by Zafar Bangash (Editorials, Crescent International Vol. 46, No. 7, Dhu al-Hijjah, 1438)
The Najdi Bedouins (aka Bani Saud) have anointed themselves “Custodians of the Two Holy Masjids” — al-Masjid al-Haram and al-Masjid al-Nabawi — in Makkah and Madinah respectively. The two holiest masjids, and al-Masjid al-Aqsa under Zionist occupation are the common heritage of the entire Muslim Ummah. Muslims worldwide rightly protest the Zionist occupation of al-Masjid al-Aqsa and demand its liberation. Few voices if any have been raised about the liberation of Makkah and Madinah. Why?
How can the administration of the two holy cities and the affairs of Hajj and ‘Umrah be left in the hands of Bedouins whose crude and immoral conduct evokes universal loathing? Bani Saud are notorious abusers of human rights; they chop off the heads of those who dare call for respect for fundamental human rights such as representative government or a say in how the country should be governed or its resources used. Besides, the nearly 2 billion Muslims worldwide have never been asked whether they agree to the Najdi Bedouins’ occupation of Makkah and Madinah and the administration of Hajj. Bani Saud are the principal sponsors of terrorism in the world. They are also agents of imperialism and Zionism.
When committed Muslims demand that Hajj be performed according to Qur’anic injunctions, especially declaring bara’ah min al-mushrikin (dissociation from global powers: imperialists and Zionists) as commanded by Allah (swt) in the noble Qur’an (9:03), Bani Saud say this is “politicizing” the Hajj! But this is Allah’s command, not any man-made policy. If the noble Messenger (pbuh) were to perform Hajj today, the Najdi Bedouins would accuse him also of politicizing it (nastaghfir-allah).
Bani Saud, however, play their own political games at Hajj. This year, for instance, because of their spat with Qatar, the Najdi Bedouins have reduced its quota from 20,000 to 1,600 and insist that Qataris can only fly from Doha to go for pilgrimage on airlines approved by Bani Saud. Similar flight restrictions have been imposed on Iranian hujjaj who did not perform the Hajj last year because of the horrific deaths at Mina in 2015. That was the direct result of Saudi incompetence. More than 7,000 pilgrims, among them 465 Iranian hujjaj, were killed in the stampede. Syrian pilgrims have been barred from performing Hajj since 2012. Committed Muslims, such as Imam Muhammad al-‘Asi, one of the most brilliant Qur’anic scholars of the contemporary era, has also been barred from Hajj. The list goes on.
On what basis do the Najdi Bedouins prevent Muslims from fulfilling one of the fundamental obligations of their din? Muslims perform Hajj at the invitation of Allah (swt), not to visit the uncouth Bedouins of Najd. Further, while Allah says this is an open invitation to all the people, not just Muslims, to perform Hajj (22:27), Bani Saud have imposed visa restrictions even on Muslims. This is a mega-bid‘ah and open violation of the divine command. It constitutes a major sin.
Even the mushriks of Makkah at the time of the Prophet did not prevent people from performing Hajj. Despite their open hostility to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), the Makkan chiefs did not prevent him from propagating the message of Islam at the time of Hajj. Bani Saud are even worse than the mushriks of old.
This intolerable situation cannot be allowed to continue. The administration of Hajj must be taken away from the control of this corrupt family. For all practical purposes, Hajj is under imperialist-Zionist occupation. Further, Wahhabism, the obscurantist practices opportunistically (and only publicly for the cameras) followed by Bani Saud, is not part of Islam. At an international conference in August 2016, hundreds of Sunni scholars from all over the world declared that Wahhabism is not part of “Sunni” Islam. It is certainly not part of Shi‘i Islam, so where does it leave the Wahhabis?
While it is well-known that Bani Saud use their occupation of Makkah and Madinah to certify their credentials as “leaders” of the Muslim world, they are in fact impostors. If they have no support inside the desert kingdom, how can they claim leadership of the entire Muslim world? They remain in power by threatening people with execution if the latter dare challenge the monarchy’s rule. More than 40,000 political prisoners languish in Saudi dungeons.
So the question that must be asked and addressed is: what is to be done? Given the terrible situation Bani Saud have created with their gross mismanagement of Hajj, there is no choice but to take control of the administration of Hajj from their hands. As a first step, the Hijaz — the region comprising the western part of the Arabian Peninsula — must be separated from the rest of the Kingdom. Its administration must be handed over to muttaqi Islamic scholars from around the world. These scholars can be assisted by competent Muslim managers and administrators to facilitate the flow of people in and out of the Hijaz, to look after their needs during Hajj and ‘Umrah and to organize a proper transportation system between and in the holy cities. There should be no blackout periods for pilgrims to visit the holy cities, as Bani Saud have imposed.
Perhaps an international conference of Islamic scholars and activists should be convened to discuss this most pressing issue. Based on the recommendations of this conference, which would enjoy legitimacy because of the prestige and moral, religious and legal authority of the scholars, further steps can be taken. Nothing else would do; otherwise Hajj would continue to descend into more and more ritualistic meaninglessness devoid of all purpose. Such a situation cannot and must not be allowed to continue.