Islamic world may lose heritage

  • Letters
  • Tuesday, 01 Apr 2003

Nor Azaruddin Husni Nuruddin,Senior Fellow/Director Consultation and Training Centre of IKIM 

AS we have reached the year 2003, we thought the world would be more civilised but unfortunately, once again America is showing its double-sided face against the Middle East. 

War against Iraq will result in killing thousands of Iraqi children and what will the Americans gain?  

Apparently, hundreds of historical buildings, artefacts and manuscripts of Muslim scholars may be destroyed, stolen or even smuggled to the West. 

Historically, Iraq is a vital part of the cultural heritage of Islamic civilisation and also Arab Christian heritage between 750-1350 A.D.  

Iraq has many places of historical interest. The Islamic world might lose its religious heritage if the war against Iraq is not stopped. 

The fourth Caliph of Islam, Ali ibne Abu Talib (Ra:)was born on Friday, 13th of Rajab, in the Holy Ka’ba. His father was Abu Talib-ibne-Abdul Muttalib, the Prophet Muhammad’s uncle and his mother was Fatima bint-e-Asad. 

He died at the age of 63 in Kufa on Monday, the 21st Ramadan 40 AH. He was murdered by an assassin, who mortally wounded him with a poisoned sword in the mosque at Kufa during morning prayers on the 19th of Ramadan. 

He was laid to rest at Najaf, near Kufa.  

About 60km from Najaf is Kerbala, a bustling township now, but 14 centuries ago, it was a desolate open patch of desert on the bank of the Euphrates River (locally called Furat). 

Imam Hussain bin Ali (Ra:) was most treacherously invited to Kufa, and on the way there was intercepted at Kerbala.  

Within days, the imam along with more than 100 companions and family members embraced martyrdom at the hands of the soldiers of Yazid bin Muabia who had usurped the caliphate.  

The shrines of Imam Hussain (Ra:) and others at Kerbala recall sentimental and historic memories and strengthen resolve to stand against evil.  

Some 400km northwest of Baghdad lies Mosul city, on the bank of the Tigris River, locally known as Dijla.  

The shrine of Prophet Yunus (As:) (biblical name Jonah) lies here in Mosul. Muslims all over the world recite the Doa-e-Yunus.  

Within the city of Baghdad itself, the shrines of Prophet Yuasha (As:) (biblical name Joshua) and widely known and universally respected spiritual leaders-scholars-jurists Abdul Kader Gilani (Ra:), Junaid Baghdadi (Ra:) and Imam Abu Hanifa (Ra:) attract thousands Muslims from near and distant lands. 

These keep Iraq in the emotional frame of most Muslims.  

In the Baghdad suburb of Kadhimain stands a famously beautiful Shi’ite mosque. Its two domes and four major minarets are covered with gold as well as a recreation of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.  

Modern historians argue that when Alexander the Great's soldiers reached the fertile land of Mesopotamia, they were impressed when they saw the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. 

This feeling was expressed in poems by poets then. If Alexander’s soldiers were still alive they would probably defend Iraq till their last blood. 

Nancy Wilkie, president of the Archaeological Institute of America has expressed the institute’s concern for the region’s cultural heritage for the Protection of Cultural Property to develop and implement programmes to protect ancient sites, monuments, antiquities and cultural institutions. 

But today the US has wrecked and clearly destroyed all the international system. It has asked all countries to follow the entire rules but obviously it has failed to obey them. 

US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair probably are not aware that the Iraqi people have made enormous contributions to the world today, especially in science. 

As a matter of fact, the Iraqi people introduced gunpowder or black powder to Europe. Black powder is a mixture of three components: potassium nitrate or saltpeter, sulphur and charcoal. 

Saltpeter, the principal ingredient of black powder, first appeared in the writings of Arabian Abd Allah in 1200 A.D. Only in 1975, the Gearhart-Owens company in the US began to mass produce it.  

Can Bush explain to us where the word chemical is derived from? The word chemical evolved from al-Kimya, an Arabic word. 

Muslims were major developers of modern alchemy, chemistry, pharmacology, optics, algebra, astronomy and modern medicine. 

The Ontario Science Centre of Excellence, in an exhibition “A Question of Truth,” has shown that the world is indebted to Islamic physicians who developed the first modern hospitals and gave their ideas to other nations. 


But today, everything may be gone. There may be no more Islamic heritage in Iraq because we do not know when the war will end. 

Sadly, when I came across an article of an Iraqi kindergarten pupil who expressed herself: “I loved school, I am very sad not to go anymore.  



I dreamed of becoming a doctor and I wanted to help others, but now it’s too late. Even if tomorrow there is no embargo anymore, I will never become a doctor anymore and that’s all because of the US.”  


In reality, life today is similar to the life of wild animals in the jungle. The strong eat the weak. As technology advances, and the “civilised” nations claim to have modified democracy into a better role, and made life so easy to live, concurrently, they make life so easy to lose by creating new machines to slay people. 

We are proud to have the United Nations but lately it is too busy with meetings or is paralysed instead of taking any action. 

What is the purpose of having a whole organisation that theoretically should protect innocent people and take action against criminals? Obviously, it is just good in sending blue-capped troops to war.  

The UN is gradually losing its reputation and the trust of the world.  

We don’t see any banners calling for Saddam Hussein to disarm but there are huge numbers of people around the world with big red flags, wearing T-shirts labelling Bush an international terrorist and demanding for him to step down. 

Who have to pay for this war?  

The answer is those who use oil. Before the Gulf War broke out, oil was about US$15 (RM57) per barrel.  

However, during the Gulf War it increased to about US$42 (RM159).  

Nevertheless, the US generated an extra profit estimated to be at least US$60bil (RM228bil) through people’s lives and blood. 

Cynically, the Muslim countries, which are US allies, especially the Arabic countries, pay for the demolition of Islamic heritage. 

A known quotation from Mark Twain: “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” 

The media have to play an important role in this situation; today we cannot rely only on BBC or CNN.  

The major media have to tell the truth about the nature of this war. 

People need comprehensive eyewitness journalism because truth is the first casualty of war.  

However, don’t think for even a moment that resourceful users won’t figure out some way to get their stories. 

Journalists, academicians and citizens have tasted the power of knowledge through the Internet. 

Lastly, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s statement in the New Straits Times of March 22 that “we are concerned that in the end, other Muslim countries will be their next target. We know that the Axis of Evil also includes Iran and other nations like Sudan and Libya” affirms the Malaysian stand against the US-Iraq war. 

Malaysia is very proud with the firm stand of our Prime Minister.  

On the contrary, Singapore Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam opposed Malaysia’s stand and stated: 

“We allow US aircraft to fly over Singapore. We allow US military assets and ships and aircraft to call at Singapore to use our military base. We have made these facilities available to US”. 

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