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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Drunk On Power

The Masjid an-Nabawi in Mecca, Green Dome on the Right

There has been a lot of talk about Saudi Arabia not firming up the price of oil by not agreeing to restrict OPEC production.

What the Saudi elite turns on, they can turn off.

Remember the oil embargo in the 70s?

When the US fracking producers and the Canadian oilsands producers have been hurt enough that Saudi oil increases it proportion of US oil imports, then a decrease in production may be wielded as a weapon to punish US consumers, just like in the past.

Or, if Russia is hurt enough, it will not be able to support the Assad regime in Syria, and the various radical fundamentalist factions ( the Takfiris, as the Shia publications call them) will establish their caliphate.

Similarly, when Iran is wounded, its support of Assad is diminished, and its nuclear program must slow down; the Saudi elite has no fear of the nuclear weapons of Israel, because the Saudi elite has no political agenda other than its own continuation.

This same elite fancies itself a defender of religion.
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

One of Islam’s most revered holy sites – the tomb of the Prophet Mohamed – could be destroyed and his body removed to an anonymous grave under plans which threaten to spark discord across the Muslim world.

The controversial proposals are part of a consultation document by a leading Saudi academic which has been circulated among the supervisors of al-Masjid al-Nabawi mosque in Medina, where the remains of the Prophet are housed under the Green Dome, visited by millions of pilgrims and venerated as Islam’s second-holiest site. The formal custodian of the mosque is Saudi Arabia’s ageing monarch King Abdullah.

The plans, brought to light by another Saudi academic who has exposed and criticised the destruction of holy places and artefacts in Mecca – the holiest site in the Muslim world – call for the destruction of chambers around the Prophet’s grave which are particularly venerated by Shia Muslims.


The 61-page document also calls for the removal of Mohamed’s remains to the nearby al-Baqi cemetery, where they would be interred anonymously.

There is no suggestion that any decision has been taken to act upon the plans. The Saudi government has in the past insisted that it treats any changes to Islam’s holiest sites with “the utmost seriousness”.


But such is the importance of the mosque to both Sunni and Shia Muslims that Dr Irfan al-Alawi warned that any attempt to carry out the work could spark unrest. It also runs the risk of inflaming sectarian tensions between the two branches of Islam, already running perilously high due to the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

Hardline Saudi clerics have long preached that the country’s strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam – an offshoot of the Sunni tradition – prohibits the worship of any object or “saint”, a practice considered “shirq” or idolatrous.

Dr Alawi, director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, told The Independent: “People visit the chambers, which are the rooms where the Prophet’s family lived, and turn towards the burial chamber to pray.

“Now they want to prevent pilgrims from attending and venerating the tomb because they believe this is shirq, or idolatry. But the only way they can stop people visiting the Prophet is to get him out and into the cemetery.”


King Abdullah has appointed the prominent Wahhabi cleric and imam of the Grand Mosque, Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, to oversee the expansion project – necessary to cope with the huge number of pilgrims who now visit each year.

Dr Alawi says the consultation document for the al-Nabawi mosque in Medina, by the leading Saudi academic Dr Ali bin Abdulaziz al-Shabal of Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, has been circulated to the Committee of the Presidency of the Two Mosques.

Several pages of the consultation document have just been published in the presidency’s journal. They call for the destruction of the rooms surrounding the tomb – used by the Prophet’s wives and daughters, and venerated by the Shia because of their association with his youngest daughter, Fatima.

The document also calls for the Green Dome, which covers the tomb and these living quarters, to be removed, and the ultimate removal of the Prophet’s body to a nearby cemetery.

The al-Baqi cemetery already contains the bodies of many of the Prophet’s family, including his father who was removed there in the 1970s, Dr Alawi said. In 1924 all the grave markers were removed, so pilgrims would not know who was buried there, and so be unable to pray to them.

“The Prophet would be anonymous,” Dr Alawi added. “Everything around the Prophet’s mosque has already been destroyed. It is surrounded by bulldozers. Once they’ve removed everything they can move towards the mosque. The imam is likely to say there is a need to expand the mosque and do it that way, while the world’s eyes are on Iraq and Syria. The Prophet Mohamed’s grave is venerated by the mainstream Sunni, who would never do it. It is just as important for the Shia too, who venerate the Prophet’s daughter, Fatima.

“I’m sure there will be shock across the Muslim world at these revelations. It will cause outrage.”

The Independent was unable to contact the Saudi Arabian embassy, but it said in a statement last year: “The development of the Holy Mosque of Makkah al-Mukarramah [Mecca] is an extremely important subject and one which the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in its capacity as custodian of the two holy mosques, takes with the utmost seriousness. This role is at the heart of the principles upon which Saudi Arabia is founded.”

I get the impression that the Saudi Arabian elite is drunk with Power, drunk with Money, and drunk with Fundamentalist Intolerance.



knutty knitter said...

That is truly horrible. I am not religious to any belief system but I do believe that people should be able to worship as they wish. Fundamentalism is a blight on humanity in whatever shape or form it takes.


ps Merry
whatever it is you believe in :)

Montag said...

Fundamentalism is an escape from responsibility.

Thanks, Viv.

You sound like my family when you express perplexity on whatever it is I believe in.

I gave up using the concept "belief" except in certain well defined contexts some years ago.

I never use the expression "belief system"...

I try to take my lead from Sister Maria in the film "The Great Beauty" when she speaks of her service to God and her life of service and poverty:

"Poverty is not something you talk about... you live it."

I try. That's one of the reasons I try to be brief in my posts. That and the fact that I am incurably lazy.

knutty knitter said...

Very true - I do poverty really well. I also do personal growth/responsibility - as in I will quite happily listen to what you say but reserve the right to investigate things myself and adopt or reject them accordingly - and then change my mind later if I feel the need.