What you are about to read in this article may be regarded by some as controversial. These words are put together during the season of the Hajj, which is a good time to try to counter the tons of misinformation we have about the Saudi regime, which has done so much to diminish this annual expression of the independence and power of the Ummah to little more than a ritual void of warmth, enthusiasm, and spirit.
Let us begin by saying that we Muslims, whatever our understanding and commitment may be, are today confronted by a legion of enemies. Imperialism is an obvious enemy and Zionism is an even more obvious enemy. And alongside them are various shapes and shades of animosity ranging from the religious Hindu fanatics in India to the ruling classes of Muslim countries throughout Asia and Africa. It would be foolish to pick fights with all these enemies at the same time; the impeccable Prophet (saw) did take on all the many real and potential enemies around him simultaneously, and it our understanding of his example and model that should guide our political and military behavior today. During the Prophet's era, enemies ranged from the political superpowers of the Byzantine and Persian empires, to the zionist-like Jews in Madinah that threatened the fabric of the new Islamic state from within. With hostile power centers all around, the Prophet (saw) concentrated his resources and those of the embryonic Muslim community and state, against the mushrikeen of Makkah until Makkah was finally liberated. In the process of the decade for which the Prophet and the committed Muslims with him concentrated on the liberation of Makkah, Madinah too was liberated from influence of the Yahud. The main struggle was against the mushrikeen in Makkah, but that struggle required the Islamic state be secured against other enemies, such as the Yahud of Madinah, until these Yahud finally forfeited their right to remain in Madinah.
The situation we face today is similar to that one is many ways. We have a Makkah that is administered by rulers whose conduct confirms the as mushrikeen, in political terms if not strictly religious ones. True, they go through the motions of religious rituals in their personal lives and in the maintenance of al-Bayt al-Haram (the Holy Sanctuary), but so did Quraish and the mushrikoon of Makkah during the time of the Prophet (saw); they, too, honored the rituals of Ibrahim (as) in administering the Ka‘bah. But those rituals could not disguise the fact that there was nothing really Ibrahamic in true identity. The Prophet waged war against these ritualistic followers of Ibrahim (as) because they refused to affirm the authority and the power of Allah in man's worldly affairs. In this they were running directly counter to the tawhid of Ibrahim and his successor, the Final Messenger of Allah (saw).
Today, the Saudi dynasty that proclaims itself as “Guardians of the Haramain” fits precisely the same bill. Although they practice rituals that can be traced back to the Prophet (saw), their political policies run directly counter to the example of Muhammad (saw) by accepting and deferring to the authority and power of the imperialism (and thus zionism) in the strategic direction of their rule, instead of the authority and power of Allah. Indeed, the Saudis go even beyond the Quraish, in that the Quraish never relied on Byzantine or Persian imperialists, or the Yahud of Madinah for that matter, for their survival; while today the Saudi ruling class are so subservient and dependent on modern imperialist powers and the favour of the zionists in matters of defense, finances and politics that its policies are barely distinguishable from theirs. This could hardly be better symbolised than by the Saudi currency, the riyal, which is directly tied to the American dollar; when the dollar rises, the Saudi riyal rises, and when the dollar falls, so does the riyal!
Islamic movements all over the Muslim world have been fighting on numerous fronts and in many different ways for generations to rid ourselves of occupation, exploitation, and the dictatorial rule of enemies of Islam. And yet, during all these years, little attention has ever been paid to the idea of prioritising the task on which the Prophet (saw) focused his main attention: the liberation of Makkah.
Perhaps the most serious distraction from the liberation of Makkah is the Palestinian issue, or the Yahudi occupation of the Holy Land. It appears that both the Saudi and Israeli governments are comfortable with the concentration of Muslim efforts on the “liberation” of Palestine by the establishment of a Palestinian nation-state as a second-tier state within the current international power and state order. It is very uncomfortable for both the Saudi and Israeli ruling classes to look around and realize that Islam is becoming a power to reckon with; but the focus of Islamic movements on domestic issues and the symbolic “international” Islamic issue of Palestine leaves them with relatively little to worry about. The enemies of Islam, at every level, have learnt to cope with and counter with this pattern of priorities within the Islamic movement.
When Makkah was the focal attention of the Islamic movement of Muhammad (saw), the Yahud of Madinah entered into an alliance with the rulers of Makkah to try to defeat the Islamic state in Madinah; and that was their undoing. After Yahud's treachery in Madinah, they were relocated to the northern areas of Arabia, such as Khaybar; and there too they were eventually defeated. After the liberation of Makkah, the Islamic armed forces moved on until Palestine – the Holy Land – was liberated. Liberation begins at home. Makkah is the home of the Muslims. Liberation begins with Makkah. This is the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw).
What would change this comfortable complacency would be if Muslim leaders, individuals and organizations within the Islamic Movement turned their attention to the liberation of Makkah instead. This would pose a direct challenge to the political institutional infrastructure by which the imperialist-zionist forces dominate the Muslim world, and seriously shake them. That is not to dismiss the issue of al-Quds and the dispossession of the Palestinians, or to distract from it, but simply to follow the footsteps of the Prophet (saw) in this affair. If the global Islamic movement ever agreed to follow such a strategy, it would find that the Israelis would be more concerned with this development even than the Saudis themselves! Why? Because the liberation of Makkah and the establishment of Islamic power in the heart of the Ummah would provide the global Muslim Ummah with a focal point around which to rally, and enable the Hajj to be reasserted as a symbol of the power of Islam. Little wonder then that the Israelis are doing all that is within their might to have Makkah remain off-limits to the Islamic movement. This is exactly what happened fourteen centuries ago. When Makkah was the focal attention of the Islamic movement of Muhammad (saw), the Yahud of Madinah entered into an alliance with the rulers of Makkah to try to defeat the Islamic state in Madinah; and that was their undoing. After Yahud's treachery in Madinah, they were relocated to the northern areas of Arabia, such as Khaybar; and there too they were eventually defeated. After the liberation of Makkah, the Islamic armed forces moved on until Palestine – the Holy Land – was liberated. Liberation begins at home. Makkah is the home of the Muslims. Liberation begins with Makkah. This is the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw).
An alternative strategy for the Prophet (saw) might have been to rally the Arabians on the basis of Islam to liberate Madinah from its Yahudi influence and dominance. With the nature of Yahud so clearly pronounced, this would not have been difficult. But the Prophet's model is to liberate our holy places before we liberate our lands, when both of them are under occupation. It may be difficult to acknowledge that Makkah is under occupation, disheartening to recognise that for decades the holiest places in Islam have been successfully occupied and manipulated by the imperialists and zionists under the camouflage the Saudi royal family. But this is a reality that must be faced; and if Muslims numbering two billion or more are unable to reclaim what belongs collectively to all of them, how can they hope to reclaim other territories that belong to some parts of them?
Liberation of Makkah does not contradict struggles to liberate Palestine or any other occupied Muslim land. Such struggles must continue, of course, particularly where they are essential defensive struggles again local aggressors waging war on Islam and Muslims; but they must be understood as part of a greater, collective struggle, the main and immediate objective of which must be the liberation of Makkah
Let us emphasise that the focus on the liberation of Makkah does not contradict struggles to liberate Palestine or any other occupied Muslim land. Such struggles must continue, of course, particularly where they are essential defensive struggles again local aggressors waging war on Islam and Muslims; but they must be understood as part of a greater, collective struggle, the main and immediate objective of which must be the liberation of Makkah, which in turn will be an essential and step on the liberation of Palestine and of other occupied Muslim lands. This is not a personal opinion; it is plainly understanding what Rasulullah (saw) did – nothing more, nothing less.
And yet this simple understanding seems to be beyond so many Muslims who count themselves as part of the global Islamic movement. There are no doubts many reasons for this, among them the links that the Saudis have carefully cultivated with Islamic groups and institutions everywhere. But the reality is inescapable for those willing to see it. Can anyone quote a single ayah or hadith that justifies the alienation of Makkah from two billion Muslims in the world? Why is Makkah such a hard place to go to for committed Muslims, when Arabia is easily accessible to the imperialist crowd?
Perhaps particularly painful is the apparent retreat from this understanding of some at the leading edge of the Islamic struggle. Not long ago, in the days and years of the late Imam Khomeini, the Islamic State of Iran used to hold or support Hajj conferences to raise the awareness level of Muslims about how the Saudis have emptied the hajj and ‘umrah of their meanings, motivation, and objectives. Now the Saudis are sending invitations to Islamic officials in Iran to attend the hajj! And Iranian officials are accepting them! The “reasons of state” for which the Islamic state must maintain and cultivate contacts with regimes that all Muslims abhor are understandable; but there should be no tolerance of the Saudis' exploitation of the Hajj for their own political purposes, which are those of the imperialists and zionists. Yet again, in the rocky and difficult area of foreign relations, the Islamic state has taken an unfortunate, damaging and dangerous mis-step.