In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Jennifer Bell [may Allaah guide her] stated, “The ancient coffin of Priest Psamtik, buried thousands of years ago and unearthed by archeologists in an Egyptian necropolis, has arrived in the United Arab Emirates to be displayed at the Egypt Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. The coffin of priest Psamtik, “the son of Pediosir,” is one of the colored wooden coffins that were recently discovered in a well in the sacred area of Saqqara, south of the capital of Cairo, by the archaeological mission of the Supreme Council of Antiquities”.
First, in the above statement is an exaltation of the people of Kufr and Shirk; rather she even referred to a so called sacred area called Saqqara! So, what is the meaning of the word sacred in the English language? Sacred means ‘considered to be holy and deserving respect, especially because of a connection with a god- connected with God or a god or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration’. Holy means ‘related to a religion or god- dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose’. We can clearly see that both the words ‘Sacred’ and ‘Holy’ are connected to God or a god, and this includes beliefs, acts of worship, rites, relics, books, symbols etc . Therefore, what is the first thing Muslims should recall when these words are used by people of different creeds and beliefs? The first thing we should recall is the origin of Shirk [ascribing partners with Allaah] and Bidah [innovation in religious affairs]! Allaah [The Exalted] said:
كَانَ ٱلنَّاسُ أُمَّةً۬ وَٲحِدَةً۬ فَبَعَثَ ٱللَّهُ ٱلنَّبِيِّـۧنَ مُبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنذِرِينَ وَأَنزَلَ مَعَهُمُ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبَ بِٱلۡحَقِّ لِيَحۡكُمَ بَيۡنَ ٱلنَّاسِ فِيمَا ٱخۡتَلَفُواْ فِيهِۚ وَمَا ٱخۡتَلَفَ فِيهِ إِلَّا ٱلَّذِينَ أُوتُوهُ مِنۢ بَعۡدِ مَا جَآءَتۡهُمُ ٱلۡبَيِّنَـٰتُ بَغۡيَۢا بَيۡنَهُمۡۖ فَهَدَى ٱللَّهُ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ لِمَا ٱخۡتَلَفُواْ فِيهِ مِنَ ٱلۡحَقِّ بِإِذۡنِهِۦۗ وَٱللَّهُ يَهۡدِى مَن يَشَآءُ إِلَىٰ صِرَٲطٍ۬ مُّسۡتَقِيمٍ
Mankind were one community and Allah sent Prophets with glad tidings and warnings, and with them He sent the Scripture in truth to judge between people in matters wherein they differed. And only those to whom (the Scripture) was given differed concerning it after clear proofs had come unto them through hatred, one to another. Then Allah by His Leave guided those who believed to the truth of that wherein they differed. And Allah guides whom He wills to a Straight Path. [Surah Al-Baqarah. Verse 213]
Allaah [The Exalted] said:
وَمَا كَانَ ٱلنَّاسُ إِلَّآ أُمَّةً۬ وَٲحِدَةً۬ فَٱخۡتَلَفُواْۚ وَلَوۡلَا ڪَلِمَةٌ۬ سَبَقَتۡ مِن رَّبِّكَ لَقُضِىَ بَيۡنَهُمۡ فِيمَا فِيهِ يَخۡتَلِفُونَ
Mankind were but one community (i.e. on one religion – Islamic Monotheism), then they differed (later), and had not it been for a Word that went forth before from your Lord, it would have been settled between them regarding what they differed]. [Surah Yunus. Verse 19]
Ibn Abbaas [may Allaah be pleased with him and his father] said, “There were ten generations between Nooh and Aadam, and all of them used to be upon the true path [i.e. upon Islaam – worshipping Allaah alone], then they differed and started worshipping idols- false deities and images, so Allaah sent Messengers with clear proofs and evidences”. (1)
Therefore, the above clearly demonstrates the fact that whatever is innovated in religious practice, even if considered holy and sacred by its adherents, is not valid in the sight of Allaah [The Exalted]. The creeds are two types – the creed revealed by Allaah and the creed initiated by the people who deviate/deviated from the path of Allaah. Allaah informed us about Prophet Yusuf [peace be upon him and his father] that he said to his companions in the prison:
يَا صَاحِبَيِ السِّجْنِ أَأَرْبَابٌ مُتَفَرِّقُونَ خَيْرٌ أَمِ اللَّهُ الْوَاحِدُ الْقَهَّارُ; مَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِنْ دُونِهِ إِلَّا أَسْمَاءً سَمَّيْتُمُوهَا أَنْتُمْ وَآَبَاؤُكُمْ مَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ بِهَا مِنْ سُلْطَانٍ إِنِ الْحُكْمُ إِلَّا لِلَّهِ أَمَرَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا إِيَّاهُ ذَلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ وَلَكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
O two companions of the prison! Are many different lords (gods) better or Allah, the One, the Irresistible? You do not worship besides Him but only names which you have named (forged), you and your fathers, for which Allah has sent down no authority. The command (or the judgement) is for none but Allah. He has commanded that you worship none but Him (i.e. His Monotheism), that is the (true) straight religion, but most men know not. [Soorah Yoosuf: Verses 39-40]
Allaah [The Most High] said:
أَفَرَأَيْتُمُ اللَّاتَ وَالْعُزَّى
وَمَنَاةَ الثَّالِثَةَ الْأُخْرَى
أَلَكُمُ الذَّكَرُ وَلَهُ الْأُنْثَى
تِلْكَ إِذًا قِسْمَةٌ ضِيزَى
إِنْ هِيَ إِلَّا أَسْمَاءٌ سَمَّيْتُمُوهَا أَنْتُمْ وَآَبَاؤُكُمْ مَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ بِهَا مِنْ سُلْطَانٍ إِنْ يَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا الظَّنَّ وَمَا تَهْوَى الْأَنْفُسُ وَلَقَدْ جَاءَهُمْ مِنْ رَبِّهِمُ الْهُدَى
Have you then considered Al-Lat, and Al-‘Uzza (two idols of the pagan Arabs) And Manat (another idol of the pagan Arabs), the other third? Is it for you the males and for Him the females? That indeed is a division most unfair! They are but names which you have named, you and your fathers, for which Allah has sent down no authority. [Soorah An-Najm. Verses 19-23]
Allaah (The Most High) said: [أَمْ لَهُمْ شُرَكَاءُ شَرَعُوا لَهُمْ مِنَ الدِّينِ مَا لَمْ يَأْذَنْ بِهِ اللَّهُ – Or have they partners with Allah (false gods), who have instituted for them a religion which Allah has not allowed]. [Soorah Ash-Shoorah: Verse 21]
All these verses clearly show that the sound Islamic creed can only be derived from the revelation [i.e. the Qur’aan and the authentic Sunnah]. (2)
Therefore, it is very clear – as stated above – that whatever is concocted as belief or religious rites is not sacred or holy in the sight of Allaah, just as Allaah [The Exalted] stated that Prophet Yusuf [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said to his companions in the prison: [مَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِنْ دُونِهِ إِلَّا أَسْمَاءً سَمَّيْتُمُوهَا أَنْتُمْ وَآَبَاؤُكُمْ مَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ بِهَا مِنْ سُلْطَانٍ – You do not worship besides Him but only names which you have named (forged), you and your fathers, for which Allah has sent down no authority].
Second, regarding artefacts, Al-Allaamah Rabee Bin Haadi Al-Mad’khali [may Allaah preserve him] stated: The attention given to artefacts (or relics) – in this era – in the manner pursued by the Archaeologists was not known during the era of the Prophet’s companions [may Allaah be pleased with them] and the pious predecessors [may Allaah have mercy upon them]; but rather the Muslims blindly followed the Europeans and Americans whose greatest goal in studying artefacts (or relics) in the land of the Muslims is to revive (the traits of) pre-Islamic nationalism, such as Pharaonism, (Pan) Babylonianism, Phoenicianism etc. And they succeeded to a great extent in actualizing many of these goals and thus arose – in the Muslim lands – the (traits) of pre-Islamic national pride and taking pride in these nationalisms.
Indeed, I am amazed with the example of yours [i.e. the person the Rabee was refuting] regarding the towns of (Prophet) Saaleh and Ukhdood [ie. the people who tortured the believers mentioned in Surah Al-Burooj], which are places (that earned) Allaah’s anger!! Imaam Al-Bukhaaree [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “Abdullah Bin Muhammad Al-Jufee narrated to us that Abdur Razzaaq narrated to them from Az-Zuhree who narrated from Saalim, who narrated from Ibn Umar [may Allaah be pleased with him and his father], who said, ‘When the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] passed by Al-Hijr, he said, ‘Do not enter the dwelling places of those people who were unjust to themselves unless you enter in a weeping state lest the same calamity as of theirs should befall you’. Then he covered his head and made his speed fast till he crossed the valley”. Yahyah Bin Bukayr narrated to us who said that Maalik narrated to us from Abdullaah Bin Deenaar who reported from Ibn Umar [may Allaah be pleased with him and his father], who said, “Allah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said to his companions who were at Al-Hijr, ‘Do not enter upon these people who are being punished, except in a weeping state, lest the same calamity as of theirs should befall you’”. [Saheeh Al-Bukhaari. Numbers 4419 and 4420]
The two Prophetic reports show the danger of entering the places of those who incurred Allaah’s anger and He destroyed them due to their disbelief, denial of the prophets and what their message. The Prophet did not permit entry into them [i.e. those places] except for one who fears Allaah and fears His punishment, so he enters them when in need whilst he is in a weeping state.
It is feared for the one who enters the dwellings of those who were punished that he would be afflicted with the punishment that afflicted them. It is legislated for the one who approaches those dwellings to go past quickly whilst covering his face to follow the example of Allaah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him]. Do the Muslim possess understanding – and amongst them the Archeologists and those who encourage them – of what is in this Prophetic guidance that came from one who does not speak out of his own desires [I.e. Muhammad -peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him]? Also, Allaah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] legislated for the one who goes past the valleys of Muhassar to hurry because Allaah destroyed the people of the Elephant over there [i.e. the story of the people of the Elephant – Surah Al-Feel].
So, those who excavate the artefacts (relics) of the people of Aad, Thamood, the Ashaab Al-Ukhdood, the pharoanic and Babylonian artieacts (or relics), do they act based on the guidance of Allaah’s Messenger or do they blindly follow the enemies of Allaah who set up partnership of exploration for them from the artefacts (or relics) of the destroyed nations in order to entice (them) to the pride of pre Islamic ignorance. Indeed, I and other than myself have read the numerous boasting of Muslims or those who ascribe to Islam, such as the statement of some of them, “O Misree (i.e. Egyptian)! Be proud of the builders of your glory when people were sleeping”. He boasts about the Pharoanic artefacts (relics) such as the pyramids and other than them. (3)
Why Ponder Upon The Story of The Nations of Old?
Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [may Allaah have mercy upon him] stated: Allaah [The Most High] said:
[قَدْ خَلَتْ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ سُنَنٌ فَسِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَانْظُرُوا كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الْمُكَذِّبِينَ – Many similar mishaps [troubles, problems] of life were faced by nations that have passed away before you, so travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who disbelieved]. [Surah Aal Imraan. Verse 137]
Indeed, there were nations like yourselves before you, so look to their evil end. You have to know that the reason behind their evil end was due to their disbelief in the revelations of Allaah and disbelief in Allaah’s Messengers. They were the forefathers and you are the descendants. The main affair that connects you to each other is your disbelief and the ruling on that disbelief is destruction. (4)
Imaam Muhammad Bin Saaleh Al-Uthaymeen [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “If it is said, ‘What is the benefit in narrating to us the stories of the destroyed nations despite the fact that this Ummah will not be completely destroyed in a manner similar to the destruction of the previous nations before it?’”.
The Answer: Indeed, this has two benefits: The first benefit is a clarification of Allaah’s blessings upon us that the occurrence of a complete destruction is removed from us, and that were it not for Allaah’s Benevolence we would have been deserving of it. Second, the likeness of the punishment they received may occur in the hereafter for the one who did what they did, if punishment was not received in the worldly life. And this may be understood from the statement of Allaah: “Such is the Seizure of your Lord when He seizes the population of towns while they are doing wrong. Verily, His Seizure is painful and severe. Indeed in that (there) is a sure lesson for those who fear the torment of the Hereafter.” So what is apparent from this Aayah is that what is similar to the punishment they received will happen in the Hereafter, and Allaah knows best. (5)
Finally, we should be very careful when these terms ‘Sacred’, ‘Holy’ are used. Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “The basis of Banee Aadam’s misguidance is due to ‘General Terms’ and ‘Ambiguous Meanings’ [i.e. terms and meanings that can either be utilized for truth or falsehood when not explained in detail and distinguished], especially if they come in contact with a confused mind. Then how about when desires and misguided enthusiasm is added to that?! Therefore, ask the One Who keeps the hearts steadfast [i.e. Allaah] to keep your heart firm upon His Religion and not allow you to fall into this darkness. (6)
The basis of a person’s Islaam is to testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] is the Messenger of Allaah, to believe in Allaah, declare that Allaah is One without partner, obey Allaah’s commands, keep away from what Allaah has forbidden and single out Allaah in worship. And safeguarding this path (necessitates) the prohibition of every expression (word or term) that contains Shirk Billaah [i.e. ascribing partners to Allaah], Kufr [disbelief] or will lead to one of the two. (7) In the Qur’aan, there are many words that are utilised to rebut the words oppose the call of the Messengers, the revelation that was revealed to them and the truth they brought. (8)
One of the general fundamental principles (in Islaam) is to know that words are two types- words that are mentioned in the Qur’aan and (authentic) Sunnah, therefore it is obligated on every believer to affirm them, affirm what Allaah and His Messenger have affirmed, and negate what Allaah and His Messenger have negated. The words affirmed by Allaah is truth and the ones Allaah negated are (negated) in truth, because indeed Allaah speaks the truth and guides to the straight path. The words of the divine Islamic legislation are sanctified and it is part of perfection in knowledge that one seeks after the (sound meanings) which the Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] intended by them, in order to affirm what he affirmed and negate the meanings he negated, because indeed it is obligated on us to believe and bear witness to everything he has stated and follow him in everything he has commanded. As for the words that are neither found in the Qur’an and (authentic) Sunnah nor did the Salaf (pious predecessors) hold a consensus regarding whether they are negated or affirmed, then it is not incumbent on anyone to agree with the one who negates or affirms them until its intended meaning is explained. So, if its intended meaning agrees with the (creed, revelation, commands, prohibitions etc) conveyed by the Messenger, it is affirmed; but if its intended meaning is in opposition, it is rejected. (9)
[Ref 1: Misbaah Al-Muneer Fee Ta’dheeb Tafseer Ibn Katheer]
[Ref 2: Madkhal Li-Diraasati Aqeedah Al-Islaamiyyah. lesson 2 By Shaikh Abdur Razzaaq Al-Badr (may Allaah preserve him)]
[Ref 3: Baraa’atus Sahaabah Al-Akhyaar Min At-Tabarruk Bil Amaakin Wal-Aalathaar. Pages 11-14. Slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 4: Source: I’laam Al-Muwaqqi-een: 1/181]
[Ref 5: Source: Al-Muntaqaa Min Fawaa-idil Fawaa-id 123-124]
[Ref 6: An Excerpt from ‘As-Sawaa’iq Al-Mursalah Alal Jahmiyyah Wal Mu’attilah’ – Vol 3. page 927. slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 7: Excerpt from ‘Mu’jam Al-Manaahee Lil Laf’dhiyyah’ page 34. slightly paraphrased. Publisher: Daar Al-Aasimah. 3rd edition 1996]
[Ref 8: Excerpt from Mu’jam Al-Manaahee Lil Lafdhiyyah’ page 10. slightly paraphrased. Publisher: Daar Al-Aasimah. 3rd edition 1996]
[Ref 9: Excerpt from ‘Al-Haqeeqatus Shar’iyyah Fee Tafseeril Qur’aan Al-A’dheem Was-Sunnatin Nabawiyyah’ page 17. slightly paraphrased]