In Islam (unlike in Imamism) Images of animals and people are prohibited inside a mosque because of the concern that such images might lead to idol worship (this principle is Sadd al-Dara’i, blocking the means).
The concept of Sadd al-Dara’i is founded on the idea of prevention of evil before it materialises. There are examples of Sadd al-Dara’i in the Quran (for instance, 6:108; 2:104). The means must conform to the ends (objectives of Shariah) and ends must prevail over the means. If the means violate the purpose of Shariah, these must be blocked.
Saint and grave veneration (which is different from honouring the Awliyah) has been historically a means to polytheism and whatever is a means to something unlawful (especially if it’s polytheism) is unlawful itself according to principles of the religion.
Islam is inherently iconoclastic
Islam came to eliminate saint and grave veneration from its very roots, especially in the forms of erected graves, statues, and pictures of religious figures. One of the greatest iconoclasts in Muslim history was none other than the Commander of the Believers, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib:
عن أبي الهياج الأسدي قال: قال لي علي -رضي الله عنه-: «ألا أَبْعَثُك على ما بَعَثَني عليه رسول الله -صلى الله عليه وسلم-؟ أن لا تَدْعَ صُورَةً إلا طَمَسْتَها، ولا قَبْرًا مُشْرِفًا إلا سَوَّيْتَه [رواه مسلم]».
Abu al-Hayyaj al-Asadi said: “‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) said to me: ‘Shall I not send you with the same instructions as the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) sent me? Do not leave any image without blotting it out, nor any raised or built-up grave without leveling it.'” (Muslim)
Islam is keen to cut off whatever may lead to polytheism, whether hidden or apparent. In this Hadith, ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) explains that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) sent him on a mission and commanded him to erase and blot out every image that he would encounter because they represent contention with Allah, the Almighty, in terms of creation. Also, the people may glorify such images and end up as idolaters.
The Prophet (ﷺ) also commanded him to level all built-up graves and any grave raised above the height approved by the Shariah. Raising graves may tempt people into glorifying the dead buried inside them and regarding them as associates with Allah, the Almighty. This keenness aims to guard the pure creed of Muslims, because making images and building over graves leads to overestimation, glorification, and sanctification of such things, as well as granting them rights that are exclusively limited to Allah, the Almighty.
Now imagine the Prophet, his Ahlul-Bayt, and his Sahabah were alive today and would see the Quburis (grave worshippers) imitating the Jews and Christians in their heresies such as grave veneration and Christian iconography (depiction of saints).
Unnecessary depiction of ordinary human beings (and anything that has a soul) is either prohibited or detested by the scholars of Islam, as for the depiction of Prophets, etc., especially in places of worship, then there is no disagreement on the prohibition of this evil act.
In another narration we read:
It was narrated that Aslam the freed slave of Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) said: When Umar went to Syria, one of the leaders of the Christians made food for him and called him. Umar said: We will not enter your churches because of the images that are in them – meaning the statues. (Narrated by ‘Abd al-Razzaq in al-Musannaf, 1/411 and 10/398)
Muslim and non-Muslim historians point to a long, culturally determined, and unchanging tradition of fierce iconoclastic stances and even acts within Islamic-Sunni society (unlike in Shia societies).
Imam Bukhari included an entire chapter in his Sahih which he entitled: Chapter on praying in a chapel
Ibn Hajar (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
Another report states:
“Ibn Aidh narrated in Futuh al-Sham that when Umar came to Syria, the Christians made food for him and called him, and he said: Where is it? They said: In the church, and he refused to go. He said to Ali: Take the people to eat lunch. So Ali took the people and entered the church, and he and the people ate lunch, and Ali looked at the images and said: What would be wrong if the Amir al-Mu’minin entered this place?” (Mughni 8/113)
However, nothing but the following hadith with its severe condemnation of other polytheists is a stronger hujjah (divine proof) against those amongst the Ummah who have fallen into the innovation of the invocation of the Awliya (saints) and the veneration of their graves:
Saint and grave worship: the mother of all polytheism
The scholars explain that the reason why the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said warned so harshly against grave worship was that his time to depart from this world was near and one of his biggest concerns was indeed grave worship. He wanted to make clear that nothing is above Tawhid and that his Ummah should not fall into the heresies of the Jews and Christian by making his grave also into a place of worship as sooner or later people could start worshipping the grave itself and this indeed occurred with graves other than his.
Therefore such stern words were used so that people refrain from coming close to Shirk. In another Hadith it comes:
The truth is, his entire Da’wah was a war against Shirk and everything that might lead to it, yet those who have fallen into excessive veneration of the saints/Imams (whom they invoke more than the Prophet) have literally revived all forms of heresy and paganism that the Prophet (ﷺ) came to uproot such as:
- The paganism of invoking/praying to saints (‘ya ‘Ali madad instead of ‘Ya Jesus’ and ‘Ya Hubal madad’).
The Church-Esque heresy of saint depiction and veneration.
The paganism of excessive wailing and lamenting rituals that not just resemble those of the Jahiliyyah but would actually disturb the ancient pagan Arabs if they were to witness it.
And for every bid’ah they will fish in murky waters, quoting some late scholars (Khalaf), left, right, and centre, as if the religion is based upon fallible men and not the Prophet (ﷺ), his Ahlul-Bayt, and his Sahabah, who never practiced any of the heresies the Quburis from amongst the Rafidah and extremist Sufis are known for.
They say pictures speak a thousand words, the following pictures speak of the mother of all heresies and polytheism i.e. the exaggeration about the buried saints who have been turned into demigods by their superstitious followers. Sceneries that you will see in many, if not most Muslim countries, except in the Arabian Peninsula, which (with all its flaws) is free of these heresies.
Modest Muslim graves (non-plastered and levelled to the ground)
The grave venerating Jews
Ask the Rabbi: A grave matter (jpost.com) says:
“The Torah definitively discourages Jews from attempting to contact the next world. It forbids ‘seeking out the dead,’ prohibiting sorcery and other ‘abominable’ attempts to access other-worldly spirits (Deuteronomy 18:11).
Tellingly, the Torah records that the burial place of Moses remains unknown, a verse unfortunately ignored by some unscrupulous tour guides (Deut. 34:6). Many midrashim asserted that God did not want his burial spot to become, for Jews and non-Jews, a place of worship.” (Midrash Lekah Tov)
The Rabbi explains that later interpretation (Bid’ah) supported the idea of intercessory prayer in which the deceased or angels are requested to beseech God (the Rafidah and Sufis are upon that very same creed). Some promoted cemeteries as places with greater spiritual presence. The Rabbi even warns his own people of grave worship:
“Despite the widespread allowance for cemetery visits (BachYD 170), many were worried by its excesses. In one extreme 16th-century case, Rabbi David ibn Zimra chastised worshipers who opened graves (!) so that they could communicate directly with the dead (Radbaz Ta’anit 4:4). In the 19th century, Rabbi Abraham Danzig warned people against praying to the dead and leaving God out entirely.” (Hochmat Adam 89:7)
Yet, many Jews seem not to take heed, including most of their ‘scholars’…
Jewish tombs in Iran
Many of Iran’s cities have Jewish tombs that are related to Judaism in some way. The most famous of these places are located in cities like Qazvin, Hamadan, Tuyserkan, and Isfahan. These include the tomb of Esther and Mordechai in Hamadan, the tomb of Daniel in Susa, the tomb of Habakkuk in Tuyserkan, and the mausoleum of Peighambariyeh in Qazvin.
Indeed, Iran is a tomb pilgrimage destination for Jews around the world who believe that a number of ‘their’ Prophets and saints were buried over there. The Prophet (ﷺ) made a chilling prophecy regarding the Shia heartland of modern-day Iran (which happens to be the heartland of the largest Jewish community in the Middle East):
حَدَّثَنَا مَنْصُورُ بْنُ أَبِي مُزَاحِمٍ، حَدَّثَنَا يَحْيَى بْنُ حَمْزَةَ، عَنِ الأَوْزَاعِيِّ، عَنْ إِسْحَاقَ، بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ عَنْ عَمِّهِ، أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ “ يَتْبَعُ الدَّجَّالَ مِنْ يَهُودِ أَصْبَهَانَ سَبْعُونَ أَلْفًا عَلَيْهِمُ الطَّيَالِسَةُ ”
The shrine of Habakkuk in Toyserkan
Habakkuk is a prophet in the Hebrew Bible. He is the author of the Book of Habakkuk, the eighth of the collected twelve minor prophets. The name Habakkuk, or Habacuc, appears in the Hebrew Bible only in Habakkuk, and in the Masoretic Text, it is written in Hebrew.
The Tomb of Mordechai and Esther in Iran
History and tradition of the tomb
The tomb of Esther and Mordechai is located in Hamadan, Iran. Considered by some to house the remains of Queen Esther Biblical and her cousin Mordechai, it is the most important place of pilgrimage for the Jews of the country.
According to Israel’s National Library, the tomb was first mentioned by Benjamin of Tudela in the 1100s.
The city of Hamadan is often associated with Shushan where the Purim story took place in the fourth century BCE,” the Library notes on its website, though it says “another tradition of the Jewish community of Iran explains that Hamadan is, rather, the place where Esther and Mordechai fled after the death of Ahasuerus, fearing that Haman’s followers would assassinate them, and received protection from the city’s Jewish community.
The Tomb of Esther and Mordechai in Hamadan, Iran, is thought to have been built in the 1600s. “Between the two tombs is a deep pit covered by a large stone, which, according to one of the traditional stories, leads all the way to Jerusalem,” the Library says. “Adjacent to the tombs is a room that serves as a place for prayer, used also for the reading of the Megillah and family celebrations.
There are many more holy Jewish sites in Shia Iran, and many of them are often frequented by Jews and Shi’ites alike:
Tomb of Daniel (Daniyal) In Iran
Today, six (!) cities claim the tomb of Daniel: Babylon, Kirkuk, and Muqdadiyah in Iraq, Susa (Shush) and Malamir in Iran, and Samarkand in Uzbekistan. The most famous is in the majority Arab-Persian city of Susa (Shush, southern Iran), on a site known as Shush-e Daniyal. According to Jewish tradition, the rich and poor of the city quarreled over the possession of the body, and the beer was therefore suspended from a chain above the center of the river.
A house of prayer open to all who believed in God was built nearby, and fishing was prohibited by some distance along the river; the fishes that swam in this part of the river had heads that shone like gold, and the impious ones who entered the sacred enclosure drowned miraculously in the river.
Peighambarieh – The Tomb of the Four Prophets
Located in the (Shia) city of Qazvin and adjacent to a Shia place of worship and school belonging to the Safavid era, there is a tomb that is considered the tomb of four Jewish prophets: Sahuli, Salam, Alqia, and Saloum called Chahar Anbia (lit. four prophets). They are said to be the prophets that emigrated to the Iranian plateau with the goal to promote the Shariah of Moses.
In addition to the Jewish prophets, a Shia saint is also thought to be in this place.
And the list of Jewish tombs and shrines that are revered by the Jews and Rawafid in Iran goes on and on, not to mention those in Shia regions of Iraq.
The grave Rafidah and Sufis
And here are more pictures proving that Shi’ism has embraced the very heresy that the Prophet (ﷺ) warned against: