Kasim Javed gives his reflections on his recent Hajj.
The lands of Makkah and Madinah are the most sacrosanct places on earth. The birth of Islam, the mission of the Prophet PBUH to establish Islam and the successive legacy of the companions (ra) was all played out in these two cities. It is the dream of all Muslims and obligation on every Mukalif (legally responsible) on earth to complete the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime. It was with all of this in mind, that I embarked on my first ever visit to these cities that are now under the auspices of modern day Saudi Arabia.
Aware of the colonial creation of Saudi Arabia and the tribal ruling system by the family of Saud, I had in mind that I would notice apparent contradictions with, on the one hand visiting the house of Allah SWT, and on the other the colonial subservience Saudi Arabia has to America. Unsurprisingly, as soon as we arrived outside our hotel in Makkah, I was surrounded by a scene very similar to the Sheikh Zayed road in Dubai, which is a stretch surrounded by New York like skyscrapers and indeed American owned ones too; Hyatt, Hilton, Movenpick, Ramada etc. Contrary to popular opinion, having skyscrapers or tall buildings is not actually a problem per se, for it is a choice of construction, rather it is the typical capitalism they represent; foreign direct investment, capital out, the US dollar and market capitalisation in a booming hotel industry by American and western companies. The sheer imitation of New York style architecture doesn’t seem to be natural for a city that symbolises so much Islamic heritage. It is also quite patronising that Muslims, who were at the forefront of leading city architecture during the history of the Caliphate and an example for the rest of the world, are now reduced to copy and pasting commercialised real estate of America. But more importantly, this city landscape, is not fit for purpose or practical.
However, what’s more disconcerting though is what lies behind these tall skyscrapers. 20% of the population live in crippling poverty. The scenes of poverty are rife, mothers, elderly, children stranded in the boiling 45 degree temperature wanting like all other Muslims to pray in Masjid Haram but cannot afford to stay at the plush hotels. This is in addition to millions of cheap labourers imported from Bangladesh, Pakistan and other third world countries who live a poor quality life. For everything Hajj represents, the obedience to Allah SWT in this world, it is truly remarkable how millions of Muslims have to live as a result of the disobedience of the Saudi government in not implementing the Khilafah. The Khilafah is that polity which the Prophet PBUH established in Madinah with the expressed purpose of implementing Islam, which includes political, economic and social systems that are sovereign to Allah SWT, not temporal kings.
Whilst sat in Masjid Al-Haram, following a Maghreb Salah, my mind was perplexed at the thought of the Saudi Rulers listening to the verses of Surah Al-Quraysh, yet derelict of its message, indeed one that is so aptly relevant to them considering their declaration as the “custodians of the two holy Mosques”.
- (It is a great Grace and Protection from Allah), for the taming of the Quraish,
- (And with all those Allah’s Grace and Protections for their taming, We cause) the (Quraish) caravans to set forth safe in winter (to the south), and in summer (to the north without any fear),
- So let them worship (Allah) the Lord of this House (the Ka’bah in Makkah).
- (He) Who has fed them against hunger, and has made them safe from fear.”
Syed Qutub in his Tafsir explains how a dua of Ibrahim AS was fulfilled upon the completion of the Kabbah “Lord, make this a land of security and make provisions of fruits for those of its people who believe in God and the Last Day.” (2: 126) and thus Allah SWT made that house free from all human authority and from all tyranny. He granted security and peace to anyone seeking shelter in that House, even though fear was all around due to political instability in the Arabian Peninsula and bandits who used to terrorise people at border points of Arabia. This was even when generations of people transgressed!
Resuming from the previous Surah, Surah Al-Fil, when the people of the Elephant marched to destroy the House, Allah SWT preserved for the House its peace, security and sacredness. Of those who lived around it, Allah SWT said: “Do they not see that We have made a secure Sanctuary, and that men are being snatched away from all around them?” (29: 67). The Elephant incident had an added effect in greatly enhancing the sanctity of the House amongst the Arabs all over the Peninsula. It also strengthened the position of the Quraysh, the custodians of the House, in all Arabia. They were thus able to travel far and wide in peace and security. Wherever they went they met with generosity and high esteem. This encouraged them to establish two great routes for their commercial caravans, to the Yemen in the south and to Syria in the north. They organized two enormous trading expeditions; one to the Yemen in winter and the other to Syria in summer.
In spite of very poor conditions of security in all parts of the Arabian Peninsula at that time, and in spite of all the looting and plundering raids that were common in that land, the sanctity of the House in the eyes of all Arabs guaranteed security and peace in their flourishing business to those who lived near it and were its custodians. It created for the Quraysh a distinct and exclusive position and opened up for them an extensive and guaranteed means of sustenance in peace, security and contentment. It is by the grace of God that while their land is desolate and dry, they still live a comfortable life. Out of His grace He secures them from fear whether in their hearts and homes, next to Allah SWT’s House, or on their journeys. Their security is the result of their being the custodians of the House, the sanctity of which is ordained and preserved by Allah SWT against any violation. Allah SWT reminds them of these graces in order that they may be ashamed of their submission to other beings, while He is the Lord of the House.
A direct inference can be made from this Surah to the tribe of Saud today as they enjoy commercial advantage of the significance of Makkah and the resources that Allah SWT bestowed in Saudi Arabia, yet continue to implement a monarchical ruling system, a capitalist economic system adn obeying America in her imperial foreign policy. Neglecting the reminder, that it was the Prophet Ibrahim AS that built this Kabbah for Allah SWT and it was the acceptance of the dua of Ibrahim AS that made this land rich albeit in the middle of a desert.
The resources of Saudi Arabia should be used on the Ummah not exported to Western companies, the concept of a royal family is non-existent in Islam and sovereignty only belongs to Allah SWT not to the tribe of Saud who have made themselves Kings where only Allah SWT is the King of all Kings. The rulers should upon listening to these verses take heed of Allah SWT reminder, yet for almost a century this Surah has been recited millions of times by beautiful reciters yet we continue to see them derelict of His SWT’s message.
Before I came, I was advised not to “politicise” what I see due to the distraction from worship. This advice was something I had to take with a pinch of salt, considering that the realities I witnessed were all rooted in the dereliction of the Saudi regime and the absence of Islam in the land of Islam. The true manifestation of worship for all Muslims is to work tirelessly for the implementation of his SWT systems and to spread Islam to mankind so that they can witness the omnipotence of Allah SWT. The observations I have made so far have only strengthened my resolve and reinvigorated my soul to work for change so that one day the blessed house of Allah SWT and its surroundings can be restored to its sublime status by symbolising the complete submission to Allah SWT in this world.