jump to navigation

Fatwas to be vetted by Ministry 3, August 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Islam, Saudi Arabia.
Tags: , , , ,
1 comment so far

In a potentially devastating blow to bloggers looking for an easy laugh and post at the expense of absurd Saudi muftis, it appears that Saudi is establishing a kind of fatwa quality control system. The Ministry of Islamic Affairs has decreed that they will now have to sift through proposed fatwas by Islamic scholars before they can be widely published by the media.

Quite astutely […] some Islamic cleric in the Ministry or other noticed that absurd random fatwa issuing over trivial issues “gives a bad impression about the Kingdom being an Islamic state.” Do you think!

Still, panic not blog readers and other consumers of such silly fatwas, I’m sure that the Ministry will let through a few special ones to keep the lunatic fringe happy. Inshallah.

Hat tip: Abstract JK

It’s all sorted now: Saudi denounces all terrorism 14, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Islam, Saudi Arabia.
Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Council of Supreme Scholars, the highest religious body in Saudi Arabia, has issued a fatwa denouncing any and all acts of terrorism including its financing. Those giving money towards such causes will now be considered to be “partners” in the crime.

Whilst this decree is a positive step in the right direction, there are three reasons to hold back with the balloons and party-poppers.

Firstly, it is important to note the precise wording of the fatwa. Terrorism is defined as acts

targeting public resources, hijacking planes or blowing up buildings.

I would suggest, therefore, that this fatwa has been demanded by Saudi’s political establishment to stop those planning to attack Saudi’s oil infrastructure. To the best of my knowledge, it doesn’t mention the killing of innocent people, ergo, it’s a joke.

Secondly, does anyone really think that a terrorist in, for example, Saudi will desist from attacking some “public resource” because Saudi’s clerics have said it’s illegal and haram? Surely 99% of such people ipso facto hate Saudi’s clerics and don’t listen to a word they say. They see them (correctly) as a tool* of the ruling family and surely wouldn’t pay any attention to such a fatwa.

Thirdly, many fatwas are utterly ridiculous. Any religious authority can issue one. Granted, a fatwa from Saudi’s religious authority will carry more weight than most (probably) but still they are, it seems to me, wholly flimsy. Here are a few of the best fatwas that I’ve come across: (Hat tip)

[Incidentally, none of these are from crazy, no-name Imams…]

  • The Fatwa: Grand Mufti Sheikh Ibn Baaz  The Sun Revolves Around the Earth

    In a 2000 Fatwa titled “The Transmitted and Sensory Proofs of the Rotation of the Sun and Stillness of the Earth”, Saudi Arabian Grand Mufti Sheikh Ibn Baaz asserted that the earth was flat and disk-like and that the sun revolved around it. He had insisted that satellite images to the contrary were nothing but a Western conspiracy against the Islamic world.

  • The Fatwa: Ezzat Attiya: Adult Breastfeeding in the Workplace

    In May 2007, Ezzat Attiya wondered how unrelated men and women could work together in the same office, when Islam forbids men and women who aren’t married or related to be alone together. His answer: let her suckle him FIVE TIMES. Yes, that’s right, an adult female breastfeeding an adult male coworker will defuse all sexual tension in the office. See, the female worker will now be the male worker’s foster mother, and they can be alone together anytime. Attiya’s ruling was intergalactically mocked, and quickly condemned on the homefront as well. He was later suspended from his job, pilloried in Arab newspapers, and issued a hasty retraction saying it was a “bad interpretation of a particular case.”

  • Muhammad Al-Munajid: Bring Me the Head of Mickey Mouse

    That’s right, somebody put on hit on Mickey Mouse. Calling Mickey “one of Satan’s soldiers,” Sheikh Muhammad Al-Munajid decreed that household mice and their cartoon cousins must be “killed in all cases”, according to the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph.

    And get this—the guy’s not your average nutjob, either—Munajid used to be a former diplomat at the Saudi embassy in Washington D.C. He made the remarks on Arab television network al-Majd TV after he was asked to give Islam’s teaching on mice.

    But don’t worry, Mickey won’t be alone. Munajid also put a hit on Jerry from “Tom and Jerry”. Maybe they could rent a flat with Salman Rushdie (above).

  • The Fatwa: Rashad Hassan Khalil: No Nudity for Sex

    In 2007, the former dean of Islamic law at al-Azhar University in Cairo issued a fatwa that nudity during sexual intercourse invalidates a marriage between husband and wife. Debate was immediate. Suad Saleh, head of the women’s department of Al-Azhar’s Islamic studies, pleaded for “anything that can bring spouses closer to each other” and Islamic scholar Abdel Muti concurred, saying “Nothing is prohibited during marital sex, except of course sodomy.”
    For his part, Al-Azhar’s fatwa committee chairman Abdullah Megawar backpedaled and said that married couples could see each other naked but should really cover up with a blanket during sex.

*I do not mean this in a flippant way. The nexus between the ruling Al Sauds and the clerical authorities is a fascinating and symbiotic relationship. Each needs the other to maintain their power. Each wants to gain more power than the other. Their relative powers have waxed and waned for hundreds of years now. In a time when the Al Sauds need the Wahabbi clerics to sanction something (such as the stationing of US troops on US soil) they need, the Clerics charge a price according to how ‘much an ask’ that is. In this example, one noted author described this as the descent of Saudi society into “bottomless Islamisation” as the Al Sauds were demanding a staggering broad ranging and unpopular fatwa. Therefore, the Wahabbis seized this opportunity to take control of education and other social services and to bolster their vice and virtue police while they were in the ascendancy. So, in short, I firmly believe that Saudi religious authorities would say absolutely anything if the price was right.

Muslim scholar condemns terrorism 2, March 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Terrorism.
Tags: , , , ,
1 comment so far

The BBC wesbite has a list of the articles from its website that have been shared the most i.e emailed from one person to the next. At 6:00AM GMT on the 3rd March 2010 the number one most sent article has the title ‘Muslim Scholar Condemns Terrorism’. Am I reading far too much into this or are people ‘so surprised’ that ‘a’ Muslim scholar is condemning terrorism, that they’ve just got to read it and send it onwards to a friend? That the phrase ‘Muslim Scholar condemning terrorism’ is so rare that the chance to read about one such proponent and share his ideas simply must be taken?

The article is referring to Dr Tahir ul-Qadri, a Pakistani scholar who has written a 600 page fatwa wholly condemning al Qaeda’s ideology. Whilst he is far from the first scholar to denounce terrorism, seemingly the length and rigor of his fatwa is unusually thorough. The BBC article is well worth a read.

Bad news, I’m afraid 17, October 2008

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

I apologise. There is no easy way of saying this. We’ve just all got to stick together at a time like this. Rely on each other for company, support and an emotional shoulder to lean on. So here goes…Noor has aired its last episode. How we’ll cope, I just don’t know right now. But struggle on we must…

So anyway…for those of you that don’t know, Noor is a Turkish soap opera. However, this is not some run-of-the-mill soap, but one that has captured the heart of the Arab world, from Saudi Arabia to Egypt to Oman, people have been utterly hooked. It is difficult, however, to see what they are hooked on. Noor is a lamentably terrible programme. Risibly pathetic plots meet some form of “acting” unbeknownst to me in a set knocked-up in a shed ten minutes before airing. Honestly, it makes the old Crossroads look like some kind of uber-slick Spielberg epic. And that’s not even mentioning the dubbing. Obviously, the original is in Turkish and gets dubbed into Arabic for the Middle East. Well…where to begin? One wonders if they use a script at all. That may sound like a ridiculous thing to say, but as they manifestly have no conception of timing, intonation that doesn’t clearly stem from some kind of a 1950’s Hong Kong martial arts dubbing-homage, and a plain disregard for who is actually speaking; anything is possible.

Noor has hit the headlines consistently in recent months because of its wickedly salacious plots. There are men…and women. Honestly, what next? The religious standard bearers of morality, truth and dodgy money to dodgy charities have slammed Noor, and many a jihad, fawta and no doubt the odd hex has been foisted upon the unrepentant Turkish import.

Violence on TV is, obviously, never an issue. From bloody car-chases to gory films to grainy videos of people’s heads being lopped off in Iraq, there is, it seems, something of a deafening silence from these religious folk when it comes to these latter examples. However, see a woman’s shoulder and well, that’s just plain haram. Imagine the social destruciton and free flow of depraved and wanton lust were the average Jordanian to see Queen Rania’s shoulder? Thank god for the censors.

Do these dogmatic censors not ever feel that they are the proverbial King Canute sitting on a beach? I mean really? Apparently over half the Arab population watched the end of Noor. Half. A in 50%. 1/2. That’s a lot of people. Around 85 million Arabs. Surely there has never ever been, in the history of television – in the history of human existence – such a turn out by one ethnic group for a programme episode? I’m sure that the ending of Dallas was popular, maybe even to the tune of 85 million people, but it certainly was no where near half of the American population, never mind half the ‘ethnic’ white Anglo-Saxon American group, or however else you define it.

Alas, logic is often something of a stranger in these parts of the world and so using a logically constructed argument is just plain unfair. But at least half that Arab world had a taste of good, old fashioned trash TV. Being as many in the Middle East appear to be emerging from the depths of Western 80’s style TV (hamdulillah…), I fully expect them to graduate to an appreciation of the Krytpon Factor, Mr Motivator and that other great of late 1980’s, early 1990’s TV, Blind Date with our Cilla. Though on reflection, maybe the Muftis saw the future and had the right idea all along.