Sheikh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi on the Destruction of Historical Sites

(From his work “Refuting ISIS”, Second Edition)





With regards to the last point made on the ancient site of Thamud, following are narrations of the Prophet (peace be upon him)’s visit to that site:

  • Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar: The people landed at the land of thamud called Al-Hijr along with Allah’s Apostle and they took water from its well for drinking and kneading the dough with it as well. (When Allah’s Apostle heard about it) he ordered them to pour out the water they had taken from its wells and feed the camels with the dough, and ordered them to take water from the well whence the she-camel (of Prophet Salih) used to drink.  (Sahih Bukhari  & Muslim) 
  • ‘Abdullah b. Umar reported that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said in connection with the people of Hijr (thamud): Do not enter but weepingly (the habitations) of these people who bad been punished by (Allah), and in case you do not feel inclined to weep, then do not enter (these habitations) that you may not meet the same calamity as had fallen to their lot. (Sahih Muslim)
  • Ibn Shihab reported, and he had been talking about the stony abodes of thamud, and he said: Salim b. ‘Abdullah reported that ‘Abdullah b. Umar said: We were passing along with Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) through the habitations of Hijr, and Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: Do not enter but weepingly the habitations of these persons who committed tyranny among themselves, lest the same calamity should fall upon you as it fell upon them. He then urged his mount to proceed quickly and pass through that valley hurriedly. (Sahih Muslim)

Following points are notable:

  • The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not order the destruction let alone looting of these sites.
  • Sahabah were in fact ordered by the Prophet (s) to take water from the well which was used by Prophet Salih (asws). This was not shirk or means to shirk or a bidah or superstition, as the Wahhabi movement portray.
  • With regards to the site where calamity occurred because of past evils, the Prophet(s) ordered to either enter weepingly or to simply proceed quickly, rather than anything to do with destroying these sites.
  • Historical sites connected to early Prophets were popularly known and acknowledged, unlike the Salafis who deny such existence. They commit category fallacy when implying authenticity of historical sites and relics, are to be necessarily validated by using same rules used in authenticating narrations from the Prophet (peace be upon him).

Further can be seen from the practice of the companion of the Prophet, Anas ibn Malik (rad.) in visiting ancient sites to take lessons from it:

  • Narrated Anas ibn Malik: Sahl ibn AbuUmamah said that he and his father (AbuUmamah) visited Anas ibn Malik at Medina during the time (rule) of Umar ibn AbdulAziz when he (Anas ibn Malik) was the governor of Medina.  ..(…)..Next day he went out in the morning and said: will you not go out for a ride, so that you may see something and take a lesson from it? He said: Yes. Then all of them rode away and reached a land whose inhabitants had perished, passed away and died. The roofs of the town had fallen in. He asked: Do you know this land? I said: Who acquainted me with it and its inhabitants? (Anas said:) This is the land of the people whom oppression and envy destroyed. Envy extinguishes the light of good deeds, and oppression confirms or falsifies it. The eye commits fornication, and the palm of the hand, the foot, body, tongue and private part of the body confirm it or deny it.  (Sunan Abu Dawud)


Fatwa of Sheikh Muhammed Said Ramadan al Buti (rah.)

As translated here:

The questioner is asking about visiting historical sites in Indonesia that contain old Buddhist statues and drawings; is it permissible to visit these places as a tourist?

The Sheikh’s response was:

رؤية التماثيل التاريخية ونحوها والمرور بها، والجلوس على مقربة منها ليس محرّماً، ألا ترى إلى الآثار الفرعونية القائمة منذ أيام الفتح الإسلامي. لقد كان المسلمون ولا يزالون يمرون بها وينظرون إليها، ولم يقل بحرمة ذلك أحد.

“Looking at historical statues and the like, passing by them and sitting by one of their graves is not unlawful. Have you not seen the Pharaonic relics that have remained [i.e. in Egypt] since the days of the Islamic conquest? The Muslims still visit them, pass by them and look at them, and no one has ever declared it unlawful.”



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