Prince Nayef Returns to His Maker
Inna lilahi wa inna alaihi rajeoon – No doubt to Allah we belong and to Him is the ultimate return, Quran 2:156.
Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud passed away on 16th June 2012, in Geneva of an undisclosed illness. He was the Second Deputy Premier and Minister of the Interior. He had held the position of Interior Minister since 1975. More importantly, he was the Crown Prince and therefore next in line to be the ruler of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
So who exactly was Prince Nayef and what was his legacy? What did he do for the people in his 35 years of power?
Women’s Place in Saudi
In a country where women’s rights and gender equality does not seem to be high on the agenda, did the late Prince Nayef do anything for this? In 2001, he introduced identity cards for women and said “The issuing of identity cards to women was dictated by the requirements of modern life to enable a woman to carry out all her activities with ease and also to prevent forgeries and trickeries committed in the name of women in the absence of identification." However, these cards were insufficient for any governmental procedures and were rendered useless in their objected aim.
In 1990, a group of Saudi women were severely punished for driving their cars. A law which bans women from driving only exists in Saudi Arabia. They were punished for this crime and banned from working and travelling. Their ban lasted for years. Prince Nayef legalised a ruling against them, as he wanted to gain popularity whilst the kingdom of Saudi Arabia was forming alliances with America and its ‘war on terror’.
Driving is not forbidden in Islam at all. Shaykh Nasir-ud-deen Al-Albaani (rahimahullah), was asked whether it is permissible for a woman to drive. He answered if riding a donkey is permissible for a woman then it is permissible for her to drive a car. He actually gave preference to the car over a donkey as it is more concealing. So if Prince Nayef changed the rules to allow women to drive, it would not have been something radical to allow them the same rights as women in all other Muslim countries.
In recent years, Prince Nayef did not support the idea of having female members in the Shura advisory court, but he changed his mind later in 2011, when the King announced that he going to admit women into council.
Has life improved for women in Saudi Arabia in the last 35 years under Prince Nayef? Women still cannot drive and cannot leave the country without the permission of her male (mehram) relatives. If the answer is yes, then very marginally so and certainly not by his decree.
Nayef’s Foreign Policy
In 2005 he worsened the ties between his country, Qatar and the UAE, as he objected to a bridge being built between Qatar and UAE. He called it “unacceptable”, as it would pass over Saudi territorial waters. The fact that there were two Muslims countries, whose state would have improved by building this bridge, seemed to have no bearing on the decision he made.
He also had an issue with the Muslim Brotherhood either. He was reported to have said, "Without any hesitation I say it, that our problems, all of them, came from the direction of the Muslim Brotherhood." He publicly invited the arch enemy of the Muslim Brotherhood, Omar Suleiman, who was the former intelligence chief, only last November. Egypt, a country whose people have been sacrificing their lives for a better Egypt and were fighting against tyrannical rule at the time, had somebody associated with their oppressive regime invited by the prince.
He was no supporter of the Arab spring either, because if this revolution were to spread, it would threaten the ruling elite of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
In 2006, Prince Nayef launched a project to build a security fence between Saudi Arabia and Iraq, which he said was the main base for terrorism in the region. He claimed that Iraqis were infiltrating Saudi Arabia and not the other way around and that they were committing acts of terrorism. $12 billion was spent on this project. Imagine if this much was spent to helping Muslims in the area.
Although the ‘war on terror’ equates to a ‘war on Islam’, Nayef joined this war by embarking his forces on one of the biggest operation to secure the Yemen – Saudi border. The target was Al Qaida in the Arab peninsula.
The government of Bahrain issued a three day mourning at the death of the Prince, however a tiny minority of people in Bahrain people were reported to have celebrated this. Unsurprising, given Saudi’s stance towards the people of Bahrain, who were protesting against a dictatorship rule. Prince Nayef was reported to be one of the organisers in the support for the Bahraini government.
From such a record it's hard to see how Prince Nayef did anything real for Islam or Muslims. Infact, it can be argued that he had made things worse. He had a governmental post for many decades and he could have used this position for many things that would have made a better change for Muslims in Saudi Arabia and throughout the world. Many Muslims are suffering and he allowed the suffering to continue because he didn’t do anything against their enemies.
Where have the great Arab leaders gone? Prince Nayef, like many of his counterparts, seem nothing but a mere shadow of King Faisal, the last real leader of Saudi Arabia. When Henry Kissinger of the USA went to Saudi Arabia to threaten the King that America will use force if the oil embargo of the 1970s is not lifted, King Faisal said to him, “We come from the desert, and we have been living on camel milk and dates......... and we can easily go back and live in the desert again.” If only the leaders of Saudi Arabia had the strength to say that today. Prince Nayef's policies seemed to be a combination of self-protection and personal gain, rarely helping to alleviate the oppression of his own “subjects” and others in Muslim lands, especially Palestine. When he did act, like he had in Bahrain, it had only worked to fuel the oppression of Muslims.
However, the royal family are not the only ones to blame, the people of Saudi Arabia aren't questioning their leaders. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
"Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one. People asked, "O Allah's Apostle! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?" The Prophet said, "By preventing him from oppressing others." The Saudis let their leaders get away with oppression. They understand arabic better than the majority of the Muslims in the world. Are they are not acting on what they understand?
Prince Nayef was not questioned by the people, but like the rest of us will be questioned by Allah. No doubt to Allah we belong and to Him is the ultimate return.
Prince Salman is the new Crown Prince. I saw a video of him dancing with the former President of America, George W Bush. It was a sickening site, especially as Prince Salman maybe the king of the country which has the holiest sites in Islam. It is time for a regime change in Saudi Arabia and time that the people of Saudi Arabia told their dictators that enough is enough and that they need to side with justice, even if that means standing against the West.
May Allah, who is the best of planners, bless the entire Muslim world with just and honest leaders, ameen.