Of all the calamities that have befallen the Muslims in the twentieth century - abolition of the khilafah, imposition of the nation-State structure, the loss of Palestine and Al-Quds to the zionists etc - the emergence of the House of Saud in the Arabian Peninsula is one of the most grievous. The tribe from Dari’yyah did not grab power entirely on its own effort. Much foreign intrigue and support was involved, naturally to advance kufr, not Muslim interests.
The consequences of this have been devastating. Today, the Arabian Peninsula, provocatively named Saudi Arabia as if it is the personal property of the House of Saud, has been turned into a vast American military base. Its oil resources are sucked by the US to satiate its rapacious appetite of consumption and greed.
The fortunes of the House of Saud brightened with British/French intrigue in the Middle East at the beginning of this century. The British were the first to realize the significance of the Hijaz with the two holy cities of Makkah and Medina. Called the Haramain, they had remained outside the control or influence of non-Muslims throughout history.
According to Prophetic tradition, the Arabian Peninsula is sacred territory. Non-Muslims are forbidden to set foot there. The sanctity of this sacred territory has been violated since the emergence of the House of Saud in control of the Haramain. Today it is little more than an American colony where US rather than holy writ holds sway. Even the House of Saud now operates as little more than slaves of the US.
How this monstrosity came to be imposed on such a holy land of Islam is a story that needs to be told in detail. It begins in 1902 when Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, still a teenager, erupted from his tent outside Kuwait city. His favourite sport was raiding pilgrim as well as trade caravans.
The Ibn Sauds had taken refuge in Kuwait following their defeat in Riyadh at the hands of the Ibn Rasheeds in 1891. While Abdul Aziz’s father, Abdul Rahman, sulked in his desert tent, his young son was busy in plunder. Robbery runs in the family blood.
The year 1902 is important in the history of contemporary Arabian Peninsula for two reasons. It was in this year that the Ibn Sauds launched their second, and successful, attempt to grab power, and the British, realizing its importance, turned their attention to controlling the Hijaz. The Ibn Sauds’ first attempt in 1802 when they erupted from Dari’yyah, had ended in disaster 17 years later when Ibrahim Pasha, son of Muhammad Ali, the Ottoman-appointed governor of Egypt, crushed them. Dari’yyah was completely destroyed and the Sauds sought refuge with the Ibn Rasheeds in Riyadh.
In January 1902, the young Abdul Aziz led an assault on the Mismak fortress in Riyadh. In the early morning raid, the Ibn Rasheeds’ governor, Shaikh Ajlan, was killed. The rest of the garrison surrendered. The Ibn Sauds showed a fine sense of gratitude to their former benefactors. Abdul Aziz ibn Rasheed, head of the clan, was himself killed in battle at Rawdhat al-Muhanna in April 1906. Other tribes allied with the Ibn Rasheeds were either defeated or bribed by the Ibn Sauds.
The defeat of the Ibn Rasheeds was also a setback to Ottoman power since they had backed them in opposition to the Ibn Sauds. Abdul Aziz, however, showing characteristic cunningness, pledged loyalty to the khalifah in Istanbul. This was inspired more by convenience than sincerity as subsequent events revealed.
Also in 1902, the British consul in Jeddah, one Zohrab, sent a message to the foreign office in London highlighting the significance of the gatherings at Makkah and Medina. He said: ‘The point of real importance to England, politically, I believe, the Hedjaz, as the focus of Moslem thought and the nuclear (sic) from which radiate ideas, advice, instructions, and dogmatical implications... (Certain persons) I am persuaded, proceed on the Hadj (sic) for political reasons. Mecca being free for (sic) European intrusion is safe ground on which meetings can be held, ideas exchanged... Up to the present time we have kept no watch on those who come and go...’
Zohrab argued that Britain, with 60 million Muslims as its subjects, had far greater right to administer the Haramain and to appoint the sheriff than Turkey which only had 16 million. He then suggested that Britain either appoint its own man, and if that was not possible, to have a ‘trusted Mussalman as agent in Mecca’. This, he wrote, would yield valuable intelligence information!
The Turks soon good wind of this. As a great power, the Ottoman khilafah obviously had its ear close to the ground. The Makkan newspaper, Hijaz, published a perceptive commentary exposing the British plan. ‘Those who watch the English government can see that her designs are directed towards the holy places of Islam. She wishes to occupy them but she knows that achieving such a purpose would not be an easy matter, and she therefore tries by the most devilish means to achieve this end’ (Hijaz, No. 1896, 25 Safar 1433 ).
Even they did not realize the true magnitude of British devilishness. Not only Makkah and Medina but even Palestine was the target of Britain’s vicious plans. In this scheme, they used the Arabs and then double-crossed them. The appointment of the sheriff of Makkah had devolved on the khalifah in Istanbul when the Hijaz became a velayat of Turkey in 1840.
Husain ibn Ali was the sheriff when the British launched their intrigue to turn the Middle East into their imperial possession. This could not be achieved without breaking up the khilafah.
Sheriff Husain (great grandfather of king Husain of Jordan) was promised the leadership of all the Arabs in return for his help in overthrowing the Turks. Between July 1915 and January 1916, Sir Henry McMahon, British high commissioner in Egypt, worked on Husain in order to pave the way for the ‘Arab revolt’.
This was fanned by injecting the poison of nationalism to pit Arab Muslims against Turkish Muslims. That the Arabs willingly swallowed this poison shows the depth of their depravity. They were prepared to accept the promises of the kuffar against their fellow Muslims. Besides, they were rejecting Islamic authority (albeit weak and corrupted ) on the spurious appeal of nationalism, one, moreover, bequeathed by the Europeans.
The consequences of this British-Arab alliance were devastating for the Ummah. The British, however, were not faithful even to their Arab proteges. In fact, Britain has no permanent friends, as Winston Chruchill once said, only permanent interests. For the short-sighted, greedy Arab tribal chiefs this, however, was much too complicated to grasp.
Even while the British promised to make Husain the king of all the Arabs, they were promising Palestine to the Jews through the infamous Balfour declaration (November 1917). Abdul Aziz ibn Saud and a number of other Arab tribal chiefs had also been put on British payroll. Sheriff Husain and Abdul Aziz each received a monthly stipend of 5,000 to serve British interests. This was admitted by Churchill, then secretary for the colonies, in the British house of commons on March 2, 1922.
During the war years (1914-1918) British designs centred round defeating the Turks, hence their emphasis on the Hijaz while Abdul Aziz’s power resided in Najd. He was shrewd enough to realise the importance of striking alliances. Taking a leaf from family history, he coopted the Ikhwan and settled them in Ghot Ghot in 1912. Exactly a century ago, it was the zeal of the Ikhwan that had swept through the Hijaz, even if they had caused much mayhem and destruction. Could they not be used again for a similar feat?
Abdul Aziz’s fortune took another turn for the better in December 1915, when he met Sir Percy Cox, the British political resident in the Persian Gulf. Cox offered British military protection to Abdul Aziz in return for ceding superintendence of his foreign policy. This was incorporated in the Anglo-Saudi friendship treaty, unknown to his Ikhwani allies.
Some friendship, some treaty. The British have not looked back since even though they lost their premier place to the Americans after the second world war. In the Arabian Peninsula, the British still hold enormous sway, especially in securing lucrative military and commerical contracts. The 40 billion Yamama project is but one facet of this.
That Abdul Aziz would proceed to betray the Ikhwan and violate his own promises of eschewing any intentions on the Hijaz became clear in due course.
Muslimedia: March 1-15, 1997