Even traditionally pro-Saudi groups in the world have been horrified at the Saudis’ designation of the Ikhwan al-Muslimun and by implication, Hamas in Palestine, as terrorist organizations.
Is al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun (Muslim Brotherhood) a terrorist organization? The Saudis think so and branded the oldest Islamic group in contemporary history (established in 1928) a terrorist organization last month. Included in the list are also such other groups as Jabhat al-Nusra, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Houthis in Yemen and Hizbullah in the Hijaz (not to be confused with Hizbullah in Lebanon). Hamas in Palestine, though not named directly, also falls under this category since the Saudi decree states organizations that support any of these groups or parties would also be considered as terrorist outfits.
What criterion did the Saudis use for such a designation, especially for the Ikhwan and Hamas? One can understand the terrorist nature of ISIL and Jabhat al-Nusra that have indulged in wanton killings and acts of cannibalism in Syria, but what have the Ikhwan and Hamas done to merit this designation? Have they indulged in any terrorist acts, and if so, when and where? How do the Saudis define terrorism?
Until a few months ago, the Saudis were arming and financing the two terrorist outfits, ISIL and Jubhat al-Nusra operating in Syria. They have now been replaced by the Saudi-financed and armed Islamic Front in Syria. Is it any less violent and does it operate on the basis of any Islamic principles, thereby meriting Saudi support, while the Muslim world’s oldest Islamic organization since the abolition of the nominal khilafah in Ottoman Turkey in 1924 is tarred with the terrorist brush? And since the Saudi regime was backing terrorist organizations until recently, should it not be categorized as a regime sponsoring terrorism?
Muslim groups, organizations and activists around the world have reacted sharply to the Saudis’ designation of the Ikhwan and Hamas as terrorist organizations. The Ikhwan’s London office also issued a statement on March 7 against being designated a terrorist group but it lacked a clear cut position. The Ikhwan’s statement said, “The Muslim Brotherhood was distressed that this action comes from Saudi Arabia, since Saudi Arabia was one of the first to experience the Muslim Brotherhood’s positive stance toward preserving the interests of people, unity of nations, contributing effectively toward the building of communities and homelands, dissemination of correct Islamic ideologies, and what the group has suffered for the sake of this cause.”
The statement went on to enumerate several points about its position and its long-standing relations with the Saudi regime, “In the light of the solid principles of the Muslim Brotherhood regarding intervention in other countries’ affairs, we would like to assure that this new stance by Saudi Arabia contradicts entirely with its historical relations with the Muslim Brotherhood ever since the time of the founder king until now.
“History has proven that the Muslim Brotherhood has always been a pioneer when it comes to spreading correct Islamic ideologies that are free from extremism, and this is what a lot of trustworthy scholars from within Saudi Arabia have testified for. And everyone in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia knows that the Muslim Brotherhood, as ever, say with loud and clear voices whatever they believe is right and this is always based on the Qur’an and Sunnah of Prophet Mohamed (peace and blessings upon him).”
The Ikhwan admit that they have had a long relationship with the Saudi regime dating back to “the time of the founder king” of Saudi Arabia. Further, the Ikhwan use the approval of “trustworthy scholars from within Saudi Arabia” to testify to their “correct” position. Trustworthy for whom: the Saudi regime or the Muslim Ummah? It is regrettable that even after being branded a terrorist organization, the Ikhwan refuse to take a clear cut stand on matters of principle and come out against the agents of imperialism and Zionism: the Saudi regime.
Muslims elsewhere do not suffer from such confusion or timidity. One such organization is the Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama, based in Lucknow, India. During the visit of Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz to India, various Islamic organizations were invited to meet him. Nadwatul Ulama refused to accept the invitation to meet the Saudi delegation and instead issued a strongly worded statement on March 14 against the regime’s position branding the Ikhwan and Hamas as terrorist outfits. Nadwatul Ulama’s statement said that the Saudi decision had hurt the sentiments of Muslims all over the world, which it called “unjust” and “anti-Islamic.”
Nadwatul Ulama’s forthright stand emboldened other organizations in India to also speak out against the Saudi decision. The Jamaat-e Islami Hind (JIH), Markazi Jamiat-e Ulama, All India Deeni Madaris Board and a number of leading scholars all joined Nadwa’s stand and called upon the Saudi rulers to immediately review their decision.
The Amir (leader) of the Jamaat-e Islami Hind, Maulana Jalaluddin Umri, said that the movement started by al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun is based on Islamic principles, so banning it would hurt the feelings of Muslims all over the world. He praised the Ikhwan for trying to bridge the gap between various Muslim countries as well as organizations describing it as “an international reform movement” that had done immense work for the well-being of people. Since the Saudis have also designated Hamas as a “terrorist” organization, the Jamaat chief said the Palestinian resistance movement is resisting Zionist crimes under very difficult conditions. He stopped short of pointing out that the Saudi regime is now closely allied with the Zionists. In fact, when Ariel Sharon, the butcher of Beirut, died in January after remaining in a coma for eight years, Saudi King Abdullah sent a message of condolence and prayed for the Zionist mass murderer. It would be hard to find such affinity between sincere Muslims and the killer of children anywhere else.
In a joint statement, several religious scholars described the action of Saudi rulers as tantamount to sin. The scholars that put their names to the statement included Chairman of World Islamic Forum Maulana Esaa Mansuri, Fatwa Mobile Services’ Mufti Mohammad Arshad Farooqi, Madaris Board’s chief Maulana Yaqoob Bulandshehri and Jamiat secretary Maulana Feroz Akhtar Qasmi. They asked King Abdullah and the leading ‘ulama of Saudi Arabia to revoke the decision of declaring the Ikhwan a terrorist group.
They warned that Muslims all over the world protest and condemn this decision of the Saudi regime. They also urged the Saudi ‘ulama to hold the rulers to account for taking such a decision. “It is the duty of the Saudi ‘ulama to exert pressure on the Saudi rulers in this regard as Muslims are enraged over the decision.”
Putting their finger on the issue, they pointed out that Muslims respected Saudi Arabia because it is home to Islam’s holy places. They have no love for the despotic rulers who are stooges of Western imperialism and Zionism.
This sharp slap on the face of the Saudi rulers must have come as a shock since they normally expect Muslims to toe their line because they dish out money buying people’s loyalty. With the Saudi regime’s anti-Ikhwan announcement, it seems to have gone too far and Muslims are not willing to sell their souls for a fistful of dollars or riyals any more.
Interestingly, the Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama in Lucknow took the lead in snubbing the Saudi delegation’s desire to visit the historic institution. It described the Saudi regime as more “oppressive than the Modi government of Gujarat” and the newly enacted Saudi law against the Ikhwan as more draconian than such draconian Indian laws as TADA and POTA, which have targeted Muslims in India.
Even though the two factions of the Jamiat-e Ulama-e Hind with close links to the Deoband Madrassa as well as Jamiat Ahle-Hadees have remained silent over the Ikhwan issue, the Muslim masses have been appalled by the Saudi decision. These organizations are on the payroll of the Saudis and their loyalty is bought through riyals.
The Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama has shown considerable integrity and honesty by condemning the Saudi regime in such clear terms. This was not always the case but if they have rectified their behaviour and have stood up for Islamic principles, then this must be welcomed and applauded. More Muslim organizations should follow Nadwa’s lead and demonstrate their commitment to Islam and its pristine principles rather than succumbing to the temptation of riyals.