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Can Saudi Arabia become a sacred land?

Reader comment on item: Trump's Saudi Speech: Pretty Good

Submitted by Prashant, May 21, 2017 at 20:49

Dear Dr Pipes,

In your article analyzing President Trump's speech you said that you bristled when you heard Trump call KSA a sacred land. I do not blame you. I do not see much sacredness coming out of KSA. I am a committed, polytheistic Hindu. By the measures of three main western religion, I am a sinner. But still I have no difficulty in treating Israel and Vatican as sacred places. Why I find Israel and Vatican sacred but I find it difficult to find sacredness in KSA (or Iran)?

Little later in your article you say, "Most important is Trump's willingness to point to the ideology of Islamism as the enemy. ... To talk about "evil doers," "terrorists," and "violent extremists" is to miss the enemy's Islamic core."

I think you essentially explained why you bristled when Saudi Arabia was called a sacred land. I think Muslims are responsible for people's negative perception of Islam. And, the Islamic ideology dictates how Muslims behave.

In every place where Muslims live, their in-your-face, stubborn and supremacist attitude inculcates fear in other people's mind. Muslims may be humble many times and Islam may encourage humility (it sometimes does) but when it comes to religion neither Muslims are humble nor Islam wants them to be humble (I point to Quran 5:33 as a reference and there are many other verses). Humility is often regarded as the first virtue and Islamic leadership and Islamic doctrine exhibits none of it..

So if someone can reduce Islam to its five pillars, introduce humility in everything else and introduce separation of church and state in Islam, we will start seeing sacredness in Islam. Until then, it is difficult to consider KSA a sacred land.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali has said that Islam needs reformation. That is exactly true. Many portions of many scriptures of various religions are treated by the followers as 'dead text'. I routinely ignore the reference to castes in Hindu scriptures. The readers of Bibles do not follow each word verbatim. Islam needs to do the same thing. And then, no one will need to bristle when KSA is called a sacred land.


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Daniel Pipes replies:

Had Trump talked in Mecca or Medina about those being sacred cities, I would not have bristled. But he made all of Saudi Arabia sacred. And of course, he could not enter either sacred city.

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