The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was believed to have said:
“There are three earthly paradises: Merv of Khurasan, Damascus of Syria, and San’a of Yemen. And San’a is the paradise of these paradises.” 1
The ancient city of Merv has been destroyed through countless wars and neglect. Damascus is slowly being eaten alive by the bullets and mortar shells of Syria’s seemingly unending civil war. Of these, only Sana’a is left, and who knows what this fabled city’s fate will be.
If you’ve been paying attention to the news, by now you know of the conflict that is slowly engulfing all of the southern Arabian country of Yemen. If not, a basic synopsis of the recent conflict more or less starts with the Shia militia known as the Houthis taking over large swaths of the country including the capital city, Sana’a. Understandably, this has caused a great deal of concern with Yemen’s Arab neighbors as well as the United States, both of whom fear that the Houthis will create a Shia state on staunchly Sunni Saudi Arabia’s southern border (try to say that five times really fast). Thus, the Saudis have thus formed and are spearheading a coalition of countries, from it’s neighbors to those as far away as Morocco, to join it in an aerial and most likely ground assault on Houthi positions around the country, including Sana’a. If recent events are any guide, then we know that this will probably not be a short operation and that the conflict could spiral into an all out sectarian war that, like in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon years earlier, could last for years.
I really hope that this ancient and beautiful city, an oasis of light and culture in Yemen’s otherwise barren mountains, does not suffer the same fate as Merv, Damascus and the many cities that are slowly being destroyed due to the never-ending wars in the Middle East.
Below are several photos of Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, before the latest round of fighting and aerial bombardment. Let’s hope that peace returns to Sana’a and the rest of Yemen soon so that these buildings will remain standing years from now.
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