Four security force members were killed after a suicide bombing that took place in Madinah near the Prophet's Mosque where millions of pilgrims are gathered for Ramadan.
The suicide bombing took place in a parking lot behind the mosque, which is also regarded as one of Islam's holiest sites.
Saudi Gazette spoke to Madinah residents and pilgrims at the holy mosque who were witness to the bombing that took place before Maghrib prayer.
"I saw clouds of smoke, just heavy black smoke rise behind the minaret of the mosque before prayer, which is when we break our fast. It was something I couldn't believe even though I saw it with my own eyes. That site, in itself if horrific, I don't even think any of us were scared that we could die because I think the realization that someone can do this to Madinah was overwhelming and I want to say that no one can or should even think of touching something so sacred," Aminah Abdul, told Saudi Gazette.
Muslims all over the world gathered on social media to strongly condemn the act sharing a common reaction of shock and horror. The majority of comments stressed the importance of Islam being a promoter of peace and condemned every attacker who uses the name of Islam to kill. Some of the trending hashtags on Twitter currently are 'Attack on Madinah', 'Pray for Madinah', 'Saudi Arabia', 'Pray for Saudi', 'Stay Strong Saudi' and 'Al Haram Al Nabawi.'
A Twitter user '@Lamlinaliyana' said: "How can someone bomb the most beautiful place in this entire world?" Another user '@Lesexample' tweeted: "ISIS killed 125 people during the holy month of Ramadan in Baghdad. Can someone please tell me what is Islamic about that?"
Ayat Al Qassab said: "You're threatened for being human, it's not about religion anymore. Pray for humanity." Faisal Fahad AlOutaibi tweeted: "One of the holiest places in Islam was attacked — that proves that terrorism has no religion."
Another resident who was at home during the attack said he found out about the attack through social media. "My friends were calling to make sure we're okay. Knowing that this happened in a land that all of us have always considered to be the safest and holiest land on earth is scary, devastating and very disappointing. Especially that it happened in the last days of the holiest month, right before a time when we're supposed to celebrate it and be happy. My condolences to everyone." Ayzee Hausawi, told Saudi Gazette.
Islam has nothing to do with terror, Muslims tell the world. Another resident, Essam Al Harbi who was going to the mosque to pray around the same time, told Saudi Gazette: "When I heard about it, I was leaving to go to the mosque. It was scary. How could they do such a horrible thing like that."
A pilgrim present at the time of the attack said: "I want the world to listen to me. Tell me, do you still believe that Muslims are the terrorists here? Do you still think they are following Islam? I am in deep shock and shaken by the event. How dare they attack our Prophet's Mosque, who by the way spent his life with the sole purpose of establishing peace. These people are not from our religion. The world needs to see that and acknowledge these lunatics have no religion. And you know what? People in Madinah are calm. All of us who have traveled across the world to pray here during Ramadan, are strong. We are going for Taraweeh and offer late night prayers too. No one can stop us. Not your bombs, not your threats," Arif Hussein told Saudi Gazette.
Prayers resumed as usual in the Prophet's Mosque after the attacks.
By Mariam Nihal
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