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  Updated: May 29, 2006

After razing Islamic sites race is on to save Al-e-Saud heritage!!!

By: Abdulali

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 this land!!

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 (p)

"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 fast-food restaurants.

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 in 1948.

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 demolition.

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!!

Shame of the House of Saud: Gasoline on Prophet’s Mother (s) grave, toilets built on Sayyedah Khadijah (s) house

LONDON, Britain: British daily Independent published a report by Daniel Howden in which it revealed extent of destruction caused to Islam's diverse heritage in the holy cities of Makkah and Medinah …A car Park on the birth place of the Prophet (saw), Bulldozed and Gasoline poured on the grave of the mother of the Prophet (saw), Lavatories built on the house of Sayyedah Khadijah (sa).

  "Knowledge is 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 ..  


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