Why blow up Jonah’s tomb?

Why blow up Jonah’s tomb? July 31, 2014

The radical Iraqi Muslims that call themselves the Islamic State, a.k.a. ISIS, blew up a site that has been venerated for centuries as the tomb of Jonah.  This was in Mosul, the site of what used to be the Biblical city of Nineveh.  Some characterized this act of vandalism as an attack on Christians, but Muslims venerate Jonah too, and the site was, in fact, a mosque.

The reason has to do with the particular theology of the group, which holds to the Salafi brand of Sunni Islam.  Mark Movsesian gives a fascinating explanation, linked and excerpted after the jump.

From Why Did ISIS Destroy the Tomb of Jonah? | Mark Movsesian | First Things:

ISIS is part of the Salafi movement, a branch of Sunni Islam that seeks to return to the practices of the earliest Muslims – the salaf— who lived at the time of the Prophet Mohammed and just after. The movement rejects the centuries of subsequent developments in Islam as unjustified innovations–pagan accretions that adulterated the faith. In particular, the movement opposes the veneration of the graves of Islamic prophets and holy men. Salafis see this practice, which is associated most frequently with Sufi Islam, as a kind of idolatry, or shirk, that detracts from the absolute transcendence of God.

Salafi Islam prevails in Saudi Arabia, where it enjoys the patronage of the royal family. On the Arabian Peninsula, as now in Iraq, Salafis have destroyed the tombs of Islamic holy men. Indeed, when the Saudi royal family captured the city of Medina in the 19th century, Salafis systematically destroyed the tombs of several of the Prophet Mohammed’s companions and family members, leaving only the Prophet’s tomb itself unmolested. There is some thought that the Saudi government plans on dismantling even that tomb, but hesitates to do so because of the uproar that would result in other Muslim communities.

 

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