News that an ageing cleric has issued a death fatwa against two Saudi intellectuals does not surprise me...

The cleric is the widely revered Sheikh Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak. ... The sheikh was incensed by articles in al-Riyadh by Yousef Aba al-Khail and Abdullah bin Bejad al-Otaibi arguing for a more humane and balanced interpretation of the Quran.

Entitled "The other in the Islamic balance" and "The Islam of the sharia and the Islam of struggle", the articles pointed out that the Quran does not denounce non-Muslims as "infidels", but describes Jews and Christians as "people of the Book" and urges Muslims to show respect towards other faiths, their followers and places of worship. Far from hating the "Other", the Quran urges people of all creeds to live in peace.

These are the kinds of simple, sensible things that folk like me have been saying for decades. Indeed, I have been arguing for such a pluralistic interpretation in my Guardian Quran blog, which has been banned in Saudi Arabia.

...It is, of course, beyond the learned sheikh's comprehension that the Quran contains no notion of apostasy. On the contrary, it declares that "there is no compulsion in religion". People are free to change their faith as many times as they like.


But I fear it is worse than that. The Quran is open to a number of interpretations. If, however, you insist that your interpretation is the only correct one, the Truth, then you do much more than simply speak "in the name of God": you not only know the Truth but are the Truth. You assume the absolute power of God. By branding two Muslims "infidels", the sheikh shows his godlike powers. Indeed, he goes where the Quran insistently refuses to: into the realm of the personal relationship between individual and God. The fatwa suggests that the sheikh has godlike knowledge of this relationship, and by sentencing the two authors to death, it even exceeds the bounds of the Quran. The sheikh does not think he is speaking "in the name of God". He thinks he is God incarnate.

RLCC Comment: Now, I've read the Qur'an too. Let me tell you that while it refers to the People of the Book and calls for peace, etc., it is wholly inconsistent that is riddled with hypocrisy. In addition, the peace for which it calls is only provided Islam is the dominant religion and all other people (non-Muslims) must pay the Jizya (a tax; protection money).

This article is calling for something Islam is not. If anyone refuses to pay the Jizya, then that one is unprotected. It means Muslims may do what? Muslims may be and should be violent against them is the answer. Think about it.

Also, you will note that the language aimed at the Sheik is clearly aimed at Jesus Christ as well. Jesus said of himself, "I am the truth." He was and is the truth. That truth is pacifism always, something Muslims reject. Mohammed rejected it. Anyone calling himself or herself a Muslim and also a pacifist is at best being a fool. A pacifist must admit he or she is not a Muslim. Muslims are not pacifists by definition. To be a Muslim is to follow Mohammed's teachings, and violence is something he insisted upon. That's the way it is.

The article smacks of propaganda and psyops. It isn't quite ecumenicism or syncretism, but it sure is working hard to pull Islam in that direction. That's not how it works though. That path fails. Only conversion to real Christianity works in the end. That's the truth. Even Mohammed didn't have the nerve to reject the second coming of Jesus who will reign supreme (the last shall reign).

Also, you will note that the author of the article is claiming to be right in his interpretation of the Qur'an. Therefore, by his own words, he condemns himself for the same thing concerning which he condemns the Sheik. That's hypocrisy. That's what Jesus taught against, and Mohammed held Jesus to be a real prophet of God.

It's too bad Mohammed wasn't bright enough to see how illogical he was being to call Jesus a real prophet and to believe in Jesus's ascendancy but to doubt the very sonship Jesus spoke of concerning himself. Mohammed made it up as he went along while he wondered himself whether he had been visited by an evil jinn or by a real archangel (Gabriel).

Jesus had no such doubts.

Link to source-webpage by Ziauddin Sardar, obtained via: New Statesman Contents, April 23, 2008, 5:00pm

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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