‘Resurrection’ of Safar al-Hawali

Mashari Althaydi
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Dr. Safar al-Hawali’s name is back in the spotlight following the “campaign” which accompanied the “huge” book attributed to him – Muslims and western civilization – which is over 3,000 pages.

What’s strange is that Hawali has suffered a stroke in 2005 and it has affected him just like it would affect anyone who suffers from such a hardship.

So how could he be so lengthy in addressing Arab transformations in general and specifically Saudi transformations and put them under the Sahawist x-ray of political Islam groups’ laboratories with their Sururist-Qutbist version?

Anyway, according to the few parts reviewed, this type of thinking and analysis harmonizes with Safar al-Hawali’s own intellectual and political history.

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It’s very possible that he resorted to the help of a team of assistant researchers, especially given his experience of writing via a team like the case was with explaining the book A Muslim theologian’s response to Christianity by Ibn Taymiyyah. Back then, i.e. before he got sick, he carried out his work through a research center and a group of researchers.

There’s nothing new in al-Hawali’s large volumes but a modern recollection of what he wrote, lectured and preached at his mosque in Jeddah or residence in Mecca and a recollection of his famous lectures at Umm al-Hamam Mosque in Riyadh during the peak of war which the country fought against Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Safar al-Hawli represented the theoretical spearhead of the Saudi Sururist Movement, and was a close student of Muhammad Qutb, the brother of Sayyid Qutb. He tried to localize Sayyid Qutb’s theories in the local Salafist environment by explaining the book Al-Aqidah al-Tahawiyyah and via other attempts.

Safar al-Hawli represented the theoretical spearhead of the Saudi Sururist Movement, and was a close student of Muhammad Qutb, the brother of Sayyid Qutb

Mashari Althaydi

Political Islam

I remember that during Sadam’s invasion of Kuwait, protests erupted. Some of these protests erupted on an Arabist “nationalist” basis and some on a leftist basis but most of them – and this is what’s important – erupted on the basis of political Islam.

Symbols of the so-called Sahwa in Saudi Arabia were the leaders of the scene. Figures like Dr. Safar al-Hawali and others warned and intimidated of the international alliance and of its real intentions. Circumstances were critical and sensitive.

What we recall well – and plenty of it can be found on the internet – is Hawali’s approach to the crisis as he chose to address a huge political event via religion and the sacred so he chose some texts from a massive heritage collection to project it on this specific event, i.e. Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, and made it an introduction to the end of time and the talk of the end of time epics.

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Back then, Hawali based his analysis on talking about al-Rum (the Orthodox). According to him, al-Rum are the entire of Europe and America and perhaps Australia and New Zealand, regardless of the specific historical meaning of the word, “the Byzantines.”

Nothing of what Sheikh Safar and all Sahawist movements warned of happened. Their failure at making expectations did not even make them review themselves and their approach for one second!

They rather moved on and got preoccupied with other events using the same analytical mechanism and approaches. It’s like nothing happened!

Today, Qatar’s channels, the Brotherhood’s global platforms and their friends from the left have been added to Safar’s audience.

History is repeating itself.

This article is also available in Arabic.

Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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