I thought you might be interested in this. I am going to be on a panel, Saturday, May 15th at 3 pm (Mountain) for a live conference regarding Islamic Heritage Preservation and Rebuilding of Jannat-ul-Baqee.

Baqee is the cemetery where many members of Prophet Muhammad’s family are buried in Medina. It was destroyed by the Saudis in 1925. Not only this shrine but many others have been destroyed by Wahhabists and other extremists. I had the rare opportunity to visit the shrine of Hussain ibn Ali, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad in Karbala, Iraq in 2018 during Arbaeen. It is the largest annual peaceful gathering in the world. In a two-week period, 20 million or more people visit his shrine to commemorate his martyrdom. These shrines and others are often under attack by extremists. I also visited Samarrah near Baghdad, where ISIS (daesh) destroyed one of the holy shrines of one of the Prophet’s successors. While I was there, it was being rebuilt. 

My friend and I made a YouTube film about our 50 mile walk from Najaf to Karbala in the annual commemoration of Hussain’s martyrdom. It is called For Love of Hussain. This is the photo of the shrines of Imam Hussain and his brother Abbas in Karbala, Iraq that hangs in my office. 

Shrines, cemeteries, schools, holy sites, museums, archives, and libraries do not fare well in times of conflict, violence, and widespread ignorance and intolerance. We need to learn together, work to overcome differences, and to resist the forces that wish to divide us. I made a deep connection with my Muslim neighbors because of this journey. Even more so, I felt a deeper connection with humanity. I believe it is important to defend all burial grounds, holy places, and cultural heritage sites and resist their destruction. As we do for others, so we do for ourselves.  

You are welcome to watch and participate in this 24 hour on-line demonstration of solidarity for the rebuilding of Baqee and for the rebuilding of humanity itself. Go to www.slido.com and enter the code 385496. Again, I will be on Saturday at 3 pm Mountain, inshaAllah (God willing).