2003 June 30 Monday
Saudi Critics Of Wahhabism Do Exist

Mansour al-Nougaidan started out as a self-appointed cleric and condemned the Saudi regime as not being sufficiently Islamist. But when he was thrown in jail after his supporters bombed a Riyadh video store in a strange twist he learned less intolerant strains of Islam in a Saudi prison.

During several stints in prison, he was exposed to different interpretations of Islam than the Wahhabi doctrine that has dominated Saudi Arabia for more than 70 years. Al-Nougaidan says his prison readings turned him into one of Wahhabism's fiercest critics.

In the West we face the opposite problem: people go into prison, get exposed to rather harsh versions of Islam, and come out radicalised. But in Saudi Arabia they have schools and mosques that already are teaching ideas that produce a radical and intolerant populace. So there you apparently have to go to prison to learn religious views that are not so dangerous. Go figure.

Al-Nougaidan gets a lot of threats in Saudi Arabia:

"Many of today's radical groups draw at least part of their religious justifications from Wahhabi ideology," said al-Nougaidan, who rarely goes out in public and does not answer his cell phone because of the numerous death threats he has received. "For too long, Saudi society has been exposed to only one school of religious thought. It teaches hatred of Jews, Christians and even other Muslims who are deemed too liberal."

Go read the full article. Other Saudis are quoted offering a number of opinions about Wahhabi Islam that are less than flattering.

Update: The senior religious leader of Saudi Arabia has made a particularly revealing admission.

Yet there are signs that even the religious establishment may be ready to move. Last month, the nation's senior religious leader, Sheik Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah al Sheik, declared that charging other Muslims with disbelief essentially, the official attitude toward Shiism until now is not permitted under Islam.

"Charging other Muslims with whom one may differ as disbelievers results in murdering innocent people, destroying facilities, disorder and instability," said the revered, white-bearded mufti, whose word on religion is nearly as important as is the Saudi monarch's on secular policy..

Think about that. Sounds good at first. He wants to extend the definition of Muslim to include non-Wahhabis so that the Wahhabis will not think it is okay to kill non-Wahhabis. But wait a second. Isn't this an acknowledgement that there are Wahhabis walking around who think it is okay to kill non-Muslims? His proclamation doesn't extend any protection to people who really are non-Muslims (i.e. most of the human race).

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 June 30 02:19 AM  Religion Secular Ideologies

Bob said at June 30, 2003 10:53 AM:

Apparently, the Mufti sees only muslims as innocent and cares only about the facilities, order and stability of Dar Al Islam. Dar Al Harb and Dar Al Kafr are our problem.

I suggest that those muslims who can accept Kafr as innocent and who care about the facilities, order and stability of the entire world be completely welcome here. The others are welcome in Saudi.

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