By Badea Abu Al-Naja
Muhammad ibn Rasheed Al-Dosary, a living companion of King Abdul Aziz, the founder of the Saudi Arabia, published his memoirs recently. The book is called “Memoirs of the Youngest Attendant of King Abdul Aziz”. Al-Dosary was in the service of the king over five years.
“I was honored to be with King Abdul Aziz at the age of 12.”
It was at the orders of the king that Al-Dosary was admitted to the school at the Al-Marba Palace run by Sheikh Muhammad Al-Sanari.
“I learned everything the Sheikh Al-Sanari’s school could offer,” he said. “The one year that I spent at the school opened the horizons of knowledge before me and I am hugely indebted to the king who was especially considerate to the likes of us who hardly had any opportunity for continuing education.”
Al-Dosary recollected his time serving the king back in the 1940s. He was with the retinue of the king who had set out from Makkah.
“On our way we camped at a place called Asheeriya,” he said. “Some cars in the royal entourage broke down on the way and could not catch up with the king. The king wanted to send an urgent telegram for the immediate repair of the cars. But none of the court scribes were present as they were in the broken down cars. One of my relatives in the retinue suggested that I could write in a beautiful style though I was a small boy. Then I wrote a strongly worded message for the king ordering then Finance Minister Ibn Sulaiman to immediately arrange the repair of the automobiles. This was my first direct assignment for the king.”
“It is still fresh in my memory how the king spoke to me with tenderness ‘My boy, do you know how to write a message’,” said Al-Dosary. “I replied, ‘Yes I do, Your Majesty.’ Then he asked me in a patronizing manner if I could write well. I replied: ‘Yes, Insha Allah.’ Then I wrote the message and showed it to him. He was impressed by my writing style and congratulated me. His manner made me feel that I was in the company of my father. Then he asked about me and I told him that I was a Dosary from Alyat Al-Meshawaba in Wadi Dawasir. The king ordered Abdullah ibn Mubarak Al-Dosary, the palace supervisor, to take care of me because I was very young. I still remember the advice he gave to me. One was not to smoke. The second was not to keep company with anyone older than me.”
The king also ordered the supervisor to give special care to the young boy and provide him with a good education.
Al-Dosary said he wrote about his life with the king because he valued those years as the best period in his life.
“The king possessed a unique personality with sound judgment and foresight and all his qualities were topped by clemency and gentleness,” said Al-Dosary. “His life was in line with the commands of the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). I never found him angry. He was widely respected because he took decision on the basis of Allah’s book. He possessed rare courage. He was the first to take the title of king in the House of Saud.”
Al-Dosary said he didn’t get nervous when he first met the king. “I did not feel any fear as the king was smiling at me and I felt very much at ease in his presence,” he said. “His door was always open to those who had any complaints to make and he never sent them back without redressing their complaint.”
While speaking about the king’s routine, Al-Dosary said: “He used to hold daily meetings to receive complaints even when he was traveling. The time for it was after the Asr prayer. It would begin with the recitation from the Holy Qur’an and discussions of religious matters.”
Al-Dosary describes the king’s eating habits. “His breakfast included Al-Khinain bread made of brown wheat mixed with butter, honey and dates. He would have milk, cream, and coffee, but he ate very little. After breakfast at 8 a.m. he would go to the royal court at Dair Palace where he would receive guests, visitors and attend government matters.”
Al-Dosary said the king liked meat of bustard, gazelle and rabbit; and fruits such as grapes, pomegranate, orange and watermelon. He used to brush frequently with miswak, saying that the tooth was the source of all diseases. He also liked to wear sunglasses. “The king used to say ‘I set out virtually possessing nothing. The enemies were all around. But with the grace of God I defeated all my enemies and achieved a unified Kingdom,’” said Al-Dosary.