Ayatollah Sheikh Nimr, in his continuous support to stop the suppression and achieve rights, he proposed a petition for the administrative governor of the Eastern Province in 2007. His deputy received the petition at that time. It was considered to be unprecedented as it was straightforward and comprehensive. Also, its demands were rooted, and insiders and observers had praised it. It was considered a brave and honest model, and an approach to be followed in demanding rights. #SheikhNimr has already known that the Saudi government would not take these demands seriously and practically. However, he proposed them in the context of a gradual political project so he would establish a proof against this tyrannical regime in the subsequent steps of his political activity.
A Petition of Honour and Dignity
(In the Name of Allah the Most Gracious the Most Merciful)
Praise be to Allah who has made the right steady and clear, and has made the wrong aberrance and vanishing. Peace and blessings upon those who declared the right and spoke the truth, Mohammed and his pure family.
I would like to show some introductions before starting the demands issue, namely:
First, I speak openly and clearly without compliments or dissimulation because the latter has to do with preventing a serious damage and fear of oppression, injustice and persecution, and I do not expect something from that to happen against me. Therefore, I am not forced or compelled to practice any from of dissimulation, which has been legislated to prevent a serious damage of oppression, injustice and persecution.
Second, the art of good hearing and listening is more important – in many contexts – than the art of good speaking and declamation; because one of the main reasons for a tense relationship between the rulers and the ruled, and between parents and children, and so on … is the lack of understanding of the rulers and parents and because the way ruled and children think is due to not paying attention to them to them or listening to them from an ivory tower that lacks good listening.
Third, the openness and the truth are bitter and harsh at the beginning of receiving them but they are sweet, soft and velvety to those who understand them, and be able to discover the future through them, and have the lead and initiative without fear or fright.
Fourth, a normal reading of the letter is enough to remove the confusion, uncertainty, apprehensions and mistakes and thus to see things as what they are. However, this reading must be free of: accumulated false or fake reports, wrong or ambiguous information, suspicious or biased analysis and background information contaminated with apprehension, errors, bias and prejudice.
Fifth, I hope that you open your hearts to honesty and truth truth and clarifying things, so there would be no reason for those of pure hearts and sincere tongues to practice dissimulation. Also, there would be reason for those of sick hearts and twisted tongues to practice hypocrisy, quackery, lying, fraud and treachery.
Sixth, the Shia ideology is a rejectionist one, which rejects injustice, oppression and persecution. At the same time, it is the best ideology capable to coexist with all religions, sects, systems and communities because it is an ideology that seeks reformation, peace and communal harmony, even if it faces injustice and oppression at the expense of their rights. Because it is an ideology which rejects chaos, violence, warring and turmoil. We learned this peaceful approach from Ali Bin Abi Talib peace be upon him as he said: “Beware! By Allah, so-and-so dressed himself with it (the caliphate) and he certainly knew that my position in relation to it was the same as the position of the axis in relation to the hand-mill. The flood water flows down from me and the bird cannot fly up to me. I put a curtain against the caliphate and kept myself detached from it. Then I began to think whether I should assault or endure calmly the blinding darkness of tribulations wherein the grown up are made feeble and the young grow old and the true believer acts under strain till he meets Allah (on his death). I found that endurance thereon was wiser. So I adopted patience although there was pricking in the eye and suffocation (of mortification) in the throat. I watched the plundering of my inheritance.” He taught us and guided us to endure the injustice for civil and social peace. His saying still resounds in the hearts of his followers and those who know him: “I would be always peaceful as long as Muslims affairs are secured even if the oppression is against me only.”
After those introductions, I start my talk by Almighty Allah saying: ““O David, indeed We have made you a successor upon the earth, so judge between the people in truth and do not follow [your own] desire, as it will lead you astray from the way of Allah . Indeed, those who go astray from the way of Allah will have a severe punishment for having forgotten the Day of Account.”
We did not demand, do not demand and will not demand anything threatening the security of the country or its people or to undermine the pillars of the state or to shorten its age or weaken its institutions. In fact, all our demands are those that achieve security, stability and stabilise the state’s pillars, prolong its survival and strengthen its institutions. Because we demand only the right which Allah has legitimised for His slaves and ordered His prophets to govern with right between people. It is the right that achieves a decent life and lives of the dignity that Allah made them to the children of Adam (And We have certainly honoured the children) human dignity which no one, whatsoever, has the right to violate or take away, even the human himself shall not have the right to waive it but he has to keep and strengthen it. Dignity is superior to the right of life, which no one has the absolute act upon it. In fact, dignity is the reason why human would live and survive, and life has no value without it.
This dignity that every sensible and honourable human looks forward to, can be reached through the piety steps, and with piety a human reaches the highest degrees of dignity (Surely the most honourable among you in the Providence of Allah are the most pious). Thus, piety has become a good trait that all prophets and Imams (peace be upon them) have, and they recommended all governors to act with it, as piety is the solid foundation that maintains the integrity and stability of the governance and prevents its collapse (Which then is best? – he that layeth his foundation on piety to Allah and His good pleasure? – or he that layeth his foundation on an undermined sand-cliff ready to crumble to pieces? and it doth crumble to pieces with him, into the fire of Hell. And Allah guideth not people that do wrong.)
In order to have a pious governance that brings goodness and stability and prevents the collapse, all legislations and systems, big and small, in all ministries and state institutions, have to act according to the value of justice, which is the closest way to attain piety (O you who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and be pious to Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.)
Allah ordered his prophet Dawood (David) peace be upon him to rule by justice between people. It is that divine order which Allah had commanded Mohammed, His best creation, master of the prophets and the most honourable messenger, peace be upon him and his family (So therefore, then call (mankind to Allah), and go straight as you have been commanded, and do not ever follow their prejudices. And say, “I believe in whatever Book Allah has sent down, and I have been commanded to do justice between you), and Allah has commanded all those who become in power (Indeed, Allah commands you to render trusts to whom they are due and when you judge between people to judge with justice. Excellent is that which Allah instructs you. Indeed, Allah is ever Hearing and Seeing.), and acting with justice between people is a must to complete the fruit of justice, (And if you judge, judge between them with justice. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.) and for the rule of justice, Allah has sent messengers with clear signs and bright evidences, and sent down with them books and constitutions establishing laws that prevent injustice. Also, He revealed to them the balance of justice and equity in order for people practice equity without oppressing each other. Moreover, He sent down a dissuasive severe power to punish who violates the rights of people. This punishment might involve fighting back. All of this is good for people’s lives, dignity and security. It is a protection for all their rights, and a prevention of being unjust to each other. It is not to satisfy a lust or for a revenge. (We have already sent Our messengers with clear evidences and sent down with them the Scripture and the balance that the people may maintain [their affairs] in justice. And We sent down iron, wherein is great military might and benefits for the people, and so that Allah may make evident those who support Him and His messengers unseen. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might.)
Thus, acting with justice and equity are the most two important responsibilities a ruler must do. Because justice means the absence of injustice from the ruler, and equity means lack of inequity by people to each other. By acting with justice and acting with equity, human meets his all rights and lives with dignity in all aspects of life: political, economical, social, ideological, personal, etc.
This means that the most obligatory duties of the ruler are two:
First: acting with justice without oppression.
Second: acting with equity so people do not oppress each other.
Acting with justice, and acting with equity by the ruler and people are the two main pillars to construct the governance and to build its strength and keep its lifetime. These are the essence of the demands, which the community seeks and looks forward to achieve. As a result, the system achieves the social satisfaction and a constructive effectiveness, wise movement, and stable security. Then, if the ruler is committed to act with justice and equity, injustice and oppression will end and if injustice and oppression ends, the system’s ship docks on the shore far away from the rolling sea tribulations and stormy turmoil, and security restored in all aspects and fields of life. And if security is restored, economy grows, wealth multiplies, all people become rich, each human takes his/her complete and undiminished right “When the ruler comes, he acts with justice, and oppression ends in his time, and ways are secured, and earth ejects its blessings, and everyone takes back his/her right.”
Through this preamble, it became clear that our demands in total are:
First: We demand justice, equity, freedom to choose and practice a belief and to hold ideas, visions and to discuss them: (justice, freedom of belief and thought)
Second: We demand justice, equity, the freedom to choose a profession and to be promoted to higher positions in all the state apparatus and institutions: (justice, freedom of profession)
Third: We demand justice, equity and freedom of investment in the natural resources that Allah has bestowed on this blessed country and get benefit from them. (Justice, economic freedom)
Fourth: We demand justice, equity and freedom in visions, theories, political stance and participation: (Justice and political freedom)
Fifth: We demand justice, equity and freedom in community and personal affairs: (Justice, social freedom)
Sixth: We demand justice and equity in the provisions of the judiciary: (Judicial justice)
In order not to let these the demands general and vague, I will list some of the demands -which the community is looking forward to- to identify them and be readable clearly and unequivocally, namely:
1- Approving and certifying the Shiite sect constitutionally, recognising and declaring it officially, respecting and redressing it in all the state apparatus and institutions practically.
2- Any human being, a Muslim or the other, has the right to hold the sect he or she believes in. For everyone has the right to choose the sect of Ahlulbait (Shia) to believe in its origins and branches and worship them. No one has the right to force others to hold or leave a sect, or terrorise them as a cause or preventing or harassing them from practicing their rituals.
3- Abolition of all laws, regulations, circulars and legislations that infringe or violate or exclude Shia sect or its followers.
4- Replacing all religion curriculums at schools and universities by one of the following options:
a. Publishing a unified religion curriculum that is limited to the commons in the sects, pointing out that no contentious issue between the sects should be written down. This is the most appropriate and will satisfy everyone except those with discrimination exclusionary mind by the authority or weapon force, and inability to debate with evidence and proof.
b. Publishing a curriculum for each sect; then a student chooses the curriculum if she or he is an adult otherwise her or his guardian chooses the curriculum.
c. Publishing a curriculum according to the population majority, this means to teach the Shia curriculum in Qatif and the like.
d. Publishing a curriculum according to the majority of the school students, this means to teach the Shia curriculum in most of the Shia schools and like.
5- Building the Shrines of the Imams (peace be upon them) in Baqi cemetery in Medina in proportion to their highness, so be honourable shrines and holy places to visit just like other places of Imams (peace be upon them) in Iraq and Iran. In fact, the state must cover all the construction costs, fixing its old sin and mistake when it was led and dragged to the pressure of few followers of one sect and allowed them to demolish the pure domes that become an open wound in the heart of every loving of Ahlubait (peace be upon them) as well as the Shia loyal to them. This wound does not heal with time, days, years and ages, except to rebuild these shrines better than they were. The few followers do not represent the ideology of this sect, as well as the rest of other Islamic sects that differ with opinion, stance and behaviour. This appeared clearly with the stance of these sects and their reluctance to demolish the tomb of the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him and his family.
6- Giving a license to build seminaries and religious colleges and institutes that teach Islamic studies and knowledge inspired by the Quran, the Prophet sayings and his family peace be upon them, as in the case of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon and other countries in the Muslim world.
7- Having a full independence of the Jaffari courts from the Grand Sharia Court, and preventing it to intervene in any matter of the Shia affairs of judiciary. Giving more authority to the Shia judges in their courts as much as the judicial position needs to rule between people and to meet their requirements and legal affairs.
8- Allowing to form a council for the Shia scholars under the name (The Council of Ahlulbait Scholars) and only those who reach the degree of (ijtihad) is eligible for a membership. This council task is to guide, direct and develop all the Shia affairs and seeks to meet their legal needs. It has to be independent and far away from foreign or interior interventions.
9- Giving a license to build mosques, Hussainiat and religious centres and institutions. Removing all the barriers and obstacles that prevent or disrupt or hinder or delay or complicate the construction issue.
10- Allowing people to practice all their religious rituals.
11- Giving the Shia a fair share commensurate with their percentage, proportions and competence to represent the religious matters in the official media of all kinds.
12- Giving the Shia a fair share commensurate with their percentage, proportions and competence to lead the prayer in Mecca mosque and Medina mosque.
13- Allowing to import Shia books from abroad and to print Shia books inside.
14- Giving the Shia a fair share commensurate with their percentage, proportions and competence in the institutions that are supervised by the state such as the World Muslim League as well as other similar organisations.
15- Giving the Shia a fair share commensurate with their percentage, proportions and competence to be upgraded in senior positions in the state such ministers, membership of Shura Council (the Consultative Council) and diplomatic corps.
16- Giving the Shia a fair share commensurate with their percentage, proportions and competence in the administration of girls education, to start with a school director and higher positions.
17- Giving the Shia a fair share commensurate with their percentage, proportions and competence to be upgraded in senior positions in Saudi Aramco as well as other companies related to the state.
18- Giving the Shia a fair share commensurate with their percentage, proportions and competence in the jobs opportunities and its human resources in all state apparatus, facilities and institutions.
19- Building a city of universities in Qatif, inclusive all the important and essential disciplines that people and the labour market need. It must accommodate all graduates from secondary school, even those who exceeded their age or graduation time.
20- Rehiring all employees and labourers who have been dismissed from their jobs because of the arrest in 1980 and after, giving back their rights and compensate them morally, financially, and to improve what will come, also to enable them establishing a decent life.
21- Releasing all the political detainees and especially those who have been protracted in prison. Today, detainees as well as their children, wives, fathers, mothers, all their families and the community are waiting to be set free. Detainees want to be released from their cells and be united with their beloved to live a normal and decent life again.
22- Tackling the made up unemployment problem and hiring all the secondary graduates in addition to the university graduates with rewarding salaries that enable a person to live decently, to begin with marriage and establishing a virtuous family and building a house; and to financial welfare, and to set the maximum working hours and minimum wages for all scientific, professional and practical level so as employers do not to take advantage of people who seek a decent life painstakingly.
23- Sorting out affairs and issues from each others, not to deal with them always from security perspective as there are a lot of issues that have nothing to do with security aspect. Thus, when they are politicized and dealt with from a security perspective, problems and crises occur as a result of that security way.
24- The state has to stand at a same distance from all segments of society and its doctrines without taking a side for one against another narrowing itself.
25- Finding a civil and governmental institution to hear from people about their grievances and complaints from the officials or employees in the state apparatus, and seeking actively to do justice for the oppressed and punish the aggressor. This institution is preferably to be located in the principality. The state appoints some of its members which it relies on and trusts their sayings, and the best of the people chooses the best of them similar to the number which were appointed by the state. A committee comes out of this institution in every town, which has its members from the most qualified people. Then, people who have been facing injustice go to the committee in their town. After that, the committee goes to the institution in the principality and this institution goes to the concerned body with each complaint it has.
Finally, I ask the mighty Allah to clean our hearts, to purify our tongues, to unite us, to bring us together, to let down our enemy and to support our word – the pure monotheism – (Exalted is your Lord, the Lord of might, above what they describe. And peace be upon the messengers. And praise to Allah, Lord of the worlds.)
Nimr Baqir al-Nimr