Saudis on the move | The Indian Express

By | October 31, 2017

Written by Javed Anand
Revealed:November 1, 2017 12:05 am

saudi women, saudi women driving, saudi women driving ban, driving ban lifted, world news On September 26, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud points a royal firman granting Saudi ladies the license to drive starting June subsequent. (Representational)

Has the Saudi monarchy gained enlightenment in a single day? Is that why it’s unleashing a religio-cultural revolution within the desert kingdom? Or are we witnessing the spectacle of a state-sponsored mirage? Judging by the headline-grabbing royal decrees and pronouncements within the final 30 days, it seems the Saudis are ultimately on the transfer. However a more in-depth look means that what we’re seeing will not be fairly what we’re prone to get.

On September 26, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud points a royal firman granting Saudi ladies the license to drive starting June subsequent. What follows barely three weeks later — October 17 — is breath-taking. A royal order pronounces the formation of a worldwide physique of elite Islamic students to vet your entire Hadith corpus (purported sayings of Prophet Mohammed) so as to “get rid of faux and extremist texts that contradict the teachings of Islam and justify the committing of crimes, murders and terrorist acts which haven’t any place in Islam, the faith of peace”. An announcement from the Saudi ministry of tradition and knowledge describes the decree as an “unprecedented initiative”. It’s unprecedented little question, contemplating how over-sensitive the Muslim clergy is to any speak of choosing and selecting from what are believed to be genuine (sahih) collections of the sayings of the Prophet.

Maintain your breath once more because the crown prince, inheritor to the Saudi throne, takes over from the king. Even because the world chews on the implications of the royal decree regarding the vetting of Hadith collections, the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman makes a grand declaration-cum-confession at an funding convention in Riyadh. Admitting that his nation has “not been regular” within the final 30 years, he guarantees to “return Saudi Arabia to average Islam, open to the world and all religions.” What’s extra, “We is not going to waste 30 years of our lives coping with extremist concepts; we are going to destroy them in the present day”.

For a world affected by extremism and terrorism within the identify of Islam, what might be higher information than this? However inside hours of the declaration of grand intent, Prince Mohammed provides the sport away. In an interview to the Guardian, he blames Shia Iran for all of the ills of the overwhelmingly Sunni, Arab world. “What occurred within the final 30 years will not be Saudi Arabia. What occurred within the area within the final 30 years will not be the Center East. After the Iranian revolution in 1979, folks wished to repeat this mannequin in several nations; one in all them is Saudi Arabia… Now’s the time to do away with it.”

What, pray, is the actual agenda then? Radical reform in Saudi Arabia, extra Shia-Sunni battle, or just a come-hither gesture to world traders the Saudi financial system desperately wants?

Are we to consider the grand US-Saudi-Pakistan alliance within the 1980s — which turned Afghanistan right into a laboratory of jihad — was impressed by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini? Is Iran to be blamed for US-Saudi help to the “good terrorists” in Syria of their determined bid to dislodge the Bashar al-Assad regime which culminated within the emergence of the ISIS monster? Might somebody clarify how the Iranian revolution impressed Sunni jihadism much more than the Shia selection?

Or, what prompted the Saudi authorities’s resolution in 2015 to bestow its highest civilian award on the Indian televangelist Zakir Naik, who sows the seeds of hatred of different religions in Muslim minds?

Prince Salman vows to “return” Saudi Arabia from its “not regular” state of the final 30 years again to “average Islam”. Could we ask: Simply how “average” was Saudi Arabian Islam earlier than the Iranian Revolution in 1979? Or going ahead, the inheritor to the throne can maybe give us a glimpse of what his average Islam of tomorrow will appear to be.

As of in the present day, Saudi ladies want a male “guardian’s” permission to pursue greater research, discover a job, obtain medical therapy, open financial institution accounts, apply for a passport, personal and run a enterprise. They usually should cowl themselves from head-to-toe when in a public area. Is any of this prone to change anytime quickly?

For the reason that early 1970s, Saudi Arabia has poured billions into funding mosques and madrasas to unfold its model of a puritanical, misogynist, supremacist, illiberal Islam throughout the globe. Will the prince cease funding them?

Even because it continues to fund mosques throughout the globe, nobody is allowed to construct a church, temple, gurudwara or synagogue in Saudi Arabia. Will this double-standard finish?

If the Soviet Union may produce a Mikhail Gorbachev why can’t a Mohammed bin Salman be born in Saudi Arabia? However for the miracle to occur, as an alternative of pointing fingers at Iran, the Saudi crown prince must face the mirror.

Removed from having ever been average, Arabia was reworked into “Saudi Arabia” by his personal forefathers by means of the theology and follow of an aggressively illiberal, extremist and violent model of Islam.

Has Prince Mohammed by no means heard of the 18thcentury preacher Abdul Wahhab from the Najd area of Arabia? Wahhab subscribed to a theology that denounced any and each Muslim unwilling to just accept his arid model of Islam as grave worshipper, idolator and apostate. In keeping with him, all such Muslims must be killed, their ladies violated (intercourse slaves) and their possessions confiscated. As for folks of different faiths, they need to be humiliated or decimated.

Sadly for Islam and Muslims, this puritan who was shunned for his extremist views by fellow Muslims, together with his family members, discovered help from Prince Salman’s forefather, Muhammad ibn Saud. An alliance was cast between Ibn Saud, the ability hungry, and Abdul Wahhab, the fanatic. Wahhabism would offer spiritual legitimacy to the Home of Saud whereas the latter would use state energy to impose Wahhab’s model of “true Islam” on Muslims.

There’s ample historic proof of the viciousness and violence which the Wahhab-Saud alliance unleashed on fellow Muslims throughout the Arabian peninsula within the late 18th and early 19th century earlier than being crushed by the Ottoman rulers, solely to resurface within the early 20th century with the blessings of the British Empire.

On his strategy to founding the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932, dictates of modern-day politics compelled King Abdul Aziz ‘Ibn Saud’, Prince Mohammed’s grandfather, to suppress the violent pressure inside Wahhabism. What we have been left with was Wahhabism-minus-violence and that’s until date the official creed of the Saudi kingdom.

Is the crown prince telling us Wahhabism-minus-violence equals “average Islam”?

The lifting of the ban on ladies driving is a welcome step. However a Wahhabi mindset shall be of little assist both in separating the nice from the unhealthy within the Hadith collections, or in steering Saudi Arabia in direction of a genuinely average Islam. With the ISIS now on the defensive, it’s a superb time for Saudi Arabia to repent, stop and desist from ever once more extending state patronage to the noxious doctrine which laid the inspiration for the Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism of the longer term.

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