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Haraam in land of Haramain

The Grand Mosque in Makkah, from the sky

Over the past few years, there has been a steady relaxation in the enforcement of some public morality-related Islamic injunctions in the land of Haramain i.e. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where Makkah and Madinah, two of the only three holy cities in Islam, otherwise known as Haramain, are located.

On the pretext of providing means of public entertainment, events involving gross violations of Islamic injunctions are now being allowed in the Kingdom. A whole government department named General Entertainment Authority was established in 2016 to, among other things, promote, sponsor and organize such events. Recently, an American rapper, Nicki Minaj had been scheduled to perform at a concert in Jeddah, a city only seventy kilometres away from Makkah, before she pulled out giving excuses to the effect that the Kingdom is still not yet morally decadent enough to deserve the “privilege” of hosting her.

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However, contrary to the secularist-dominated Saudi media narratives, this development is not that popular among the general public in the Kingdom. Besides, though Islamic scholars operate under strict restrictions, not a single scholar has ever sought to justify, let alone endorse it. The incident involving Sheikh Adel Al-Kalbany whose viral images visiting a card game event where he was seen sorting the playing cards cannot rightly be cited to dispute this fact. Because Islamic rule on a card game is never decisive after all, which explains the different juristic views on it. Also, obviously, Sheikh Al-Kalbany is of the opinion that it’s allowed. This is though as a reputable Islamic scholar; a one-time Imam of the Grand of Mosque of Makkah for that matter, he is expected to stay away from controversy, which things like his visit to such an event will definitely trigger.

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Besides, jurisprudentially speaking, all worldly things are Mubaah i.e. allowed, including all means of entertainment, except what Allah the Almighty and/or His Messenger (PBUH) clearly prohibited either in the Qur’an or the authentic Sunnah. Whereas, all acts of worship are Haraam (i.e. prohibited) except what Allah the Almighty and/or His Messenger (PBUH) clearly sanctioned either in the Qur’an or the authentic Sunnah, according to the perception of the Salaf i.e. the Sahaba, their successors and other early Muslim jurists who followed in their footsteps.

Anyway, Saudi Arabia has come under recurrent waves of criticism from Muslims around the world who rightly feel worried over the implications of its actions on the sanctity of the Haramain. They rightly maintain that the Kingdom, in particular, being the custodian of the Haramain, should resist the pressure and temptation to compromise on the enforcement of Islamic injunctions on its public sphere.

After all, by compromising on this, the Saudi authorities are actually weakening the very bases on which the Kingdom was founded by King Abdul-Aziz ibn AbduR-Rahman Al-Saud in 1932, after he had successfully reclaimed and expanded his ancestors’ Emirate of Diriyah, which was first founded by Prince Mohammad ibn Saud and Sheikh Mohammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab in 1744 following their politico-Da’awah alliance that culminated in the emergence of the former as the King who supported the latter’s Da’awah and Islamic revival activities.

Interestingly, ever since then, their respective descendants have maintained close dynastic ties; the descendants of ibn Saud, known as Al-Saud, have maintained  the political leadership of the Kingdom while the descendants of ibn Abdul-Wahhab, known as Al-Sheikh, have been producing reputable Islamic scholars including the current Grand Mufti of the Kingdom, Sheikh Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdullah Al-Sheikh.

It’s therefore ironic and indeed a pity that the two persons at the helm of the strategy to systematically undermine this great legacy bear the surnames “Al-Saud” and “Al-Sheikh” respectively, being lineal descendants of Prince Mohammad bin Saud and Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdul-Wahhab respectively. They are Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud, the Crown Prince and indeed the de facto King, and Turki bin Abdul-Muhsin Al-Sheikh, the Chairman, General Entertainment Authority.

Anyway, it’s, however, quite obvious that not all those criticizing the Kingdom are motivated by worries over the fate of the Haramain, after all. Many are actually motivated by sheer hatred against the Kingdom largely for underlying sectarian motives.

Having uncompromisingly protected the sanctity of the Two Holy Mosques, the cities of Makkah and Madinah at large and other holy sites by not allowing the Sufists and Shiites to hold their mystical rituals, and indeed by not allowing them to literally turn the Prophet’s grave and other graves in Makkah and Madinah into mystical shrines, they have harboured a deep-seated animosity towards Al-Saud, and have always used the pretext of their (Al-Saud’s) real or perceived wrongdoings and shortcomings to openly wish for the collapse of their kingdom.

Likewise, many supposedly Muslim secularists equally pretend to criticize the introduction of Haaram entertainment activities in Saudi Arabia, whereas they are never against it deep down. After all, they are particularly notorious for trying to justify the promotion of immoralities among Muslims on the pretext of promoting tolerance. In Nigeria, for instance, they taunt Islamic scholars in particular by portraying the situation in Saudi Arabia as the triumph of moral decadence, with a view to frustrating and bullying the scholars into abandoning their Wa’azi and Da’awah mission.

However, though the scholars must not allow themselves to be bullied, they should equally refrain from what would prompt others to taunt them. While they should sound moderate when they commend the Saudis for doing the right things, they should equally appropriately criticize them when they commit wrongdoings. After all, the Saudis are Muslims, not the Islamic religion; they are humans, fallible and susceptible to the influence of their desires and interests, while Islam is divine, infallible and indeed a complete way of life.

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