Monday, February 26, 2007

RADICAL attempts to understand, or What's this hatred of Saudi Arabia all about, anyway?

I’ve decided to take up writing here again, this round, however, with a somewhat different focus. The prevailing unsubstantiated animus against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (and the most-likely-erroneous assumption that somehow a “radical fundamentalist Islam” exported from Saudi Arabia is responsible for the “terrorist threat” in the entire world) needs to be examined.

Anyone may respond to what I write although I will not allow comments to be posted if I cannot 1) identify and communicate with the writer; and 2) substantiate through normal academic research processes the “supporting reasons” and purported “evidence” contained in any comment. Don’t, for example, tell me that the dreaded “Wahabbism” of Saudi Arabia is the cause of 9/11 or that so-called “Wahabbists” from Saudi Arabia financially support Osama bin-Laden unless you can offer proof of your assertion—and I do not mean simply quoting the Washington Post or some “anonymous government source” (or even Richard Clarke, who does not cite sources and expects the world to take his “word” for everything he says), or—worst of all—quote some scurrilous “translation” from MEMRI that has been neither vetted to find its actual source nor checked against other translations.

As an opening, I will quote at length from a book that anyone who wants to understand Saudi Arabian history and government needs to read—but that almost no American has read (my university library found one copy to retrieve on inter-library loan from the Georgetown University library). It is Islamic Political Development in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; Majlis Ash Shura: Concept, Theory and Practice, by Faisal Ibn Misha’l Al-Su’ud.

This book, published in 2002 by the National Association of Muslim American Women, is a PhD dissertation from Durham University (Great Britain).

STOP!
Before anyone says I have been “duped” by or become an “apologist” for the Royal Saudi “line,” at least give this work by HRH Prince Faisal a hearing. I would say that good research—to say nothing of charity—demands that one attend to what a member of the Saudi royal family has to say, especially since his book is a first-rate work of scholarship.

This re-appearance of my blogging begins with quotations of several paragraphs from the book, simply to set the stage for further research and discussion.

From page 18:

The foundation of the Islamic political system is Shura which means “consultation.” This requirement is found in the Kurān and Sunna that distinguish Islamic political idealism from other ideologies. Whereas Western liberal democracy embodies participative government, the people being the sovereign authority, ruling, so to speak, by majority vote, Islam requires that government be led by a central authority that recognizes God as the sovereign and the human government’s obligation to certain laws and precepts that have been revealed by God.

(Al-Gazzali, I.M. Oneness of God and Dependence on God, cited in: The book of Constructive Virtues, Vol. 4, Part 1, F.K. Islamic Mission Trust, Daccca, 1971. pp235-296.)

The Shura or consultative branch of the Islamic government structure provices a mechanism through which the Islamic government is accessed by the people, not as sovereigns, but as participants, through consultation in government affairs. Thus Islam is against dictatorship and authoritarianism, focusing instead on justice and working of r the benefit of the entire society.

(“Establishment of Justice,” Enclycopaedia of Seerah, Vol. VIII, Seerah Foundation, London, 1998. pp 257-283.)

From page 19:

The Islamic political system is an independent system characterized by freedom from the limitations implied by terminologies found in dictionaries and encyclopaedias of political sciene. The western political science concepts of Capitalism, Scocialism, Democracy or Totalitarianism have nothing to do with the Islamic political system. There is no room in Islam for these concepts and the Islamic political system can never be associated with the secular political systems implemented in the different parts of the world.

(Malik, A.B. "Understanding the Political Behaviour of Islamists: The Implications of Socialisation, Modernisation, and Rationalist Approaches." Studies in Contemporary Isalm, Vol. I, No. 1, Spring. 1999. pp17-20).

No single definition suits every possibility, since Islam allows each Islamic government to shape its character according to the culture of a given people, requiring only the avoidance of prohibited acts, and laws that condone, or seek to legalise what the Kurān and Al Sunna have prohibited.

From page 20:

The Islamic perspective observes human phenomena as complex and multi-dimensional. The Islamic political concepts include social, economic, and cultural aspects, since politics is defined herewith as administrating issues toward reform, or rather, reforming human beings by directing them to the proper way of life through which they obtain success, prosperity and happiness. The Western concept of politics, however, is limited to discussion of power, authority, class and state. The Islamic perspective assumes that historical events neither end by vanishing, nor lose relevance in the face of modernity. History in Islam remains alive and relevant in life and memory. Thus history serves us by allowing us to look back and garner wisdom and direction on the best way to do things and aids us in our understanding of the relationship between cause, effect and consequence. This connection should always be sought in dealing with current events….

2 Comments:

At 7:08 AM, Blogger RxS said...

I'd like to read this. Can non-SMU Dallasites get access to it through the SMU library, too?
I'm enjoying the blog - have sent several links to my buddies. (It's Susan W, here, using old, not-really-blog, blog account)

 
At 12:35 AM, Blogger Fac ut vivas said...

Unfortunately, there are virtually no copies of the book available. I found the copy I'm reading through university inter-library loan---it came from Georgetown University Library. You will probably have to go the same route or write directly to the National Association of Muslim American Women, PO Box 72032, Columbus Ohio 43207.

 

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