Dr. Abdullah Omar Nasseef
On Removal of Prophet’s (pbuh) Body
Dr. Mozammel Haque
“Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb” written by Andrew Johnson published in The Independent on 01 September 2014. In that article, it was mentioned, “One of Islam’s most revered holy sites – the tomb of the Prophet Mohamed – could be destroyed and his body removed to an anonymous grave under plans which threaten to spark discord across the Muslim world.
“The controversial proposals are part of a consultation document by a leading Saudi academic which has been circulated among the supervisors of al-Masjid al-Nabawi mosque in Medina, where the remains of the Prophet are housed under the Green Dome, visited by millions of pilgrims and venerated as Islam’s second-holiest site. The formal custodian of the mosque is Saudi Arabia’s ageing monarch King Abdullah. The plans, brought to light by another Saudi academic who has exposed and criticised the destruction of holy places and artefacts in Mecca – the holiest site in the Muslim world – call for the destruction of chambers around the Prophet’s grave which are particularly venerated by Shia Muslims.” (The Independent, 1 September 2014)
This news spreads like wildfire and actually created a confusion and mistrust among the general public. This news was published in The Independent about the removal of the Prophet’s body from Masjid-e-Nabawi and taken it to other places. This news created a big problem worldwide. I was interviewed by Channel S, London, on this subject and whatever I understand I gave them the information which was correct to me to defuse the rumours. I also placed on my website www.islamicmonitor.blogspot immediately on 4th of September; the official statement came out from the Al-Haramain Official departments refuting the rumours. Still I was trying to understand the real situation. Because it is a very sensitive issue for the Muslims specially at a time when Muslims throughout the world are going to Makkah to perform Hajj. People believed that a proper time was chosen to highlight a topic which will create chaos and confusion among the Muslim community.
However, I found a most respectable person who is not only an academic, educationalist, scientist but also a former Secretary General of the Makkah-based Muslim World League and former President of the Jeddah-based King Abdulaziz University. He is none other than Dr. Abdullah Omar Nasseef who is well-known and respected throughout the world. He was passing through the United Kingdom. I met him and enquired from him: “What do you think about this whole episode about the removal of the Prophet’s body? This is very important because this rumour was denied by the Saudi authorities.
Dr. Nasseef said, “Everybody knows that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is respected by everybody and this is part of Islam that we respect the Prophet peace be upon him); to follow him properly and listen to him exactly as it was mentioned by him in our lives; so our lives are dependent on adhering to Sunnah, adhering to his sayings and instructions.”
“But this matter of the removal of the Prophet’s body has been exaggerated by the press because somebody wrote a thesis that at the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) after his death, the tomb and the chambers of his wife were outside the Mosque; When Abdul Malik ibn Marwan said to enlarge the mosque; he added the southern border of the Masjid with three or four lines of Salah so it became that the tomb instead of being outside came inside and became part of the mosque; people prayed surrounding the mosque; he was mentioning that I don’t think he has suggested anything; but he was favouring that we should bring the sufuf of the salah wherever it was originally at the time of Sahabah, the companions, peace and mercy be upon them,” Dr. Nasseef explained. .
Dr. Nasseef emphasized, “So the people exaggerated. Nobody talk about the body; taking the body but only removing the prayers of chambers. But whatever the suggestion was there, that was a personal argument; somebody mentioned that and the king was so angry he said this person deserved to be executed because he is creating fitnah.”
“When such person spoke last time, King Khaled bin Abdulaziz said this fellow deserved to be executed because he is creating fitnah,” Dr. Nasseef mentioned and added, “I think this time the matter is also exaggerated by the press We should tell the people that nothing is taking place.”
While replying to my question: “do you think there was or is any Ulema or government officials thinking about this,” Dr. Nasseef said, “Never happened like this. Never such thing was brought in by any group or ulema or jurisprudence council. It has never been mentioned.
Dr. Nasseef had been Secretary General of the Muslim World League for two terms, i.e. for more than 10 years and then deputy chairman of the Shoura Council of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I put this question to him, “have you heard any discussion about this during that period?” Dr. Nasseef said, “This matter has never been brought up.”
After Ramadan Dr. Nasseef went to Slovenia for the International Scouts Conference. There were two functions in Slovenia: for the International Union of Islamic Scouts. Generally, it meets every three year. Dr. Nasseef was the chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scouts and he is still the chairman. There is international Scouts conference every three years. “We finished in one day and then the second day the 40th International Scouts Conference was held. The business and other activities were as usual,” Dr. Nasseef mentioned and added, “The function I went; it was very good; there were two/three sessions during that conference.”
Dr. Nasseef also mentioned about the Messenger of Peace. He said, “Three years ago King Abdullah said these scouts are the Messengers of Peace. This matter was taken by the Scouts Foundation to have programmes creating the awareness among the youth that Council of Messenger of Peace so that they can work harder and produce well community development programme. So this was emphasized in this International Scouts Conference.”
Dr. Nasseef then went to UAE. It was in Ramadan. “The organiser wanted to create a Council of Muslim Scholars but still the matter was in the beginning. Nothing has been done. Scholars of wisdom and understanding. But nothing has been done yet. It was a discussion only for one day,” Dr. Nasseef mentioned about his visit to UAE.
This September Dr. Nasseef came to the United Kingdom to attend two Board of Trustees meeting, the meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Cambridge-based Islamic Academy and the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies. He is the chairman of both these educational organisations.
On 15th of September, 2014, Dr. Nasseef met the Board of Trustees meeting of The Islamic Academy in London and discussed about the activities and future programme of the Academy.
Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OXCIS)
In Oxford, before the Board of Trustees meeting there was academic committee and the building and planning and strategic committees. They discussed the normal issues, how the future of the centre, when we can finish the building and the opening of the new sites and the other things were under the discussion. The official opening date is 26th 2016 but before that scholars and students will occupy the premises.
The Centre promotes multi-disciplinary teaching, research and publication at Oxford related to Muslim culture and civilization. Its Fellows teach in a range of faculties across the University of Oxford. Through its international outreach, and links with academic institutions worldwide, the Centre provides a meeting place for scholars studying all aspects of contemporary Muslim societies.
The Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OCIS) is a Recognised Independent Centre of the University of Oxford, founded in 1985. HRH Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, the Centre’s patron, has been enthusiastic supporter since its foundation in 1985. He has twice delivered lectures at the Centre and visited the 3.25 acre site where building work on its new home began work in 2002. Prince Charles took a prominent part in the design of the Islamic garden.
Background of the foundation of the Centre
The Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies was set up in 1985 when Dr. Naseef was the Secretary General of the Makkah-based Rabita Al-Alam Al-Islami (Muslim World League). Late Maulana Hassan Nadwi was the first chairman of the Centre’s Board of Trustees and Dr. Naseef was a member of the Board along with others.
I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Naseef who has been associated with the Oxford Centre from the very beginning and a great supporter of the Centre. In the beginning Dr. Naseef was a member of the Board of Trustees; then he became the vice-chairman and now chairman. Recollecting those days, Dr. Naseef said, “When I was Secretary General of the Rabita, Dr. Farhan Nizami came with a big ambitious project. Alhamdo lillah, it came through and it was a big dream for him and for us. It’s a blessing of Allah the Almighty. He had made it to come through.”
“Maulana Hasan Nadwi came to visit Rabita, the first chairman and then met the Late King Fahd and told him about the centre that this is the centre in the heart of colleges in Oxford. Historically, it is very important and the Late King Fahd gave the support, Alhamdo Lillah,” Dr. Naseef said.
East-West University in Chicago
Dr. Nasseef was supposed to meet the President and other members of Chicago-based East West University who was supposed to come to talk about the new Tower building of the University.