The inside story of Saudi Arabia’s Founding Day, celebrating the year it all began

Special The inside story of Saudi Arabia’s Founding Day, celebrating the year it all began
A 1946 photograph of Shada Palace in Abha, built in 1820.
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Updated 23 February 2022

The inside story of Saudi Arabia’s Founding Day, celebrating the year it all began

The inside story of Saudi Arabia’s Founding Day, celebrating the year it all began
  • The Kingdom’s new Founding Day celebrates the true birthday of the First Saudi State in 1727

RIYADH: For generations, historians and writers have unwittingly perpetuated the myth that the First Saudi State, forerunner of the modern-day Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, was founded in the year 1744.

In fact, as a new reappraisal of the origins of the Kingdom reveals, they were 17 years out.

There is no doubt that the events of 1744, the year in which Imam Mohammed ibn Saud of Diriyah offered sanctuary to the religious reformer Sheikh Mohammed ibn Abdulwahhab, were hugely significant. 




In this ‘Carte de Dreiye,’ the oldest-known map of Diriyah, drawn by a French diplomat in 1808, the historic UNESCO-listed district of At-Turaif on the Wadi Hanifah is recorded as ‘El Tereif.’

But over time the importance of that admittedly historic moment of common cause between state and faith came to obscure the far more complex and deeper-rooted origins of the First Saudi State.

It is to correct this neglect of the Kingdom’s crucial embryonic years that Founding Day has been created, to celebrate 1727 as the true moment of birth and to give Saudis a deeper appreciation of a past far richer than many realize. 




The original Makkah Gate in Jeddah.

It was in 1727 that Imam Mohammed ibn Saud came to the throne, carrying with him the dream of transforming the city state founded by his forebears three centuries earlier into the capital of a nation which, at its height, would bring peace and stability to most of the Arabian Peninsula.

This resetting of the clock from 1744 to 1727 is the outcome of extensive historical research that has been carried out studying the historical resources held by the new Saudi Historical School. 




Ibn Saud’s warriors on the move in the early 20th century as the future founder of Saudi Arabia fought to bring the Najd and the Hejaz together.

“Many historians have linked the rise of the state to the arrival of Sheikh Mohammed ibn Abdul Wahab, and have neglected the initial period of Imam Mohammed ibn Saud’s rule and the preceding era, even though this was the foundational period of the state,” said Dr. Badran Al Honaihen, associate director of historical research and studies at Diriyah Gate Development Authority.

“The revision and reinterpretation of historical events is an intellectual phenomenon found in every part of the world. Previous writings can be considered judgments and opinions that do not prevent revisions or the reaching of new conclusions.” 




It was in 1727 that Imam Mohammed ibn Saud came to the throne, carrying with him the dream of transforming the city state founded by his forebears three centuries earlier into the capital of a nation which, at its height, would bring peace and stability to most of the Arabian Peninsula. (Supplied)

Today, no one can pinpoint exactly when the long journey toward statehood began. The first certain waypoint on the path is the year 430 when the Banu Hanifah tribe migrated to Al-Yamamah in the lower Najd from their home in the Hejaz on the Red Sea coast.

Here, at the junction of several important caravan routes, the tribe to which the ruling house of Al-Saud belongs settled and thrived, founding Hajr — modern-day Riyadh — trading, and growing crops in the fertile valley that in time would take their name — Wadi Hanifah.

With the coming of Islam the Banu Hanifah stepped on to the stage of world history for the first time. 




It was in 1727 that Imam Mohammed ibn Saud came to the throne, carrying with him the dream of transforming the city state founded by his forebears three centuries earlier into the capital of a nation which, at its height, would bring peace and stability to most of the Arabian Peninsula. (Supplied)

In 628, six years after the hijra, the flight of Mohammed and his persecuted followers from Makkah to Madinah, the Prophet sent letters to various Arabian rulers, inviting them to embrace “Islam,” submission to the will of God.

The ruler of the Banu Hanifah at this time was Thumamah ibn Uthal, whose spiritual journey from initial rejection to heartfelt acceptance of Islam is celebrated in the Hadiths.

IMAM MOHAMMED IBN SAUD’S MOST SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENTS

• Unified Diriyah under his rule and contributed to its stability.

• Managed internal affairs and strengthened Diriyah’s community.

• Ensured regional stability.

• Built the Diriyah wall to counter external attacks.

• Began unification campaigns.

• Political independence from any external influence.

• Organized the country’s resources.

• Unified the majority of Najd.

• Secured Hajj and trade routes.

In Hadith number 189, he is recorded as telling Mohammed: “There was no face on the face of the Earth that was more hateful to me than your face, but now your face has become the most beloved of all faces to me.”

In historical terms, Al-Yamamah would lay dormant for much of the next 800 years. This was a dark age of neglect and widespread emigration to escape the economic hardship endured under the oppressive Ukhaidhir dynasty, which rose to temporary prominence in the Najd in the ninth century. 

Destiny, however, is a patient force, and by the 15th century the stage was finally set for the return to influence of the Banu Hanifah. 

Generations earlier, part of the tribe had migrated eastwards to settle on the shores of the Arabian Gulf. But in 1446, Manaa’ Al-Muraide, leader of the Marada clan of the Al-Duru tribe of the Banu Hanifah, led his people back to the heart of Arabia, at the invitation of his cousin, Ibn Dira’, the ruler of Hajr.

The settlement they had founded on the coast they had named Diriyah after their tribal name, Al-Duru. Now they established a new Diriyah on the fertile banks of the Wadi Hanifah.

In the words of historian Dr. Badran Al-Honaihen, Al-Muraide’s arrival “laid the building blocks for the establishment of the greatest state in the history of the Arabian Peninsula, after the Prophetic State and the Rashidun Caliphate.” 




It was in 1727 that Imam Mohammed ibn Saud came to the throne, carrying with him the dream of transforming the city state founded by his forebears three centuries earlier into the capital of a nation which, at its height, would bring peace and stability to most of the Arabian Peninsula. (Supplied)

Another 300 years would pass before the next momentous steps were taken. In 1720, Saud ibn Mohammed assumed the leadership of Diriyah, who the Saudi Royal Family named after him.

Today, historians date the origin of the First Saudi State to 1727, when Saud’s son, Mohammed, became the ruler of the city state.

He had, said Al-Honaihen, “assumed power in exceptional circumstances.” Diriyah had been rent by internal divisions, and a plague that had spread throughout the Arabian Peninsula had claimed many lives in the Najd. Nevertheless, “Imam Mohammed was able to unite Diriyah under his rule, and to contribute to the spread of security and peace at the regional level and on the level of the Arabian Peninsula.

“The project of the first Saudi state began in 1727, and then his sons took it on after him. What we need to remember from this story is unity, security and peace after centuries of lack of unity.” 




It was in 1727 that Imam Mohammed ibn Saud came to the throne, carrying with him the dream of transforming the city state founded by his forebears three centuries earlier into the capital of a nation which, at its height, would bring peace and stability to most of the Arabian Peninsula. (Supplied)

At last, here was a leader with a vision that extended beyond his immediate horizon, and who was determined to found a new state, based on education, culture and security and allegiance to the true faith of Islam.

It was to this dynamic and politically and economically increasingly powerful new state that the religious reformer Sheikh Mohammed ibn Abdul Wahab was drawn.

The sheikh, a religious scholar from the nearby village of Al-Uyayna, had become increasingly concerned that many in the Arab world were forsaking the teachings of the Prophet and returning to heretical pre-Islamic ways. His attempts to introduce reforms were met with hostility in Al-Uyayna, but he would find sanctuary in Diriyah.

“The migration to Diriyah of Sheikh Mohammed ibn Abdul Wahab came as a natural result of Imam Mohammed ibn  Saud’s policies,” said Al-Honaihen. “The Imam was known to be religious, and his two brothers, Thunayan and Mishari, and his son Abdulaziz were among those in contact with Sheikh Mohammed ibn Abdulwahhab in Al-Uyayna. 

“Sheikh Mohammed did not leave al-Uyayna until after Imam Mohammed invited him to come to Diriyah, and there was a state capable of protecting the Sheikh’s religious mission.”

For his part, “in supporting this reformist mission, Imam Mohammed saw that it was in agreement with the principles of the state he was working to establish, especially its religious aspect.”

In short, it was not the alliance of Sheikh and Imam that made possible the foundation of the First Saudi State, but rather it was the existence of that state, already politically and economically strong, that made possible the spread of the message of reform. 




It was in 1727 that Imam Mohammed ibn Saud came to the throne, carrying with him the dream of transforming the city state founded by his forebears three centuries earlier into the capital of a nation which, at its height, would bring peace and stability to most of the Arabian Peninsula. (Supplied)

Al-Honaihen stressed that the decision to officially recognize 1727 as the year of founding should in no way be interpreted as undermining religion as the cornerstone of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“That’s not correct,” he said. “The objective is merely to put a precise political date to the founding of the state, namely Imam Mohammed ibn Saud’s accession to power in Diriyah, since a number of erroneous policies and opinions had arisen concerning the rise and establishment of the state.

“Moreover, the state in its constitution stipulates that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an Arab Islamic state whose religion is Islam and whose constitution is the Book of God and the Sunna of His Prophet.” 




It was in 1727 that Imam Mohammed ibn Saud came to the throne, carrying with him the dream of transforming the city state founded by his forebears three centuries earlier into the capital of a nation which, at its height, would bring peace and stability to most of the Arabian Peninsula. (Supplied)

He is also clear that Founding Day is not an alternative to National Day, celebrated on Sept. 23, but complementary to it.

“Founding Day is not intended to replace Saudi National Day, which celebrates the unification of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932, but rather to recognize the beginning of the Saudi state’s history with a new event that celebrates the deep historical roots of the Kingdom.”

Although there is no doubt about the year, 1727, the precise date of the start of Imam Mohammed’s reign is lost to history, according to Al-Honaihen.

Feb. 22 was selected as Founding Day simply because a number of important events are known to have taken place in the first months of Imam Mohammed’s reign, at the start of 1727.


Saudi king issues order promoting 148 members of Public Prosecution

Saudi king issues order promoting 148 members of Public Prosecution
Updated 7 sec ago

Saudi king issues order promoting 148 members of Public Prosecution

Saudi king issues order promoting 148 members of Public Prosecution

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has issued a royal order promoting 148 members of the Public Prosecution in various ranks, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.
Attorney General Sheikh Saud bin Abdullah Al-Mujib praised the order, and said that it comes within the framework of the support provided by the king and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the Public Prosecution and their constant keenness to achieve further development and prosperity, in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.


Islamophobia has reached ‘alarming’ levels: OIC

Islamophobia has reached ‘alarming’ levels: OIC
Updated 31 January 2023

Islamophobia has reached ‘alarming’ levels: OIC

Islamophobia has reached ‘alarming’ levels: OIC
  • Organization holds meeting in response to desecration of the Holy Qur’an

JEDDAH: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation convened an open-ended extraordinary meeting of its executive committee at its headquarters in Jeddah on Tuesday.

The meeting was held to express the organization’s common stance against the recent desecration of the Holy Qur’an in Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark as well as to discuss possible actions that the OIC might take against the perpetrators of the Islamophobic attacks.

The incidents occurred earlier this month, when Rasmus Paludan, a far-right activist who holds both Danish and Swedish citizenship, received permission from the police to stage a protest outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm, where on Jan. 21 he burned the Qur’an. Days later, Edwin Wagensveld, Dutch leader of the far-right Pegida movement in the Netherlands, tore pages out of a copy of the Qur’an near the Dutch Parliament and stomped on them.

In response, several regional and international organizations, including the OIC, issued statements strongly denouncing the incident.

During the meeting, Saleh Hamad Al-Suhaibani, Saudi representative to the OIC, said that the Kingdom strongly condemns the desecration of the Qur’an, which urges love, goodness, justice and equality.

BACKGROUND

The incidents occurred earlier this month, when Rasmus Paludan, a far-right activist who holds both Danish and Swedish citizenship, received permission from the police to stage a protest outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm, where on Jan. 21 he burned the Qur’an. Days later, Edwin Wagensveld, Dutch leader of the far-right Pegida movement in the Netherlands, tore pages out of a copy of the Qur’an near the Dutch parliament and stomped on them.

The Kingdom rejects all extremism and hatred, he added, and instead calls for the dissemination of Islamic values based on dialogue and coexistence.

“These despicable acts blatantly contradict the human, moral and religious principles and values of all nations who respect peace and coexistence. The repetition of the action raises many questions about the complacency of some governments in curbing the phenomenon of Islamophobia and their failure to take the necessary measures to stop provocations and punish the perpetrators under the pretext of freedom of expression,” he said.

Islamophobia is defined as the fear or hatred of Islam, which often translates into intolerant gestures, deliberate discrimination and outright attacks against Muslims.

OIC Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha said that these actions are not simply irresponsible but rather criminal acts targeting Muslims. “The governments concerned must take strict punitive measures, especially given the frequency of such provocative acts by the same people,” he said.

“The outrageous actions…are further evidence of the alarming levels reached by the phenomenon of Islamophobia, hate crimes, intolerance and xenophobia.

“This makes us believe that we must take urgent measures to prevent the recurrence of such provocative incidents in the future.”

Taha said that a strong message must be sent to all governments, institutions and individuals to clarify that these actions are not justifiable under freedom of expression. He highlighted that many international laws, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, clearly stipulate that freedom of expression is not an unlimited right, as it involves special duties and responsibilities.

Mehmet Metin Eker, the permanent representative of Turkey to OIC, said that Turkey strongly condemns the recent aggressions against the Holy Qur’an.

“Unfortunately, the failure of the Swedish authorities to take the necessary precautions against the attack on the Holy Qur’an on Jan. 21 has encouraged several attacks in the Netherlands and Denmark afterward. We also expect the Swedish, Dutch and Danish authorities to take the necessary measures against the perpetrators of these hate crimes,” he said.

Hatred against Islam has reached an alarming level in many parts of the world, particularly in Europe, he said, citing statistics related to violent, Islamophobic acts by European activists since 2019.

“We observe with great concern, how far-right politicians use anti-Islam and xenophobic rhetoric...Resorting to such populism paves the way for racist attacks against Muslims,” Eker said, referencing the massacre in New Zealand in 2019, in which 51 Muslims were killed in a terrorist attack on two mosques.  

Eker added: “In this context, an important measure to be taken within the OIC, we think, is to strengthen the Islamophobia observatory in order to more efficiently engage with international partners, as well as better follow-up efforts in Western countries to confront rising Islamophobia.”

The OIC condemns attempts to spread ideas that mock, insult or defame holy books, symbols, and sacred figures of any religion. The organization will work to raise concerns whenever the Holy Qur’an is violated or the sacred figures of Islam are insulted with the intention of inciting hatred against the religion or its followers.

 


MWL, OIC, GCC condemn Peshawar mosque attack

MWL, OIC, GCC condemn Peshawar mosque attack
Updated 31 January 2023

MWL, OIC, GCC condemn Peshawar mosque attack

MWL, OIC, GCC condemn Peshawar mosque attack
  • Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Hissein Brahim Taha expressed his condemnation of the “heinous act” and offered his deepest condolences to the families of the victims

RIYADH: The Muslim World League has expressed its strong condemnation and denunciation of the terror attack on a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan, which resulted in more than 100 deaths.

MWL Secretary General Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Isa stressed the organization’s firm rejection of terrorism and the targeting of places of worship.

The MWL offered its condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims and to the government and people of Pakistan, wishing the injured a speedy recovery.

At least 100 people were killed and more than 200 injured on Monday when a Taliban suicide bomb blast ripped through a mosque inside a fortified security compound in Pakistan.

Authorities used heavy machinery to cut into the debris of the mosque’s collapsed building as part of a rescue operation.

The Pakistani Taliban admitted to carrying out the attack.

Bombings have been on the rise since last November when the group called off a ceasefire signed with the government in May.

Monday’s attack was the worst in Peshawar since March 2022 when a Daesh suicide bombing killed at least 58 people in a mosque during Friday prayers.

Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Hissein Brahim Taha expressed his condemnation of the “heinous act” and offered his deepest condolences to the families of the victims.

Taha renewed the position of the OIC against all forms and manifestations of terrorism, stressing his organization’s support for the government of Pakistan in tackling extremism.

Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council Nayef Falah Al-Hajraf affirmed the council’s solidarity with the government of Pakistan in confronting terrorism and extremism.

He reiterated the GCC’s firm stance against terrorism in all its forms, stressing the council’s condemnation of the bombing, which “contradicts all human laws and values.”

 

 

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Ibdaa 2023 finalists to represent Saudi Arabia in US

Mawhiba's Secretary-General Amal Al-Hazzaa thanked Prince Saud for sponsoring the Ibdaa 2023’s finals and closing ceremony. (SPA
Mawhiba's Secretary-General Amal Al-Hazzaa thanked Prince Saud for sponsoring the Ibdaa 2023’s finals and closing ceremony. (SPA
Updated 31 January 2023

Ibdaa 2023 finalists to represent Saudi Arabia in US

Mawhiba's Secretary-General Amal Al-Hazzaa thanked Prince Saud for sponsoring the Ibdaa 2023’s finals and closing ceremony. (SPA
  • In the competition, 104 female and 56 male students will present their scientific research projects. The final results will be announced at the closing ceremony on Feb. 4 at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, in the presence of Prince Saud

RIYADH:The finals of the National Olympiad for Scientific Creativity, Ibdaa 2023, will launch on Wednesday in Dhahran and continue until Feb. 4.

The event is organized by Mawhiba, the King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, and sponsored by Eastern Province Gov. Prince Saud bin Naif.

In the competition, 104 female and 56 male students will present their scientific research projects. The final results will be announced at the closing ceremony on Feb. 4 at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, in the presence of Prince Saud.

Out of the 160 projects, only 40 students will participate and represent the Kingdom at regional and international levels, including the International Science and Engineering Exhibition in the US, where 2,000 students representing 90 countries will compete.

The finalists will also participate in international exhibitions, such as the International Invention, Innovation and Technology Exhibition in Malaysia and the Taiwan International Science Fair.

Mawhiba's Secretary-General Amal Al-Hazzaa thanked Prince Saud for sponsoring the Ibdaa 2023’s finals and closing ceremony. She noted that his sponsorship proves that the leadership is keen to enhance human capital and empower future generations in the areas of science and technology, which will result in the country’s advancement and prosperity.

Al-Hazzaa added that Ibdaa highlights Mawhiba’s partnership with the Ministry of Education, with the aim of serving national talent and achieving innovative entrepreneurship education for skilled Saudis, which is in line with the Saudi Vision 2030.

 


Saudi minister of health at the opening of Arab Health 2023 in Dubai

Saudi minister of health at the opening of Arab Health 2023 in Dubai
Updated 31 January 2023

Saudi minister of health at the opening of Arab Health 2023 in Dubai

Saudi minister of health at the opening of Arab Health 2023 in Dubai
  • He visited the Made in Saudi Arabia pavilion and reviewed the Kingdom’s efforts in the field of health care

RIYADH: Saudi Minister of Health Fahad Al-Jalajel attended the opening of the medical equipment exhibition Arab Health 2023 in Dubai, in the presence of the host city’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.
Al-Jalajel met the UAE Minister of Health and Prevention Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al-Owais on the sidelines of the exhibition on Monday to discuss topics of common interest.
They also spoke about opportunities for the two Arab nations to cooperate in the future within the health sector.
Al-Jalajel toured the exhibition and met the representatives of several health companies, while looking at the latest technological developments.
He visited the Made in Saudi Arabia pavilion and reviewed the Kingdom’s efforts in the field of health care. He also met entrepreneurs and manufacturers of Saudi products and looked at ways to strengthen and promote their role.
The minister discussed opportunities to enable advanced technologies in the sector to further benefit the Kingdom’s society.
It is an aim of Arab Health 2023, which continues until Feb. 4, to make health care in the region more sustainable and innovative.