Al-Haram Al-Nabawi in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, was struck by a suicide bomber Monday evening. The structure is widely regarded as the most sacred location in the Islamic religion. The attack is especially jarring not just because of its location but because it comes very near the end of Islam’s holy month of Ramadan. During this time, Muslims are to abstain from any food or drink from the time to the sun rises to the moment it sets. The bomb went off just as the Maghreb prayer was about start, which marks the end of fasting for the day.
“With Maghreb prayer drawing near on Monday in Madinah, security men suspected a man who was walking towards the Prophet’s Mosque across an open area that is being used as a parking lot for visitors. When they tried to stop him, he blew himself up resulting in his death and the martyrdom of four security men. Meanwhile, five other security men were injured. May they recover quickly,” said Major General Mansour Al-Turki, security spokesman of the Interior Ministry.
American Ambassador Joseph W. Westphal , while condemning the blasts, said: “As the holy month of Ramadan comes to a close, Muslims from the United States to Saudi Arabia and beyond should now be celebrating the advent of Eid Al Fitr. Instead many of us will be grieving, in particular the families of the Saudi security forces personnel and others who were hurt or killed in the senseless attacks in Jeddah, Qatif, and Madinah today. I condemn, and all decent people condemn, these attacks. All of us deserve the right to worship in peace, and those who would transform this holy time into an occasion for hatred and bloodshed deserve our strongest condemnation.”
Thus far no group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Despite housing both Mecca and Medina, the two cities where the prophet Mohammed was believed to have lived, Saudi Arabia has enemies within the Muslim world. There are those who perceive the policies and views of the monarchy as heretical and a deviation from true Islam. There are also those who criticize them for their close economic relationship with the United States.