- “So the story of man runs in a dreary circle, because he is not yet master of the earth that holds him.” William James Durant (a prolific American writer, historian, and philosopher known for the 11-volume The Story of Civilization, written in collaboration with his wife Ariel Durant and published between 1935 and 1975.)
- George Santayana wrote (in The Life of Reason, 1905): “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. Any yet mankind continues to make the same follies his ancestors did. Will we never learn?
What is it that makes us forget the past? I’d reason that it is power derived from wealth and if that leads to arrogance it becomes a trademark of aristocracy. Generally aristocracy has and is equated with royalty.
An article titled “The Destruction of Mecca” had appeared in the Opinion pages of New York Times (NYT) of 30 September 2014. The most glaring and truthful statement read: “The guardians of the Holy City, the rulers of Saudi Arabia and the clerics, have a deep hatred of history…The Makkah Royal Clock Tower (1,972 ft), completed in 2012, was built on the graves of an estimated 400 sites of cultural and historical significance, including the city’s few remaining millennium-old
buildings. Bulldozers arrived in the middle of the night, displacing families that had lived there for centuries. The complex stands on top of Ajyad Fortress, built around 1780, to protect Mecca from bandits and invaders. The house of Khadijah, the first wife of the Prophet Muhammad, has been turned into a block of toilets.”
The reader is invited to learn more about the destruction of other historical sites in the NYT article.
The destruction is on-going. 5 and 6 star western franchise hotels are being built around the Kaaba to satisfy the capitalistic thirst of the greedy Saudi aristocrats that make up the ruling families. The Ummat al-Islamiyah (commonwealth of Muslims) meanwhile is helpless as these greedy royalists supported by the western capitalists are plunging them into a bloodbath financed by the Saudis. There is nothing Islamic about the modern Saudi Arabia as it never was about the pre-Islamic ancient Arabia just as there is nothing Christian about the west today.
The House of Saud is the ruling tribe and composes of nearly 7000 families but the core power rests with some 200 members of the current King’s family. They exert power in the form of political, financial and religious control. As to a detailed history of modern Saudi Arabia, the best narrative is available on the website The Right Planet.
In a nutshell the earliest recorded ancestor of the Al Saud was Mani bin Rabiah Al-Muraydi. Mani settled in Diriyah (a town in Saudi Arabia located on the northwestern outskirts of the Saudi capital, Riyadh) in 1446–7 with his clan, the Mrudah. The ancient name for Riyadh (or Rawda meaning garden) was Hajr settled by the tribe of Banu Hanifa from which the Al Saud family originates. Riyadh is situated in the largest Saudi Arabian upland area of Nejd. Mani had been invited by a relative named Ibn Dir. See attached map.
The rise of Al Saud is closely linked with Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab (died 1792) who arrived in Diriyah in 1744 where he and Muhammad ibn Saud swore an allegiance in which they promised to work together to establish a state run according to Islamic principles. Prior to arriving in Diriyah Abd al-Wahhab lived in the northwestern Najdi town of Huraymila in 1730s and began to write and preach against both Shia and local popular practices. Until that time Muhammad ibn Saud had been accepted as a tribal leader whose rule was based on loosely defined authority. Abd al Wahhab offered Muhammad ibn Saud a clearly defined religious mission to which to contribute their leadership and upon which they might base their political authority. This sense of religious and political purpose remains evident in the ideology of modern Saudi Arabia.
The Al-Saud family had control over the central and eastern Arabian Peninsula of Nejd. The nobility tribe of Al-Hashim (a clan of the Quraish to which Prophet Muhammad belonged) controlled the western Arabian area of Hijaz which extended from Jeddah & Mecca in the south to Yanbo and Medina in the central areas and Tabuk in the north (near Jordan). Soon after WW1, Ibn Saud of Nejd annexed the Hejaz area in 1925 from the Sharif of Mecca Hussein bin Ali and formed Saudi Arabia. Bin Ali’s son Abdullah I became the King of Jordan and the other son Faisal became the King of Iraq under the auspices of the British for having aided them against the Ottomans.
Arabia, from time immemorial, has never been invaded nor conquered. Its abundant black liquid wealth had been hidden deep below the sand dunes for thousands of years but it has been only over the last 100 years that those riches have been discovered. The most prominent region of ancient Arabia was along the Red Sea trade route from the northern biblical lands to Yathrib (Medina), Mecca and Sanaa (Yemen) on the Indian ocean. Ancient Arabia was settled by various nomadic tribes from the biblical Middle East regions. Mecca being a central point and a crossroad had served as the trade and pilgrimage center for caravans and a watering station from the zam-zam well. The caravans travelled north to south and east to west from Mecca.
Although various tribes were settled throughout pre-Islamic Arabia, none was more powerful than the ruling Quraysh of Mecca. Mecca served as a key geographical location of trade and pilgrimage. Caravans used to stop in Mecca for food, water and pilgrimage of deities situated in Kaaba. Each tribe had their own lesser deity that they placed in the Kaaba but the most important ones for all pilgrims were the godesses al-manat, al-uzza and al-lat (mentioned in ayats 19-21 of Sura 53 al-Najm) whose custodians were the Quraysh, and allah the patron goddess of Mecca revered by all who circumambulated the Kaaba.
The ruling Quraysh tribe of pre-Islamic Mecca were sub-divided into clans (or families). Among the clans, the three most powerful and aristocratic clans were the Banu-Hashim (Mohammed belonged to this clan) , Banu Ommayah and the Banu Makhzum. Their leaders during Mohammed’s period were Abu Lahab, Abu Sufyan ibn Harb and Abu Jahl, respectively. They controlled the gates of Mecca, collected tolls from caravans and tithes from pilgrims and supplied them food and water in return for goods. These three leaders yielded political, financial and religious control similar to the modern al-Saud and their core clans. All three leaders were known oppressors. The prophet’s wife Khadijah belonged to the Quraysh clan of Banu Asad. The pre-Islamic period is known to historians as the era of ignorance (jahiliya in Arabic) and social disorder with no rights provided to slaves, women, children and the poor. The only rights were shared among the aristocratic tribes of the Quraysh and the few clans among them.
THE ADVENT OF ISLAM:
In pre-Islamic Arabia, the Quraysh reaped political and economic power from hold on trade (synonymous to oil) and pilgrimages, much as what are the current practises of the royal families. The advent of Islam exposed the rampant corruption of those families and instituted social changes that benefitted all Arabians. Slaves were granted their freedom, women were granted their rights and the ancient practises of burying alive infant girls were stopped. Wealth was distributed in accordance with social needs, political power was shifted from aristocracy and plutocracy to social democracy, and justice instituted according to a set of God given laws when before none existed except as deemed by the Quraysh. Minorities too were provided their rights and freedom of religion granted to them. Best of all the period of ignorance ended and a new era of learning started. These laws were synonymous to the Ten Commandments given to Moses but further refined in the Holy Quran to make the commands more clearly for the Arabs of that period and in accordance with their customs.
Is it that now the few powerful royal Saudi families discern the headwinds due to their totalitarian governance, terrorism and religious Wahhabi extremism and fear the same social changes that swept ancient Arabia would strip them of their wealth and power? Islam supports social democracy and not monarchy. The Saudis fear that the headwinds will originate from Iran (non-royalty, non-monarchial, non-plutocratic, non-aristocratic but a social democratic state devoted to learning in the true Islamic spirit) and they may well be correct in that assessment. When the headwinds roll across the sand dunes, their western supporters will abandon the region as they did with the Shah of Iran in 1979. History doubtlessly has an uncanny way of going around and neither has Islam condoned monarchy in the past or the present.
Reposts are welcomed with the reference to ORIENTAL REVIEW.