(ARAB NEWS) — Saudi thinker and writer Zain Al-Abdeen Al-Rikabi wrote a book titled “Salman bin Abdul Aziz … the Other Side”. It gives an insight into the way Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, views much debated issues in the media. The publisher, Al-Obaikan Library, described the book as extremely interesting as it brought new facts to light about a person who is well known locally, regionally and internationally. The book also objectively documented unknown aspects of Prince Salman’s personality.
Speaking about Prince Salman’s passion for transparency as an art of governance, the author wrote about a meeting between Prince Salman and a group of students from Harvard University who visited Riyadh.
Prince Salman showed that he had complete knowledge and a clear vision on current affairs. He told the students bluntly that Saudis believe that every individual is free in his beliefs. He cited a number of Qur’anic verses and Hadiths of the Prophet (peace be upon him) to explain his views.
He told the Harvard students that some Muslims misunderstood the concepts of terrorism and extremism. “The problem is not in the religion itself, but in the extremists, whether they are Muslims, Christians or Jews who do not understand the religion perfectly or apply it correctly,” he said.
Prince Salman told the students that Muslim fanatics did not actually represent Islam. He went on to tell them, “You will one day suffer from extremists in Christianity and Judaism. The Muslim, Christian and Jewish extremists will do more damage to humanity by creating tensions and conflicts among followers of each religion while Almighty Allah wanted relations among religions to be merciful and tolerant,” he warned.
Prince Salman told the students that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had made an alliance with the Jews in Madinah and cooperated with them through a written pact known as the “Madinah Pact”. He said it was the Jews who violated the agreement and did not honor the pact.
During his talk with the students, Prince Salman talked on a number of local issues concerning reforms, democracy, women and Shoura.
“Problems always stem from lack of knowledge. We have no problem with anyone who knows our realities because this knowledge will enable them to understand our situation. We do not need people to approve of our political system or lifestyle but only to know that every society has its own traditions, customs, norms and values,” he said.
One of the students asked Prince Salman about the Kingdom’s efforts to confront terrorism to which he answered, “We were among the leading countries which combated terrorism using several methods. We are exerting all possible efforts to wipe out terrorism using all available and effective means. We have specialists who meet with the terrorists to convince them that their understanding of the true Islam is incorrect. Fighting terrorism with thoughts and ideologies has been very successful.”
The prince referred to the international conference to combat terrorism in Riyadh about two years ago under the aegis of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and said, “We have an international center for the rehabilitation of terrorists. I hope that all countries will cooperate with us to enhance its activities and protect humanity from the evils of terrorism.”
He continued, “We condemn all kinds of terrorist actions. Terrorism is totally against Islam. Our scholars were unanimous in their stance that terrorism was a grave crime against Islam. They also strongly condemned the 9/11 terrorist acts in New York and Washington.”
Prince Salman told the students, “I am not defending the terrorists with Muslim names who classify me as their enemy. I want to tell you that you will see terrorists from other religions as well. It is our duty to draw your attention to this common problem.”
A female student asked about the steps the government has taken to protect the rights of the women in the Kingdom.
Prince Salman replied, “Islam is the pattern of rules in the Kingdom and it ensures the right of women to lead a dignified life, get education and work. A woman has complete freedom on how to spend her money. Neither her husband nor any other member of her family has the power to take away this right. A woman is also free to choose her husband. She is not obliged to marry anyone she does not like. These are parts of the rights guaranteed by Islam for women.”
A professor who accompanied the students then asked the prince about the right of women to vote. Prince Salman replied, “We have our own private social circumstances but I want to ask you a question: When did the US, which is a secular country with a majority of Christians, give the women their right to vote?”
“Very late,” the professor answered. Prince Salman said, “I knew this even before I visited America. The blacks were not allowed to enter certain restaurants or other utilities. Why did not your country give them equal rights at the beginning of the 20th century? Someone might argue that if this happened during that time, a civil war might have broken out in America. I did not want to blame you for delaying the rights of the women and the blacks but I wanted to ask you to appreciate our private social circumstances, norms, values and traditions. Our women work in various fields including management, medicine, engineering, business and others. These jobs are a result of a gradual and peaceful development. Judging by the success of the gradual policy, I do not think it is advisable for a country to shock its people with decisions of a sensitive nature.”
Prince Salman went on to say, “You may remember that about 50 years ago we did not have girls’ schools, basic infrastructure or any sign of civilization or progress which you can now clearly see. People were very adamant in their opposition of girls’ education. They are now competing to open schools for girls and to send their daughters abroad for higher education. I want to say that the development should be gradual and smooth. Everything will happen at the right time. Our society is now accepting many things, which they were opposed to just a few years ago. The government is keen to lead the advancement with gradual steps that would ensure the general interest and at the same time avoid upheavals and shocks. The private rights of Saudi woman are well maintained.”
The professor asked about reforms and said he came to know that while some people wanted them immediately others were asking the government to be patient and to take its time.
Prince Salman answered:” You have to define reform. What some people may see as reforms, others may consider as total corruption. It is the responsibility of the government to make reforms. It is also responsible for blending the two ideas and to come out with what is best for the country. This does not worry me. Since its establishment, the government is trying to do what is best for the people on a social, intellectual, political and administrative level. I do not support hastiness and I also do not advocate long patience. The moderate choice is the best. We need active development without slackness or stalemate. This also applies to the political choices. I am not against democracy per se, but democracy is not a readymade formula, suitable for every country and society. According to the Western understanding, democracy should have political parties.This is a political and social pattern, which does not suit our social fabric.bWe share common principles with democracy and we reject dictatorship. We are against the concept of a single opinion in running the affairs of the state. Our political system, which is based on the Qur’an, is advocating consultations which we are strongly adhering to conduct the affairs of our country.” (*)
SOURCE : ARAB NEWS
Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2012