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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > The Saudis Deceptive Religious Reform Proposal

The Saudis Deceptive Religious Reform Proposal

March 26, 2008

The Saudis Deceptive Religious Reform Proposal

By William Mayer and Beila Rabinowitz

March 26, 2008 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - Many column inches of print in the West have recently been devoted to a not-so-new plan to "train" 40,000 Saudi imams with an eye towards reducing what have been called, "militant hardliners."

The action line in most of these stories is that this is a great move, a sign that the Saudis are rejecting Islamism, a fact nowhere in evidence.

As the Saudis have conceived this effort they intend to carry out this mission via the newly created King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue, which is a division of the Saudi Ministry For Islamic Affairs, Endowment, Dawa and Guidance - http://www.saudinf.com/main/yy1.htm.

The website for this ministry carries a message that indicates just how difficult it is going to be for the Saudis to reform their religion in a manner consistent with what Western pundits seem to be suggesting.

Material on that website demonstrates how Saudi culture and Islam are inseparable, stating that, "To understand the history of the Kingdom and its political, economic and social development, it is necessary to realize that Islam, which permeates every aspect of a Muslim's life, also permeates every aspect of the Saudi Arabian state."

If that was not daunting enough, even more problematic is the following defense of the intolerant Saudi brand of Islam, Wahhabism, stating it was derived directly from the Quran and is therefore not a sect but the one true form of the religion and hence unassailable.

"Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab [the originator of Wahhabism] did not found a new sect. His travels through the Arab lands which then formed part of the Ottoman Empire revealed to him diverse deviations from the true Islamic faith. His purpose was to strip away those deviations and to re-establish Islam in its pure form.

No one could be better qualified than King Abdul Aziz (Ibn Saud) to explain the true significance and meaning of the teachings of Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab. In a speech delivered by His Majesty King Abdul Aziz (Ibn Saud) in Makkah, at the Royal Palace on May 11, 1929, the King said that:

"They call us the "Wahhabis" and they call our creed a "Wahhabi" one as if it were a special one... and this is an extremely erroneous allegation that has arisen from the false propaganda launched by those who had ill feelings as well as ill intentions towards the movement. We are not proclaiming a new creed or a new dogma. Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab did not come with anything new. Our creed is the creed of those good people who preceded us and which came in the Book of God (the Qur'an) as well as that of his Messenger (the prophet Muhammad, prayer and peace be upon him).

"This is the teaching of Sheikh al-Islam Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab, and it is our creed. It is a creed built on the oneness of the Almighty God, totally for His sake, and it is divorced from any ills or false innovation."

Instrumental in this re-education plan is Saleh al-Sheikh, the minister of Islamic affairs who is slated to run seminars for the nation's imams.

In a land of religious hardliners, there is probably none more hardline than Saleh. In addition to his duties at the Saudi religious ministry, he is president of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, WAMY, a division of the notoriously Islamist Muslim World League.

WAMY's Virginia headquarters were raided as recently as 2004 in a terror funding investigation.

Additionally, Saleh is the leader of the al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, the "superintendent of all foundation activities." Al-Haramain has had all of its U.S. assets seized because of its ties to Islamic terror.

Masked by the spate of laudatory articles regarding the retraining program is the basic fact that Saudi Arabia is by far the most restrictive and intolerant of Islamic societies and appears to have no desire to change.

No religion aside from the Saudi's restrictive form of Sunni Islam is tolerated. There is a stict ban all non-Muslim religious rituals and materials to the extent that Bibles, crucifixes and other Christian or Jewish religious artifacts are confiscated at the border as a precondition to entry into the country. Though there are probably one million Saudi Catholics [in a population of about 27M], there is not a single Christian, let alone Catholic church in the nation. Catholic priests have been arrested and deported for the simple act of celebrating Mass in private apartments.

The Saudi religious police, the Mutaween, which answers only to the Saudi Council of Ministers - essentially the king himself - enforce, often brutally, this religious orthodoxy, often acting as judge, jury and executioner.

At best this move by the Saudis represents an effort to present Wahhabism as a reasonable religious sect making it more da'wa friendly playing on our societal preoccupation with interfaith sharing, which in relation to Islam is a fraudulent concept because it's a one-way conversation.

As such the move falls into the purview of stealth jihad, advancing Sharia in a manner not overtly conflictive with Western freedoms.

All those associated with this program, the committees, ministry's and individuals which will be implementing it belong to the Saudi Wahhabist establishment.

To expect those who have spent tens of billions to spread this most virulent form of Islam - which includes the Saudi's ambitious U.S. fundamentalist mosque building program - has now repudiated itself, on the strength of a few New York Times or BBC news stories which in turn are based upon mere Saudi proclamations and assurances, is asking much more than a reasonable person should be willing to accept. http://www.pipelinenews.org/index.cfm?page=imam3.26.08.htm

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