Friday, December 11, 2015

Where it's at

Yesterday many of the Syrian rebel factions held an attempted unity meeting in Riyadh, although bringing so many groups together against a solid Damascus-Tehran-Moscow axis was never going to be easy. King Salman met the delegations afterwards and among his remarks, via Saudi Press Agency --

The King said that we wish that the Arabs will close ranks, in all their countries, and that may Allah accept our prayers. I repeated, the King stated, that this country is yours and its people are your brethren. Praise to Allah, the King indicated, that we don't stand, in need, for anything, but to close the Arab ranks, to have a sole Arab nation stance. I reiterate and repeat, that we pay respect to all faith, the King said, pointing out that the Noble Quran has been revealed here, in an Arab country to an Arab Prophet, in Arabic, which is a grace from Allah, the Al-Mighty, but from the time of the Prophet and the Caliphs up to the time being, all religions are respected and every one's faith is between him and his lord, however serving our religion, our Pan-Arabism and the Arab Peninsula, are inalienable, a fact that I repeat to stress, in addition I say, too, that we expect, God grace, goodness and success to best serve our Syrian brethren and thank you, the King concluded.

There's an understandable tendency to talk about Wahabbism as the distinctive contribution of Saudi Arabia, as a political entity, to Islam. But the King's remarks also show the intrinsic link between Islam, the Arabic language, and the Arabian peninsula (of course Mecca and Medina in particular). Which implies that any discussion of the challenges associated with Islamist terrorism is going to have to operate in that rhetorical space as well. Simply proclaiming that the debate can be conducted in abstractions and assertions that ISIS is a deviation from Islam is not going to work.

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