By: Latief U Zaman Deva
The ‘Diriyah Agreement’ between Mohammad Ibn Abdul Wahab and Mohamed Ibn Saud was a defining moment of mid 18th century in the politico-socioeconomic history of Islam, contemplating the revival of puritanism and reformation in the Arabia followed by its dissemination in the rest of the Muslim world. The orientation being universalist, the founders of the movement were therefore initially called as ‘global Islamists’ even as their uprisings remain directed against the Caliph of Ottoman empire only but actually were no match to the latter who had established a territorial empire encompassing three continents with complete intra-Islam and inter-religious freedom and harmony, one of golden eras in World Muslim History.
The aligning of Ottoman empire with Germany, in run up to the first world war and during the combat itself, provided an occasion, long fancied by the successors of crusaders, for infusion of nationalism in anti-Khalafath movements engineered and fathered by their governments in France and Britain. Thomas Edward Lawrence, an Intelligence officer who was better known as Lawrence of Arabia and Hempher, a missionary (both British) are two cases in point.
The reliance on ethnicity or tribalism driven through the Ummah for creation of the States is also responsible for collapse of Khalafat even though the actual decimation was the aftermath of the First World War.
The lack of consciousness about the convictions professed and non steadfast adherence to the puritanical nature of State saw emergence of many States in otherwise homogeneous societies in West Asia, Middle East and North Africa. The changes sweeping the world order provided impetus to Islamic resurgence or call it Global Islamist groupings resulting in revival of Muslim solidarity movements as outcome of preceding socio-political movements. The inherent spirit for solidarity amongst the Muslims across the countries is a reality but getting camouflaged in State to State relations especially in monarchies and dictatorships, while in democracies the fault lines are absent. Notwithstanding the contradictory formulations, Shah Faesal, Saudi King did emerge as a leader when he was successful in bringing about unity amongst the Muslim countries with able support from Z. A. Bhutto, Anwar Sadat and Colonel Gaddafi. Had Iranian revolution of 1978 preceded the martyrdom of Shah Faesal the state of affairs would have transformed Muslim World into six confederations on the basis of shared ownership of the vision of the deceased king and Imam Khamenei under the umbrella of Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC). During this phase Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and Pakistan were in American sphere of influence and as such no aberration was noticeable. Even Iranian clergy too was not averse to the ‘grandeur’.
Iranian revolution introduced a paradigm shift, for various reasons, in Muslim countries. Pakistan during the Pahlavi reign was a brother country in school text books but thereafter the references were deleted and almost all Arab countries apprehended export of Islamic revolution in their parts of the globe owing to the fervour for Muslim resurgence overtaking the imagination of Muslim youth in general for changes in their societies and states comporting them with Islamic fundamentals for emerging as a territorial power to reckon with. Amongst all civilisations it is the Muslim one, despite representing 26% of world population and only second after Christianity, lacking role in the multi-polar world which has had been agitating the minds of younger generations and further consigned to the margins in the debate about restructuring of UNSC. The overplaying of sectarian tensions in the face of popular aspirations pitting most of conservative countries including Iraq, a socialist, against Iran whose manifestations are even now discernible in mutually contradictory positions taken viz-a- viz Arab Spring in Egypt, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen. Brutal crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood by Egypt was state perpetrated terrorism but more lethal in Syria against demonstrators seeking democratic order backed to the hilt including deployment of foreign controlled militia by Iran and quite reverse and opposite stance of Arab league leaders in the two conflicts. In Bahrain the ruling monarchy lacks majority popular support and the latter sympathized as oppressed, contrary to position on Syrian uprising resulting in annihilation of about 5 lakh people in most horrendous circumstances by a ruthless dictator supported by a tiny minority (13%) with control on all institutions. Huti rigid angle in Yemen’s fratricidal conflict is another example of mayhem engulfing the Yemen. Arab monarchies are for decisive role for majority community in government in Syria but not prepared for extending the same to Bahrain. The dichotomy between the Arabia and Iran on the reigning aspects by the States de-horse the popular aspirations once settled in favour of democracy shall cease the turmoil to a great extent unless the affected countries susceptible to rival influences stand up against interference and commit themselves to harmony within their respective countries for constitutionally guaranteed inclusive growth and participation in governance. Iran, with the predominant sectarian ideology as state policy is largely responsible for pushing the Arab rulers into the lap of the Zionists due to the unwise and aggressive and militant use of their fellow travellers in respective countries for furthering Iranian foreign policies. The Diriyah Agreement envisaged a system of checks and balances but from quite some time due to the shrinking space and decline in the standards and positions of Ulma, the ruling oligarchs have monopolized all facets of society and kingdom otherwise a ruling dynasty epitomised for everything on earth other than religious piety could not have existed in this texture and format. Admittedly the Iranian clergy and front line leaders don’t suffer from the vices attributable to Saudi royal families. Saudi Ulma need be resilient and adaptive within the ambit of ‘Ijtihad and Ijma’ towards revival of learning but not to condone the patent un-Islamic measures unleashed primarily for temporal advancement of the royalty impinging on the covenants of Diriyah Agreement. The ostentatious and extravagant lifestyle of royalty runs counter to the charter laid down by the four chosen caliphs for the rulers which can be appreciated by the fact that fifteen thousand royals of the country hold 1.4 trillion from the total Saudi wealth amounting to 33.2 trillion and the palaces raised in the coastal areas of Jeddah at a staggering unproductive cost of 20 billion. All the three figures in USD.
Leadership and OIC
MBS bereft of understanding about yearnings in Muslims irrespective of the countries they live in, is squeezing space for himself to be considered eligible by Muslims for their leadership. The debate underway is not Arab v. non- Arab but between self-centered monarchies lacking popular support even in their homelands and the Global Islamists driven by the Islamic perspective of universal Muslim brotherhood and peaceful co-existence with all the religionists and non-religionists. The flash point primarily zeroes on Israel as an occupational force of Palestinian territory guaranteed in partition plan leading to emergence of Israel as a country. The decision about recognition of Israeli State by all OIC members within the territory apportioned for it by UN in 1948 could be a beginning for rapprochement and de’tente, and evolving cart blanche for conciliation and reconciliation with solutions acceptable to all stakeholders, in countries where Muslims face persecution, denial of universally guaranteed rights or are at loggerheads with the concerned coercive governments. However armed struggles as means for achieving the ends (including secessionism) need be abhorred – with ‘no covert or overt operations treaties’ between and amongst the OIC members followed by its application to non Muslim neighbouring countries with whom settlements facilitated by OIC. Within OIC also, in order to finish the extremism, the religious belief systems need be secularised on the basis of synchronised edicts/Fatwas from Saudi/Al-Azher/Quom making preachers accountable for incendiary and provocative actions and building trust on commonalities by restricting the known differences for identity purposes only without passing judgments against those proud of their contrary beliefs. This stupendous charter undoubtedly would need a charismatic leader with a vision for Islamic solidarity and alleviating their co-religionists state inflicted sufferings, which potential MBS lacks in, unless the uproar brings about a transformational change in him. The Ummah can’t afford at this stage of unfounded clash of civilisations to be lorded over by an overambitious person except at its peril and therefore he ought to pave the way for a substitute believing in greater Muslim identity and commanding support. Meanwhile, the ghost of Jamal Khashoogi, a non-resident Saudi national killed in Saudi embassy in Turkey shall continue to haunt MBS for long and Heaven knows the course the law-suit filed in US courts, by Saad al Jabari, ex Saudi intelligence spy, will take.
Painful as the author is a fourth generation Salafi, in the bandwagon of fifth and sixth generations in the extended dynasty, whose great-grandfather, Khwaja Abdul Qudoos Deva introduced Salafi movement in South Kashmr in 1888 and later on, he, his son Khwaja Abdul Ali Deva along with their butler Gasha Jo during Hajj 1908 made a huge contribution to the movement on the foreign soil.
– The author can be reached on his twitter handle: @aaluzdeva; e.mail: [email protected]