The Saudi regime does not represent Islam

efaa3c4b81cf475fb1326562d52c9bc1_18The Khashoggi affair is yet another reason for the world to abandon the assumption that the kingdom represents Islam.

The recent disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has the world’s fingers pointed in the direction of the Saudi government, specifically at its de-facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen living in exile in the United States because of his criticism of the Saudi regime, earned the esteem of audiences that read his political commentary in both Arabic and English. He was last seen alive entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, when he visited to procure documents he needed to wed his Turkish fiancee.

Speculation about bin Salman ordering his kidnapping, or state-sponsored murder, rose to the fore, dominating mainstream and social media discussions about the missing journalist’s likely fate. On October 19, Saudi authorities finally admitted Khashoggi was killed inside the country’s Istanbul consulate. This admission merely confirmed a conclusion most had already drawn given the regime’s dismal human rights record and fierce intolerance to any criticism: The Saudi government was directly responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance and death.

And where Saudi Arabia is the subject of wrongdoing, Islam stands alongside it. Collaterally implicated and indicted as the source of the vile actions taken by a government that, since its inception as a sovereign state, has been popularly anointed as the living embodiment of the religion.

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Khashoggi case: A timeline

This, again, was the case with the Khashoggi affair. The unknown whereabouts of the journalist, widely regarded to be among the most courageous indigenous critics of the Saudi regime, implicated Islam in the minds of many. The “redeployment of Orientalist tropes,” as articulated by law scholar Leti Volpp, surged to the surface and steered the popular discourse, driving immediate conclusions that Islam itself is “intolerant to criticism,” “resistant to independent media voices,” and “suppressive of dissidence.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA

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Jamal Khashoggi and the Competing Visions of Islam

24devji-superJumboJamal Khashoggi’s murder by Saudi agents in Istanbul doesn’t just cast a harsh light on the authoritarian and reckless behavior of Prince Mohamad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia; it also highlights the rivalry between Turkey and Saudi Arabia, which represent competing forms of Islam.

Saudi Arabia is a monarchy that allows Islam to define all social relations as long as it makes no political claims. Turkey, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party, is a republic whose government was brought to power by the votes of many conservative Muslims.

Despite being an influential Saudi voice, Mr. Khashoggi had over the years embraced these competing visions of governance and the place of Islam in politics. He had been a loyal adviser to Saudi rulers, but he also, like Mr. Erdogan and his party, is widely believed to have subscribed to the Islamist ideal of power democratically achieved — an ideal represented by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Islamism is seen as an existential threat by the region’s monarchies, which apart from Qatar and to a lesser degree Oman and Kuwait were frightened by the Muslim Brotherhood’s coming to power in Egypt after the Arab Spring protests. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates bankrolled and backed the Egyptian military’s crackdown and coupagainst the Brotherhood government; Turkey and Mr. Erdogan backed the Brotherhood and provided refuge to the group’s leaders and members after the crackdown.

Still No Churches in Saudi Arabia, But Small Steps Toward Religious Freedom

83737Saudi Arabia has made unprecedented strides toward religious tolerance just a year after its young new ruler pledged to bring more moderate Islam to the Sunni kingdom

 

“I was surprised by the pace of change in the country. It reminded me of the verse at the end of Book of Job which says, ‘My ears had heard … but now my eyes have seen,’” said US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) commissioner Johnnie Moore, who has also served as an unofficial liaison between evangelical leaders and the Trump White House.

“It was the first time I have ever thought to myself, Wow, we could actually see religious freedom in Saudi. This is possible.”

Moore represents the highest-profile evangelical leader to meet with the Saudi government since 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced plans last October to return the restrictive Muslim country to “what we were before: a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world.” The USCIRF official formerly worked with Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s campaign to aid persecuted Christians in the Middle East.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIANITY TODAY 

Scouts: A colonial-age movement formed by Christians, cherished by millions of Muslims worldwide

  • 1325731-1311725638It is 57 years since the first 100 volunteers from the Saudi Arabian Scouts Association took up their posts at Makkah
  • There are more than 50 million Scouts in the world and 28 million of them are Muslim

LONDON: Among the thousands of helpers assisting pilgrims at Hajj this year, it was hard to miss one particular group.

In their distinctive neckerchiefs, shirts and caps, they were always on hand, guiding pilgrims back to their tents, reuniting lost children with their parents, giving first aid when people felt ill and generally providing a reassuring presence.
There were 4,500 Scouts on duty in Makkah this year, and another 1,500 in Madinah, all of them volunteers. In fact, the boys and girls of the Saudi Arabian Scouts Association have been a welcome fixture during Hajj since 1961.

Though that was the year the Saudi Arabian Boy Scouts Association was officially founded, Scouts had already been active in the country for many years. But the history of scouting in the Arab world goes back more than a century to the formation of Scout groups in Syria and Lebanon in 1912 — only five years after the birth of scouting in Britain.

In 1914, the Scout Movement came to Egypt, at the behest of Prince Omar Toussoun. Known as a scholar and philanthropist, the prince became set on introducing scouting to his native country after taking part in activities with Scouts during a visit to London. Iraq also joined in 1914.
Much of the Middle East was still under colonial rule in the early part of the 20th century, which undoubtedly was a factor in the rapid spread of the Scout Movement. But it does not explain why the popularity of scouting has not only endured but continues to grow.

FULL ARTICLE FROM ARAB NEWS 

An American and an Arab journalist walk into a Saudi Consulate

2c74b9fb97514389aa956e7c9d5f9d02_18An American and an Arab journalist walk into a Saudi consulate, Thomas Friedman in New York and Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul. One comes out smiling ear to ear like Lawrence of Arabia packing for a royal palace near Riyadh and the other disappears into the thin air and widely feared to have been rushed to meet his creator in more than one piece.

Why do the Saudis love the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and invite him to Mohammed bin Salman’s palace in Riyadh to tickle his Orientalist fantasies, but, if persistent reports by Turkish authorities turn out to be true, they sent a hit team of 15 assassins to beat, torture, murder, and cut to pieces the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi? No, this cannot be part of the rivalries between our two papers of record. Let us search for a more plausible reason.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA 

Will Saudi Arabia Cease to Be the Center of Islam?

07devji-jumboSaudi Arabia, or the Arabian Peninsula before the formation of the modern kingdom, has been and remains a place both central and marginal to Muslims around the world.

An Urdu novel published in 1869 by Nazir Ahmad, a writer in Delhi, portrays two young Muslim girls at their geography lesson. As they identify various countries on a map, the girls come across the Arabian Peninsula. Their teacher describes it as an empty space infested by marauding Bedouin, one whose only significance lay in its historical role as the site of Islam’s birth.

The monuments and institutions of Mecca and Medina, the birthplaces of Islam, had always been minor in architectural quality and financial endowment compared with the splendid mosques, tombs and seminaries found at the centers of Muslim power in Baghdad and Cairo, Istanbul and Isfahan, Delhi and Samarkand.

Muslim kings rarely visited Mecca and Medina. Instead, those cities served as places of exile for their enemies.

Saudi Arabia, or the Arabian Peninsula before the formation of the modern kingdom, has been and remains a place both central and marginal to Muslims around the world. Even as Mecca and Medina represent the most important sites of Muslim pilgrimage, the vision of the holy cities as remote and perilous is still reinforced by the occasional stampede of pilgrims during the Hajj.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES 

A journey to Hajj that changed Islam in America

  • 1288706-684215855
  • “I don’t believe that motion picture cameras ever have filmed a human spectacle more colorful than my eyes took in”
  • “During the past 11 days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept on the same rug — while praying to the same God — with fellow Muslims”

MAKKAH: Malcolm X was an American Muslim minister and human rights activist. To his admirers he was a courageous advocate for the rights of blacks, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans. But his detractors accused him of preaching racism and violence.

He has been called one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history. Malcolm was a member of the Nation of Islam, an African American politico-religious movement founded by Wallace D. Fard Muhammad in the 1930s.Their goals were to improve the spiritual, mental, social, and economic conditions of African Americans in the US. Critics have described the organization as black supremacist.

FULL ARTICLE FROM ARAB NEWS