Saudis and Religious Fundamentalisms
Mohammad Mahfoudh - 4 / 9 / 2014 - 2:10 pm

Like other conservative societies, the relationship between the components of the Saudi society was natural and based on tolerance and respecting each other’s specificities. Accordingly diversity was not a problem in the past but it was a natural social state.  Regardless of their tribes, regional or social origins, people were living in harmony.

In the past, Saudi people were not facing difficulties in integrating with others who have come from different regions for study or work. Sometimes, they discuss sectarian issues for the aim of convergence and not to weaken national unity and stir sedition.

After fundamentalism had dominated Saudi Arabia at the end of the seventies and eighties, the situation has changed, and the Kingdom entered into a sectarian conflicts phase. Saudi society has turn into a group of communities that live under one state due to religious fundamentalisms which created a culture based on divergence and controversial issues.

Most of the sectarian conflicts that have occurred recently in the Saudi society are the result of religious fundamentalism which has dominated the society and individuals during the past three decades. I see that preserving unity in the Saudi society needs to overcome that fundamentalism phase, other than that more sub-identities will exist.

In order to overcome that period we need to:
1. Separate between religion and fundamentalism tendency because fundamentalism is a unilateral interpretation of Islam and usually is used for political purposes. Most of the conflicts between Saudi components are because of imposing a fundamentalism reading upon the entire citizens.

2. Today, there is a need to introduce a new national cultural approach compatible to the nature of the relationship between Saudi components. The Saudi society has religious and cultural richness due to diversity; therefore it needs a culture that accommodates all citizens. Fundamentalism destroys the relationship between Saudis and threatens security and stability of the state, for that reason we need to introduce a new culture based on mutual understanding, rejecting of all forms of abuse against each other.

3. In the light of the serious events in the region, we have to fortify our society and state from sectarian tensions which dominate many Arabic countries through enhancing citizenship, equality in rights and duties and condemn any violations toward each other. We need for a religious discourse calls for unity and mutual understanding instead of hatred and sedition.

This is a summary of the original article written in Arabic and published in al-Riyadh Newspaper on September, 2, 2014