Most of Mecca’s historic sites have been razed, replaced by new hotels, luxury malls, and high-rises:
Writing in First Things , Stephen Schwartz, declares that “Mecca is threatened.” With the exception of the holy Kaaba, the majority of the city’s historical buildings and landmarks have been bulldozed, replaced with luxurious hotels, condominiums and shopping malls. “The merchandizing of Mecca,” writes Schwartz, “reflects fundamentalist Wahhabi doctrine that promotes cultural vandalism, revealing how comfortable the Saudis are with consumer values of the West.” Many of these now-desecrated locations possessed religious ties and served as important points for prayer. The ancestral residences of Muhammad’s descendants have nearly all been demolished, and replaced with modern centers of commerce and tourism. The onetime home of Abu Bakr — remembered as the Prophet’s close advisor and, upon Muhammad’s death, the first caliph — was razed. In its stead sits a Hilton Hotel. The stated motives behind such destruction can be found in religious doctrine. According to Wahhabi clerics, the existence of these Islamic sites provides temptation to worship these sites, distracting Muslims from worshiping only Allah. Schwartz quotes a fatwa issued by the Saudi office for religious rulings: “It is impermissible to exaggerate the importance of historical sites and buildings, because this might lead to Shirk [idolatry]. The laypeople may be tempted to believe that such places are blessed, and be driven to commit acts of disbelief.” If there is no god but God, they say, the only way to prevent the worship of false idols is to raze these historic sites, demolishing a piece of the Islamic past for the sake of the Islamic present and future. Schwartz cautions against such false piety: “The intentions of the bulldozing ‘renewers’ of Mecca are clearly avaricious.”
Nicole Panoc, 'Bulldozing Bulldozing Mecca for Luxury Condos' First Things Tuesday, Feb 10, 2015.