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The point of being Kuwait is… 9, March 2008

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Kuwait, Middle East, Saudi Arabia.
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This is an article that appeared in the Kuwait Times in response to an editorial by Mshari Al-Zaydi in Al Sharq Al Awsat at the start of the month. It is written by Meshary Alruwaih, a staff columnist at the Kuwait Times. The original can be found here.

The Point of Kuwait is…

Last week, Meshari Al-Zayed, a Saudi columnist with Al-Sharq Alawsat wrote a very interesting article about Kuwait, titled ‘What is the point of being Kuwait?’ Mr. Al-Zayed, who in my opinion is one of the best columnists in the region, uses a popular Saudi Arabian story about Kuwait to describe the present Kuwaiti scenario. This is how the Saudi story goes- “A young man living in Qassim, central Saudi Arabia, was fed up of the social and religious mores, especially since he had to wake up every day during
early hours to say the Fajr prayer at the mosque. So he decided to immigrate to Kuwait, which has relaxed customs. After a tiring journey, he tries to get some sleep. But then there is sudden knock on the door, “Wake up; it’s time for the Fajr prayer.” The disappointed young man says, “What’s the point of being in Kuwait then?

Al-Zayed then narrates how this story, even though untrue, is helpful to understand Kuwait‘s current situation. From the debate on the segregation law to the Mughneya situation, he expresses his regret over the possibility of losing Kuwait as an open, tolerant society that has been a model for GCC states for decades.

Al-Zayed is obviously right and his concerns are in place. But first let me go back to the story of the young Saudi man and Kuwait. As entertaining and useful it may seem, even Al-Zayed knows that the story is not true; no one knocks on people’s doors in this country for Fajr prayers. In any given local mosque in Saudi Arabia, you will find about 50 people praying the Al-Fajr. In Kuwait, an average of around 10 to 15 people will be found at the mosques.

The important difference however lies in the fact that while the Imam is reciting the verse “Eyak na’bod waeyyak nasta’een” which means ” it’s you Allah, we worship and plead for assistance”; many of young Saudi men think “for Allah’s sake…finish, so I can go back to bed…”.We can take comfort in the fact that there are at least 10 to 15 Kuwaitis who willingly leave their beds to get the most out of the spiritual experience. This is precisely the point of being in Kuwait!

The point of being Kuwait is to have both girls and boys studying in the same classroom that instills respect and desire for knowledge. The point of being Kuwait is to integrate Sunnis and Shiites. The point of being Kuwait is to live by its Constitution and tradition of public participation while respecting and admiring its ruling family.

As I said, we share Al-Zayed’s concerns, we all fear that the point of being Kuwait was lost amid regional contests and global debates. Kuwait has been pulled and pushed by radicals and seculars from all over the region, from Al-Qaeda, Salafists, Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, and other extreme NGOs who use human rights as an excuse to scrub out any trace of the religious and cultural foundations of Muslim societies. These groups are too loud that their calls cross national borders including Kuwait‘s. Kuwaitis are listening and many are following those calls, the point of being Kuwait is lost among them!