Will the pyramids go the way of the Buddhas of Bamiyan?
According to several reports in the Arabic media, prominent Muslim clerics have begun to call for the demolition of Egypt’s Great Pyramids—or, in the words of Saudi Sheikh Ali bin Said al-Rabi‘i, those “symbols of paganism,” which Egypt’s Salafi party has long planned to cover with wax. Most recently, Bahrain’s “Sheikh of Sunni Sheikhs” and President of National Unity, Abd al-Latif al-Mahmoud, called on Egypt’s new president, Muhammad Morsi, to “destroy the Pyramids and accomplish what the Sahabi Amr bin al-As could not.”
This is a reference to the Muslim Prophet Muhammad’s companion, Amr bin al-As and his Arabian tribesmen, who invaded and conquered Egypt circa 641. Under al-As and subsequent Muslim rule, many Egyptian antiquities were destroyed as relics of infidelity. While most Western academics argue otherwise, according to early Muslim writers, the great Library of Alexandria itself—deemed a repository of pagan knowledge contradicting the Koran—was destroyed under bin al-As’s reign and in compliance with Caliph Omar’s command.
However, while book-burning was an easy activity in the 7th century, destroying the mountain-like pyramids and their guardian Sphinx was not—even if Egypt’s Medieval Mamluk rulers “de-nosed” the latter during target practice (though popular legend still attributes it to a Westerner, Napoleon).
Readers will recall the destruction by the Taliban of the magnificent Buddhas of Bamiyan. The ancient statues wrankled the Taliban, you see, because they weren’t Islamic. As we recently mentioned, Islam is not like other religions. Islam must spread Islamic religion, Islamic law, Islamic governance, Islamic everything. When Muslims take power, this sort of stuff is inevitable. Whether the modern Egyptian Muslims would be crazy enough to face the wrath of the world by destroying the longest-lasting and best-known structures of the ancient world remains to be seen. If the Taliban are any example—and they are—there is reason to be concerned.