The zionist genocide of Palestinians in Gaza has once again brought to the fore the question of who controls and administers the Haramayn. This is important because several pilgrims have been arrested for praying or displaying Palestinian symbols such as the kaffiyeh, the chequered Palestinian scarf. These arrests have occurred in both al-Masjid al-Haram in Makkah and al-Masjid al-Nabawi in Madinah.
When faced with difficulties, Muslims turn to Allah for help. This is what Muslims have been doing during the zionist-perpetrated genocide of the defenceless people of Gaza since October 7. The noble Qur’an tells us: “And your Sustainer says: ‘Call upon Me, and I shall respond to you…” (Surah Ghafir, verse 60).
The people of Gaza and the occupied West Bank are facing a genocidal zionist onslaught in which tens of thousands of innocent people have been butchered in cold blood. The vast majority of the victims are women and children. Under relentless Israeli bombardment, their dwellings, schools and hospitals have been destroyed. There is little food, water, medicines or fuel. They are being killed from the air with bombs and missiles and strangled to death through starvation on the ground.
The collective west is fully supporting the genocide through political diplomatic and military means. They are thus complicit in Israeli war crimes.
What is the response of the Muslim world and what are they doing to assist the victims? There are 57 Muslim nation-states in the world. Some of them are also extremely rich such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar. Others have large armies and can support the Palestinians physically, if they so desire.
What is the reality? Beyond rhetoric, no tangible help has been extended to the Palestinians. The so-called emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) convened on November 11 issued a meaningless declaration that brought comfort to the zionist war criminals and added to the grief of the Palestinian people. The “emergency” meeting was held 35 after the zionist onslaught had started, a strange notion of emergency!
Ordinary Muslims are left wondering what to do. If they want to hold rallies to express solidarity with the Palestinian people, the Arab regimes’ forces prevent them. This is true of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE etc. Under such circumstances, they turn to Allah for help. But some of these regimes even prevent people from praying to Allah to help the Palestinians.
During their visit to perform Umrah (the lesser Hajj), pilgrims have been arrested for expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people or praying for them. This is not conjecture. Pilgrims found praying for the Palestinians or wearing the kaffiyeh have been arrested inside Masjid al-Haram as well as Masjid al-Nabawi.
The British actor and presenter Islah Abdur-Rahman’s ordeal came to light when he put his story on Instagram. He was arrested by Saudi soldiers inside Masjid al-Haram because he was wearing the kaffiyeh. Accompanied by his family, he had gone to Makkah to perform Umrah in October. Following his arrest, he was escorted to an off-site location where they detain people for possible crimes or offences.
He was interrogated by soldiers asking about his nationality, why he was there (what did they think?), where he had travelled from and how long he intended to stay there. “It was evident that the scarf was the issue,” Abdur-Rahman said. “They were talking in Arabic but they kept saying ‘Palestinian keffiyeh’ and looking at the scarf.
Before being released, the British pilgrim was made to sign a release form. He was also asked to give his fingerprints as if he was a criminal, after handing in the keffiyeh.
When his ordeal became public, some Saudis targeted him on social media accusing him of “mixing” religion and politics. Their hate-filled messages showed not only their ignorance but also bad manners. The Saudis insisted that displaying flags or symbols are not allowed in places of worship.
How did they arrive at this conclusion? Can they provide any proof from the Qur’an or the Prophetic Sunnah for such views?
Here is a clue. Some Saudi court preachers have been unleashed to silence people that raise their voices about the horrors underway in Gaza. One such court preacher is Abdul Rahman al-Sudais. He is the head of Saudi Arabia’s religious affairs at Masjid al-Haram, appointed by the regime.
On November 10, al-Sudais suggested on X (formerly twitter) that people should not interfere or get involved in what is happening in Gaza. He has a huge following on twitter. Think of spreading ignorance by the train load.
“You are seeing what is happening to our brothers and sisters in Palestine, what else should we do towards them, other than pray for them,” he said. But the Saudi regime won’t allow people to even pray for them.
“Muslims should not give in to these provocations and let the events divide them. They must refer back to their guardians and authorities, their scholars, and not engage in what they have no right to engage in,” the Saudi preacher wrote. Why Muslims have no right to engage in supporting the Palestinian people was not explained. As for the Saudi “guardians”, “authorities” and “scholars”, the less said the better.
Let us consider Sudais’ exhortations in light of the teachings of the Qur’an and the Prophetic Sunnah. The noble Qur’an refers to the Muslims as “One Ummah” (21:92; 23:52). Allah also warns them: “And how could you refuse to fight in the cause of Allah and of the utterly helpless men, women and children who are crying, ‘O our Sustainer! Lead us forth [to freedom] out of this [imperial] civic society whose people are oppressors, and raise for us, out of Your grace, one who will bring us support’.” (4:75).
In a well-known hadith, the Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said: “The Muslim Ummah is like the human body. If one part of the body aches, the entire body feels the pain” (narrated by Al-Nu‘man ibn Bashir; Bukhari #6011 and Muslim # 2586).
Let us deconstruct Sudais’ advice to pray for the people of Gaza and not do anything else. And if they want to know what to do, they should only “refer back to their guardians and authorities, their scholars, and not engage in what they have no right to engage in.”
Pilgrims arrested in Makkah and al-Madinah were doing no more than praying for the people of Gaza. Yet Saudi soldiers arrested and humiliated them. Perhaps, the Saudi authorities should go after Sudais as well. He called upon people to pray for the Palestinians yet the Saudi regime arrested people for doing just that.
But we are constrained to ask this Saudi court preacher, what Qur’anic ayah or Prophetic hadith commands people not to engage in matters, in this case, the situation in Gaza, “in which they have no right to engage in”? Who determines what people can engage in?
Saudi preachers never tire of narrating the Prophet’s hadiths (but only those that suit their point of view at any given time!) yet when Muslims follow them, they are arrested. Is Sudais unaware that during the Prophet’s time, al-Masjid al-Nabawi served not only as a place of worship but also as a seat of government and the military headquarters.
Since Saudis do not follow the Qur’an or the Prophetic Sunnah, it becomes imperative to divest them of the control of the Haramayn. They are clearly violating Allah’s commands and the Prophetic Sunnah. If Muslims cannot pray to Allah for help in His House, where else should they turn to?