Saudi social media divided over ‘promoting’ Trinity of ancient Arabian goddesses

Saudi social media divided over ‘promoting’ Trinity of ancient Arabian goddesses
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Saudi social media divided over ‘promoting’ Trinity of ancient Arabian goddesses

For the past few weeks, a large number of social media users in Saudi Arabia have been advocating for the revival of ancient Arabian deities as an integral aspect of the Kingdom’s national heritage, as highlighted by Middle East Monitor. Incidentally, this new social media movement promoting the Trinity of ancient Arabian goddesses coincides with Saudi PM Mohammad Bin Salman’s efforts to transform the kingdom’s identity from a religious one to a more nationalist identity.

Taking to X, one user shared pictures of the ancient Arabian goddess ‘Al-Uzza’. The picture shows people surrounding the ancient statues on display in Saudi museums. The user stressed that irrespective of the fact that they are Muslims or not, ancient history is also Arabic History. The user added that the Saudi government is giving importance to the ancient Arabian gods as their past is a part of their future, seemingly hinting at the tourism aspect of it. 

The user whose bio and geo-tagged locations say, Saudi Arabia, wrote, “From past to future al uzza is always there. we’re as Saudi Arabians, deeply connected with our past. doesn’t matter if we’re Muslims or not. It’s an arabic history. Saudi government gives so much importance for the ancient Arabian gods. our past is a part of our future.”

In another tweet, the user and several other friendly handles noted that there were three main ‘goddesses’ of the pre-Islamic polytheistic pantheon namely ‘Al-Lat’, ‘Manat’, and ‘Al-Uzza’. They described the Feminine Trinity as their own ancient history and symbols of female empowerment. The user claimed that females were sacred and integrated in Arabs as well and worshipping Females as divine had flourished. It was contrary to the stereotype of carrying out female infanticide, the user added. 

Justifying the pre-Islamic practice of burying young daughters, the user argued that female infanticide was not because of shame, as some claim it to be, instead it was to offer “girls as sacrifices” to the “feminine trinity”.

The tweet read, “Al-Lat, Manat, and Al-Uzza are our ancient history. Since ancient times, Arabs have sanctified the female entity. We should be proud of our history and abolish the stereotypical and distorted image of female infanticide. Women were the ideal, integrated entity among the Arabs. They made them a feminine trinity, offering girls as sacrifices to them. Female infanticide was not due to shame, as some claim.”

As recently as on 13th December, an X user shared a picture of the ancient Arabian goddess seemingly in a Saudi Museum while responding to the ongoing debate on Saudi social media regarding the promotion of ancient Feminine deities. 

The user wrote, “Why do you have a problem with your faith? Are you afraid that you will see an idol and worship it, God forbid? Collection of idols at the Antiquities Museum in Riyadh, under the direction of the Minister of Culture, under the supervision of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for antiquities related to the past, especially since they are contemporary with events in the Holy Qur’an.” 

Further, some Saudi social media users blamed the Sahwa (Awakening) movement for not embracing the Pre-Islamic history and utilising the ancient Arabian goddesses and related antiquities for advancing tourism and national heritage. 

One purported Saudi social media user argued that the ‘Awakening’ movement erased the history from the minds of Saudi people. The user added that it altered the concept of history, civilisation, heritage, antiquities, and identity. The user highlighted the recent transformation in the Saudi Kingdom noting that a few years back discussing antiquities could have been construed as talking about polytheism or reviving idol worship. 

Incidentally, a flurry of Saudi social media accounts did exactly the case and called the promotion of ancient Arabian deities as pagan idol worshipping and secularisation of the society.  

The user said, “The Awakening did not destroy Saudi Arabia socially and take away the rights of Saudi women. Only its influence reached down to history. It obliterated it and erased it from the memory of the Saudi person. It distorted the concept of history, civilization, heritage, antiquities, and identity. How many years ago, anyone who spoke about antiquities seemed as if he was talking about something polytheistic or about bringing back the worship of idols and idols to Saudi Arabia.”

The user further noted that Saudi Arabia missed the chance to talk about its treasures and very ancient civilisations instead, the academic curricula presented the history and civilisations of neighboring countries, hinting to include pre-Islamic history in the curriculum and promoting it for tourism. 

Several social media users supported the claim that the Sahwa movement and a few other things destroyed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and brainwashed its people. One user asserted that extremists like the Muslim Brotherhood and Sahwahs controlled their education and the media adding that it was a mistake of Saudi Arabia to give refuge and place to those who were exiled from other countries.

Notably, the Sahwa (Awakening) was a political Islamic movement that consisted of religious scholars and figures. It had a dominating influence over the kingdom’s policy for several decades. It is said that the movement flourished after the 1960s. It was partly influenced by Muslim exiles from countries like Egypt.

However, since 2017, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has been cracking down on this movement and taking stern actions against the ‘scholars’ associated with it. These actions on key Sahwa figures has been a part of MBS’ grander strategy to make Saudi Arabia a follower of moderate Islam. In line with that, the Saudi Kingdom has been easing restrictions on Saudi society and the entertainment industry. 

The changes in Saudi Arabia include social and economic reforms, such as granting women the right to drive, diversifying the economy away from oil dependence, and encouraging foreign investments. These moves have ushered in a wave of opportunities and a sense of modernity. 

Further, Saudi Arabia is trying to open its society to harness the potential of the tourism sector. The Kingdom has been developing its national heritage sites which incidentally include the recovery of artifacts depicting the ancient Arabian goddesses’ pantheon. 

However, the Saudi government and its supporters have maintained that these efforts are simply the preservation of the kingdom’s history and national Heritage arguing that it should take pride in its history. 

Barrage of Saudi social media users call it an ‘attempt to revive the Idol-worshipping of Pagan Gods’

The efforts of the Saudi government and promotion of the Trinity of ancient Arabian goddesses by several purported Saudi accounts have sparked a sharp religious outrage. Responding to these calls advocating for ancient history and its artifacts, a slew of Saudi social media users have slammed it calling it an attempt to revive polytheistism and Idol worshipping which Islam opposes and abhors.  

Several Saudi accounts claimed that the Saudi government is taking away the Kingdom from its religious identity in the name of recent reforms and building a nationalist narrative. 

Voice of the Ummah published a blog noting these current trends in Saudi Arabia. The blog titled ‘Saudi Re-Introduce Idolatry to the Land of Tawheed’ called upon the Ummah to see the implications of “secularisation” and “liberalisation” of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

The blog stated, “The Ummah must recognise the broader implications of such actions. The resurgence of idolatrous symbols is not isolated; it aligns with a broader agenda – Vision 2030. This vision, while purporting economic and social reforms, carries the insidious plan of removing Islam from the public sphere, paving the way for secularism and liberalism.”  

It further argued that the recent reforms and calls for the promotion and return of ancient Arabian deities are concerted efforts to dilute the Islamic identity of the Arab world. 

It added, “As Muslims, we must not be naive in isolating this act from the larger narrative unfolding in Saudi Arabia. The push for secularism and the promotion of a nationalistic narrative that predates Islam are components of a concerted effort to dilute the Islamic identity of Muslim countries.”

Likewise, a Muslim American YouTuber and writer Daniel Haqiqatjou claimed that the secularisation of Muslim countries is taking place by creating a “nationalistic narrative”. 

According to him, highlighting that there was an ancient and long-lost forgotten religion that predates Islam is the secularisation of a country. He argued that with Securalisation of Saudi Arabia, the authorities have been allowing the revival of “pagan idols that Islam destroyed.” 

Meanwhile, some Saudi users went on to blame “Zionists”, and ‘Hindutva’ for the recent trend in Saudi social media. According to them, the recent trend is some kind of a ‘Zionist’ or ‘Hindutva’ conspiracy to ‘Secularise’ and ‘liberalise’ the Arab world. They have claimed that the several users who have advocated for the promotion of the Trinity of ancient goddesses and idols for tourism are being either run by non-Muslims or they could be ‘bot’ accounts supported and sponsored by the Saudi government, as pointed out by Middle East Monitor.  

However, a Saudi Twitter user posted a long series of tweets on the recent phenomenon being witnessed in Saudi social media. In the thread, the user included several such posts and reactions to these posts. The user argued that even if the handles that made these remarks or advocated the promotion of Ancient history are not Saudi social media users, the reactions and ones propagating their views are authentic Saudi accounts that have started to consider that it is normal to return to polytheism. 

The user who notes that the idols should have not been kept in Saudi museums but rather should have been destroyed, wrote, “The cities are also full of people who criticise Muslims for criticising the tweet and who consider it completely normal to promote these idols. These tweets receive a lot of “Fav/Rt”. The user further added that such accounts are being widely followed in Saudi, and Arab world and are getting positive responses.

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