The diary of a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment.
In Memory of the lives of 15 Makkah Schoolgirls, lost when their school burnt down on Monday, 11th March, 2002. The Religious Police would not allow them to leave the building, nor allow the Firemen to enter.
The ex-Archbishop of Canterbury recently made a speech in which he addresses the subject of Islam, and in particular why it inhibits, not facilitates, progress. As opposition to progress is something that the current Saudi Arabia typifies, I have extracted several pertinent comments.
Carey speech on Islam in full
Address given by Lord Carey of Clifton at the Gregorian University, Rome, on Thursday, March 25 in which he criticised Islamic culture and regimes
...wherever we look, Islam seems to be embroiled in conflict with other faiths and other cultures. It is in opposition to practically every other world religion- to Judaism in the Middle East; to Christianity in the West, in Nigeria, and in the Middle East; to Hinduism in India; to Buddhism, especially since the destruction of the Temples in Afghanistan.
.....We are presented therefore with a huge puzzle concerning Islam. Why is it associated with violence throughout the world?
.....Whether religious or nominal, it is important to recognise that the vast majority of Muslims, like Christians, are honourable and good people who hate violence and are distressed to note that they are lumped together with evil and misguided people. We should never seek to demonise them or their faith. But a fight for the soul of Islam is going on.
....Two hundred years ago a Reform movement had swept through Saudi Arabia through the teachings of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab. Uniting with Muhammad Ibn Saud, a powerful chief, Mohammed ibn Abd al-Wahhab subdued other tribes and imposed what Prof. John Esposito has described ' a puritanical form of Islam' on the people
...Its intolerant and tyrannical beliefs lend themselves to young impressionable minds searching for certainties. The politicisation of young Saudi Muslims was completed in our own day when the impotence of Muslim countries was compared with what they regard the decadence of the West with its materialistic power.
...the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr. Mohamed Mahathir who on the brink of retirement gave his sober estimate of Islam, saying that unless Islam was prepared to change it would degenerate still further.
'I find it very hard to be optimistic about Muslims in the 21st century' he said, 'Very few Muslims understand reality and they do not understand that coming to terms with globalisation is one of the greatest challenges facing them'…. 'They cannot run away' he said.
...Why the glaring absence of democratic governments in Muslim lands, particularly in the Middle East, we might wonder? It is said that modern Muslim experience suggests that Islam and democracy are incompatible
... theological Islam is being challenged too, to become more open to examination and criticism. Christianity and Judaism have had a long history of critical scholarship which, we must admit and acknowledge, has not been without its pain, but there have been great gains also.
In the case of Islam, Mohammed, acknowledged by all in spite of his religious greatness, to be illiterate man, is said to have received God's word direct, word by word, from angels and scribes who recorded them later.
Thus, believers are told, because they have come direct from Allah they are not to be questioned or revised.
....although we owe much to Islam handing on to the West many of the treasures of Greek thought, the beginnings of calculus, Aristotelian thought during the period known in the West as 'the dark ages', it is sad to relate that no great invention has come for many hundreds of years from Muslim countries
....Muslims in the West with the accompanying freedom to worship freely and build their mosques should be reciprocated in Muslim lands. However, that freedom is uneven. In some Muslim lands there are strong and cordial relationships but in some others Christians have little freedom, are sometimes persecuted, are not able build their churches, or only do so after much difficulty.
Saudi Arabia will not allow Christian worship and Christian priests and ministers are not allowed to function as such in that land. Muslim leaders often tell Christians and Jews that 'there is no compulsion in religion'. This sadly is only half true. If non-Muslims are not compelled to become Muslim, Muslims are not free to choose another faith. There is, we find, some compulsion, after all.
I apologize for quoting at length, but there is actually much more worth reading in there, and I would commend the whole article to you. It resonates with we Saudis who have seen what is achieved in the West, and then see our own country held back by an unholy alliance of corrupt and backward rulers, hand-in-hand with religious zealots who would like everything to revert to the First Millenium.