After razing Islamic sites race is on to save Al-e-Saud heritage!!!
SKAKA, Saudi Arabia: Director of the
King Abdulaziz Foundation for Research and Archives Fahd Al-Semmari
arrived in northern Saudi Arabia this month to save the vast
desert kingdom's fast-disappearing folk culture -- but
anthropologists are crying foul over his mission.
After Al-e-Saud razed most of signs of Holy
Prophet (p) and his history on the soil of Arabian Peninsula, there
is effort to keep alive memory of Al-e-SAud and their history on
Al-Jouf, a remote province some 750 miles
from the capital Riyadh, is one of 13 governorates included in a
national project to document folk tales, songs and poems before the
ravages of modernization efface them forever.
But independent academics are scathing about the program which they
say has come too late and has the ulterior motive of seeking to
glorify and legitimize the ruling house of Saud.
Oral tradition has remained dominant outside most population centers
in Saudi Arabia despite the written culture that followed the advent
of Islam more than 1,300 years ago.
"In this part of the world not that much is written in history. In al-Jouf
you find all kinds of people who are gifted in memory and telling
stories," project leader Semmari told Reuters during a tour of ancient
archeological sites in the desert oasis of Skaka in al-Jouf.
Saudi rulers demolishing House of Prophet Muhammad
"These 'ruwaat', or storytellers, are few
but they are important. Their memories are strong. Everybody knows
them because they are the life of any gathering. But they are
decreasing heavily," he added.
The richest mine of information is to be found in al-Jouf and nearby
Ha'il, Al-Ahsa region in the Eastern Province, and the distant
mountains of Jezan bordering Yemen.
"In Riyadh and Jeddah, urbanization is destroying these things. We
need projects like these to stop the erosion of the memory of a
country," Semmari said, adding more than 3,200 individual histories
had been gathered so far.
Already the classic lifestyle of the Bedouin -- who formed the
backbone of Arab armies that once conquered the Middle East in the
name of Islam -- is almost completely destroyed, Semmari said, as the
tribes are settled in towns and villages.
"The Bedouin are immersed, there's no more Bedouin," he said, citing a
recent expedition into the Arabian desert's Empty Quarter that found
scant evidence of the nomadic existence made famous by travelers such
as British explorer Wilfred Thesiger.
The information collected is being written, recorded and deposited in
a specially established documentation center in Riyadh, the King
Abdulaziz Foundation for Research and Archives.
Several experts, however, are critical.
"It's all wishful thinking," said Riyadh-based Saudi social
anthropologist Saad Al-Sowayan. "It's a serious matter and I don't
think they realize how (much so) and I don't think they have the
intellectual capacity to realize what it means."
He said the loss of oral history mirrored the loss of much of the
country's physical past caused by the iconoclastic religious culture
that has dominated since the kingdom's inception in 1932.
The Al Saud family used the puritanical creed known as Wahhabism to
unite most of the Arabian peninsula in the early 20th century. But
that religious ideology had little time for elements of pre-Islamic
and Islamic popular and material culture that fell outside its rigid
interpretation of Islam.
Holy Shrines of holy Prophet (p)'s mother, daughter, progeny, wives,
uncles, aunts and companions were torn down and ancient quarters built
over with new construction. "This sort of interruption is not healthy,
there is loss of cultural and social continuity," Sowayan said.
Within 30 years, Riyadh has morphed horizontally into a sprawling city
of 4 million people characterized by mosques, shopping malls and
Holy city of Makkah has become a developers' paradise where luxury
apartments overlooking the Grand Mosque are advertised on Arab
television and billboards around the region.
"Everyone is rushing for development and everybody is rushing for
contracts and not realizing that they are destroying culture. It is
like cutting your limbs off," Sowayan said.
London-based Saudi anthropologist Madawi Al-Rasheed said the
documentation effort actually sought to justify the still
controversial Saudi state, a motley patchwork of diverse regions held
together by the absolute power of the Saudi royals.
"All they have done so far is to fix history according to the
narrative that legitimates the state. It's not free, objective
historical research," she said. "Digging up the past is motivated by
present concerns. It's not for its own sake."
Fear of dissent and rebellion has remained a concern for the absolute
monarchy, which has no tolerance for public protest.
Oral history that talks of opposition to Saudi rule will be suppressed
as it has been in other similar efforts to create a Saudi national
identity and history, Rasheed added.
She cited the example of the position of Ibn Saud, the founder of the
Saudi state, on the fate of Palestinians after the creation of Israel
Saudi histories only talk of Ibn Saud's letters to the British
colonial authorities expressing his concern.
But his letters found in British archives tell a different story of
jealousy over possible gains by rival Arab monarchies. "He was only
worried about the Hashemite kings in Jordan and Iraq being able to
take over Jerusalem," Rasheed said.
Signs of King Abdul Aziz bin Saud, considered as national heritage,
are being saved.
Other historical mosques, sites related to holy Prophet (p), his
progeny, wives and companions, and religious sites, hundreds of which
have been demolished by the Saudi rulers, may be on the list of
After Al-e-Saud razed most of signs of Holy Prophet (p) and his
history on the soil of Arabian Peninsula, there is effort to keep
alive memory of Al-e-SAud and their history on this land!!
better than wealth because it protects you while you have to
guard wealth. it decreases if you keep on spending it but the
more you make use of knowledge ,the more it increases . what you
get through wealth disappears as soon as wealth disappears but
what you achieve through knowledge will remain even after you."MORE