by Yusuf Dhia-Allah (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 51, No. 7, Safar, 1444)
In the Bani Saud-occupied medieval kingdom of Arabia, speaking out publicly against evil is forbidden. This is what Sheikh Saleh al-Talib, a prominent imam of Masjid al Haram in Makkah discovered on August 22. The Saudi Court of Appeals sentenced him to 10 years in prison because in 2018, he had delivered a khutbah on the duty in Islam to speak out against evil in public. The 48-year-old sheikh was promptly arrested although no official explanation was given at the time, according to the social media advocacy group Prisoners of Conscience.
When rank hypocrisy guides a regime’s policy, it is difficult to present a coherent view of where it is heading. The de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad bin Salman (MbS), is conflicted about whether he should retain links with its medieval past or obliterate them altogether.
Past Saudi policies were based on claims that the kingdom’s rulers are ‘Custodians of the Two Holy Mosques’. This was meant to confer Islamic legitimacy upon them because the world knew—or at least those who cared to know the truth—that the regime was created by the British and has been maintained in power by the Americans since the Second World War. Thus, it has no Islamic legitimacy.
Committed Muslims also knew the family was made up of bandits and thieves whose favourite pastime was robbing pilgrims’ caravans. Since banditry runs in their blood. Today they rob pilgrims in other ways, primarily by charging exorbitant fees for Hajj and Umrah.
So, what is the future, if any, that MbS envisages from his hapless people? They have no say in what that future should look like. MbS, the ‘all-wise crown prince’, decides what is best for them. The trouble is that he is illiterate, given to impulsive decisions and absolutely ruthless. His western masters, especially the wily British and devious zionists, sell him grandiose plans that he swallows completely. One of them is the futuristic city, Neom at a cool price of $500 billion plus. With time, this price tag will certainly rise.
MbS has also embarked on a policy of ‘modernization’. It is actually vulgarization of the largely conservative Saudi society. Whether good or bad, the Saudis followed certain traditions based on tribal values. In his quest to modernize (westernize) Saudi society, MbS has opened up gambling casinos, night clubs and music and dance concerts. Some of them have been held close to Makkah that houses Islam’s holiest site, Al-Masjid al-Haram.
A holiday resort is being opened up on the Red Sea coast where women and girls can roam around virtually naked. There will also be bars for drinking and given the combination of alcohol and semi-clad girls imported from the west, one can imagine what would ensue. To show that MbS is serious, his ambassador in London, Faisal bin Bandar, son of the notorious Bandar bin Sultan, has opened a bar in his official residence. He has also admitted that Saudi policy is not based on Islam.
Officially, the Saudi regime maintains that its policy is based on the Qur’an and the Prophetic Sunnah. This is a complete lie but this was the regime’s position so far. It was on this basis that the regime claimed legitimacy from the Muslim ummah.
In fact, only last month, MbS was shown in a much-publicized event washing the Ka‘aba in preparation for installing a new covering on it. Obviously, the Ka‘aba is the most sacred monument in Islam, referred to as the House of Allah, toward which the nearly 2 billion Muslims face during their five daily prayers. So, which one is it: the regime’s laws based on the Qur’an and the Prophetic Sunnah or a secular, Bedouin-run state?
One sycophantic Saudi cleric went so far as to call MbS the “Crown Prince of Muslims” in a tweet on August 16. The tweet was fired by Sheikh Saleh bin Awad al-Maghamsi, former imam at the Quba Mosque in Madinah. Social media users were not impressed by Al-Maghamsi’s tweet in which he said “May God increase you in honour and empowerment, oh Crown Prince of Muslims.”
MbS is not even accepted by the majority of Saudis much less by the two billion Muslims as ‘crown prince’. He is not the ruler of the Muslim world. In the medieval kingdom, MbS has terrorized the clerical establishment so much that if they do not support him 100%, they could end up in prison.
Al-Maghamsi is a one-time student of the blind grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abd Al-Aziz ibn Baz. He was dismissed from his position as imam of Masjid al-Quba after he called in a March 2020 tweet for the release of Saudi detainees. Immediately, the regime’s goons started piling up pressure on him. Al-Maghamsi immediately retreated and tried to wriggle out of the dilemma by denying that he had made any such call. Instead, he said he had meant that only those with “minor violations” should be released.
His latest sycophantic tweet did not sit well with social media activists in the kingdom or outside. They accused al-Maghamsi of indulging in “flattery” to curry favour with MbS.
One user said in a tweet: “O Sheikh of the court, O Saleh, you are in the era of King Abdullah, you said that he is the king of hearts. And you know that the king of hearts is God.”
He added “Now you are hypocritical and lying and saying to the Crown Prince of Muslims, is it not enough for you to be disgraced, and may God guide you with knowledge, but you are using it to serve the tyrants,” adding, “O Saleh, you wear the clothes of Muslims and do the actions of the Zionists.”
The de facto Saudi ruler has been shunned by much of the world although in recent months, western regimes anxious to sell weapons and trying to convince him to pump more oil because of tight supplies due to the war in Ukraine, have welcomed the brutal dictator. France has been in the lead; Britain and even the US have not been far behind. Personal interests always trump principles.
Despite calling MbS a “pariah”, Joe Biden, the octogenarian president of the United States, visited the kingdom in July. While this was in the context of the Gulf Cooperation Council summit attended by a number of other Arabian dictators as well, Biden wanted to secure zionist Israel’s integration into the Middle East fabric and to get the Saudis to pump more oil. He failed in both.
MbS was looking for rehabilitation on the world stage because hitherto he was shunned due to the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the regime’s brutal war on Yemen since 2015 and the mass executions of innocents in the kingdom. He has failed and while the western world may overlook these crimes, Muslims cannot forgive them.