by Zafar Bangash (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 45, No. 8, Dhu al-Hijjah, 1437)
Since the Bani Saud occupied the Arabian Peninsula nearly 100 years ago, they have imposed rules that run contrary to the teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah. They should not be allowed to get away with this.
Muslims everywhere heaved a collective sigh of relief at the conclusion of this year’s Hajj when there were no disasters like the ones that struck the hujjaj last year. Several thousand pilgrims were killed in two separate incidents — one inside the Haram when a massive construction crane collapsed crushing more than 100 people to death, followed a few days later by the stampede in Mina that resulted in the horrific death of more than 4,700 hujjaj as they were preparing for the stoning of the devil.
This year there were no such disasters. While this is welcome news because Hajj under Saudi occupation, and disasters, have become synonymous, it gives credence to the allegation by some that the Saudis themselves may have engineered last year’s Mina disaster. Without going into details, what is truly sad is that most Muslims have accepted such disasters as inevitable. It also reflects the widespread apathy among them and lack of concern about how the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah are controlled and administered. The two sacred cities, referred to as the Haramayn, have been turned by the building of massive concrete and steel structures into spiritual wastelands.
The Qur’an says that Makkah is a sanctuary (2:125) and an abode of peace (2:126). This was in response to the prayer of Prophet Ibrahim after he and his son Ismail (a) built the Ka‘bah. Today Makkah and its environs are anything but an abode of peace. Under the occupation of Bani Saud, the Bedouins from Najd implanted in the Hijaz through British colonial intrigue nearly 100 years ago, Makkah has been turned into a concrete and steel jungle where highrise towers dwarf Baytullah (House of Allah) while Saudi security forces terrorize ordinary people doing no more than performing their Hajj rituals.
There are numerous problems with how the Hajj is performed, or how the hujjaj are forced to perform Hajj today under Saudi occupation. It starts with the Saudi regime imposing a visa requirement to go for Hajj. Further, the regime has also imposed a quota system. Regrettably, most Muslims have come to accept the nation-state structure with its imposed bid‘ah (innovation) of visa, even for a religious obligation when this is clearly contrary to the commands of Allah (swt) as mentioned in the noble Qur’an.
Let us remind ourselves of what Allah (swt) says in the noble Book,
Hence, [O Prophet,] proclaim unto all the people the [duty of] pilgrimage: they will come to you on foot and on every [kind of] fast mount, coming from every faraway point [on earth], so that they might experience much that shall be of benefit to them, and that they might extol the name of Allah on the days appointed [for sacrifice]… (22:27).
Any person with even limited knowledge of the Qur’an would immediately understand that Allah (swt) is extending an open invitation to all the people to perform Hajj, one of the fundamental duties in Islam. There is no requirement of a visa or other man-made impediments; how can there be when the issue is the performance of one’s obligations required by the din of Islam? Yet surrendering to this un-Islamic practice of obtaining a visa to go to Makkah to perform Hajj, Muslims have accepted the supremacy of the nation-state structure and occupation of the Arabian Peninsula by Bani Saud over the commands of Allah (swt). This is not only a gross bid‘ah but amounts to shirk — associating partners with Allah (swt) in power and authority. This is the gravest sin a person can commit.
Little or no attention is paid to the fact that the holy land and in particular the Hijaz where Makkah and Madinah are located, are not the private property of a family or clan. They are the common heritage of the entire Muslim Ummah, hence its obligation and responsibility to protect it. This includes the administration of the two holy cities that cannot be left in the hands of a family that is not only incompetent and extremely arrogant but also illegitimate.
Saudi occupation of the Haramayn is bad enough; it is made worse by the fact that Bani Saud are agents of imperialism and Zionism. Thus, in reality, the Haramayn are as occupied by the Zionists and imperialists as is al-Masjid al-Aqsa in Jerusalem. This explains why there is little peace or security in a place that Allah (swt) has designated as the most secure place on earth and a sanctuary for refugees escaping persecution anywhere in the world. By its very nature, Makkah is the abode of those seeking sanctuary. Ibrahim (a) was the first refugee to settle his family there. Following in his footsteps, Makkah should be a refuge for all the oppressed people of the world but it isn’t.
We must consider why this is the case and what can be done to bring it back to its original divine purpose. First, however, we must consider some other issues that Bani Saud have imposed in contravention of divine commands.
Bani Saud have “priced” Hajj out of the range of 99% of Muslims today. It has been turned into a five-star experience for the tiny affluent minority. While the Qur’an states that it is ordained for those who have the ability to perform it (22:27), Bani Saud say only those with lots of cash can come. Further, while Hajj is supposed to be the annual assembly of the Ummah where free intermingling and exchange of ideas should take place, Bani Saud have compartmentalized it and divided Muslims according to their nationalities. Muslims are forced to live with citizens of their own countries. This wasn’t the case even during the days of jahiliyah when people were free to mingle. The mushriks of Makkah had a better sense of responsibility and adherence to Hajj practices than the supposedly Muslim Bani Saud. After all, despite their strong opposition to the Prophet (pbuh) and their rejection of his message, the mushriks did not prevent the noble Messenger of Allah (pbuh) from communicating his message to the pilgrims. Today, Muslims are forbidden from communicating with fellow Muslims about the issues affecting them or discussing matters pertaining to Islam. All such discussions are strictly forbidden. Why?
Bani Saud’s most grievous sin is their proscription of expressing bara’ah min al-mushrikin (open and public declaration of dissociation from the mushrikin) as commanded by Allah (swt) in the noble Qur’an (9:03). As guests of Allah, they are required to turn completely to Allah (swt) and reject all other worldly powers and this should be done publicly at the time of Hajj. This was also exemplified by the noble Messenger (pbuh) when the first 12 ayat of Surah al-Tawbah were revealed. He immediately dispatched Imam ‘Ali (ra) to Makkah when Muslims under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (ra) had already left Madinah. Imam ‘Ali (ra) was instructed to proclaim these ayat and dissociation from the mushrikin at the time of Hajj.
Today, Bani Saud say the hujjaj must not obey Allah’s (swt) commands or the Prophetic Sunnah (nastaghfir-allah). They call it “politicising” the Hajj. “The Kingdom categorically rejects that the Hajj serves any political purpose,” the 80-year-old King Salman ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz said in a brief address to international VIPs on September 13. Hajj is supposed to obliterate distinctions of class and wealth yet the Saudi monarch arranges special programs for “international VIPs.” Who are these VIPs and on what basis do they make such a claim? Are they unaware of the Qur’anic ayah that talks of taqwa, not power or wealth, determining a person’s standing with Allah (swt)? (49:13).
And how did the aged king arrive at the conclusion that Hajj serves “no political purpose”? Bani Saud are guilty of politicising the Hajj but for their own narrow sectarian agenda and purpose. Can Salman cite one ayah of the Qur’an or quote a hadith of the noble Messenger (pbuh) that would support his contention?
The Islamic Republic of Iran whose pilgrims were barred from this year’s Hajj because they insisted on organizing the bara’ah min al-mushrikin rallies according to the Qur’anic command, accuses Riyadh of “blocking the path leading to Allah (swt).”
How should one categorize people who prohibit Muslims from following the teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the noble Messenger (pbuh)? Can such people be called Muslims?
Muslims, especially those endowed with knowledge and understanding, must seriously reflect on how Islamic practices have been emptied out of their true meaning and turned into meaningless rituals. Further, it is imperative to realize that the Haramayn are not the personal property of any family to be managed — or mismanaged — as it deems fit. They are the common heritage of the entire Ummah. The Haramayn must be taken away from the control of people who have little or no regard for Allah’s (swt) commands. Instead, they are subservient to Zionism and imperialism whom they fear more than they fear Allah (nastaghfir-allah).
If the Muslim world is suffering so much today, it is primarily because Muslims have abandoned their responsibility toward Allah (swt) and His Messenger (pbuh) and have neglected the true spirit of Hajj. It is time the committed Muslims take this responsibility seriously and bring an end to Bani Saud’s illegal occupation of the Haramayn and the Arabian Peninsula. So long as this immoral, greedy and cruel family is in control of the most sacred places of Islam, Muslims are unlikely to see an end to their misery and suffering.
It is time to return Hajj to its prophetic basis so that Muslims can assume their proper place of honour in the world,
Honour and glory belong only to Allah and His Messenger and those who are sincere in their commitment to Allah. But of this, the munafiqin are not aware (63:08).