In Arab and Muslim culture, leaving behind wasiya, or guidance, for one’s survivors is a long tradition. In the following video, the Saudi crown prince Nayef addresses the Saudi population directly.
To view this video on YouTube.com, please click here.
This broadcast is instructive because of what is said, but also what is not said.
A frail-sounding Nayef speaks for just over a minute and says little, but means much. “We are targets because of our creed and country,” he says. Twice in thirty seconds he pronounces: “I address you in complete honesty and openness.”
He urges Saudis to “defend your religion and country, your sons, and future generations.”
He does not say who he believes is threatening Islam and Saudi Arabia. To defend them, however, he calls not on the conventional armed forces, but on a battalion of people Prince Nayef identifies as recipients of his message: “religious clerics, students of religion, proselytizers, and preachers at mosques on Fridays”—the same constituency that he sought to protect from scrutiny and reform during his life.
To be fair to Prince Nayef, he urges the use of “modern means” such as television channels and the Internet. While this helps clarify that he did not envisage war, one can conclude that to his last breath he advocated the defense and advocacy of Saudi Salafism or Wahhabism, a primary cause of the country’s many problems.
Prince Nayef’s passing leaves Saudi conservatism weaker. It is an opportunity for the king and reform-leaning strands within the Kingdom to come forward and consolidate changes. Time is not on their side.
Prince Nayef made no mention of citizenship, reforms, women, modernity, or regional conflicts that enraged him in life. His silence is a bonus to those who survive him. His fidelity to King Abdullah in this important broadcast should be used as a green light to hasten the process of the sort of reforms mentioned by Saudi princess Basma here.