by Zafar Bangash (Editorials, Crescent International Vol. 39, No. 8, Shawwal, 1431)
"Only they shall tend to the masjids of Allah that make a firm commitment to Him..." (9:18–19) Pondering over the above ayaat, it appears as if they were revealed specifically to describe the behaviour of the present rulers in the Arabian Peninsula.
As millions of Muslims gather in Makkah in preparation for the performance of Hajj, it is important to reflect on the significance of this fundamental pillar of Islam. Is it being performed in accordance with the commands of Allah (swt) outlined in the noble Qur’an and exemplified by the Messenger of Allah (pbuh)? Further, we need to ask whether the environment of Makkah and indeed the Haramayn (that includes Madinah as well) has been maintained in keeping with Islamic values and principles.
Before we reflect on these aspects, let us remind ourselves of what Allah (swt) says in the noble Book.
Only they shall tend to the masjids of Allah that make a firm commitment to Him, and are conscious of the Day of Reckoning [when they shall account for their deeds]; and institutionalize the salah and pay their zakah [in order to purify their accumulated wealth] and fear no one beside Allah. For such only shall be guided to the right path. Do you think that slaking the thirst of the pilgrims and tending to al-Masjid al-Haram is [equal to the one] who makes a firm commitment to Allah and is certain of the Day of Judgement, and strives with utmost effort in the way of Allah? They are certainly not equal before Allah. And Allah does not guide [to the right way] those that perpetrate zulm [in this world] (9:18–19).
Pondering over the above ayaat, it appears as if they were revealed specifically to describe the behaviour of the present rulers in the Arabian Peninsula. The Saudis, like the mushriks of old, make a big show of their control of the Haramayn. The ayaat emphasize several points clarifying for Muslims what is important from what is peripheral. Only those truly committed to Allah (swt) that fear no one but Him, are eligible to tend to His masjids, including al-Masjid al-Haram. Further, that providing water to pilgrims, as the Saudis do and as the mushriks of old did, is no substitute for nor equal to struggling in the way of Allah (swt). Allah (swt) categorically rejected the mushriks’ misplaced pride as custodians of the Ka‘bah as He dismisses the contrived taqwa of the Saudi munafiqs today. The Saudi rulers are even worse than the mushriks of old. Unlike the Saudis, the mushriks of the Prophet’s (pbuh) time were not cowards; they did not seek the protection of others. The Saudis are afraid of everyone except Allah (swt), nastaghfir-allah.
Allah (swt) did not complete His revelation until Makkah was liberated from the clutches of the mushriks and cleansed of its idols. Today there may not be idols of stone but there are other idols that pollute the environment of the Haramayn. New forms of idols: tribalism, nationalism, crass commercialism and the culture of Western imperialism have enveloped Makkah and Madinah, viciously transforming its spiritual and universalist ambience into an exclusivist enclave for petro-princes and their handlers. Muslims go for Hajj to experience spiritual revival and cleansing but they return commercially stuffed and spiritually empty. How can they have a spiritual experience or connect with prophetic history when the Saudis are busy obliterating all traces of that cherished history under the guise of providing better services to the pilgrims? Makkah and Madinah are being turned into replicas of any western city with emphasis on fast food, glittering lights and concrete and steel towers. How can an average Muslim identify with Islamic history under this inexorable drift into modern-day jahilliyah?
Just as Allah (swt) did not complete His revelation to the noble Messenger (pbuh) until Makkah was liberated from the clutches of the mushriks, Muslims cannot hope to solve the myriad problems confronting them until they liberate the Ka‘bah from the clutches of the contemporary jahils whose behaviour is more scandalous than the royal Windsors and Hollywood. Makkah and Madinah are not the private property of Saudi princes and monarchs. They are not fit morally, politically or spiritually to be in control of the most sacred sites of Muslims. Their behaviour and cowardice disqualify them to be anywhere near the Haramayn much less be in control of them.
The global Islamic movement has a choice: it can continue to live with the mistaken belief that everything is normal and that nothing needs to be done as long as the Saudis “provide water” to the pilgrims and continue their concrete and steel crusade against the sacred sites of Islam. Or, the Islamic movement can take stock of the situation where Islam’s history is being obliterated at a furious pace, and demand that the Saudis relinquish control of these sacred sites. True, they will not do so willingly. The Saudi hordes perpetrated horrible crimes when they invaded the Hijaz, not once but twice. They must be driven out of the Haramayn in the same manner as the Ottoman rulers’ representatives in Egypt, Muhammad Ali and Ibrahim Pasha had done from 1813 to 1819.
If the Muslims do not wish to see Makkah and Madinah destroyed completely at the hands of these cultural hooligans from the backward desert outpost of Dar‘iyyah, then they have a duty to act, and fast. Tomorrow may be too late. It is time to liberate Makkah once again. Islam requires no less.