Ismail bin Muhammad al-Salamat, a history, sociology, and anthropology researcher, has monitored the sayings and writings of several European orientalists, historians and visitors - Arabs and Muslims - who met the founder of Saudi Arabia, King Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman, or worked with him.
According to Salamat, who also researches affairs of the desert, tribes, and Arab genealogy, all those who met or worked with King Abdulaziz agree that the monarch had a unique personality and an ability to modernize.
King Abdulaziz has succeeded in spreading security and fighting ignorance, making him a national hero.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the 92nd Saudi National Day, Salamat stressed that King Abdulaziz, who founded Saudi Arabia in 1932, had a strong personality that is characterized by piety and a love for promoting justice, fairness and equality among people.
“He was generous, brave and forgiving,” said Salamat, adding that all those who knew or met with King Abdulaziz were fascinated by his noble character.
The first Secretary-General of the Arab League, Abdul Rahman Azzam, as specified by Salamat, has said: “I saw in him (King Abdulaziz) an example of Arabism.”
Arab writer, intellectual and political activist Ameen Rihani described King Abdulaziz as a man greater than a Sultan. He said that the Saudi monarch enjoyed a big heart, soul, and conscience.
“He is a man of clear mind and conscience, free from arrogance and false pretense,” said Rihani.
Regarding what some European orientalists said about King Abdulaziz, Salamat pointed out that “the good qualities of the king had caught the attention of European orientalists, who met him, knew him closely, and were pleased with his company.”
“This was enough for them to know the truth behind the morals of Arabs, and the principles of Islam and Muslims,” said Salamat.
For example, British explorer St John Philby, who was close to King Abdulaziz since his youth, had described the Saudi founder as a “successful soldier and an authentic reformer.”
Philby also pointed to King Abdulaziz being pious, outspoken, firm, intelligent and humble.
Hungarian orientalist Gyula Germanus has called King Abdulaziz a hero in every sense of the word.
“The king was very influential on those who knew him or met him,” acknowledged Germanus.
In praise of King Abdulaziz’s legacy, Germanus said that King Abdulaziz did not fight or attack people, but instead had fought ignorance and stagnation.