Saudi Arabia needs more than just a facelift

Since the events of 9/11 Saudi Arabia has been undergoing a public facelift, eager to improve its image on the international scene. As a long standing ally of the west and considered by many a political heavyweight in the Middle East and with the Arab spring in full swing Saudi Arabia has been attempting a facelift through reforming various aspects of the national economy, social system and courts.

The latest commentator to weigh in on the debate has been none other than Princess Basma Bint Saud Bin Abdulaziz. Daughter of King Saud the former ruler of country, she listed the changes she felt were necessary for the Kingdom to progress, calling for progress to continue in the same direction as the developments her father made.

She called for changes within the constitution and the removal of laws based on a judges interpretation of the Quran, where the constitution “should be inspired by the philosophy of the Koran with principles that are set in stone and not open to the whims of individual judges as is the case now.”

The Saudi system is an odd mixture of pre Islamic customs, man-made laws and Islamic laws. Saudi uses specific terminologies to differentiate between the Islamic laws and the man-made ones. In an Arabic book on the constitution of Saudi Arabia the author states, “The words ‘law (kanoon)’ and ‘Legislation (Tashree’)’ are only used in Saudi to refer to the rules taken from the Islamic Shari’ah ….. As for the man-made such as systems (Anthimah)’ or ‘ instructions (Ta’leemaat)’ or ‘ edicts (Awamir)’ …… “. To do away with the little Islamic law that is currently being applied means to make the kingdom more riddled with limited views of Saudi rulers.

Basma explained how the education system enforces the submissive role of the woman in society explaining, “They are actually taught that if a woman has to worship anyone other than God it should be her husband; “that the angels will curse her if she is not submissive to her husband’s needs.”

As someone living in the UK it was not surprising for her to call for Saudi to move more towards the West. Whilst Saudi Arabia’s heritage lies in Islam, since the decline of the Uthmani Khilafah, successive Saudi leaders have moved further and further form Islam, even though some social laws of Islam exist.

The fundamental problems and solutions that need to be instituted and obligatory from Islam are:

Constitutional change. Unquestionably Islam unites the overwhelming majority of people in Saudi Arabia – 97 per cent of the population is Muslim. It is thus natural that a new constitution be based on the Quran and Sunnah. Merely having an Islamic constitution but only paying lip service to it inevitably leads to the current situation of the Kingdom, where it possesses the world’s most strategic resource – oil, but has no international standing.

Representation, accountability and rule of law. The constitution should clearly state the obligation of political parties and the establishment of the Majlis of the Ummah. This mechanism will allow for representation, accountability as well as disagreement in an organised and controlled manner.

Economy, jobs and growth. Currently Saudi Arabia like much of the regions countries has an economy most of the Muslim lands have economies are lop sided where they are dependent on a handful of fossil resources. Saudi possesses just a handful of industrial complexes and as a result unable to create unemployment. Saudi’s oil reserves belong to the Ummah according to Islam’s rules on the disposal of public properties and should therefore be used to leapfrog its economic development. Saudi possesses the world’s largest oil field comprising reserves of over 262 billion barrels, the world largest. This oil wealth should be used to develop an indigenous and diversified manufacturing industry which will create jobs and economic growth.

Independent security/defense. According to Sharia sovereignty does not exist unless a nation can secure its borders and is self-sufficient in this. The countries monarchy has sold its soul to the US. A far cry from the history of the country. Western military interference must be removed.

Islam has detailed clear rules on the rights of women. This is something that is clearly defined in Islam and raises the status of women form the days of jahiliyah. Saudi still holds on to many of its jahiliyah concepts that Islam expressly prohibited. By abiding with Islam, women’s rights are protected and the nucleus in society, the mother can fulfill her role.