Friday, January 25, 2008

Old Dir'iyyah - Riyadh

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

My home is just a 5 minute drive from an area of Riyadh known as 'Old Dir'iyyah'. There are grassy areas shaded by trees and it's a nice spot to take the children for a picnic when the hot desert summer draws to a close. They can enjoy running about freely in the gardens which seem a world away from the modern Riyadh as we know it today.

Ad-Dir'iyyah is located on the North-Western edge of Riyadh and is the original seat of the family of Sa'ud. It is also the base from which the great reformer Sheikh-ul-Islam Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab made his da'wa and he was instrumental in dragging this part of Arabia out of the bid'a (innovation) and jaahiliyya (ignorance)into which it had fallen.

It is mentioned in the editor's preface to Ibn Abdul Wahhab's Kitab Al-Tawhid that the people had fallen into such polytheistic practices such as the veneration of graves, stones, caves and evil spirits; all those things that the prophet Muhammad, salla Allah alaihi wassallam, had been sent by Allah, subhanahu wa Ta'ala, to eradicate.

Amir Muhammad ibn Saud greeted Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab and said "This oasis is yours and do not fear your enemies. By the name of Allah if all Najd was summoned to throw you out we would never agree to expel you. Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab replied, "You are the settlement's chief and wise man. I want you to grant me an oath that you will perform Jihad against the unbelievers, in return you will be the imam, leader of the Muslim community and I will be leader in religious matters. (1) Amir Muhammad Ibn Sa'ud presented himself as a student to Ibn Abdul Wahhab along with some members of his family. Dir'iyyah became popular as a place of learning and as such was transformed into a centre of Islamic education and Da'wa and people began migrating in great numbers.

The Dir'iyyah area is now undergoing extensive restoration as can be seen from the photographs; some parts are still virtually in ruins and are deemed unsafe to venture into whilst other parts have already been rennovated. Original building materials would have included dried mud bricks, limestone, wood (athil), palm leaves and branches.
(2) The restoration has been very faithful to the original style of building. In addition to building restoration there is plenty of green space on which to picnic and trees offering shade. A very welcome alternative to the usual chaos of Riyadh city centre. I took the following photographs back in October 2007.

Further online and offline reading:

Dir'iyyah and the First Saudi State by William Facey

A History of Saudi Arabia By Madawi Al-Rasheed

Dir'iyyah in Wikipedia


Rainbow In The Grey Sky said...

Aslamu alakum stranger
its so nice , i like history and culture esp old ruins , nice to get out take a look esp 5 mins drive away mashaAllah, i watch the Saudi 2 channel in English on Nile Set they show alot of old Saudi and new, very intresting. Thanks for sharing sister..

Umm Ibrahim said...

Assalaamu alaikum,

Thanks sis... I forgot who 'Rainbow in the grey sky' was for a moment! You should post your comments with your kunya to remind fools like me of who you are! lol

Anonymous said...

I like your historical notes. I remember visiting this place way back in 1987, and I took lots of pictures. When I visited, I had no idea of the context in which the place had flourished. It was simply an historical ghost town, but that was OK. Any place in the desert, especially with palm trees, made for a lovely outing.

Umm Ibrahim said...

I had no idea what 'Old Dir'yyah' was the first few times we visited! It was only when I was reading Kitab At-Tawhid recently that the penny dropped and I realised!

The Muslim Wife's Kitchen said...

What a neat "deal" made between the Sheikh and the amir. Hmm, guess they didn't totally keep up their end of the pact, huh?