Posted by: ourvoicestogether | November 27, 2007

The Mufti’s Not So Mystical Message!

A dear friend and a well wisher recently wrote this to me:

“I think in the evolution of any religion that all of what is beautiful becomes easily corrupted. Instead of worship of the Almighty, we evolve into worship of the codification, the rituals, the institutions, the demagoguery, the separatism, and sadly, the sense of superiority we think our religion endows. In other words, we begin to worship ourselves. We are the ones we were warned about. And there we begin to descend into everything we thought we hated. Indeed, we represent hatred more than the expression of a loving and merciful God who wishes only that we communicated that love to others. I have long thought that what the Muslim world needed was a Reformation.”

Astoundingly challenging as it may sound, the issue of Islamic fundamentalism is by no means easy to grapple with. It is, for sure, more of a story of hatred than love. Hence when folks who were or still remain a part of the problem start pointing fingers, instead of deliberating upon reforming themselves, one does get a bit rattled with respect to the entire activity.

We all know that when it comes to taking responsibility, the oil rich Arabs tend to adopt hands off policy or, better still, like to stay away from the scene. However, something exceptional happened recently – not that an Arab sheikh took responsibility but actually shifted responsibility from the Saudi kingdom’s involvement in terrorism to some self-created, non-existent characters and role-players.

In early October, the grand mufti (the topmost religious scholar) of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abd Al-‘Aziz bin Abdallah Aal Al-Sheikh, announced in the form of a fatwa (religious edict) that the kingdom’s young men were being brainwashed and misled by suspicious elements and that they had fallen into wrong hands, thereby ending up being a part of the fallacious exercise that has come to be known as jihad in the modern day terminology.

Flabbergasted with the comments, I searched for the script of the fatwa to get a sense of what was blurted out by ‘honorable’ mufti. According to MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute), the mufti states that setting forth to wage jihad without proper authorization is a serious transgression. The mufti said that youth Saudis who do so are being misled by ‘suspicious elements’ from both the East and the West who are exploiting them for their own aims and causing serious damage to Saudi Arabia, Islam and Muslims.

Below I reproduce excerpts of the fatwa:

“Out of concern for our youth, and in order to give advice to the Muslim imams (heads of mosques) and the Muslim public, I have resolved to issue (the following statement). For several years now, we have been faced (with a phenomenon) of our youth going out from Saudi Arabia with the intention of engaging in jihad for the sake of Allah. These young people are full of enthusiasm and religious zeal, but lack sufficient religious knowledge to be able to discern between truth and falsehood – which is why they succumb to temptation and fall into traps set for them by suspicious elements. They have become a pawn in the hands of foreign apparatuses, which are toying with them in the name of jihad, and are using them to accomplish their own shameful aims and getting what they want by (perpetrating) foul operations that could not be further from the religion.

“This (phenomenon) has reached the point where our youth have become a commodity bought and sold by elements in both the East and the West, with the aim of fulfilling their own objectives and goals – and only Allah knows the extent of the damage that (these operations) are causing Islam and its people.

“In the past, we and others have warned against leaving the country (i.e. Saudi Arabia) for this purpose (i.e. jihad), since the situation was not apparent, the conditions were complicated, and (the sources of authority) were not clear. These young people’s rebellion against their rulers and their ‘ulama, as well as their leaving the country in order to engage in the so-called jihad outside Saudi Arabia, have caused great evil, including the following:

“1. Disobedience of their rulers and causing them harm, which is a grave sin, as the Prophet said: ‘He who obeys an amir – it is as if he obeyed me, and he who does not obey an amir – it is as if he did not obey me’… The evidence for the prohibition on rebelling against a ruler is abundant.

“2. It has been found that many of the young people who left to engage in what they thought to be jihad violated their rightful oath of allegiance (bay’a) to the ruler of this pure country – an oath regarding which there is a consensus among all the figures of authority. (Violating this oath) is forbidden, and is a grave sin…

“3. (These young people) have been easy prey for anyone seeking to corrupt the country and to exploit their (religious) zeal – to the point where they have become walking bombs, killing themselves to accomplish the political and military aims of suspicious elements.

“4. (These young people) have been exploited by outside elements in order to shame this pure country, to inflict damage and suffering upon it, to let its enemies prevail over it, and to justify their greed regarding it. All this is extremely dangerous, because the actions of (these young people) harm the Muslim nation – this damage harms (our) peaceful and serene country (Saudi Arabia). By their actions, (these young people) are weakening the country and its people.”

This fatwa, as various media sources pointed out, comes against the backdrop of the involvement of Saudi nationals in the 9/11 attacks on United States, participation in terrorist operations in Iraq and in the Nahr Al-Bared refugee camp incident in Lebanon.

Theoretically, whatever the mufti said makes an excellent reading. In fact, it’s sounds like a lecture in enlightened moderation. However, if one analysis the fatwa, its more or less a case of kettle calling the pot black! Certain words and phrases used by the reverend mufti seem to suit the Saudis better than any other nation on this planet!

The mufti says that the Saudi youth are full of enthusiasm and religious zeal. Point accepted. But, it is one’s understanding that the Saudi educational curriculum teaches nothing but hatred against the non-Muslims. Right from the day a child enters school, there is an emphasis on the downtrodden, parochial concepts of religion dating back to the times when perhaps Islam was still in its initial stages and perhaps also when the Muslims were using oppressive measures to bring people in to the fold of the religion. The very incompatibility of the kingdom’s educational system with the modern times is one huge factor that ‘urges’ its youth to have a go at those who don’t seem to fit their description of Islam.

Who is the mufti referring to as the ‘suspicious elements’ from both the East and the West who are exploiting them (the Saudi youth) in order to accomplish their own aims’? This statement sounds delusional and at crossroads with reality! It’s always been the Saudi keenness to propagate their brand of Islam in various regions of the world. Every Tom, Dick and Harry knows that the Saudi money created the Taliban movement. The country of Pakistan stands destroyed and infested by terrorism today only because of the Saudi involvement. Osama Bin Laden has serious connections with the Saudi royal family. More than 90 percent of those responsible for 9/11 attacks were from Saudi Arabia. Is that not enough to make the mufti scratch his head and ponder about the fact that the kingdom is standing on a rather rickety, in fact, defective edifice? Is it not time yet to reform?

Furthermore, no one country in the West wants to incite terrorism. In fact the West is running for cover from the fundamentalists, who have created havoc in Europe and the United States. The mufti needs to clarify as to what exactly he’s implying by the ‘suspicious elements’.

The mufti says that the Saudi youth have become a pawn in the hands of foreign apparatuses, which are toying with them in the name of jihad, and are using them to accomplish their own shameful aims and getting what they want by (perpetrating) foul operations that could not be further from the religion.

What foreign apparatuses are being referred to here? Trying to locate as to who calls the shots within the Saudi structural framework is an impossible adventure. However, it appears that some ‘higher source’ asked the mufti to issue this fatwa. Of late, there has been an intense public debate vis-à-vis the kingdom’s participation and links to the atrocious terrorist groups. Can such defensive tactics exonerate the Saudi authorities from the acts and omissions committed by its nationals? Hell no!

What the influential figures of the religion of Islam, such as the reverend mufti, need to do is that instead of launching irrational onslaughts against the world at large, they must work for reconciliation. No civilized nation will indulge in contaminating the minds of the Saudi youth, especially at a time when education, economic prosperity and environment are the high priority issues, especially in the West. The 9/11 hijackers were adult, grown up men who were very well of the obnoxiously hideous trickery they were about to commit and hence one doesn’t see any foreign apparatus turning them into some kind pawns referred to by the mufti in his fatwa.

The mufti must advise his rulers, i.e. the Saudi royals to reform their way of conduct, their style of governance, and adopt an open-minded approach toward the ‘less fortunate’ nations. May be, stop meddling in the affairs of poorer Muslim countries engaging themselves in unwholesome pursuits. They need to shun the insecurity of their minds.

Or perhaps, approach religion from a non-political perspective. Mind you, Saudi Arabia is NOT a pure country. It’s human rights record is known to all and sundry. It’s perhaps not even worth discussing the tantalizingly brutal nature of the penal code that is in force in the kingdom. More than anything else, it is a dictatorship of the worst kind where the rulers are free to party and make merry, whereas the ruled are subservient to strict out-dated Shariah laws.

As my friend pointed out that Islam needs Reformation, it will not be bad idea if the Saudis, being the leaders of the Islamic world, take the lead and introduce some much-needed reforms in their own political, educational, judicial and governmental systems. May be human rights friendly laws could be something to think about. Providing respect and freedom to women and minorities can be another area to work on.

Moreover, given the tremendous amount of resources at their disposal, perhaps that Saudis can also think in terms of starting a reformation movement in the Islamic world. Once that movement gains momentum, one is confident that it’ll have positive impact on the disjointed, disgruntled and disoriented Muslim Ummah (community). Make each day a day of reformation!

It’s time that big guns of the Muslim world should open their eyes and look around. They seem to be victims of lack of imagination and infertility of minds. The world has undergone a drastic change from the times when Islam was first introduced as a religion. There is a dire need to bring down the walls of pride and prejudice and extricate the religion from the trenches of darkness.

Muftis, khateebs, imams and like must talk about reformation since that process holds the key to any future prospect of peaceful co-existence amongst different faiths and religions.

Self-reflection and self-criticism are essential. For the love of God and humanity, the rich and the powerful of the Islamic world must rise above themselves and communicate messages of pleasantness, love and tranquility instead of fatwas that may just be nothing but high-sounding nonsense. A sense of conviction is required that can only be achieved with a particular level of certainty and resolve from those who have the courage to make a change and promote a healthy dialogue amongst various nations, religions and communities.

My message to the Saudi mufti and his ‘associates’ is: Turn your heads, peace is beautiful!

–Ahson Saeed Hasan



  1. i think islam is not so much a religion as it is a way of life.and i really think that muslims and islam should not be judged by saudi standards.and the western world should also not put all muslims into the same bracket.maybe if they had a better understanding of islam ,before they become so judgemental?

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