by Yusuf Dhia-Allah (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 48, No. 11, Jumada' al-Ula', 1441)
The Bani-Saud-ruled kingdom that habitually denounces any form of celebrations of the Prophet’s birthday as bid‘ah (innovation) has started celebrating the Hindu festival of Diwali and the pagan festival of Halloween. Celebration of the two pagan festivals has followed other activities in the medieval kingdom that can only be described as vulgar: musical concerts by Western pop artists, mixed dancing, and gambling. The Kingdom’s de facto ruler Muhammad bin Salman is also opening a beach resort on the Red Sea where anything goes! We leave the details to the imagination of readers.
Let us, however, return to the two pagan festivals — Diwali and Halloween — and understand their nature and roots. Diwali (also pronounced Divali), or Deepawali is the Hindu festival of lights, typically lasting five days and celebrated during the Hindu lunisolar month Kartika. One of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, Diwali symbolises the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.” Diya (candle in a small clay plate) and lighting, home decoration, shopping, fireworks, puja (praying to idols), gifts, feast, and sweets characterize the festival among Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains. While the Saudis claim that visiting the Prophet’s grave and celebrating his birthday is ignorance, how can they justify the worship of man-made stone idols as enlightenment?
Worshipping man-made statues is the Hindus’ problem. They can worship whatever they like, and they do: idols, stones, cows, snakes, elephants, and millions of other man-made objects. Why has Bani Saud revived idol worship that was practiced in pre-Islamic Arabia and abolished with the advent of Islam? It is a clear signal that they are taking the Arabian Peninsula, the cradle of Islam, back to jahiliyah.
The other “festival,” Halloween is celebrated in the West each year on October 31. The tradition originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago, mostly in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with death because of poverty and disease. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.
In the 8th century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints. Soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, that later became Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes, and eating treats.
By indulging in the celebrations of two pagan festivals — one Hindu and the other Celtic — the Saudis are signaling that they are taking the Kingdom back to the time before the advent of Islam. Strictly speaking, Bani Saud that who from the backwaters of Najd had never fully accepted Islam. The Saudi clan throughout its history has regularly indulged in treachery, cruelty, and dishonesty. But let us ask: how many Hindus live in “Saudi” Arabia to warrant the celebration of Diwali? More critically, why did Saudi men and women — all claiming to be Muslim — join the Hindu celebration of Diwali? Do they really believe that by joining this Hindu festival, they have gained “victory” over darkness or they have slipped back into the darkness of shirk (polytheism)?
In the Qur’an, Allah (swt) refers to the Bedouins (desert dwellers) as people weak in iman (faith-commitment). Bani Saud, who erupted from Dir‘iyah in the mid-18th century, are also desert dwellers. The following Qur’anic ayah applies to them as precisely as it did to the Bedouins of the Prophet’s time, “The Bedouins say, ‘We have attained to faith.’ Say [to them, O Prophet], ‘You have not accepted iman; rather you should say, ‘We have outwardly become Muslims [that is, verbalized our Islam],’ for true iman has not penetrated your hearts’” (49:14).
In addition to the Qur’anic ayah, there are also hadiths that shed light on the conduct of the people of Najd. According to two narrations in Sahih al-Bukhari, the noble Messenger (pbuh) prayed to Allah (swt) to bless the areas of Bilad al-Sham (Syria) and Yemen. When his companions said “Our Najd as well,” he replied, “There will occur earthquakes and other afflictions in that area, and from Najd will erupt the generation of Satan.” The hadith is authentic with a consistent chain of narrators. Thus, the Wahhabis and their apologists cannot dismiss it as a da‘if (weak) hadith, as they usually do when it exposes their un-Islamic conduct.
Another approximate translation of the hadith has the Prophet (pbuh) saying, “O Allah bestow your blessings on our Sham [Syria]. O Allah bestow your blessings on our Yemen.” The people said, “O Messenger of Allah, and our Najd?” The Prophet repeated this three times and after the third time he said, “There [in Najd] will occur earthquakes, trials, and tribulations, and from there will appear the generation of Satan (qarnal-shaytan).”
Scholars have interpreted qarnal-shaytan to mean the eruption of fitnah (sedition and turmoil) from Najd. Bani Saud’s conduct since their eruption more than 250 years ago have led many scholars to say that this is the fitnah the noble Messenger (pbuh) had warned about. In his sharh (elaboration) of this hadith from Sahih al-Bukhari, Imam Nawawi says that the Dajjal will appear from Najd.
The challenge facing sincere Muslims is this: should they allow these corrupters to continue to occupy the Haramayn — the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah? And if the answer is in the negative, what do they plan to do to liberate the Haramayn from their clutches? This issue cannot be left in abeyance for too long. The future of nearly two billion Muslims depends on it.