Moderation announced by Saudi Arabia
By ISHTIAQ Ahmed
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman announces Moderate Islam,
There is something to cheer up despite very depressing times. The Saudi Monarchy has announced that it will return to the type of Islam that was prevalent in Saudi Arabia in the 1960s. That period may not appear to be particularly moderate to many of us but the prince was speaking a truth.
PEOPLE DON'T REALIZE THAT THE IT WAS THE KHOMEINI REVOLUTION WHICH SET IN MOTION ISLAMIC RADICALISM. The Iranian revolution was no doubt an outcome of the tyranny of the Shah but it was a backward-looking revolution even when theologically it was meant to pave the way of the Return of Imam Mehdi.
The Iranians began to export their revolution and that was perceived as a threat to the status quo by the Arabs. In reaction Wahhabism in its extreme form was promoted through their clients all over the world. Pakistan became the venue of a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Reciting the Tabarra condemning the first three caliphs began to be practised openly in Pakistan from the 1980s. It is not clear whether the Iranian regime sanctioned such action or the over zealous Pakistani Shias began to do it on their own. I was witness to that grotesque practice in Pakistan in 1980. Soon a fanatical Sunni reaction took place and since then the story is a sad one. The game of numbers is on the side of the Sunnis though in the Middle East Iranian influence had greatly increased.
The volatile situation was greatly compounded when Afghan Communists came to power in a coup in Afghanistan and sought the help of the Soviet Union which despatched the Red Army to their help.
It set in motion the so-called Afghan jihad sponsored by the CIA and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan (created in 1947 just as the frontline state against the Soviet Union by the British) became the launching base for that jihad. Extremism now with clear Sunni, Deobandi, Wahhabi overtones promoted by CIA confronted not only the Afghan regime and the Red Army but also directed their wrath against Iran and Shia minorities in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Iran itself has mellowed down its extremism and Imam Khamenei has been making sensible statements, including a call to Shia to do something positive to commemorate Ashura than self-flagellation. It remains to be seen if moderation also starts taking place among other groups. HE HAS ALSO EXPRESSED STRONG DISLIKE FOR THE RECITATION OF TABBARA.
IN THE LONG RUN ONLY A SECULAR, DEMOCRATIC, PLURALIST STATE BASED ON INCLUSIVE AND UNIVERSAL CITIZENSHIP CAN lead us forward. Before we realize that it is good that some sort of moderation is now going to take place.W