By Turki Aldakhil
18 May 2017
Shiites in Saudi Arabia have been there for as long as the Sunnis. They are part of our country’s fabric. They are Saudis first and foremost.
Their religious affiliation of belonging to the Arab Shiite sect comes in second. Shiites are of course part of Islam’s sectarian diversity. Saudi leaders and kings throughout the eras of the first, second and third Saudi states did not scold the Shiites for their sectarian affiliations but King Abdulaziz – from a brotherly stance – advised them not to exaggerate appearances. This did not deprive them of their patriotism or of their belonging to Saudi Arabia.
The problem though lies within Shiite and Sunni extremism. It lies in belonging to Iran and in the holy sanctification of concepts related to the governance of the jurist and in claiming there is a “Muslims’ consensus over believing in the Imam Mahdi.”
The latter was claimed by Hassan Nasrallah during his most recent speech. The dispute about Imam Mahdi is well-known in both Sunni and Shiite legacies, and anyone who is well-acquainted with Islamic legacy knows that.
Some modern Shiites have even proposed several interpretations about Imam Mahdi. Is he in occultation? Is he man like us? Is he from Ahl al-Bayt (People of the House)? Nasrallah’s claim there is a consensus regarding Imam Mahdi is a mere political escalation that does not have any scientific basis.
Therefore, the problem is not in jurisprudential and ideological beliefs but it is in politically depending on this legacy to kill people and destroy countries.
Turki Aldakhil is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. He began his career as a print journalist, covering politics and culture for the Saudi newspapers Okaz, Al-Riyadh and Al-Watan. He then moved to pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat and pan-Arab news magazine Al-Majalla. Turki later became a radio correspondent for the French-owned pan-Arab Radio Monte Carlo and MBC FM. He proceeded to Elaph, an online news magazine and Alarabiya.net, the news channel’s online platform. Over a ten-year period, Dakhil’s weekly Al Arabiya talk show “Edaat” (Spotlights) provided an opportunity for proponents of Arab and Islamic social reform to make their case to a mass audience. Turki also owns Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre and Madarek Publishing House in Dubai. He has received several awards and honors, including the America Abroad Media annual award for his role in supporting civil society, human rights and advancing women’s roles in Gulf societies.