Turkey must assume responsibility for the upkeep and protection of the kaaba

Until recent times, Ottoman rulers were accorded the title of 'Hadimu’l- Haramain Shareefain, or “the servant of Mecca and Medina.” The fact is, the forebears of today’s Turks cared for these holy places for hundreds of years. Today, the nation of Turkey is again ready to undertake such a service, and possesses the social infrastructure and political tradition to assume such a great responsibility.
Together, the al-Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, and the Kaaba inside it, constitute one of the most important sites in Islam, and when in prayer, all Muslims face in their direction. One of the religious observances that Muslims must perform is that of making a pilgrimage to the Kaaba and circling around it. For that reason, the city of Mecca is described in the Qur’an as the “Mother of Cities—– Umm al-Qura” (Surat ash-Shura: 7); and the Kaaba represents the very centre of Islam and are a holy site for all Muslims. to keep up, protect and constantly maintain the Kaaba for believers to visit from across the globe is a responsibility that all Muslims must fulfill.
The Kaaba, described by Allah in verses as “My House,” and the al-Masjid al-Haram around constitute a sacred site where Muslims of different races and speaking different languages gather from nations all over the world. As the Qur’an tells us:
The first House established for humanity was that at Bakka [Mecca], a place of blessing and a guidance for all beings. (Surah Al ‘Imran: 96)
Before Islam was revealed to humanity, the city of Mecca—despite being surrounded by desert—had always enjoyed a position of commercial and strategic importance. For that reason, the Roman and Byzantine emperors and the kings of Persia and Abyssinia all attempted to make it part of their own territories.
Yet Mecca never fell to any external attack or invasion. Almighty Allah protected His holy city at all times and made the Kaaba a place of security from its construction by the Prophet Ibrahim (as) and his son, the Prophet Ismail (as), right up to the present day:
And when We made the House a place of return, a sanctuary for humanity: They took the Maqam of Ibrahim as a place of prayer. We contracted with Ibrahim and Isma‘il: “Purify My House for those who circle it, and those who stay there, and those who bow and who prostrate.” (Surat al-Baqara: 125)
Mecca and the Struggles of Muslims in the Time of Our Prophet (saas)
In the time of our Prophet (saas), a way of life far removed from religious moral values prevailed in the Arabian Peninsula. Much of Arabia then consisted of tribes that worshipped idols.
Some of these peoples were Bedouins, living as desert nomads, while others dwelt in cities. The urban-dwellers possessed a more advanced culture and higher level of civilization than the Bedouins, who generally knew little more than how to raise livestock. In particular, the inhabitants of Mecca, the most important city in the Arabian Peninsula, represented one of the most developed civilizations in the world at the time. Their city was a most important religious and commercial center. For that reason, a great many caravans from far-off countries wended their way there and brought to the city elements of advanced cultures and foreign civilizations.
But at that time, all of Arabia—and Mecca especially—was the scene of intense inter-tribal rivalries. An oppressive social order prevailed in which might was right, where the powerful oppressed the less fortunate, and in which women were despised because of their physical weakness. Female infants were regarded as a source of shame and sometimes even buried alive. The Kaaba, built by the Prophet Ibrahim (as) and dedicated to Allah, had become the center of the pagan worship of the time. Many people came to Mecca from outside to worship the idols there. In their ignorance, they offered up gifts in front of these totems.
At this time, our beloved Prophet (saas) began telling people of Islamic moral values. He called on his people to abandon such perverted beliefs and to adopt the path of Allah. Made uneasy by this, leading citizens of Mecca targeted our Prophet (saas) and other Muslims who heeded his call. They sought to turn them away from the path of Allah, to frighten them or even kill them.
At a time when Muslims were subjected to severe pressure, our Prophet (saas) and his companions migrated to Medina. Over the next five years, the Muslims of Medina fought three major battles against the pagans of Mecca. The Meccan pagans’ aim was to defeat the believers and to eliminate Islam by eradicating all Muslims. However, by the will of Allah, they suffered historic defeats at the hands of the Muslims’ armies, who had dedicated their wealth and assets to Allah.
Finally, the army of Islam attained an irresistible strength. They marched against Mecca in 630 CE and captured the city without even having to fight for it.
As a requirement of Qur’anic moral values, our Prophet (saas) declared that no reprisals would be taken against any Meccans and that nobody would be forced to become a Muslim.
The Holy Lands, home to the holy city of Mecca, were for many years under the administration of the Ottoman Empire, which ruled such vast territories at the time. It treated this region with greater care than others under its dominion, and displayed the greatest sensitivity over the protection of these sacred lands. But as with all the other territories under its rule, it allowed peoples of different religions and nationalities to live in peace and security.
The capture of Mecca declared the end of the pagan system that had prevailed for hundreds of years and the absolute superiority of the true religion, Islam. According to historical sources, the Muslims who took the city headed straight for the Kaaba.
With the removal of the idols there, all the injustices, exploitation of the time and ignorant superstitions of disappeared from Arabia:
. . . Truth has come and falsehood has vanished. Falsehood is always bound to vanish. (Surat al-Isra’: 81)
After that time, the Kaaba continued its existence as a sacred place of worship, to which millions of Muslims flooded every year. The Kaaba and its surroundings remained under the authority of Muslim Arabs during the Age of the Four Caliphs, following the death of our Prophet (saas) and the subsequent Umayyad and Abbasid states.
Ottoman Rule
In the 16th century, in the time of Sultan Selim II, when the Ottoman Empire took control of the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East, a whole new age dawned in the region that contained Mecca and Medina; and the area was given the name of Hijaz Province. With the passage of the caliphate to the Ottoman dynasty, the region always occupied an important place in the administration of the Ottoman Empire.
Ottoman rulers regarded themselves not as the rulers of Mecca and Medina, but rather as its servants. Therefore, ever since the time of Sultan Selim II, Ottoman rulers employed the title of Hadimu’l- Haramain Shareefain, or “servant of Mecca and Medina.” Saudi Arabia, which today controls the region, began assuming this same title in the 1980s.
Throughout their rule over the region, the Ottoman sultans showed themselves worthy of this title by fulfilling that responsibility they had assumed, right down to the smallest detail. The ceiling of the Kaaba, which had been erected by the Prophet Ibrahim (as) was restored in the 17th century, in the time of Sultan Sulayman the Magnificent. Again in the 17th century, it was repaired right down to the finest detail under Ahmad I and restored to its original form. During the reign of Murad IV, three sides of the Kaaba that had been damaged by floods were restored.. The handiwork of famous architects and master craftsmen of the time can be seen in the present-day Kaaba and its surroundings.
That was by no means the end of such public works in the region, which continued to be erected after that period. During all this architectural work, great care was taken not to construct anything taller than the Kaaba itself. During the construction of the Hijaz railway, Sultan Abdulhamid II had special tracks laid down that would reduces the noise from trains. The Ottomans, devoted to their religion and sacred things, showed great concern for what they declared to be the Holy Lands. Building work continued at all times, with the aim of making Mecca, Medina and their surroundings worthy of the world of Islam. Even today, traces of Turkish-Islamic civilization can be seen throughout the region.
The Lost Trust
Another service that Ottoman rule provided was the establishment of “peace and security in the region. The geographical position of the Arabian Peninsula makes conflicts eminently possible. With the just and sovereign perspective imposed by being of the Muslim faith, the Ottoman Empire never permitted any chaos or disorder in the lands under its jurisdiction. Under Ottoman rule, life and trade flourished for centuries in the region. Muslims from all over the world could perform the obligation of the Hajj, free from any dangers or concerns. In these lands, the environment of peace and security, justice and tolerance commanded by Qur’anic moral values were adhered to. In this, Ottoman statesmen found the secret of becoming a major power, and maintained that secret to the end of their 600-year Empire. Peoples throughout the region were influenced by this benevolent regime and never felt the slightest alarm. The clearest evidence of this can be seen from the way a very small Turkish garrison kept the peace throughout these territories for hundreds of years.
Until the beginning of the 20th century, this climate of peace endured. But then, as in elsewhere in the rest of the world, a number of changes began to manifest themselves.
At the beginning of the century, the Ottoman Empire—which had already begun to lose its former power and hegemony—became the focus of interest of colonial powers. The need for new energy resources, led to corporate eyes being turned towards the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula. This region’s being under Ottoman control represented a problem in the view of foreign states, which initiated a number of actions.
The British government of the time was in the vanguard.
As early as the 19th century, Great Britain was known to have taken an interest in this region. Realizing that the Arabian Peninsula contained the world’s richest oil reserves, Great Britain began concentrating on it. Its aim was to remove the Ottomans from power in the region and eradicate all traces of them. To that end, British forces first secured control of the Suez Canal, and then of the Red Sea. Following that, it included Cyprus, Egypt and Sudan among its colonized territories. Britain finally established a base in Yemen, thus surrounding the province of Hijaz and the Arabian Peninsula. Although theoretically these lands were still under Ottoman rule, in practice they were left to their own devices. However, the Ottomans’ cultural and psychological influence and the equitable and just attitude they had maintained for centuries led to the people of the region feeling enormous love and loyalty toward their sovereignty.
When all was said and done, the Ottoman ruler was also the caliph of all Muslims. Well aware of this, such Ottoman sultans as Abdulhamid II attached great importance to the region. The Hijaz Railway was begun in order that the links between the Arabian Peninsula and Istanbul should not be severed.
However, as a result of political activities and propaganda engaged in for the purpose of isolating the region from the Ottomans, a new Arab Kingdom was declared in November 1919. The Arabian Peninsula—a province of the Ottoman Empire and the object of so many efforts aimed at protecting it—had been isolated.
With the establishment of this kingdom, the region’s peace and security were replaced with long-term chaos. in. Within a short period of time, the whole region had essentially been colonized. Until World War II, all of the country’s natural resources were exported, and only at the end of the war was Arabia able to free itself of its colonial status..

The Great Responsibility Needs to Be Shared
The problems that Islamic territories found themselves facing with the end of the First World War can still be felt today. Most Muslim countries endure civil wars and ethnic unrest due to ethnic and political difficulties, showing that things are not as they ought to be. The symptoms of nationalistic fragmentation among Muslims has led, in one sense, to a reduction in their overall strength and influence. Yet unity lies at the very essence of Islam. Following the death of our Prophet Muhammad (saas), the Islamic world was always administered by the Caliphate, which served to guide all Muslims on matters of faith.
No matter what, the protection, cleanliness and necessary upkeep for these sacred sites is a trust and a responsibility that no Muslim may ignore. One verse relates what the Prophet Ibrahim (as) was told regarding to the upkeep of the Kaaba:
And We located the position of the House for Ibrahim: “Do not associate anything with Me and purify My House for those who circle it, and those who stand and bow and prostrate.” (Surat al-Hajj: 26)
Today, the lack of a contemporary central authority to guide Muslims is making itself felt, manifesting itself in the entire infrastructure. But one of the most urgent and essential matters is the protection of the Holy Lands. Mecca and the Kaaba, which all Muslims face towards in prayer, and such places as Jerusalem, regarded as sacred by Muslims and by the people of the Book. The architecture of Mecca used to impart a sense of ease and well-being. But now the whole city, and the Kaaba in particular, is surrounded by high-rise blocks of hotels and businesses . As a result, the Kaaba is squeezed into a tiny, narrow area where it becomes literally invisible among all these taller buildings.
Precautionary measures need to be taken at once. Otherwise, no one can discount the possibility be that these sacred sites, for which many of our Muslim brothers and forbears gave even their lives to protect, will incur even greater harm with every passing day.
Therefore, they—as well as Saudi Arabia—have a great responsibility and an important trust that needs to be maintained with the greatest care. Such a sacred duty can be more easily undertaken by a number of Muslim countries, rather than by one alone. These sacred duties, taken away for various reasons during the time of the Ottoman Empire, are naturally the responsibility of the Turkish state as well. From this point of view, Turkey needs to have joint responsibility with the Saudi Arabian government for the protection of these holy sites. In fact, it might be even more practical for this duty to be entrusted to a governing body such as a joint council of Muslims, since it would be very wrong to define any such solidarity in terms of the superiority of one side over another, or as a matter of pride. The central issue is those sites that are seen as sacred to Islam. Therefore, it is most natural and essential that Muslims should act in concert on a matter that is of such interest to Islam as a whole.
The essence of the relationship between Muslim societies must be that revealed in the Qur’an: Muslims are each other’s helpmates and guardians; and for that reason, they must co-operate and work together.
Turkey, as a result of the legacy bequeathed to it by the Ottoman Empire, is regarded as the spiritual leader of the Islamic world. As a requirement of this leadership role inherited from historical tradition, Turkey has the greatest responsibility for the protection, upkeep, and cleanliness of the Holy Lands. Turkey must discharge these duties together with Saudi Arabia, and in the finest manner possible. Must translate into reality the title of Hadimu’l- Haramain Shareefain that the Ottoman Empire earned the right to bear for so many hundreds of years. .
The Republic of Turkey is the successor to the Ottoman Empire, which gathered all Muslims under a single roof and ruled successfully for more than five centuries. The Muslim Turkish nation is ready to do its duty in discharging such an important responsibility.
The Kaaba, the most holy site for Muslims, was built at Allah’s command by the Prophet Ibrahim (as) and his son, the Prophet Ismail (as). In the Qur’an, Allah states that He revealed this to the Prophet as follows:
And We located the position of the House for Ibrahim: “Do not associate anything with Me and purify My House for those who circle it, and those who stand and bow and prostrate.” (Surat al-Hajj: 26)
Allah has revealed that “the Maqam of Ibrahim” is in the Kaaba, “the first House established for humanity” and has been visited by Muslims since the day it was first constructed:
In it are Clear Signs—the Maqam of Ibrahim. All who enter it are safe. Hajj to the House is a duty owed to Allah by all humanity—those who can find a way to do it. But if anyone is disbelieve, Allah is Rich Beyond Need of any being. (Surah Al ‘Imran: 97)
Allah commanded the Prophet Ibrahim (as) to call people to the Kaaba for the Hajj, as He reveals in these words:
Announce the Hajj to humanity. They will come to you on foot and on every sort of lean animal, coming by every distant road. (Surat al-Hajj: 27)
After that time, people began flooding to the Kaaba and not only to fulfill their Hajj obligations.
2007-05-01 11:56:46

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