Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti has ignited a needless firestorm. In comments made in Kuwait earlier this week, the Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah called for all Christian churches in the Arabian Peninsula to be destroyed. He bases his opinion on a hadith that purports to state that the prophet Mohammed said there was no room for other than Islam in the region.

It goes without saying that this provocative statement did indeed provoke reaction and outrage from religious groups – including non-Christian groups – as well as the Islamophobes and Saudi-bashers. The outrage is deserved as this is truly the antithesis of the cooperation and mutual understanding that King Abdullah has endlessly sought.

Indeed, if a Christian religious authority, say the Pope or the Archbishop of Canterbury were to call for the destruction of all mosques in Europe, there would be more than a little outrage coming from the Muslim world. That outrage would be correct, as well. This is a breathtaking example of intolerance and deserves to be condemned and mocked.

Destroy all churches in Gulf, says Saudi Grand Mufti
Elizabeth Broomhall

The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia has said it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region,” following Kuwait’s moves to ban their construction.

Speaking to a delegation in Kuwait, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, stressed that since the tiny Gulf state was a part of the Arabian Peninsula, it was necessary to destroy all of the churches in the country, Arabic media have reported.

Saudi Arabia’s top cleric made the comment in view of an age-old rule that only Islam can be practiced in the region.

The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia is the highest official of religious law in the Sunni Muslim kingdom. He is also the head of the Supreme Council of Ulema (Islamic scholars) and of the Standing Committee for Scientific Research and Issuing of Fatwas.


March:17:2012 - 10:19 | Comments & Trackbacks (25) | Permalink
25 Responses to “How Not to Win Friends”
  1. 1
    Jerry M Said:
    March:17:2012 - 11:39 

    The difference between what would happen if the Pope said all mosques should be destroyed in Europe and what is happening after the Mufti said all churches should be destroyed in Arabia is that we know the Muslim reaction would be violent. I don’t think I saw a single report on this in the mainstream media (ie: CNN, New York Times, etc.)

    Most religious leaders are tone deaf about how they sound to people from the outside world (certainly the current Pope can be quite tone deaf). Since we only hear the more outrageous stuff from Muslim leaders, we don’t know if this statement is even crazier than normal or just par for the course. Still this does raise the bar.

    The Arab/Islamic world needs true freedom of religion if they ever expect to get the respect that they think they deserve. At this point the Islamic world is a bit like the Mafia, they get respect because we know they will kill for it. The fact is that Saudi Arabia in particular is hostile to other Muslims not just Christians and non-believers. They should start by being kind their native Shiite population.

  2. 2
    Christopher Burgess (@burgessct) Said:
    March:17:2012 - 13:32 

    Your ultimate sentence says it all – “This is a breathtaking example of intolerance and deserves to be condemned and mocked.” Thanks for writing this peace John.
    All the best,
    Christopher

    (still kicking on the left-coast)

  3. 3
    Christopher Burgess (@burgessct) Said:
    March:17:2012 - 13:33 

    PS – Pun intended – Piece/Peace

  4. 4
    Christopher Burgess (@burgessct) Said:
    March:17:2012 - 13:45 

    A friend of mine, who wishes his identity not to be revealed, shared this observation to me after reading this blog post:

    1. Not all Hadeeth (spoken words or statements of Prophet Mohamad) are authentic. Arguments arise all the time around controversial ones. Usually the “questionable” ones are easy to spot. This one hear doesn’t makes sense? Why? Because in Islam people of the book (Christians and Jews) and Non-mulisms in general (referred to as Zummies in Arabic language) were protected by other “Hadeeth” by the prophet who also said: “Whoever does harm onto a Zummi, then he has done harm onto me.” This shows his keen attention to tolerance. Furthermore, the Christians of Arabian Peninsula embraced Mohamad as a child and he visited often with some key Monks who lived in the region. Islam’s largest early victory was when Christians in Yathreb (Al-Madina today) converted by choice and embraced him and all his companions who fleed Macca because oppression and torture. I wouldn’t imagine the Prophet being happy with such non-sense if he was with us today.

    2. I am too afraid to state my opinion around the Mufti of Saudi Arabia jurisdiction. He doesn’t speak for all Muslims and especially Sunni Muslims. He follows the Wahabi Sect and other Muslims, including some Sunnis don’t hide their disenchantment with Wahabi school of thought which produced extremists, including … Osama and Al-Qaeda founders. He speak for himself. He has influence upon the ruling family because Al Saud (name of the ruling family in Arabic) couldn’t occupy much of the peninsula in early 20th century without support of Wahabis as part of the tribal alliance. Wahabis were fought off strongly and invaded by Egypt’s rulers Mohamad Ali and his son Ibrahim Basha for decades as off-shoots of Sunni main-stream.

    3. Well stated by your brother that destroying mosques in the west would produce a wave of protests and trouble. Reciprocal and mutual respect, trust and understanding are the keys to solving many of the outstanding conflicts, be it military, political and unfortunately dogma-based ones.

    4. I believe without the churches in Peninsula, the region and the world will not be a better place. This is rhetoric that is PR consumption especially in current circumstances. The Mufti knows that without US forces and bases down the street, the region would be an easy target for its enemies, unless his uncommon witt and wisdom can solve all outstanding regional conflicts while protecting the flow of oil that pays for his flights to Kuwait where made this controversial call.

  5. 5
    John Burgess Said:
    March:17:2012 - 15:07 

    You’re right about the major US media not finding this story. I looked and it was nowhere to be found. That does not say anything good about that media if they’re simply willing to ignore stories that might cause heartburn somewhere.

  6. 6
    Dakota Said:
    March:17:2012 - 16:14 

    What else would you expect from a people that throws their garbage on the floor for someone else to pick up.

  7. 7
    *Lex Said:
    March:17:2012 - 17:23 

    This will greatly simplify the King’s efforts at interfaith dialogue.

  8. 8
    John Burgess Said:
    March:17:2012 - 17:57 

    Certainly simplifies the message.

  9. 9
    rayyah Said:
    March:17:2012 - 19:40 

    ????? ??? ?? ??????? ??????

    (They are) those who have been evicted from their homes without right – only because they say, “Our Lord is Allah .” And were it not that Allah checks the people, some by means of others, there would have been demolished monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which the name of Allah is much mentioned. And Allah will surely support those who support Him. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might. [Quran 22:40]

    …………………….

    The Covenant of Umar

    “In the Name of (God) Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate

    This is an assurance of peace and protection given by the servant of Allah Umar, Commander of the Believers to the people of Ilia’ (Jerusalem). He gave them an assurance of protection for their lives, property, churches as well as the sick and healthy and all its religious community.

    Their churches shall not be occupied, demolished nor taken away wholly or in part. They shall neither be coerced in their religion nor shall any of them be injured.”

  10. 10
    rayyah Said:
    March:17:2012 - 19:43 

    In 638, Caliph Umar al-Khattab took over Jerusalem peacefully without shedding a drop of blood. When he was invited by the Archbishop of Jerusalem, Sophronius, to pray in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, he refused saying: “If I had prayed in the church it would have been taken by muslims as a mosque or a worship place”.

    This confirmed freedom of worship for non muslims under the islamic state. He did pray a few yards outside the church. & a mosque was later built on the site, called the Omar Mosque.

    The Covenant of Umar granted the people of Jerusalem peace & protection. It has been mounted at the door of the mosque for centuries and until now.

  11. 11
    Andrew Said:
    March:18:2012 - 09:58 

    I believe as a Saudi that statements such as this, when not discussed by world media, demonstrate that the rest of the world essentially views as children or fanatics.

    The reason why they do not publicise this is because they view such statements from people whom they view as being children or fanatics as being unremarkable.

    It is a bit as if the Catholic Pope were ti say that he opposes contraception. It is a view that is a minority view, but one that is expected of the Catholic Pope.

    The public expects fanaticism or intolerance from Saudis and especially Saudi religious figures, and of course we do nothing or little to contradict such expectations.

  12. 12
    Lola Said:
    March:18:2012 - 11:19 

    “Other women were born in the lands of kufr (disbelief), Christians, Jews, Communists or something other than the religion of Islam.” p. 29

    “The disbelieving woman in the lands of disbelief is a woman who makes a wanton display of herself; she is ignorant and foolish, a mere fashion model, a cheap and worthless product on offer in all places.” p. 31

    “Beware of the life of bewitching immoral disbelieving women, for they are the fuel of the fire of Hell.” p. 54

    “The world of kufr (disbelief) is suffering from misery. . . . Dr. W.S. Alvarez said: ‘It is clear that four out of every five illnesses have no physical cause, rather the disease stems from fear, anxiety, hatred, selfishness and a person’s inability to adapt to life.’” p. 120

    “No one is happier than those who believe in Allah.” p. 242

    Source: You Can Be The Happiest Woman In The World written by Dr. Aid al-Qarni and published in 2005 by the International Islamic Publishing House, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

    Saudi textbooks:

    Grade 1

    “Every religion other than Islam is false.”

    “Fill in the blanks with the appropriate words (Islam, hellfire): Every religion other than ______________ is false. Whoever dies outside of Islam enters ____________.”

    Grade 4

    “True belief means . . . that you hate the polytheists and infidels but do not treat them unjustly.”

    Grade 5

    “Whoever obeys the Prophet and accepts the oneness of God cannot maintain a loyal friendship with those who oppose God and His Prophet, even if they are his closest relatives.”

    “It is forbidden for a Muslim to be a loyal friend to someone who does not believe in God and His Prophet, or someone who fights the religion of Islam.”

    “A Muslim, even if he lives far away, is your brother in religion. Someone who opposes God, even if he is your brother by family tie, is your enemy in religion.”

    Grade 6

    “Just as Muslims were successful in the past when they came together in a sincere endeavour to evict the Christian crusaders from Palestine, so will the Arabs and Muslims emerge victorious, God willing, against the Jews and their allies if they stand together and fight a true jihad for God, for this is within God’s power.”

    Grade 8

    “As cited in Ibn Abbas: The apes are Jews, the people of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christians, the infidels of the communion of Jesus.”

    “God told His Prophet, Muhammad, about the Jews, who learned from parts of God’s book (the Torah and the Gospels) that God alone is worthy of worship. Despite this, they espouse falsehood through idol-worship, soothsaying, and sorcery. In doing so, they obey the devil. They prefer the people of falsehood to the people of the truth out of envy and hostility. This earns them condemnation and is a warning to us not to do as they did.”

    “They are the Jews, whom God has cursed and with whom He is so angry that He will never again be satisfied (with them).”

    “Some of the people of the Sabbath were punished by being turned into apes and swine. Some of them were made to worship the devil, and not God, through consecration, sacrifice, prayer, appeals for help, and other types of worship. Some of the Jews worship the devil. Likewise, some members of this nation worship the devil, and not God.”

    “Activity: The student writes a composition on the danger of imitating the infidels.”

    Grade 9

    “The clash between this (Muslim) community (umma) and the Jews and Christians has endured, and it will continue as long as God wills.”

    “It is part of God’s wisdom that the struggle between the Muslim and the Jews should continue until the hour (of judgment).”

    “Muslims will triumph because they are right. He who is right is always victorious, even if most people are against him.”

    Grade 10

    The Grade 10 text on jurisprudence teaches that life for non-Muslims (as well as women, and, by implication, slaves) is worth a fraction of that of a “free Muslim male.” Blood money is retribution paid to the victim or his heirs for murder or injury:

    “Blood money for a free infidel. (Its quantity) is half of the blood money for a male Muslim, whether or not he is `of the book’ or not `of the book’ (such as a pagan, Zoroastrian, etc.).

    “Blood money for a woman: Half of the blood money for a man, in accordance with his religion. The blood money for a Muslim woman is half of the blood money for a male Muslim, and the blood money for an infidel woman is half of the blood money for a male infidel.”

    Grade 11

    “The greeting `Peace be upon you’ is specifically for believers. It cannot be said to others.”

    “If one comes to a place where there is a mixture of Muslims and infidels, one should offer a greeting intended for the Muslims.”
    “Do not yield to them (Christians and Jews) on a narrow road out of honour and respect.”

    Grade 12

    “Jihad in the path of God — which consists of battling against unbelief, oppression, injustice, and those who perpetrate it — is the summit of Islam. This religion arose through jihad and through jihad was its banner raised high. It is one of the noblest acts, which brings one closer to God, and one of the most magnificent acts of obedience to God.”

    Al-Iban: Human rights becoming a strategic choice
    Published: Mar 18, 2012 00:55 Updated: Mar 18, 2012 01:13
    http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article588568.ece

    Human Rights Commission chief Bandar Al-Iban said human rights is a necessary need and strategic choice for all countries and people, noting the Kingdom is among the first countries to preserve and protect human rights derived from the provisions of Islamic teachings.

    He pointed to Article 26 of the Basic System of Government, which said: “The country shall protect human rights according to Islamic law.”

    He said efforts continued to support the judiciary with additional funding, enact new legislation and amend the existing laws to strengthen the concept of human rights.

    “300 Muslim Lawyers Storm Egyptian Court, Prevent Lawyers for Christian From Entering,” by Mary Abdelmassih for the Assyrian International News Agency, March 16

    “Considering the hysteria that besets the West whenever non-authoritative individuals offend Islam – for instance, a fringe, unknown pastor – imagine what would happen if a Christian counterpart to the Grand Mufti, say the Pope, were to declare that all mosques in Italy must be destroyed; imagine the nonstop Western media frenzy that would erupt, all the shrill screams of ‘intolerance’ and ‘bigot,’ demands for apologies if not resignation, nonstop handwringing by sensitive politicians, and worse,” Raymond Ibrahim of Jihad Watch, a blog critical of extremist Islamic laws, wrote.

  13. 13
    Sparky Said:
    March:18:2012 - 11:29 

    We should not mock him because I CAN ASSURE you that he is dead serious. Mocking him will do nothing to change his mindset.

    Simply, he should be removed from his position…especially if his position is A. Violent B. Unislamic and C. Out of line with King Abdullah’s vision of moderation.

    Bye!

  14. 14
    John Burgess Said:
    March:18:2012 - 12:04 

    Thanks, Chris!

  15. 15
    ecks why Said:
    March:19:2012 - 11:59 

    Informed rational freedom loving people have all the reasons in the world to fear islam. The twin fogs of political correctness & ignorance must be dispersed before western society better understands this menace. Even a brief review of islamic theology & history quickly exposes the deadly roots of this evil ideology.

    Mohamhead was a 7th century murdering warlord who rose to power on a river of blood surrounded by thugs and gangsters using intimidation, violence, deception and trickery to expand their criminal empire while mercilessly suppressing and killing their opponents and enriching themselves on stolen booty.

    The evil koran is a collection of sayings and speeches by this diabolical madman claiming divine guidance from some mythical sky-god which has inspired generations of crazed fanatics to abhorrent behavior resulting in historys worst ever crimes against humanity starting 1400 years ago and still continuing even today.

    Islam is just another fascist totalitarian ideology used by power hungry fanatics on yet another quest for worldwide domination and includes all the usual human rights abuses & suppression of freedoms.

    and some snappy graphics, great for emailing…

    [Deleted]

  16. 16
    John Burgess Said:
    March:19:2012 - 14:00 

    @ecks why: No, Islam is not something to be feared. Extremists of any cause may be properly feared, however. Extremist interpretations of religions may be reasonably feared, no matter the religion, particularly if they call for violence.

    What is very much to be feared is ignorant fear-mongering, based on cursory readings of texts that have been interpreted over the centuries. Even the US Constitution is not open to word-by-word understanding as it, too, has been interpreted by courts and people since its origins.

  17. 17
    Andrew Said:
    March:19:2012 - 16:38 

    John Burgess:

    You are of course correct.

    What those ignorant of Islam fail to understand is that there are many different Islams — some are fanatical, but not most.

    The same is true for Christianity, with Catholicism being different from Mormonism and again from Protestantism.

    We Muslims of course also fail to recognise this and generally claim that our Islam is the only true and correct form.

  18. 18
    jay kactuz Said:
    March:19:2012 - 21:58 

    Lola, way to go. Saved me 30 minutes of laboring to write a response.

    Of course, rayyah, it was your dear prophet that ordered the expulsion of Jews and Christians from Arabia, and it was Umar that carried it out. And one more thing – read the hadith and Quran – Muslims left their homes because they wanted to and because they couldn’t get along with their neighbors. It seems that Muslims would preach hate against non-Muslims and enter their homes to destroy their religious artifacts. Nothing has changed in 1400 years. The Muslims left mecca and began to attack their former neighbors as well as every village up to 400 miles away. Or do you want to argue that Mohammad’s raids (ghasi?) were in self-defense, all 50 plus of them.

    JB, there is a world of difference between Islam and other religions. As far as I know, all Muslims, including Andrew, accept the quran and have no problem with the hate and violence in it. Note also they all consider Mohammed to be a great moral example – a real eye-opener considering what the ahadith tell us about his nefarious activities. For Muslims, it is all a matter of explaining it away or ignoring thing they don’t like. It is the old “out of context” “it is only a few” and “others did it too” over and over again.

    Sometimes I almost wish the Iranians (shia) would come in a cut off a few Saudi (sunni) heads. That is pretty bad, isn’t it! And these people our the US government’s friends. We are all doomed.

  19. 19
    ratherdashing Said:
    March:20:2012 - 07:10 

    The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia is the highest official of religious law in the Sunni Muslim kingdom. He is also the head of the Supreme Council of Ulema (Islamic scholars) and of the Standing Committee for Scientific Research and Issuing of Fatwas.

    This guy has clout. It is not like some corner preacher just made that statement. He represents what Saudi Arabia represents, religiously. Without some SERIOUS backlash from the King or even rank and file Sunni Muslims in the KSA (which is just about everyone), I’m going to assume that this is their official position on the matter.

    Thanks for the link, John. That one gets bookmarked.

  20. 20
    John Burgess Said:
    March:20:2012 - 07:38 

    @jay kactuz: Most Christians accept the Bible, both New and Old Testaments. There’s lots of stuff in there that they ignore, however. Yes, the ‘new dispensation’ abrogates much that’s found in the Old Testament, but even in the New, there are elements that have been read out of the texts, reinterpreted, or simply ignored in practice. I find the same thing happens in Islam.

  21. 21
    Sparky Said:
    March:20:2012 - 08:47 

    For mockery sake check out the below:

    “Religious experiences shrink part of the brain”

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=religious-experiences-shrink-part-of-brain

    God save our precious brains from atrophy. I was watching a youtube video of a man now sitting in jail who killed his father for predicting the second coming of Jesus Christ. He slit his throat and ate a portion of his brain.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptq_Z0JQcos&feature=related

  22. 22
    Solomon2 Said:
    March:20:2012 - 15:44 

    According to Elliot Abrams, the Grand Mufti’s position is nothing new: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/destroy-all-the-churches-saudi-arabias-poor-treatment-of-christians/254650/

  23. 23
    Rayyah Said:
    March:23:2012 - 06:25 

    dear JC,
    pls forgive me for saying this
    but ignorance is not bliss

  24. 24
    Rayyah Said:
    March:23:2012 - 06:28 

    & i was referring to jay kactuz
    sorry Jay, but i offer that you can say i’m lazy to write

  25. 25
    Rayyah Said:
    March:23:2012 - 06:44 

    but since i feel terrible dismissing you

    [1] i’m sorry

    [2] & who cares what i say, right. so here’s what GoJerusalem states at the present moment. “Umar’s conquest of Jerusalem was famously peaceful, leaving intact the Christian holy sites and permitting Jews to reenter the city and settle near the Western Wall.” [GoJerusalem] Only Allah SWT Knows Best.

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