Robin Yassin-Kassab

The Horns of Satan

with 10 comments

The lovely mufti of Saudi Arabia

The lovely mufti of Saudi Arabia

The Arabs and Muslims have many internal enemies. But the greatest of these, in my opinion, are the Saudi regime – America’s key Arab ally – and the Wahhabi doctrine it has at different times promoted, exploited and tolerated. Its malign influence has spread to Pakistan, Afghanistan, West Africa, Egypt and inner-city Europe, where traditional and plural Islamic cultures are being crushed by reductive ‘rulebook’ religion and sectarian intolerance. The Saudis are currently interfering in Lebanon to prop up the Siniora government, funding and providing manpower for Sunni terror organisations in Iraq, and discussing attacks on Iran with the Israelis.

Despite being the chief sponsor of the Taliban and the homeland of most of the September 11th bombers, Saudi Arabia’s alliance with the United States remains strong. American miltary bases remain dotted around the country, secret police continue to cow people into suspicious silence, criminals (but not the big ones) are still beheaded in public squares on Friday afternoons.

How long will this traitorous and barbaric regime last? In ‘The Rise and Coming Fall of the House of Saud’ Saeed Aburish predicted the regime’s downfall – for the late 1990s. When I was in Saudi Arabia, from 2001 to 2003, there was a widespread sense that the regime was in its last days. Al-Saud governance – rigidly Islamist at home, supinely pro-imperialist in its foreign relations – satisfied no-one at all, from Taliban types to Western-educated shabab who wanted more personal freedoms.

The local education system, run by Wahhabi ideologues, has completely failed to produce a generation of Saudis capable of running their own economy, let alone of thinking critically. The majority of doctors, nurses, managers, educators, engineers, technicians, mechanics, cleaners, builders, computer programmers and salesmen are foreigners – a usually despised third of the population who have no reason to stay in the country once things start to break down. The capital city, Riyadh, has 4 million inhabitants and no local water supply. One well-placed bomb on the pipeline from the desalination plant on the coast, and you have 4 million thirsty people.

I once drove past a funfair in the desert. A ghost funfair. My companion told me that it is opened up, switched on, and staffed only when a prince decides he wants to visit. For all the other days in the year it sits there rusting. Not a bad metaphor for the massive corruption and incompetence that passes for economic management in Saudi Arabia. People in the West often think that the Gulf Arabs are rich, because of the newspaper stories about princes blowing millions on yachts, European palaces, binges in Harrods and so on. In fact, the income of all the Arab countries combined is less than the income of Spain. And most towns and villages in Saudi Arabia look no less third world than towns in Syria.

When the alliance of the al-Sauds and Wahhabi fanatics took control of the huge country that now bears the Saud family name (come the revolution, sisters and brothers, it shall be renamed Qunfuziyya, after me), they imposed the culture of their own region, Najd, on every province, and the anti-culture of Wahhabism on the non-Wahhabi Sunnis of the Hijaz and the Shia of the oil-rich eastern province. Their first act on taking Mecca was to destroy mosques associated with Sufi practices and shrines of any description. Now 95% of historical buildings in Mecca and Medina have been demolished.

In the run up to the invasion of Iraq, which the Saudis pretended to oppose even while giving the US access to their airfields, the kingdom resounded with whispers. “Something’s going to happen here,” people told me. “Something’s going to change. Within the next year or two.”

What happened was murderous bomb attacks on residential compounds and beheadings of foreign civilians. The regime was rescued by al-Qa’ida-linked Salafi terrorism, itself a creation of al-Saud acts and omissions. When the people saw that the alternative to the regime might be violent nihilism of this kind, they decided to stick with the regime. And now, high oil revenues allow them to pay their way out of crisis. There are signs that the Sauds have understood Wahhabism has become a threat to them too, and that they are trying to reduce its influence, at least within their borders. There are signs that they are making a proper effort to organise the economy.

Another boon to the regime has been the civil war in Iraq. Now they have a nearby location to export their salafis to. They rarely come back again.

I’ve complained on this blog about people who quote scripture out of its context, cheaply, to make political points. So it is with tongue halfway in cheek that I refer to the following hadeeth:

According to Saheeh Bukhari the Prophet said: “God bless our Sham (Syria/ the Levant); God bless our Yemen.”

Those present said: “And our Najd, O messenger of God!”

Muhammad repeated, “God bless Sham and Yemen,” twice, without mentioning Najd.

When the men continued to press the Prophet to seek God’s blessings for Najd, Muhammad said, “Earthquakes and fitnah (dissension/ tribulation) are there, and there shall arise the horns of Satan.”

Written by Barnwalls

December 9, 2006 at 11:31 am

Posted in Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism

10 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. It is impressive to see how much Saudi interests are correlated with Israeli interests. They always have common enemies. The first one was Abdel Naser which Israel eliminated for Saudi Arabia and now the last one is Iran.


    December 14, 2006 at 8:50 pm

  2. Wahabism is about hating everything. It’s the most dangerous plague in the region.

    They believe that they are God’s agents on earth, with the authority of sorting people into Heaven or Hell..

    They are spreading their damned ideology in paupers and ignorant classes using oil-money and terrorism..killing with god in their side..

    a perfect description of the Saudi situation. I give you 10/10.


    December 22, 2006 at 4:26 pm

  3. Anonymous

    December 23, 2006 at 10:03 pm

  4. Anonymous – you misunderstand my intention. I do not oppose all of Sunni Islam (I’m from a Sunni family myself) but the Saudi regime, and the Wahhabi doctrine it promotes. Sunni Muslims belong to one of the four mathhabs or schools – Hanbali, Hanafi, Maliki and Shafi – whereas Wahabis do not. They believe that all judgments should be made by recourse to the original sources of the Quran and ahadeeth. Not a problem in itself, but their readings of these texts are ahistorical and literalist. I know that the Iranian regime has also comitted crimes, and I dont seek to defend it here. When I was in Iran I found most people were unhappy with the regime, but the fact that they could declare their unhappiness in Farsi at top volume in the middle of a busy tea house says something. You couldnt do that in Saudi, or anywhere else in the Arab world. When I referred to Sunni terrorist groups in Iraq I meant those groups that aim to kill Shia civilians, not those who aim their fire at the Americans, and who are motivated by nationalism. I know there are also Shia death squads, and I abhor them. The shia put up with two years of Wahabi attacks and declarations that they are unbelievers before they started taking revenge. Still, they are wrong. Indiscriminate violence against members of another sect makes all Muslims losers.


    December 24, 2006 at 8:22 am

  5. I was looking for that hadith! Look at Mecca and what is happening there now. We’ll have another fancy building with western department stores, and other constructions that is leveling the city and completely destroying the history of where Islam began. So, now…who’s going to claim to know everything about Islam? Not only is Wahabism and its like utterly psychotic, utterly destructive to Islam or anyone who calls themselves Muslim, it is by far one of the most inhuman political movements ever. Look at what the Taliban, a direct modern manifestation of 18th C Wahabbism, is doing young girls.

    It is high time Saudis realize that their government has pacified them with images of success (usually signified by tall buildings…tall empty buildings), when in fact Saudi Arabia is one of the most backwards nations with the income level it has. If India, Indonesia, Pakistan, or Bangladesh had that level of wealth, I think they’d have done much better to help a larger segment of the world Muslim population.


    March 5, 2009 at 6:01 am

  6. […] who read my stuff will know that I despise Wahhabism, and still more Wahhabi-nihilism. I oppose Islamic political projects which aim to capture control […]

  7. […] well as fat), the vehicles, the wide streets, the buildings. The country it most reminded me of is Saudi Arabia, a similarly spacious land, and one built on an American model. There are as many churches as there […]

  8. […] of the pan-Arab newspapers, ash-Sharq al-Awsat and al-Hayat are owned by different branches of the Saud family dictatorship, while the smaller-circulation al-Arab is part of the Libyan regime’s propaganda […]

  9. […] all, a Wahhabi nihilist, I encourage you to read what I have written about Osama bin Laden and the Saudi regime. (Another piece which upset the patriots at the Mail on Sunday was this one, on poppies. And I […]

  10. Isn’t it true that the religiuous rules are inforced much harder in some provinces more than others? I heared that the capital as much stricter rules about things like clothes than in some of the coastal areas.

    I do agree of naming it Qunfuziyya after you.


    October 29, 2015 at 5:53 pm

Leave a Reply to qunfuz Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: