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Who Should Administer the Haramayn?

“No politics” for Muslim hujjaj but politics as usual for Bani Saud
Zafar Bangash

As millions of Muslims converge on Makkah for the annual pilgrimage of Hajj, the question of the purpose and meaning of this important Islamic duty once again comes to the fore. Since Bani Saud occupied and usurped control of the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah (together known as the Haramayn) through British intrigue — yes Muslim affairs are determined by non-Muslim colonialists — the Najdi Bedouins have turned them into their private real estate. They have assumed that they can do what they like in these two sacred cities. Muslim indifference and lack of understanding is also to blame. Bani Saud have destroyed Islam’s historic sites; they unilaterally decide who can and cannot perform Hajj and what is or is not permissible at the time of Hajj.

Since Bani Saud’s control of the Haramayn, they have assiduously peddled the notion that they would not allow “politics” in Hajj. “Politics,” however, remains undefined but what they insist on is that there should be no criticism of Zionism and imperialism at the time of Hajj. Muslims should perform the rituals of Hajj and then leave immediately. In recent years Hajj has also been priced out of the range of most Muslims.

Do the Saudis’ arbitrary policies conform to the teachings of Islam and are the Najdi Bedouins consistent in the application of restrictions they have imposed? Let us turn to the noble Qur’an and consider what Allah (swt) commands the Muslims to do at the time of Hajj,

And a proclamation from Allah and His Apostle [is herewith made] to all mankind on this day of Hajj, “Allah disavows all who ascribe divinity to any beside Him, and [so does] His Apostle…” (9:03).

A brief historical background to the revelation of this ayah that forms part of a cluster of ayat from Surah at-Tawbah is necessary. When these ayat were revealed in the ninth year of the Hijrah, Muslims from Madinah were already on their way to Makkah for Hajj. Abu Bakr al-Siddiq(ra), one of the close companions of the Prophet (pbuh), led the Muslim Hajj caravan. The noble Messenger did not wait until the Muslims had performed Hajj and returned to Madinah to apprise them of the new Qur’anic injunctions. Instead, he dispatched his cousin and son-in-law, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (a) immediately to Makkah to publicly proclaim these ayat at the time of Hajj.

These are referred to as the bara’ah or disavowal ayat and declare in unambiguous terms the Muslims’ disassociation from the mushriks at the time of Hajj. Yet Bani Saud insist that Muslims must not do so. Who should we obey: Allah (swt) and His Apostle (pbuh) or the Bani Saud?

Setting aside all other considerations, let us look at the Najdi Bedouins’ conduct relating to Makkah. Do they abide by the rule, “no politics” in Hajj or Makkah? The “no politics” order is itself political in nature; it is meant to prohibit censure of two of the most oppressive regimes in the world: Zionist Israel and imperial America. Why are Bani Saud defending the enemies of Allah (swt) by openly violating divine commands?

Let us consider some recent events in Makkah to highlight the contradictions in Bani Saud policies. At the end of May, beginning of June, the Saudi regime convened three conferences in Makkah. One was an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Arab League, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). What was the emergency? The May 12 attacks on four oil tankers, two of them Saudi oil tankers, in the UAE port of Fujairah by unknown assailants. The Saudi aim was to line up fellow Arabian regimes to first blame and then condemn Iran for these “attacks.”

No proof was offered, none was deemed necessary since the Washington war hawk John Bolton had blamed Iran for the tanker attacks. That was good enough for the Saudis. King Salman, suffering from severe dementia and unable to remember what he had said even a few moments earlier, still blasted Iran for what he called its “naked aggression” against the region’s “stability and international security.” What regional stability or international security is Salman talking about? His own regime is involved in a vicious war on the hapless people of Yemen since March 2015. At least 60,000 Yemeni civilians have been killed and more than a million children are afflicted by cholera. Some 22 million out of 24 million Yemenis are on the verge of starvation. That does not sound like supporting “regional stability,” nor does unleashing takfiri terrorists on Syria, who have now been dealt a severe blow thanks to the valiant efforts of the resistance front.

“International security” is another buzzword that is used to protect the illegitimate interests of predatory powers like the US and Zionist Israel. The US has more than 800 military bases worldwide, at least 42 of them around Iran. Iranian forces or naval vessels are not present in the Gulf of Mexico like American warships are in the Persian Gulf. Iran has not murdered Israeli nuclear scientists unlike Zionist Mossad agents who have murdered Iranian scientists. Iran is not threatening the world with nuclear weapons as are the US and Zionist Israel. So what “international stability” is Salman, with one foot in the grave, talking about?

Makkah, the birthplace of Islam, was at the end of May turned into an arena to advance Wahhabi, Zionist, and imperialist propaganda against Islamic Iran. Not surprisingly, Tehran rejected the accusations, calling them baseless. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Saudi Arabia had joined Israel and the United States in a futile attempt to mobilize regional opinion against it.

Iran’s position was vindicated by what Qatar’s Foreign Minister Shaykh Muhammad bin ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Thani told al-Jazeera on June 2. The summits “adopted Washington’s policy toward Iran and not one that takes the neighborhood into consideration.” The Qatari foreign minister also said his government had reservations about hardline statements on Iran made at emergency summits in Makkah organized by Saudi Arabia, “The statements condemned Iran but did not refer to a moderate policy to speak with Tehran.”

There were other contradictions in the Saudi position, as noted by Qatar’s top diplomat. It talked about “Gulf unity” yet the two-year-long blockade of Qatar continues. “The Makkah summit ignored the important issues in the region, such as the Palestine issue and the wars in Libya and Yemen,” Qatar’s foreign minister told the UK-based broadcaster, al-Araby. Adding insult to injury, the Saudis had prepared the conference declaration ahead of time without consulting other participants. They were simply told to approve it.

There was also another summit in Makkah held under the auspices of the Saudi regime. Some 80 Muslim scholars were gathered from around the world to discuss “The Value of Moderation in the Qur’an and Sunnah.” The theme was admirable except that there was little moderation at the conference. It was an attempt to create a body of Saudi-sponsored muftis to dish out fatwas to rubberstamp Bani Saud policies.

The Saudi version of “moderation” means surrender to Zionist Israel and US imperialism. There is no “moderation” toward or dialogue with kafirs as commanded by the Qur’an, “Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; and those who are [truly] with him are unyielding toward the deniers of Allah’s power presence, [yet] full of mercy toward one another” (48:29).

Aware that the overwhelming majority of Muslims worldwide reject normalization of relations with the Zionist usurpers of Palestine, Bani Saud want a religious cover for what is essentially a policy of surrender.

The “imam” of the Haram, ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sudays, is demanding allegiance to a crown prince who is most likely guilty of murder, embezzlement, terrorism, cozying up to the arch enemies of Islam, and persecuting a class of scholarly colleagues that the shaykh once proudly belonged to.

Even al-Masjid al-Haram, the most sacred of Islam’s masjids, has not been spared the indignity of Bani Saud’s dirty politics. “Shaykh” ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sudays has used the minbar (pulpit) of the Haram to demand that everyone pledge allegiance to the murderous Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman who has rightly earned the epithet “Mr. Bone Saw” following the brutal murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi last October.

‘Abdullah al-‘Awdah, son of the imprisoned moderate scholar, Salman al-‘Awdah pointed out in an article in TRT World (June 11, 2019),

The summit was held mere kilometres from the Dhahban prison in Jeddah, where symbols of moderation in the Muslim world such as my father, Salman al-‘Awdah, and others (three of whom — including my father — the prosecution demanded the death sentence for) are being held.

While lauding the values of the conference “such as refusing violence, intimidation campaigns using Islam, racism and human rights violations” he pointed to the contradictions in practice, “These great principles were however recited only a couple of kilometres from the infamous Dhahban prison, where the real symbols of moderation tell a different story.”

The Saudi-sponsored ‘ulama’ conference was held to create a body that would have monopoly over fatwas. The final article of the conference declaration reads, “No one can consent the Islamic Ummah’s affairs and speak in its name on its religious affairs and anything connected to them except its ‘ulama’ who are established in an association such as the association of this document…”

At a stroke, the Saudi-sponsored group of 80 ‘ulama’ —and they may be learned scholars — have dismissed other Islamic scholars worldwide. Again, under the guise of organizing a religious conference, the Saudis have indulged in crass politics to find a religious crutch for their policy of appeasement to Zionism and imperialism, right in the heart of Makkah.

Bani Saud get away with such crimes because Muslims elsewhere, barring a few exceptions, are not paying adequate attention to these developments. For all practical purposes, Makkah and Madinah are as much under Zionist occupation as al-Quds (Jerusalem).

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