Mellanöstern och Nordafrika Tidningen
Published On: tor, aug 25th, 2016

Bombing a Prophet’s Tomb in Yemen

The Bin Salman Wrecking Crew in Saudi Arabia has just bombed a sacred shrine in Yemen devoted to Nabi Shu’ayb, one of the prophets mentioned in the Quran. This isolated shrine, located atop the highest mountain in the Arabian Peninsula, has survived for centuries and now has been reduced to rubble.  

The destroyed shrine of the Prophet Shu’ayb in Yemen

The destroyed shrine of the Prophet Shu’ayb in Yemen

In the Quran Shu’ayb was a prophet sent to the Midianites to warn them of their idolatry and their persecution of believers. He warned them to “not deprive people of their due and cause not corruption upon the earth,” adding, “And do not sit on every path, threatening and averting from the way of Allah those who believe in Him, seeking to make it [seem] deviant.” In another passage, Shu’ayb is quoted as saying, “Allah says: Be just and honest in weighing things and also in returning their belongings. Do not create quarrels and troubles among the people and fear Allah as He is the great creator of the world.”

But the Midianites refused the message of this prophet, trying to force him to return to their religion. Here was their arrogant response: “They said, ”O Shu’ayb, does your prayer command you that we should leave what our fathers worship or not do with our wealth what we please?” We know what the Saudis have been doing with their oil wealth: “Since 2010, the administration has authorized a record $110 billion in military sales to Saudi Arabia, according to the Congressional Research Service. The planned sales include dozens of advanced F-15 fighter jets, Apache attack helicopters, naval vessels, Patriot missile-defense systems, hundreds of armored vehicles, and thousands of missiles, bombs, and other munitions.” Would that Shu’ayb was here today to send his message to Riyadh and to ISIS.

According to a recent source, the number of mosques that have been bombed or damaged by this current war, mostly from the bombing campaign, has reached 648. Yemen has some of the oldest mosques in the Arab World, with some especially beautiful examples from the Rasulid era in the 13th and 14th centuries. Now there are mosques that have even been bombed during prayer times, especially by ISIS suicide bombers, causing multiple deaths. The people of Yemen, especially in the traditional Zaydi areas, are suffering from the air and the ground. It is not even safe to pray.

The Midianites who refused Shu’ayb’s warning about their behavior were destroyed in an earthquake and by scorching heat. There is no little irony in this story for the current devastating war against the people of Yemen, who are the poorest in the Arab World. There is a tradition from the Prophet Muhammad that on Judgement Day, the Prophet Shu’ayb and his followers will be the first to enter paradise. I wonder what Shu’ayb would say about the bombing of his shrine in Yemen.

About the Author

- Anthropologist and historian with 40 years of experience researching and working in Yemen. Varisco is currently the President of the American Institute for Yemeni Studies, a Senior Postdoctoral Scholar at the Institute for Social Anthropology at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and an expert advisor to MENA Tidningen.

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