:110[7][8][9]) in consequence of which the mosque was destroyed by fire. Hencerforth, it was known as the Mosque of Opposition.

Accounts[edit]

Masjid al-Quba (pictured above).[5]

Abu Amir ar- Rahib was a Hanif.[10] Hanif's stood closer to Christianity than Judaism.[11] He disliked Muhammad, and reportedly fought in the Battle of Badr. He wanted to uphold the Medinaian status quo, which allowed him to practice his religion freely. He also joined the Quraysh against the Muslim in the Battle of Uhud. The Majority have said that Abu Amir asked the ruler of the Byzantine for help against Muhammad. Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)'s companion Abd-Allah ibn Ubayy was his nephew. Abu Amir died in 9AH or 10AH of the Islamic calendar in the courtyard of Heraclius.[12]

There are 2 versions of what happened in this event.[2]

First version[edit]

George Sale sates that the Mosque was built just before the Battle of Tabouk and was designed to "engage" Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).[2]

Muhammad prepared himself to go, but was forbidden by the revelation of a Quran verse.[2]

Ibn Kathir mentions in his Tafsir that Abu `Amir Ar-Rahib (a Christian monk) told some disaffected Muslim Ansar to build the mosque. Abu Amir is reported to have said to some people that he will go to the emperor (Caesar) of the Byzantine Empire and return with Roman soldiers, to expel Muhammad.[7]

According to Ar-Rahīq al-Makhtum (the Sealed Nectar), a modern Islamic hagiography of Muhammad written by the Indian Muslim author Saif ur-Rahman Mubarakpuri, a mosque called Masjid-e-Darar (the mosque of harm) was created by the Munafiq (hypocrites). When the mosque was completely built, the creators approached Muhammad and asked him to pray in it. But Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) put the request on hold till his return from the Battle of Tabuk. Mubarakpuri claims that through a "Divine Revelation", Muhammad was told that the Mosque was promoting anti-Islamic elements. Thus, on Muhammad's return from Tabuk, he sent a party of Muslim fighters to demolish the mosque.[9]

Second version[edit]

According to George Sale, one version states that the Banu Amir ibn Awf had built Masjid al-Quba and told Muhammad to pray in it, and he complied with the request. But their brother tribe Banu Ghan ibn Awf was jealous and also built a Mosque (Masjid al-Dirar).[2]

Ahmad ibn Yahya al-Baladhuri also mentioned this. He said the Mosque was built by some men who refused to pray in Masjid al-Quba because it was built in a place where a donkey was tied up. Rather they said they will build another mosque until Abu Amir could lead the service in it. But Abu Amir did not convert to Islam, rather he left Medina and converted to Christianity. The Banu Amir ibn Awf built Masjid al-Quba and Muhammad led the prayer in it, but there brother tribe, the Banu Ghan ibn Auf were jealous and also wanted Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) to pray in the Mosque, they also said that: "Abu Amir may pass here on his way from Syria, and lead us in prayer"[5] Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) prepared himself to go to the Mosque, before he was prevented by a revelation about the hypocrisy and ill design of the builders of the Mosque[2]

Burning of Masjid al-Dirar[edit]

Details of the burning[edit]

When Muhammad was returning from Tabuk, the Muslims halted at Dhu Awan. Some Muslims constructed the mosque claiming it was for the sick and needy, but Muhammad knew that it was a mosque by hypocrites, he sent Muslim fighters to burn it down. According to author Richard Gabriel, the men entered the mosque and set fire to it with its people inside, "and the people ran away from it".[13]

Analysis and speculation about the burning[edit]

Isma'il Qurban Husayn (translator of Tabari, Volume 9, Last years of the prophet) speculated by saying in footnote 426, that the people were "probably" linked to those who wanted to kill Muhammad in the Battle of Tabuk, but Tabari himself did not make that claim.[14]

William Muir mentions that Muhammad believed the Mosque was built to create disunity among Muslims by drawing people away from another Mosque in Quba[8] i.e. Masjid al-Quba, which was the first Mosque to be built by Muslims.[15]

Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab at-Tamimi (founder of the Wahabbi movement) mentioned in an abridged version of Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya biography of Muhammad, Zad al-Ma'ad, that the mosque was burnt down, and he also used this event to justify his belief that burning down places of sin is permissible in Islam.[16]

Islamic sources[edit]

Primary sources[edit]

The event is mentioned in the Quran verse 9:107, the verse states:

And there are those who put up a mosque by way of mischief and infidelity - to disunite the Believers - and in preparation for one who warred against Allah and His Messenger aforetime. They will indeed swear that their intention is nothing but good; But Allah doth declare that they are certainly liars. [Quran 9:107]

The Muslim scholar Ibn Kathir's commentary on this verse is as follows:

(If we come back from our travel, Allah willing.) When the Messenger of Allah came back from Tabuk and was approximately one or two days away from Al-Madinah, Jibril came down to him with the news about Masjid Ad-Dirar and the disbelief and division between the believers, who were in Masjid Quba' (which was built on piety from the first day), that Masjid Ad-Dirar was meant to achieve. Therefore, the Messenger of Allah sent some people to Masjid Ad-Dirar to bring it down before he reached Al-Madinah. `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said about this Ayah (9:107), "They are some people of the Ansar to whom Abu `Amir said, `Build a Masjid and prepare whatever you can of power and weapons, for I am headed towards Caesar, emperor of Rome, to bring Roman soldiers with whom I will expel Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and his companions.' When they built their Masjid, they went to the Prophet and said to him, "We finished building our Masjid and we would like you pray in it and invoke Allah for us for His blessings

[Tafsir ibn Kathir on 9:107].[7]

The event is mentioned by the Muslim jurist Tabari as follows:

"The Messenger of God proceeded until he halted in Dhu Awan, a town an hour’s daytime journey from Medina. The people who had built the Mosque of Dissent (masjid al-dirar) had come to him while he was preparing for Tabuk saying, ‘O Messenger of God, we have built a mosque for the sick and needy and for rainy and cold nights, and we would like you to visit us and pray for us in it.’ [The Prophet] said that he was on the verge of traveling, and he was preoccupied, or words to that effect, and that when he returned, God willing, he would come to them and pray for them in it. When he stopped in Dhu Awan, news of the mosque came to him, and he summoned Malik b. al-Dukhshum, a brother of the Banu Salim b. ‘Awf, and Ma’n b. ‘Adi, or his brother ‘Asim b. ‘Adi, brothers of the Banu al-‘Ajlan, and said, "Go to this mosque whose owners are unjust people and destroy and burn it". They went out briskly until they came to the Banu Salim b. ‘Awf who were Malik b. al-Dukhshum’s clan. Malik said to Ma’n, "Wait for me until I bring fire from my people." He went to his kinsfolk and took a palm branch and lighted it. Then both of them ran until they entered the mosque, its people inside, set fire to it and destroyed it and the people dispersed. Concerning this, it was revealed in the Quran...

[Tabari, Volume 9, The last Years of the Prophet, pg 60-61][17]

Secondary sources[edit]

Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab at-Tamimi (founder of the Wahabbi movement) mentioned in an abridged version of Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya biography of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), Zad al-Ma'ad, about this event:

We also derive from this story the permissibility of burning places of sin and disobedience, as the Prophet burnt Masjid Ad-Dirar (the Mosque of Harm); and it is incumbent upon the Imam to destroy it, either by demolishing it or burning it, or by altering its shape and changing its function.

And if that was the case regarding Masjid Ad- Dirar, then the shrines where Shirk is practised should with all the more reason be destroyed and likewise the houses of the wine merchants and those who do evil deeds; Umar burnt down a whole village in which wine was sold. And he burnt down the palace of Sa'd when he secluded himself in it from the people and the prophet intended to burn down the houses of those who did not attend the Friday prayer or the Congregational prayers; and the only thing which prevented him was the presence therein of persons whom it was not obligatory...

[Abridged Zad al Ma'ad, Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya, 429] [16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hawarey, Dr. Mosab (2010). The Journey of Prophecy; Days of Peace and War (Arabic). Islamic Book Trust. Note: Book contains a list of battles of Muhammad in Arabic, English translation available here, and archive of page here
  2. ^ a b c d e f g George Sale (1850). The Koran, commonly called the Alcoran of Mohammed: translated into English immediately from the original Arabic, with explanatory notes taken from the most approved commentators, to which is prefixed a preliminary discourse. William Tegg. p. 162.  See footnote S, also republished in 2009, BiblioBazaar
  3. ^ Osman, Ghada. "Pre-Islamic Arab Converts to Christianity in Mecca and Medina: An Investigation into the Arabic Sources". Retrieved 3 July 2011. "Abu ‘Amir eventually left Medina in A.H. 3, after once more joining Quraysh against the Muslims, this time at the Battle of Uhud" 
  4. ^ a b Kathir, Ibn. "Masjid Ad-Dirar and Masjid At-Taqwa". Tafsir Ibn Kathir. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c al-Baladhuri, Ahmad ibn Yahya (30 March 2011). The Origins of the Islamic State. Cosimo Classics. pp. 16–17. ISBN 978-1-61640-534-2. 
  6. ^ Tabari, Al (25 Sep 1990), The last years of the Prophet (translated by Isma'il Qurban Husayn), State University of New York Press, p. 60, ISBN 978-0-88706-691-7  See footnote 425
  7. ^ a b c Rahman al Mubarakpuri, Saifur. Tafsir ibn Kathir(abridged). p. 515.  see also Tafsir ibn Kathir, 9:107, Online Text version
  8. ^ a b Muir, William (10 August 2003). Life of Mahomet. Kessinger Publishing Co. p. 462. ISBN 978-0-7661-7741-3. 
  9. ^ a b Rahman al-Mubarakpuri, Saifur (2005), The Sealed Nectar, Darussalam Publications, p. 273 
  10. ^ Karaemer, Joel L. (1992). Israel oriental studies, Volume 12. BRILL. p. 42. ISBN 978-90-04-09584-7. 
  11. ^ Baynes, The Encyclopaedia Britannica: a dictionary of arts, sciences, and general literature, p. 457
  12. ^ Osman, Ghada. "Pre-Islamic Arab Converts to Christianity in Mecca and Medina: An Investigation into the Arabic Sources". pp. 72–73. Retrieved 3 July 2011.  An archive of the page is available here
  13. ^ (Who is Richard Gabriel to make such a claim that the Holy Prophet burnt the mosque with people inside- when the Holy prophet is mercy for the worlds)Gabriel, Richard A. (2008), Muhammad, Islam's first general, University of Oklahoma Press, p. 198, ISBN 978-0-8061-3860-2 
  14. ^ Tabari, Al (25 Sep 1990), The last years of the Prophet (translated by Isma'il Qurban Husayn), State University of New York Press, p. 60, ISBN 978-0-88706-691-7 
  15. ^ Masjid Quba is the first mosque in Islam's history
  16. ^ a b Muḥammad Ibn ʻAbd al-Wahhāb, Imam (2003). Mukhtaṣar zād al-maʻād. Darussalam publishers Ltd. p. 429. ISBN 978-9960-897-18-9. 
  17. ^ Tabari, Al (25 Sep 1990), The last years of the Prophet (translated by Isma'il Qurban Husayn), State University of New York Press, p. 60, ISBN 978-0-88706-691-7