The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (المملكة العربية السعودية al-Mamlakah al-ʿArabīyah as-Saʿūdīyah) is the largest sovereign state in the Middle East, and has the largest economy out of the Arab states. Saudi Arabia was the birthplace of the prophet Muhammad (مُحمّد) (570 ad – 632 ad) who united the nation under Islam and the teachings of the Qur’an (Qurʼān القرآن) He was born in Mecca (Makkah مَـكَّـة) in the Hejaz (ٱلْحِجَاز al-Ḥijāz) region in western Saudi Arabia.
The Kingdom of Hejaz and Nejd (مملكة الحجاز ونجد, Mamlakat al-Ḥijāz wa-Najd), initially the Kingdom of Hejaz and Sultanate of Nejd (مملكة الحجاز وسلطنة نجد, Mamlakat al-Ḥijāz wa-Salṭanat Najd), was united in 1932 under rule of Abdulaziz ibn Abdul Rahman ibn Faisal ibn Turki ibn Abdullah ibn Muhammad Al Saud (عبد العزيز بن عبد الرحمن آل سعود Abd al-‘Azīz ibn ‘Abd ar-Raḥman Āl Sa’ūd). He was known as King Ibn Saud in the west.
He created what is now known as ‘The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia‘, and was the first ‘King of Saudi Arabia‘. He, like his family before him followed the Muslim movement Wahhābī, which they called themselves al-Muwaḥḥidūn which means Unitarians, who strictly follow the teachings of the Qur’an and the Ḥadīth which closely follows Muhammad’s religious law.
Saudi Arabia has adopted the same traditional lifestyle for thousands of years, but the vast oil wealth has made the rich, far wealthier than they could ever have imagined. The country is renowned for three key elements.
The country as a whole has benefited from the wealth generated by oil, and the infrastructure has greatly benefited from it, but many claim that the ruling family squander and abuse the wealth they’ve inherited. The road systems and airports have been majorly updated, and most citizens enjoy the luxury of television and the internet, and the capital city Riyadh (الرياض Ar-Riyāḍ) has turned into a vast metropolis.
Every year the Hajj ( حَجّ Ḥaǧǧ), the Islamic pilgrimage, brings up to two million visitors to Saudi Arabia to visit Kaaba (house of God) in Mecca. It’s mandatory that every Muslim takes the trip at least once in their lifetime, and the journey is said by some to pre-date Muhammad as far back as ‘Abraham‘ (إِبْـرَاهِـيْـم ʾIbrāhīm) who’s prominent in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. They believe that Abraham was the righteous leader of his time, and he allegedly cleared Paganism from Arabia and Canaan, and asked God to put his descendants under his protection.
What is Islam?
Islam is the world’s second largest religion behind Christianity and it’s estimated that in the next ten years it will reach 2,000,000,000 practising Muslims. The word Islam (إسلام) means ‘voluntary submission to God‘ , whereas Muslim (مُسْلِم) means ‘submitter to God‘.
Iman (إِيمَان) is the six articles of faith (arkān al-īmān).
• Belief in God
• Belief in His Angels
• Belief in His Books
• Belief in His Prophets and Messengers
• Belief in the Day of Judgment
• Belief in God’s Divine Decree
A more detailed explanation can be found at Tell me about Islam.
Islam is the toddler, the infant of Abrahamic religions, but considering it’s so young, it’s staggering how many followers it has. This is partly due to Islamic states being theocracies, whereas inhabitants literally have no choice but to follow Islam, and in part due to assimilation of other nations and cultures during Islamic invasions that were one of the reasons for the Crusades. Islam was born in the 7th century by the self appointed prophet Muhammad who claimed to be the messenger of the one true God, Allah. But Christianity and Judaism had already been there, and made the claim of the one true God. Why did it take over 2,500 years from the birth of Judaism, to Christianity, then centuries later Allah decided the world needed to know about him, and how can any Muslim not accept that Islam was undoubtedly influenced by previous religions of the region?
They assimilated much of the Levant, often by force, and many scholars and theologises are adamant that the Qu’ran was constructed by borrowing religious beliefs, and ethics from many previous faiths, that include obviously Judaism and Christianity, but Arab paganism, and a splash of his own opinions. Muslim scholars refuse to accept this and say that Muhammad was confronted by the spirit Gabriel and he recited the words of God, and Muhammad wrote the Qur’an to reflect the words of Allah. Yet many passages in the Qur’an reflect verses in the Torah, and also match tales told by Jewish Rabbi which he’d remembered on his travels.
At the time of Muhammad’s birth, Mecca, his place of birth was extremely diverse, with both Judaism, Christianity and Arabian paganism the norm, and Muhammad would have grown up surrounded by these faiths, which would have had a profound influence on his life as he grew into a man. Initially he attempted to gain allegiance with Judaism and Christianity, but accusations of being a false prophet began to tarnish his reputation and he had no choice but to distance himself.
Despite this, Abraham was recognised in Islam, as it was in Judaism, Christianity and Baháʼí Faith, and he links all as he’s allegedly a messenger of god who links the prophets. In Judaism he’s ‘our father Abraham‘, the first Jew, and in Christianity it’s Jesus the Messiah who’s central, but in Catholicism, Abraham is ‘our father in faith’, and in Islam, he’s a link to the prophets and is known as ʾIbrāhīm. and is mentioned throughout the Qur’an. Many scholars claim that Islam is essentially Judaism with different ideologies and social expectancy.
The majority of the population of Saudi Arabia is Muslim, and the biggest population are Sunni, and Shīʿite are a small section that can be found at Al-Aḥsā (اَلْأَحْسَاء al-Ahasā) and Al-Qaṭīf (القطيف Al-Qaṭīf) in the East.
Sharīʿah (شريعة) is the dominant control of law used there derived from scripture from the Qur’an and the Hadith, which imposes God’s (Allāh’s الله) command. This teaches Muslims the religious convictions expected in this life, and the promise of divine reward in the next.
The shariah five rulings (الأحكام الخمسة)
• Mustahabb (مستحبّ) is a Islamic term for a favourable or virtuous action.
• Makruh (مكروه) is a term for a disliked or abominable action.
• Farīḍah (فريضة) is a term for a compulsory action.
• Mubah (مباح) is a term for merely permitted, or neutral.
• Harām (حَرَام) is a term meaning forbidden.
The Islamic revival (تجديد) is literally what it suggests, and at the latter part of the 20th century various sects of Islam had regained popularity, due to the disappointment of western culture and civilisation, and the aim is to restore Islam to a world that’s turned away from God. Unfortunately the rise of the peaceful has also been accompanied by a rise of fundamentalists and radicalised Muslim groups like ISIS, Boko Haram and Al-Qaeda.
Included in the revival is Hudud (حدود) which refers to laws that are fixed by God. These offences are called Zināʾ (زِنَاء) and can include:
• Fornication (unmarried)
• Drinking alcohol
The punishments for such offences range from amputation, public lashing, crucifixion and public stoning.
In Islamic criminal law (فقه العقوبات) crimes are split into three major categories.
• Hudud (crimes against God)
• Qiṣāṣ (eye for an eye)
• Ta’zir (crime at the discretion of the Qadi – judge)
In Saudi Arabia Capital Punishment is a legal practise and over the last few years approximately 150 executions have taken place annually. These fall under the category of ta’zir, and the following are theoretically eligible for the death penalty:
• Drug Smuggling
• Armed Robbery
• Sorcery and Witchcraft
• Waging war on God
Committing murder can result in execution, but can also be bought out with blood money, and if the family accepts it, then the perpetrator will be free from execution.
At the start of 2016, Saudi Arabia executed 47 prisoners in one day convicted on terrorism charges. The majority of them were beheaded, and a few were murdered by firing squad, amongst the executed was Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, who was a top Shi’acleric.
Amnesty International said that Saudi authorities demonstrated their utter disregard for human rights and life.
“The killing of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in particular suggests they are also using the death penalty in the name of counter-terror to settle scores and crush dissidents” – Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
The killing of Nimr al-Nimr proves that Saudi Arabia believe that they are beyond criticism, when they execute someone campaigning for political reform.
Politics of Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia runs a Totalitarianism government, which like Communism prohibits opposition political parties, and is the strictest form of Authoritarianism where the King is not only head of state, but he’s also head of the government. Decisions are made from House of Saud (آل سعود) who are the ruling family of Saudi Arabia.
Despite Saudi Arabia being an absolute monarchy, the King must abide by Sharia Law and the Qur’an. Under Sharia Law there is no political constitution, and the Ulama (علماء) are the guardians and projectors of religious knowledge and doctrine of Islamic Law. They are trained in Madrasa (مدرسة) which is an educational place of higher learning, where not only do they study in great detail the religious doctrines of Islam, but study science, politics and education.
Since 2015 Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (سلمان بن عبد العزیز آل سعود) has been King of Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, and Servant of the Two Noble Sanctuaries, which means he’s the guardian of the two most sacred temples in Mecca, and Madīnah.
Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is the ‘Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia‘ and is second in power only to the King, and has been described as the puppet master to his father’s throne. He’s heir presumptive to the throne, and despite promoting reform in the country, human rights groups have condemned him for alleged torture of human rights activists.
He’s said to be responsible for the bombing of Yemen where over 10,000,000 people are facing starvation, in one of the worst humanitarian crisis the region has faced. He’s been described by critics as being extremely intolerant and is expected to take Saudi Arabia into a dark regime when he takes complete power after his father descends from the throne, which at 83 years old may not be too far away.
Islam has been associated with socialism for about a century, and this involves the principal of ‘Zakat’, which is the distribution of wealth. Zakat is one of the ‘five pillars of Islam’, and has only ‘Salah’ – prayer) as being more important. Socialist Islam is mixing Islamic ideology with social equality, but only started gaining momentum in the 1950s when it became a legitimate ideology in the Middle East and parts of Africa. Its roots are claimed by several historians to have begun in the ‘Soviet Union‘ around the time of the 1917 October revolution. Farmers and peasants in ‘Tatarstan’, which is a republic located in western Russia, had become tired of the way the monarchy treated common folk. They attempted to create an independent state, but were crushed by the ‘Romanovs’, and survivors went underground to coerce with communist and socialist forces who were preparing to overthrow the monarchy. After the revolution was over, the ‘Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic’ was established. The Muslim movement that was known as the ‘Waisi’ began in the 1906 revolution which was the first attempt to dismantle the Romanov monarchy in the 20th century, and when ‘Vladimir Lenin’ finally toppled the regime, the Waisi joined forces with him and gave him their full support. After Lenin died in 1924 the Waisi attempted to start separating from the Bolsheviks and become their own socialist identity, but ‘Stalin’ had other ideas and wiped them out.
“The basis of social solidarity in the Islamic socialist model is a combination of equality, justice, mutuality, and responsibility.” – Socialism and Islam – Oxford Islamic Studies Online
Some historians claim that Islam is itself a socialist religion, as many Muslims are anti-Capitalism, and are perfectly happy in a theocratic authoritarian rule where Sharia Law needs to be strictly observed. Despite many socialists not understanding the reason for belief in God, if there even is a reason, then Islamic socialism is there to fill in a gap in a socialist society body with a religious skeleton. According to Islam, every man, woman and child is equal before God, regardless of class, or race.
One of the most religious countries in the world is Pakistan, and they’ve had their fair share of socialism running through their governments, since they broke away from India in 1947. ‘Liaquat Ali Khan‘, who was Pakistan’s first Prime Minister took office during much turmoil, and having Marxist influences, and interests in the Soviet Union, Iran and China and wished for Pakistan to adopt Islamic Socialism, after studying parties like Iran’s ‘Movement of God-Worshipping Socialists.’
The problem here is despite him being a devout Muslim, socialism was linked to atheistic ideas, and secularism, and many Muslim leaders not only saw this as anti-Islam, but also anti-Pakistan. The stigma that surrounds socialism and communism is going to take a long time to die away, if it ever does, as almost every religion seems it a threat to society and society’s moral fabric. Yet Islamic states are generally about the whole, as opposed to individuals, which is exactly what socialism is – (for the greater good (derived from ‘sociō’, meaning unite, associate), which goes against the greed behind capitalism, and stands for equality and justice (allegedly).
Here is an argument against communism and socialism in Islam, and with it being from an Islamic perspective there are the typical common fallacies about atheism and communism.
Is Islamophobia justified?
I’m an unashamed ‘anti-theist‘, and since I reached this mindset, which came about from interactions with theists on Twitter, I’ve never attempted to hide it. I’m of the thought process that organised religion is the most dangerous thing affecting humanity, as it’s the root of most of the horrendous acts, as it takes away responsibility as everything that happens is ‘God’s will’. It encourages homophobia, misogyny, racism, bigotry, and a sense of superiority over non-believers and people of other faiths. It encourages people to accept that whatever happens God allows it, and even when provided with repeatable, proven evidence, they will argue against and refute its reliability if it doesn’t fit their narrative. I dislike religion for many other reasons, but that doesn’t mean I dislike the theists as such, as I just find many of them are conditioned to accept what they’re told and not to question their faith in God, which unfortunately makes them ignorant when they would otherwise be rational and logical thinkers. As much as I think this is an issue with all of the abrahamic faiths, non more so than ‘Islam‘. It encourages men to feel superior, and women to feel inferior and make them believe that they are the ‘property of their husbands‘.
As we are constantly made aware, Islamophobia is bigotry and hatred, but it seems to be acceptable for Muslims to have opinions, which are often negative towards atheists, and other faiths. What’s with the double standards, and why should a religion be protected and free from criticism? Rightly or wrongly, Islam is feared in many parts of the world despite the claim from Muslims that Islam is about peace and submission to Allah. There are brutal jihadist groups that have emerged in every Muslim state, and they’ve taken their violence around the world. Whether or not it’s fair to suggest that Islam as a faith is responsible, or whether the jihadists should be separated from Islam and regarded as extremist terrorists, is something that is hard to answer, but some of the groups like ‘ISIS‘, ‘ISIL‘, ‘Boko Harem‘ and the ‘Taliban‘ aren’t short of support, and I’ve discussed ‘9/11‘ , ‘Paris‘, and the ‘Manchester Arena attacks‘ with people who are sympathetic to the cause, but don’t necessarily agree with the methods used.
One of the major issues that arises from Islam is their belief that ‘Sharia Law’ should be standardised around the world, and whilst this isn’t the ideology of all Muslims, a large proportion of them think this way. They want Sharia Law forced upon everyone whether they are Muslims or not, and believe that a country should be unchanged from the 7th century’s foundations of Islam. With Sharia Law, comes the ‘struggle‘, or commonly known as ‘Jihad‘.
“Every Muslim, from the moment they realize the distinction in their hearts, hates Americans, hates Jews and hates Christians. For as long as I can remember, I have felt tormented and at war, and have felt hatred and animosity for Americans.” – Osama Bin Ladin
Whilst ‘Bin Laden‘ wasn’t the spokesman for Islam, he was certainly a powerful voice, and he influenced great numbers of people through indoctrination, radicalisation and fear mongering, by twisting words in the Qur’an to suit his, and his terror organisation’s agenda. Through mind sets like this, Islam strikes fear into many people, and despite the percentage of radicals compared to the peaceful people being massively outnumbered, the lengths that the radicalised will go to achieve their goal is worrying. What chance have you got against people who are willing to sacrifice their own lives for what they believe is the greater good?
You just have to look at predominantly Islam countries to see that it doesn’t and cannot work for the majority, as you’ve got unrest in Iraq and Iran, civil wars breaking out throughout Muslim nations in Africa, Syria and Yemen being torn apart, and The Taliban with much influence in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
So what’s the deal with Islamophobia, and why aren’t the terms ‘Atheismophobia‘, ‘Christianityophobia‘ or Judaismophobia‘ thrown around every time someone objects to criticism? A phobia is often described as an ‘irrational fear‘, and in my opinion there’s nothing irrational about fearing Islam. There’s no such thing as Islamophobia, as it’s just anti-theism and every religion is invited to the party.
Jihād has several meanings but it generally means ‘struggle’ in Arabic, and it means the struggle to promote all that is right and prevent all that is wrong. There are generally two main terms for Jihād in Islam.
• Jihādal–Nafs: The Spiritual struggle against sin (greater Jihād)
• Jihād al–sayf: The struggle against enemies of Islam (lesser Jihād)
Scholars claim that the Qur’an doesn’t sanction the use of violence despite many westerners suggesting that Jihād means ‘Holy War’. So why do some followers of Islam think it’s justifiable to commit acts of terror against their own people and non-Muslims despite the meaning of Islam being ‘Submission to the will of God’, which originated from the same root as salaam meaning ‘peace’ and the term As-salāmu ʿalaykum is often used as a greeting meaning ‘Peace be upon you’.
The key motivation behind Islamic terrorist cells is their desire for each country to be a caliphate, which means ruled over by Sharia Law, and governed by a Caliph who’s a religious cleric who is acknowledged as a successor of the Prophet Muhammad , who’s desire is to bring back the Ummah (Islamic community), which is to be defended against apostates, heretics and infidels. Islamic terrorist cells believe in Martyrdom, which in modern use is ‘one who dies for his faith’ and this is a great privilege to be allowed to become a symbol for the struggle. Martyr actually means ‘witness’ and is derived from Ancient Greek, but in modern terms it’s classed as courage and commitment to the cause and they are known as Shahid.
What could possibly be the motivation for taking your own life and others? To be a Martyr is essentially being prepared to suffer death, and sacrifice for the sake of the greater good. The Qur’an doesn’t justify martyrdom, but the Hadith references Martyrdom many times.
“Being killed in the cause of Allah is martyrdom”
“The martyr is the one who gives himself, expectant of reward from Allah”
“The first of the people whose case will be decided on the Day of Judgment will be a man who died as a martyr”
‘The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ (ISIL – Dawlah al-Islāmiyyah fī al-ʿIrāq wa al-Shām), or more commonly known as ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria‘ (ISIS) is a militant Islamic terrorist cell, who follows the fundamental and radicalised Salafi movement of Sunni Islam, who follow jihadist–Salafism that’s focusing on the pure Islamic era of Muhammed. Its leader was ‘Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi‘ and ruled as their ‘Caliph’. His nickname is ‘The Ghost’, and was formally the leader of the Iraqi section of Al–Qaeda, and in 2013 he created ISIL and became their ‘Caliph Ibrahim’ One of the strongest weapons ISIL have is visual propaganda, which is usually in the form of video showing the treatment of hostages, prisoners and violators of Islamic law. The videos often show executions in the form of shootings, and over recent years beheadings, although the authenticity of many of them has been questioned. ISIL is also responsible for much cultural, and ethnic cleansing in Iraq and Syria where they destroyed Shīʿite and Christian places of worship, brutally executed worshippers, and destroyed many areas of ancient ruins that have been there for thousands of years. ISIL gained many affiliates from existing insurgent groups and terror cells in Africa, like Boko Harem and the Taliban, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and many hidden cells operate around the world carrying out many terrorist attacks in the name of Islamic State.
One of the worst of recent years was the bombing of Manchester Arena in England, May 2017. After the conclusion of an Ariana Grande-Butera concert, people started to leave the Arena, and a lone terrorist walked into the Arena with a homemade IED (improvised explosive device) containing nuts and bolts, and detonated in amongst the crowd. 23 people were killed, and half were children, and a further 139 were wounded. The bomber was ‘Salman Ramadan Abedi‘, who was a 22 year old radicalised British Muslim. ISIL still operates but on a significantly smaller scale than in previous years due to the military of Iraq and Syria, and allied forces pushing them out of cities, or destroying training facilities, and camps.
“Officials told the inspector general’s office that ISIS continues to function as an insurgency in both Iraq and Syria partly because forces there “remain unable to sustain long-term operations against ISIS militants.” ISIS is also “likely reestablishing financial networks in both countries,” according to officials at the Office of the DoD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Counternarcotics and Global Threats. Beyond that, military officials warned, ISIS “maintains an extensive worldwide social media effort to recruit fighters.” – Source
It doesn’t look like they’re going anywhere soon, but what does this mean for humanity when terrorist networks are indiscriminate about targets. What chance do governments have chasing ghosts, who have no morals, or scruples, and are prepared to mass-murder children for their cause?