Medina
A general view of the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (Prophet's Mosque) during April 1997 in Medina, Saudi Arabia.Getty Images

Rumours have been circulating over a proposal submitted by a Saudi academic to remove the tomb of Prophet Muhammad, from its present position.

It is located at the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi mosque, in the Saudi city of Medina. The plan is to move his body to an unmarked grave at al-Baqi cemetery in Medina.

The consultation document has been reportedly submitted by the Saudi academic, Dr Ali bin Abdulaziz al-Shabal of the Al-Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh. It has been circulated amongst the supervisors at Al-Masjid al-Nabawi  mosque.

People visit the chambers, which are the rooms where the Prophet's family lived, and turn towards the burial chamber to pray. Now they want to prevent pilgrims from attending and venerating the tomb because they believe this is shirq, or idolatry. But the only way they can stop people visiting the Prophet is to get him out and into the cemetery.
- Dr. Irfan al-Alawi, Director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation

The plans were discovered by another Saudi academic who is against the destruction of holy sites. In particular Mecca, which houses the holiest site in Islam, Kaaba, located inside the Sacred Mosque (Masjid al-Haram).

The 61-page document allegedly calls for the destruction of the chambers surrounding the Prophet's grave. His remains to be transferred  to the Al-Baqi cemetery, where several other members of the Prophet's family have been buried, including his father.

Director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, Dr. Irfan al-Alawi, warned that carrying out any such plans could spark sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shia Muslims.

"People visit the chambers, which are the rooms where the Prophet's family lived, and turn towards the burial chamber to pray. Now they want to prevent pilgrims from attending and venerating the tomb because they believe this is shirq, or idolatry.

"But the only way they can stop people visiting the Prophet is to get him out and into the cemetery," Dr. al-Alawi told the Independent.

So far, there is no evidence that the proposed plans will be implemented.