In recent weeks social media has been flooded with criticism of Saudi officials holding various hedonistic events near Islam’s two holiest sites in Makkah and al-Madinah.
A great deal of condemnation of the Saudi regime’s current rebranding from a so-called “ultra-orthodox Islam” to a secular regime revolved around religious rituals and laws.
While these have merit and signal a reality that the mass-scale secularization project of Muslims has not been successful, it nevertheless highlights some confusion among Muslims.
The current “reforms” launched by Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) are a natural concluding point of the Saudi regime and it is not its worst side.
A story reported in al-Mustadrak and graded as Sahih by Al-Dhahabi, goes as follows:
“Abdur Rahman ibn Awf reported: He would patrol the city at night with Umar ibn al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, and on one occasion they were walking when the lamp of a household caught their attention. They approached it until they heard loud voices inside the door. Umar (ra) grabbed the hand of Abdur Rahman (ra) and he said, ‘Do you know whose house this is?’ He said no. Umar said, ‘This is the house of Rabi’ah ibn Umayyah ibn Khalaf, and they are inside drinking wine right now! What do you think?’ Abdur Rahman (ra) said, ‘Indeed, I think we have done what Allah has prohibited for us. Allah Almighty said, ‘Do not spy,’ (49:12) and we have spied on them.’ Umar turned away and he left them alone.”
The above narration highlights the ethos of Islamic governance where the bigger picture is to be considered and at times, ritual matters are to be seen within a broader context.
The type of events MbS’ new Saudia is normalizing must not be viewed outside the place allocated to the regime within Western political and security architecture imposed upon the Muslim world.
For decades the Saudi establishment with its palace “scholars” served as a political discreditation symbol of indigenous Muslim governance.
It is not by accident that a neocon think tank, the Hudson Institute points out that “some evidence indicates that ISIS is using textbooks in schools in Raqqa and Jarabulus whose contents and covers have been plagiarized directly from the Saudi Ministry of Education. The textbook on Tawhid (Monotheism): a Central Doctrine in Islam, is the most noteworthy example.”
The most horrendous crimes committed under the mask of Islam over several decades are rooted in the pseudo-intellectual line which leads back to the so-called Saudi “Islamic” institutions.
From its anthropomorphic presentation of God to its position on reason in religion and hermeneutics, if one wants to make a practical case for secularism and atheism, reference to the Saudi misunderstanding of Islam is a reasonable step.
Mass uproar created simply because of obvious recent secularization policies of the Saudi regime highlights the fact that many Muslims missed the strategic harm done to Islam’s image and the Muslim masses by one of the world’s most oppressive regimes.
The Saudi regime did not go off track only in the last decade; it has been the region’s bane since its inception.
The fact that many Muslims are only now noticing the Saudi regime’s detrimental impact due to concerts, is a sign that Islam exported by the Saudi regime via its preachers has left a deep negative intellectual scar on how Muslims understand their deen.