Attack on the Kaaba?
by Rev. Frank Julian Gelli
Are terrorists planning a massive assault against the holiest Muslim shrine, the Kaaba? An apocalyptic, mind-blowing prospect. A spiritual and material enormity. The Kaaba is the sacred building in the centre of the Great Mosque at Mecca. The Islamic Holy of Holies, in the direction of which the faithful at prayer must face. For Muslims it the navel of the earth. Any outrage on the shrine would be infinitely sacrilegious. Further, it would set off a worldwide explosion of violence and unrest on a scale as yet undreamt of.
In early 2002, the prelude to the war on Iraq, the pro-Chechen Kavkaz Agency carried an alarming news item about a presumed conspiracy to blow up the Kaaba. It hinted at certain not so ‘occult’ infidel forces aiming at destabilising key Middle East countries. Now, as NATO’s offensive on the Taleban escalates, similar rumours have resurfaced elsewhere. Whether well-founded or fantastic, I know not. Conspiracy-mongers are tiresome. Besides, merely political explanations are often pedestrian and predictable. The priest confesses to a bias – he favours metaphysical explanations. They go deeper.
Sacrileges against the Kaaba are not new. In the year 278 of the Hegira, Muslim heretics called Qarmatis entered the great mosque and profaned it, killing several worshippers. They then seized the famous Black Stone, originally kept in Paradise, and took it away, perhaps to Bahrain. 22 years had to pass before the sacred stone was returned to Mecca.
The next major profanation happened in 1979 – the start of Islam’s fifteenth century. 400 armed zealots calling themselves the Ikhwan (Brothers) took over the Great Mosque. Their leader was Juhaiman, a charismatic, brave and learned poet and preacher. Juhaiman declared his young brother in law, Muhammad, to be the awaited Mahdi. The saviour who comes at the end of the world to fight impiety and to restore religion and justice. Alas, this putative Mahdi failed the ultimate Mahdist test: victory. Saudi King Khalid, to put down the insurrection, and not trusting his own people, had to employ thousands of foreign Pakistani troops and – horror of horrors – infidels. French special anti-terrorist forces helped to flush out the Brothers from inside the shrine. A bloody job. Hundreds died in the battle, including Muhammad, the would-be Mahdi. 67 Ikhwan prisoners were later beheaded, pour decourager les autres, in the public squares of various Saudi cities.
The Saudi monarchy claimed the uprising was the work of kharijis, fanatical dissenters from orthodox Islam. For his part, the leader of the Iranian Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, accused Israelis and Americans of wanting defile and grab Islam’s holiest shrine. Be that as it may, both the rebels’ seizure of the Mosque and its subsequent storming by the royalists filled the Muslim umma with dismay. But the plot goes on. If the current rumours about a planned assault on the Kaaba have any foundation we may be in for upheavals that will shake the world…
Where does the metaphysical significance of such events lie? The sacred, its symbols and emblems have always aroused the deep hatred of the wicked – as well as the hostility and derision of the idiots. The French revolutionaries – they of ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’ fame – invented the very term ‘terrorism’, after the wholesale massacre of their opponents in the 1793 Great Terror. But they also perpetrated another, highly symbolical crime. Demoiselle Candelle, a rouged dancer of the Paris opera, was carried with all honours in procession to the medieval Cathedral of Notre Dame. An exultant mob placed the girl on the high altar of the desecrated church and proceeded to worship her as a goddess. Yes, the goddess reason. So it was that Reason, in the shape of a harlot, was deified. Elevated to divine status and adored by the French revolutionaries, in the place of the rejected God of their fathers, the God of the ancient, revealed religion of Moses and Christ.
The lesson is clear: the great rebellions that have shaped the modern Western world have at bottom being rebellions against Transcendence, against the very Ground of man’s Being, against God.
My friend Ahmed, with whom I occasionally share my thoughts, shrugs his shoulders: ‘Frank, this stuff about attacking the Kaaba is sheer nonsense. Who’d be so mad to do that? That Kavkaz crowd need a reality check. Have you looked at their website? They are crazy Islamists. Jihadists. Nutters. I would not credit a single word they say.’
‘Well, I agree the action would be lunatic’, I responded, ‘but then you could first ask, in the old Latin tag, Cui Bono? Who would benefit (or might think he’d benefit) from that, however mad? Bibi Netanyahu? Christian Zionists? Bin Laden? Sarkozy? Goldman Sachs? The Kremlin? The non-existent Elders of Zion? Not an easy one to ponder but if you did know the answer, maybe it would not look so senseless an action, after all…’
‘Second, although the current rumours don’t issue from Kavkaz, I have checked out their website. Those fierce, bearded faces, the leaders of the Caucasus Emirate, are impressive. I also looked at the Q&A with their Emir Saifullah (Sword of God). It’ll shock you - I kind of like the guy. His targeting of ‘paganism’ is rather congenial. He prioritises Sharia law over state law, of course – a mark of Islamism but you have to remember what the Chechens are up against. Since Tsarist Russian brutally conquered Chechnya two centuries ago, the law of the state has meant repression. Stalin’s deportations in WWII are notorious. And post-Communist Russia has continued in the brutalities. Saifullah is right. Today’s Russia no longer has a state ideology. Putin is trying to feed in the cult of democracy and capitalism but it is not working – actually it is beginning not to work in the West, either.’
‘Wallahi! Frank’ Ahmed said, grinning, ‘You are beginning to sound like an Islamist! If you knew how bad those people are…’
‘No enemies on the Left, Communists used to proclaim, dear Ahmed. I suppose the priest might say that there are no enemies on the side of the Sacred.’
Revd Frank Julian Gelli
FATHER FRANK’S RANTS - Rant Number 385 16 February 2010