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Saturday, June 30, 2012


I am very sad to see the state of Islam today, where once again the beautiful message of Islam and the example of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of God be upon him (pbuh), are totally absent in the verdict by Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah calling for the destruction of all Christian churches in the region. Such an ignorant ruling is totally against the teachings of Islam, which clearly support freedom of religion (2:256 There shall be no compulsion in religion.). Not only that, but Islam mandates -- by military force if necessary -- the prevention of the destruction of places of worship, specifically mentioning those belonging to Christians, Jews and Muslims: (22:41 …And if Allah had not repelled some people by means of others, cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft remembered, would surely have been destroyed...).

Even a child can see that if God commands Muslims to save Christian churches and other places of worship from being torn down, how could God (or His Prophet) then sanction the very thing Muslims are forbidden to do? And to further invalidate the fatwa of the Saudi Grand Mufti, we have as evidence the “Charter of Religious Freedom for Christians” granted to St. Catherine’s monastery in the Sinai by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in 628 AD, which reads:

“This is a message from Muhammad, son of Abdullah, and is a covenant with those who adopt Christianity, be they near and far, that we [the Muslims] are with them. Verily I, my servants, my helpers, and my followers will defend them because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I am against anything that displeases them. No compulsion [to convert] is to be put on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their posts, nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, nor damage it, or carry anything from it to the houses of the Muslims. Should anyone do any of these, he would spoil God's covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter [of protection]. No one can force them to migrate or oblige them to fight during wartime. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it must not take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray. Their churches are to be respected. Christians are not to be prevented from repairing them. . . No one of the nation [of Muslims] is to disobey this covenant until the Day of Judgment.”

The Saudi Grand Mufti’s extremist and un-Islamic edict fosters radicalism and animosity towards Christians. Any resulting destruction of property or loss of life suffered by Christians at the hands of Muslims will be on his hands as well for instigating such reprehensible hatred and evil.

Ironically, at the same time the Saudi Grand Mufti was inciting intolerance, destruction and potential murder, the Saudi King Abdallah was in Spain attending a Christian interfaith conference where he was extolling the peace, love and tolerance of Islam. It’s too bad these admirable qualities are so noticeably absent in the Saudi Kingdom. It would be admirable if the King hosted an interfaith conference in Mecca or Medina, and allowed Christians and other “religious minorities” in his country to build and inhabit their places of worship in peace and security. He would then be following the example of the greatest Grand Mufti in Islam, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

The Holy Prophet (pbuh), by a way of example, left a tradition for Muslims to host people of other faith in the Muslim sacred cities. Let us not forget that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) hosted several delegations from other faiths in Muslim Mosques, including the famous event of allowing the Christians of Najran to worship in the Prophet's Mosque in Medina. How can the Kingdom prohibit the entry of non-Muslim into Mecca or Medina? It runs contrary to the practice of the Holy Prophet (pbuh).

Extremism is running high in the Kingdom towards Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Mufti Abdul Aziz bin Abdallah bin Baz, who was the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia from 1993 until his death in 1999, had issued a verdict proposing killing Muslims who would not adopt the Islamic practice of offering the five daily prayers. In his book of edicts, 'Fata'wa' published in 1995, the Grand Mufti explicitly asks the authorities to force Muslims into repentance and, in case of resistance, "Kill them."

This is why the edict by the current Saudi Grand Mufti is also such a disgrace – worse, an insult -- to Islam. Can he truly be ignorant of the many verses in the Quran and the examples of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) that contravene and outright prohibit the intolerance, violence and destruction his edict will generate?

Doesn’t the Grand Mufti remember that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) sent his persecuted Muslim followers to seek asylum in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) -- a Christian-ruled country? And doesn’t the Grand Mufti know about the Charter of Medina which Muhammad, as the elected chief executive, signed along with all other leaders from the town’s religious and tribal groups? In that charter of religious freedom and mutual protection, they pledged that all the residents of Medina, regardless of their faith or tribe, would live peacefully together and defend each other and their city against attack. Everyone would be free to worship as they pleased, with no forced conversion to Islam or any other religion.

At the time of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), the Muslims, Jews, Christians and pagans in Medina were all allowed to pray according to their own beliefs and rituals without fear of persecution or violence against them or their places of worship. This is the true example of Islam set by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) which the Saudi Grand Mufti and all those who agree with his edict against the Christians are disobeying. They all seem to have forgotten that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) was and remains the best and final word for the Muslims. Their amnesia will cost them dearly.

[ Ghosted with Imam Shamshad A. Nasir; addit'l input from Imran Jattala. Ran on March 28th, 2012 in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and San Bernardino Sun under the headline: "Edict against churches goes against Islam." It also appeared online at here: ]

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