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22 September 2017
24 June 2015

“Al-Masjid al-Haram” Mosque seizure

“Al-Masjid al-Haram” Mosque seizure

The underlying purpose of the Wahhabi ideology promotion generously sponsored by Saudi Arabia is to make sure that the ruling dynasty has a legitimate power in the country. However, history shows the examples when the government was not able to suppress those who could not bear breach in justice and depravity of the existing power. This happened in Saudi Arabia in 1979.

The rapid advance of the militant group called “Islamic State” led by the self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi imperil the security of the majority of the Middle East countries. The caliphatists declare that territorial expansion is more likely to be expanded. One of their goals is to capture Saudi Arabia. To be more precisely, they aim at Mecca. The representatives of the “Islamic State” are eager to destroy the Kaaba situated in the heart of the Islam's most sacred mosque “Al-Masjid al-Haram”. They believe that Muslims do not come to Mecca for Allah, but to kiss or touch the stone.

It is worth mentioning that al-Baghdadi followers are not the first who entrenched upon the revered Islamic relic. In 930 CE the sect “Qarmatians” sacked Mecca and managed to steal the Black Stone. It was returned only 20 years later for a huge sum of money. There was a number of other attempts to commit a crime on the territory of “Al-Masjid al-Haram” Mosque. In 1979, for example, a radical group of Juhayman al-Otaybi seized the Sacred Mosque.

“Al-Masjid al-Haram” Mosque seizure

On November 20, 1979 the Grand Mosque in Mecca was seized by a well-organised group of 500 militants under al-Otaybi leadership. Juhayman al-Otaybi served in the Saudi Arabian National Guard for a long time. The radical group was a branch of the mass religious movement called “Al-Jamaa Al-Salafiya Al-Muhtasiba” (the Salafi group that commands right and forbids wrong). The fundamental principal of al-Otaybi’s ideology was that true Muslims cannot be involved in any state affairs. They were supposed to isolate themselves from the political system and everything related to it. The emphasis was made on performing religious rituals that are clear of innovations (bid’ah).

Juhayman al-Otaybi

Juhayman al-Otaybi

Juhayman al-Otaybi severely criticized the political regime of Saudi Arabia for making advantage of the religion in order to achieve their own mercenary purposes. In his opinion, those in power aimed at ensuring legitimacy of non-Kuraish dynasty of Saud. The ideas with regard to isolation from the state were based on his negative attitude towards the existing regime. In Otaybi opinion, Muslims should not give an oath to wealth and power-hungry rulers under any circumstances. Juhayman al-Otaybi also did not approve of close relations with the United States of America.

It is worth noting that the militants of the “Islamic State” have a lot in common with the al-Otaybi group. “Islamic State” members are against modern ways of proving own nationality. They demonstrated this in a video where they annihilate their passports. Yet, the rebels of al-Otaybi did not intend to destroy the Black Stone. This was due to the significant part of the Mahdi return in their doctrine.

Juhayman al-Otaybi declared that one of his closest followers Mohammed Abdullah al-Qahtani is the Mahdi. He asserted that it was proved in his dream. They seized “Al-Masjid al-Haram” in order to give an oath to the Mahdi (Mohammed Abdullah al-Qahtani) in about fifty thousand people presence. The ceremony of adjuration was planned to take place between the Black Stone at the Kaaba corner and the place called “Maqam-e-Ibrahim”.

“Al-Masjid al-Haram” Mosque seizure

The Grand Mosque Seizure lasted more than two weeks before Saudi Special Forces broke into the Mosque.

Saudi Arabia had to ask France, Jordan and Pakistan for help. The international forces did not shun any means when releasing the mosque “Al-Masjid al-Haram”. It is estimated that about 3000-4000 pilgrims fell victims to the raid. Military casualties were about 400 dead.
The trial of the rebels did not take a long time. 60 of them were beheaded and all the others were sentenced for a long time.

On the left: Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the King of Saudi Arabia (1975-1982)

On the left: Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the King of Saudi Arabia (1975-1982)

The cause of this shocking event is to be sought in the political approach of the Saudi Arabia governing elite. The state policy is concentrated on retaining the power and making sure it is legitimate within the country and in the eyes of Muslims all over the world. This is why Saudi Arabia splurges on promoting Wahhabi ideology by means of publishing books and lectures of the Saudi sheikhs and creating websites with the relevant content. The rebels made a stand against the social injustice which penetrated their country. They opposed the government which made advantage of the religion to pursue their own interests.

Aydar Zinatullin