THE SHAME OF SAUDI ARABIA, and the Silence of the Muslim Ummah
El-Hajj Mauri' Saalakhan: SSaala@aol.com
THE PEACE Thru JUSTICE FOUNDATION
MUHARRAM 1432 A.H. (December 12, 2010)
"Stand firmly for justice, as witnesses to ALLAH, even if it is against yourselves..."
- The Noble Qur'an
Assalaamu Alaikum (Greetings of Peace):
Br. Ziyad Motala has reminded me of an article that I filed away a few days before the Hajj season began. I filed it away because I intended, at some point in the near future, to come back to it with a hard hitting commentary on what struck me as an apartheid-like (or old south segregationist-like) practice in the land of the Qur'an. Motala beat me to it.
The only point of difference I have is this: if I am blessed to perform the Hajj again before I die - and I only wish to perform it one last time - I would prefer a tent over a luxury hotel!
With that said, Motala rightfully criticized the high speed rail system that was reserved (this past Hajj season) solely for Saudis and other Gulf State Arabs. Shame on the Saudis for such a crass display of racism and classcism at a time when hujjaj from around the world converge on the Arabian penninsula to answer ALLAH's call!
Motala doesn't stop there, however. He goes on to point out a number of other inconvenient truths that the Saudis, and a significant number of servile clients in the Muslim West, would choose to ignore. As a matter of conscience, I cannot.
I personally consider Saudi Arabia to be one of the most corrupt countries in the world - not withstanding the presence of the sacred House (known as the Kaaba) - the oldest religious institution established for the worship of "The One God" in the world today; a Sacred House established by the Prophet Ibrahim (or Abraham in Judeo-Christian theology) and his son Ismail (or Ishmael). I feel this way for all of the reasons stated below in Motala's commentary, in addition to a few more.
I personally got a glimpse into the depths of the (spiritual) corruption myself, when I made the Hajj in 1407 A.H. (1987 CE). That year, 404 Muslims were killed and thousands more injured by Saudi security forces, for the sole purpose of disrupting the largest and most peaceful demonstration I had ever personally witnessed in my life (before or since). After which the Saudi regime - and their partners in the West - attempted to place responsibility for the murder and mayhem committed against innocent Muslims, from around the world, at the feet of the Iranian government! (Sound familar?)
This eye-witness experience constituted my first, and most important, political education on certain unpleasant realities within the Muslim world. It forced me to remove the rose colored glasses and self imposed illusions that had characterized my worldview up to that point. It was a very painful education, to say the least. (I witnessed the bloody mayhem with my very own eyes.)
Since then I have heard many credible horror stories about life in the hijaz, from people (Muslims and non-Muslims) who have lived and worked there; and from human rights organizations who have weighed in on some of the egregious cases that have come to light.
I am also aware of the Saudi government's practice of DENYING VISAS FOR HAJJ for political reasons. I personally know of one highly principled Muslim leader who has been victimized by this practice. His name is Mohammad al-Asi - to my knowledge, the only elected imam in the history of the Washington, DC, Islamic Center.
While Almighty ALLAH has mandated that every able bodied Muslim (with the means to do so) perform Hajj at least once in his or her lifetime - the Saudi position is, if we have a problem with you, you will not receive a visa to answer God's call! (How blind and foolish can one twisted regime be?!)
Recently, there was a case out of London involving one of the deviant, but wealthy members of the Saudi clan. He was captured on an elevator mounted video assaulting his male "servant," who later tuned up dead in their hotel suite. The homosexual nature of their relationship ended up being the salacious focus of the media - but this was not the thing that caused me to experience visceral outrage. It was something else...something much deeper.
When I read the first report on the scandal which didn't even carry a photo, my gut feeling was that the "servant" was probably a DARK-SKINNED SLAVE - and I was right! Only a mental slave would allow another man to strike him with deadly impunity without striking back! The racism and the class-ism evidenced by this disturbing case turned my stomach. If the slaves death had taken place (under the exact same circumstance) in Saudi Arabia, it would have probably been covered up and dismissed as nothing of any great consequence!
The bottom line is this, the Saudi Arabia of today is very, very different from the Saudi Arabia that Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz) wrote about in 1964 - when he made Hajj!
On a final note, I am deeply disturbed by the silent cover Muslim "leaders" in America (and in other parts of the world) have given this rogue regime, for no other reason than money! With the natural wealth that ALLAH has deposited in that part of the world - wealth that belongs to the entire Muslim Ummah (not one pampered, corrupt, overly-indulged clan) - the Saudi regime has been able to purchase silence and complicity throughout the world (which includes Muslims in the West)!
Many of our Sunni brothers in America can rail against the Shi'a; they can rail against the NOI; they can rail against the Ahmadiyyah; they can rail against any Muslim who doesn't fit their critieria of what a Muslim should be; but when it comes to, perhaps, the most disruptive force in the Muslim world today (in the form of a nation-state), there is absolute SILENCE! - a silence that morphs into complicity!
If this commentary results in my never being able to make the Hajj again, so be it. I've already made it once; and I've made my niyyah to make it one more time before I die, insha'Allah. If I end up being blocked from fulfilling this goal by a corrupt-hearted human being, the matter will end up being between that corrupter and His Lord.
With that said, please read and reflect over what the brother has to say below.
In the struggle for peace thru justice,
El-Hajj Mauri' Saalakhan
"Three classes of men [or women] are cut off from the blessings of Paradise; oppressors; those who aid and abet oppression; and those who tolerate oppression."
- Ali ibn abu-Talib (The 4th Caliph of Islam)
The Hajj and the Apartheid Train: Where Is the Muslim Outrage?
Law professor, Howard University School of Law
December 10, 2010
A pivotal theme in current Islamic political discourse is a demand for justice, a key tenet of the Quran. A popular complaint in Islamic political argument is discrimination against Muslims in the west such as the ban of the veil in European countries, minarets in Switzerland or racial profiling in many western countries. Unfortunately, there is a conspicuous lack of looking inwards to practices within Muslim countries. Muslims from all over the world have just completed the annual pilgrimage, the Hajj in Saudi Arabia.
The Hajj represents a critical pillar of Islam and is supposed to represent a universal gathering of Muslims, which transcends race, ethnicity, color or any other distinction. Muslims are supposed to meet in the sacred precincts surrounding the holy city of Mecca as equals wearing the same simple clothing meant to symbolize perfect brotherhood, where individuals or groups do not see themselves as separate entities and differences of lineage, tribe or race have no bearing.
The experiences of the Hajj are very different depending on which part of the world you originate from. If you hail from Saudi Arabia or the Gulf states, you will perform the hajj in relative luxury and privilege, which is denied to Muslims from the sub-continent, Africa or the rest of the world. Those from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states have a different Hajj based on luxurious accommodations, and preferential treatment in performing the rituals.
The latest egregious practice is the high-speed rail service, which transports the pilgrims from Mecca to the sacred sites where the rituals of the Hajj are performed. The train is reserved only for Saudis and citizens from the Gulf countries. Citizens from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries can be transported to the holy sites within a few minutes. For others, they will have to take the bus or walk which could take many hours each day. I cannot think of any other place in the world today that practices such crass racism. Imagine a train in the United States that states no Arabs -- just people from the west -- can ride in. The real tragedy is the lack of outrage from Muslims.
The Hajj as a gathering of Muslims, based on equality, simplicity and brotherhood is a fiction. The Hajj is a gigantic money making endeavor. All visits to the holy place have to take place under the auspices of a Saudi institution or company, which is totally Saudi-owned. Every opportunity is geared towards profit maximization. The Saudi companies in turn enter into agreements with parties in the local country where the pilgrim resides. The Saudi company takes care of the negotiation with the local hotels and other parties to organize and pay for the accommodations and internal transportation and the like. Saudis have profited greatly from the pilgrims who have been exploited on a scale that is beyond imagination.
A two week visit to Saudi Arabia during the Hajj period (if you are not sponsored) in modest accommodations costs more than a month-long world tour (not counting the fact that for five days during the two week period, the pilgrim is staying in a tent). Imagine the outrage if a Saudi was told that he could not do business in the United States (including booking a hotel) except though a United States entity?
Saudi Arabia represents one of the worse examples of a stratified society at the apex of which sits the descendants of its founder Ibn Saud constituted in the current royal family. And then appears a pecking order based on lineage or clan and others recognized as Saudi. Then come hundreds of thousands of individuals (including second and third generation Saudi born), followed by hundreds of thousands of foreign guest workers.
The sum total of rights and privileges enjoyed -- be it access to jobs, education, access to property, welfare benefits or the performance of the Hajj depends upon where one belongs in the pecking order. Those at the top enjoy considerable rights and power over those at the bottom. The most affected group is the foreign worker, particularly the foreign woman worker. These guest workers operate under a kafeel (master) to whom many are indebted for years, a situation that invites trafficking in people and a relationship akin to slavery.
Over the past few days, we have been informed about several incidents of abuse of foreign guest workers from Indonesia in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. Where is the outrage from Muslims and their scholars? Each year, thousands of female workers seek protection at foreign embassies from abuse and rape. International human rights groups and others have documented the rampant abuse, lack of fair trial standards, denial of freedom of movement, forced labor approaching conditions of slavery and beating of foreign workers. Also documented is the weak judicial system, which offers little protection to those at the bottom, rung of society. The judicial system gives more credence to the wealthy and locals in disputes involving foreigners.
Islamic law derived from the sayings of the prophet Mohammad articulates a vision of human dignity (in ways analogous to modern human rights) in stating "No Arab has any superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab; nor has a white man any superiority over a black man, or the black many any superiority over the white man. You are all the children of Adam, and Adam was created from Clay."
Conspicuously absent are protests among Muslims about racism, racial discrimination, gender discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance prevalent in so many Muslim countries starting with the cradle of Islam, Saudi Arabia.
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