Friday, November 25, 2011

Qatif: The Revolution Renewed

During the past week, the city of Qatif has witnessed major demonstrations that engulfed the entire city.  The trigger of this march was the death of the 19 year old Nasser Al-Mheishi at the hands of the Saudi Army (anti-riot forces) placed in the city since early this year.  Since then, the same forces have had their part in the deaths of at least three (confirmed) deaths and several other injuries.  To make matters worse, the army did not release the bodies to the families of the victims before requesting the ransom of pardoning the death.  All of this just a few days before the sacred month of Muharram.  A month that accommodates the activities of “Ashura”.

Whether it is a calculated plot against the Shiite community or an irrational action by the individuals involved in the shooting, it seems that the system is incapable of keeping up with the tide when it comes to treating its public.  The oppression of the public is no longer an option and the attempt to hide unrest within country borders is no longer as easy as it has ti compete with technology, a resource that has evolved to ensure all is capable of broadcasting the news live and on the spot.

Reading the Saudi MOI report [1], the blame again is (as usual) on foreign agents aiming to destroy the safe haven we live in.  Of course it seems that we in Saudi are the targets of all conspiracies. If there is unrest within the borders of Saudi, it is a plot by foreign powers that have injected their agents within the same.  It never seems to be a failure to relate to the many minorities in the Kingdom from the ruling class.  They are never required to stoop down to the level of the commoners and try to understand their needs.  Instead, the ruling class, being the “all wise leadership” that they propagate to be, have set the requirements and defined the problems of this common Saudi.  Sadly, none of these problems and needs have a requirement that expects action from them.

The Saudi ruling family is continuously failing to understand that by ensuring the rights of the Shiite public, they can win their loyalty.  By ensuring that these people are safe from attacks such as that which happened earlier this week (and condemning the individuals involved in harming this group of people) they can ensure that this community will provide them with their trust.  The “Divide & Conquer” strategy does not apply any longer in Saudi when people are no longer ignorant of each other.  In an age of technology and debate, people have the opportunity to share with each other and understand one another.  The “Dark Ages” of Saudi Arabia have passed and now we face a new age of enlightenment.

Reference
[1] Saudi Press Agency [2011], “Checkpoints and Security vehicles exposed to gunfire from rioters in Qatif”, Arabic Title: “مصدر مسؤول بوزارة الداخلية: تعرض عدد من النقاط الامنية و المركبات الامنية لاطلاق نار من معتدين في القطيف”, url: http://www.spa.gov.sa/details.php?id=946283, Published on: 24-Nov-2011, Accessed on: 24-Nov-2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Scientific Evolution: A True Measure of Islamic Faith


To die as a true Muslim can be the greatest honor anyone can consume.  The questions I would like to ask here: How many have passed away and can truly say they have honored their faith? How many can acknowledge they have functioned positively in their community? What is this religion we call Islam that seems to be producing corrupt individuals, terrorists, dictators and a backward culture that struggles for the basic life necessities?  I have always asked myself these questions when I am not defending my faith against such claims.  Searching for the answers has been difficult given that our religious community views itself incapable of solving their problems until God fulfills his promise on this earth [1].

The first step to truly step forward is to acknowledge that we, as a Muslim community, are potentially flawed and are susceptible to delusions [2] and therefore, like any other community, need to critically consider our strengths and weaknesses [9]. By doing so we can take the first step in defining where we lagged while others have bypassed us [5].  The next step is to look at our understanding of our faith. Our Islamic traditions already provide us with so much to push forward and progressively advance.  It emphasizes on education and scientific development as a means of discovering God [7].  It has provided us with basic guidelines on Social Commonwealth, the laws of Charity can be considered as a simple example [6].  It even has provided us with the basics of implementing “Social Justice” [8].

Sadly, modern day Islamic nations have imported the majority of their sciences, except that which is an attribute of the Islamic nation (e.g. Islamic studies and Arabic language), when one day they were exporting the same sciences.  Based on where we stand and the tools made available to us, we can start developing these sciences in our homelands.  The only requirement here is to enable researchers to produce freely.  Only when you reduce the limitations you have on the results of research can your nation develop and grow and only when we have researchers who are funded and supported to evolve the sciences can we evolve.  This will empower our local thinkers and researcher to develop a local version of the sciences and technologies we have imported [10].

However, the news is not all bad.  Recently, in Saudi Arabia, a project was initiated for a solar power energy station which aims to catch up with and surpass nations who have gained a head start on them [4].  The station aims to use the latest in technologies in utilizing solar energy.  In addition to this, we have recently witnessed the opening of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) which has opened up mainly to import researching talents to the Middle East generally and to Saudi Arabia specifically [3].  These and similar initiatives are just small building blocks in the right direction and I wish we can see the fruits of these and similar projects in the not too distant future.

References

[1] Jawdat Sa’eed (1989), “Until They Change That Which is in Them: Eighth Edition”, Arabic Title: “حتي يغيروا ما بانفسهم: الطبعة الثامنة” Presented by: Malik Bin Nabi, Chapter: “Introduction”, Arabic Name: “مدخل”, page: 17.
 [2] Jawdat Sa’eed (1989), “Until They Change That Which is in Them: Eighth Edition”, Arabic Title: “حتي يغيروا ما بانفسهم: الطبعة الثامنة” Presented by: Malik Bin Nabi, Chapter: “A General Law for Mankind”, Arabic Name: “سنى عامة للبشر”, page: 35.
 [3] kaust.com.sa (2011], “Vision and Mission”, url: http://www.kaust.edu.sa/about/ vision_mission.html#mission, accessed on: 07-Nov-2011
[4] Lucien Ziegler (2011), “Saudi Arabia is Serious About Solar Energy”, url: http://arabianomics.com/2011/04/18/why-saudi-arabia-is-serious-about-solar-energy/, published on: 18-Apr-2011, Accessed on: 07-Nov-2011
[5] Muqtedar Khan, 2004 “The Role of Social Scientists in Muslim Societies”, Islamic Horizon (USA), May 2004.
[6] Quran [9, 60]
[7] Quran [45, 3-5]
[8] Sayed Aliakbar Rabinataj and Rmezan Mahdavi Azadboni (2011), “Religion and Politics” in International Conference on Social Science and Humanity vol. 5, IACSIT Press, Singapore.
[9] Tawfiq Alsaif, (2006) “Reform as a Religious Necessity”, Arabic Title: “الحداثة كحاجة دينية”, Chapter: “The Beginning: Self Criticism”, Arabic Title: “البداية: نقد الذات”, page: 69
[10] Tawfiq Alsaif, (2006) “Reform as a Religious Necessity”, Arabic Title: “الحداثة كحاجة دينية”, Chapter: “The Question on Reform”, Arabic Title: “سؤال الحداثة”, page: 110