Monday, April 28, 2008

A death fatwa issued by an ageing cleric against Saudi intellectuals has caused outrage in the Arab world

The cleric is the widely revered Sheikh Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak. He does not represent the religious voice of the government but his aspirations are shared by many religious scholars in the kingdom. 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.

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