by Yusuf Dhia-Allah (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 44, No. 6, Shawwal, 1436)
It can no longer be denied that one of the main unintended consequences of the US instigated chaos in the Muslim East (aka the Middle East) is going to be the destabilization of “Saudi” Arabia. Apart from takfiri crimes now regularly committed in the Kingdom and its neighboring countries, the socio-economic data is also showing signs of imminent instability.
In simple terms, Bani Saud’s chickens are coming home to roost. This will have one practical implication for all Muslims within the next five to six years. As Bani Saud’s grip on power will begin to loosen significantly, Makkah and Madinah will see the bloody consequences of the regional remodeling and the emerging power vacuum in the Arabian Peninsula. The battle between two ideological twins, the Bani Saud regime and its non-loyal takfiri branch is most probably going to reach Makkah and Madinah at some point within the next few years.
This unfortunately is going to make Hajj and Umrah an insecure journey, as the warring sides will not stop committing crimes even in the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah. It is, therefore, necessary that preventive political measures be discussed and adopted now in order to maintain Hajj and Umrah as a safe and secure process of ‘ibadah.
The reality is that once chaos increases in the Arabian Peninsula and the Saudi regime’s grip on power begins to weaken — as it certainly will — it will never be accepted as a credible partner for solutions by its opponents who for decades have been victims of Riyadh’s toxic policies and takfiri ideology. Therefore, a creative and comprehensive scheme must be developed by Muslim states, non-state organizations and influential scholars in managing Hajj and Umrah during the coming turbulent times. Below are the general guidelines for the two practical options that could keep Hajj and Umrah free of regional troubles:
1. Makkah and Madinah should be internationalized; these places belong to all the Muslims equally and cannot be treated as family or state property. Muslim states could come up with a mechanism that would allocate two or three states managerial responsibility for managing Hajj and Umrah for a period of four years. These states would provide the management and security personnel for Hajj and Umrah along with 50% of the budget. The remaining 50% of the costs would be provided by all other Muslim states. Once the states complete their four-year term, they could propose their candidacy for managing Hajj and Umrah only after eight years. This mechanism of course would require basic common sense and flexibility by Muslim statesman.
2. Privatizate and internationalize the Hajj and Umrah. An independent International Hajj and Umrah management organization (IHUMO) could be established and an NGO or a group of NGOs would submit Hajj and Umrah management proposals. These would be evaluated by an independent panel of experts and the organization(s) with the best proposal would be awarded the role of managing Hajj and Umrah for a period of four years. Every organization that would submit its proposal would be required to deposit a certain amount of money into the IHUMO fund that it would be able to collect back once the revision process of the proposal is completed. Every organization awarded the role of managing Hajj and Umrah could be ordered to raise 5% of its total budget independently. The rest would be provided by Muslim states. In order to depoliticize the procedure in the future and take the involvement of governments completely out of this process, IHUMO could aim at establishing its own independent investment fund. This fund could devise a financial plan that would make it more financially independent so that it could cover Hajj and Umrah expenses on its own after the first decade of its establishment.
The above are just general practical guidelines that can be remodeled and perfected. We do not claim that these are the only two solutions, but we are taking a proactive approach and hoping to trigger meaningful discussion on this issue within the Muslim Ummah. What is necessary is that Muslims take a preemptive approach on an issue that will soon haunt the entire Muslim Ummah. To assume that Bani Saud’s kingdom of darkness will somehow be shielded from regional chaos is unrealistic. Muslim societies must make Hajj and Umrah an impartial and safe process before the problems arise. We hope this column will be a starting point for many others to think about this crucial issue in practical terms.