With the pilgrimage of the Hajj about to reach its pinnacle on Eid al Adha – a day hold most sacred in Islam as it marked God’s mercy towards Abraham as he readied his son for sacrifice, Muslims have been painfully reminded of the violence and oppression they have had to face by the hand of the Saudi regime.
Ever since the House of Saud claimed for itself the title of Custodian of the two Holy Mosques: Mecca and Medina, pilgrims have seen their rights and to a great extent their faith, hijacked by Wahhabism – a violent and ascetic interpretation of Islam which dogmatism was rejected by Sunni Islam’s most prominent authority, the Grand Mufti of al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed al–Tayeb earlier this September.
While the issue has seldom been reported due to political entanglements, and maybe disinterest, Western capitals have more often than not proven lenient towards their allies as to preserve their own strategic interests. The issue of the Hajj and Islam altogether have seen now pitted a faith against one theocracy: Saudi Arabia.
For the sake of accuracy, it needs to be said that for all the many claims the kingdom may have formulated over the centuries, Wahhabism neither speaks, nor represents Islam as a whole. If anything, Wahhabism has taken a sledgehammer to Islam by laying waste its historical heritage, branding communities under the label of apostasy to together exert control and claim righteousness.
Many religious scholars have argued Wahhabism to stand in negation of Islamic principles. As Mohamed Daadaoui puts it: “The greatest threat to Islam emanates from the relatively modern phenomenon of Wahhabism, a cancer that has been allowed to fester and metastasize for several centuries.”
On the matter, I believe that Dr John Andrew Morrow, the author of The Covenants Of The Prophet Muhammad With The Christians Of The World, has been particularly thorough and vocal in his denunciation of Wahhabism inherent radicalism and propensity to bloodshed.
As I mentioned earlier, this quiet war within the Islamic world has reached boiling point ― so much so, in fact, that Muslims across continents have joined in together to denounce Riyadh’s theocratic tyranny. “No more will we tolerate for our faith to be redacted and our traditions disappeared to the radicalism of Wahhabism,” said Dr Riaz Karim, the Director and Founder of the Mona Relief Organization.
“Ninety-eight percent of Islamic heritage has been destroyed at the hands of Wahhabism. No longer will we tolerate this cultural genocide. No more will we permit the peaceful message of Islam to be hijacked, and our history annihilated at the hands of Wahhabi terrorists,”said the Baqee Organization in exclusive comments.
Parallel to Wahhabi-inspired radicals’ vicious campaign against the world religious heritage, Saudi Arabia has vetoed millions of Muslims out of their pilgrimage – essentially violating an entire religious community’s most basic human rights, and most paramount religious duty.
Beyond a simple case of religious oppression, Saudi Arabia has overseen the destruction of most of Mecca’s 1000-year-old historical landmarks, single-handedly redacting History to claim a truth which is a fabrication.
“Failure to protect them [holy sites] from destruction is the biggest tragedy for the Islamic architectural heritage. The Saudi royal family claims to be guardians of the holy places of Islam, and profit hugely from the centuries by visiting believers to Mecca and Medina for pilgrimage. And yet, they are party to this barbaric desecration of the holiest sites in the Islamic world.”
Money and politics, more than faith, might lie at the core of the matter.
According to the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies in London, the Hajj and Umra pilgrimages are Saudi Arabia’ second source of income after Oil, with an estimated $12 billion per annum. This figure was echoed by economists and Saudi officials.
Today, Saudi Arabia is aggressively looking to maximisz its “Islamic” revenue as to bridge its increasing deficit and finance its transformation of Islam landscape into a Vegas-looking-type grand capitalist complex.
In this dystopian religious reality, Muslims are no longer entitled to their faith – rather they must abide by Wahhabism’s intrinsic extremism and bow in submissive acceptance to an increasingly vindictive Wahhabi clergy.
For those who dare still hold true to such principles as compassion, justice, pluralism and tolerance, the Hajj has simply been closed.
Jeremy Taylor best summarized Saudi Arabia’s attitude towards Islam’s holiest of sites when he wrote for The Independent: “Historic and culturally important landmarks are being destroyed to make way for luxury hotels and malls.”
Undeniably, there has been a disturbing trend whereby Wahhabism has promoted the destruction of all religious landmarks across the region, arguing idolatry, while at the same time working to capitalize God.
At which point does diktat become cultural genocide?