Addressing Islamic scholars from Malaysia to Tunisia, Saudi Arabia puts itself at the center of attention


In declaring the International Union of Islamic Scholars (ILUM) based in Qatar as a terrorist organization, Saudi Arabia faces some of the leading Islamic political parties and religious figures in the world, opening itself to criticism for its approach to Israel and fueling controversy in countries like Malaysia and Tunisia.

In a statement earlier this week, Saudi Arabia accused ILUM of "using Islamic rhetoric as a cover to facilitate terrorist activities." The ILUM ban goes to the heart of the Gulf crisis that faces an alliance between the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia against Qatar and is driven by the visceral opposition of the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates Mohammed bin Zayed to any expression of political Islam.

The UAE has sought with little obvious success to counteract the influence of the ILUM by establishing groups such as the Muslim Council of Elders and the Global Forum to Promote Peace in Muslim Societies, as well as the Sawab and the Hedayah Ce. extremism in collaboration with the United States and the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum.

The ban appears to have been designed to position Saudi Arabia as the arbiter of what constitutes true Islam and marks a next phase in a four-decade, $ 100,000 campaign by the kingdom to counter Iran by spreading for more The Sunni Muslim ultra-conservatism, which often served as an ideological inspiration for the jihadist philosophy, is a repetition that the ultraconservatives have condemned. [19659002] ILUM "worked on the destruction of the main religious institutions in the Muslim world, such as the Council of High Academics in Saudi Arabia and Al-Azhar in Egypt," one of the leading institutions of Islamic teaching, accused Abdulrahman al- Rashed, a prominent Saudi journalist and columnist for Al Arabiya.

The owner of Al Arabiya, Waleed bin Ibrahim al-Ibrahim, was one of the leading media barons arrested in the recent purge of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of members of the ruling family, senior officials and businessmen against the corruption. .

"The terrorism project that is hidden under Islam launched its work at the same time as the organizations that issue extremist fatwas (religious legal opinions), as well as al-Qaeda and ISIS (acronyms of the Islamic State) ), these jurisprudential groups said they refuse to be local because they see themselves as global organizations that cross the borders.The most dangerous aspect of terrorism is extremist ideology.We realize this well now, "said Al -Rashed.

The Council of Senior Academics, despite having endorsed the reforms of Prince Mohammed in an attempt to save what he can from the power-sharing agreement that since the foundation of the kingdom The legitimacy of the Saud family is a body of scholars Islamic ultraconservatives.

Several statements by the council and its members that criticize aspects of Prince Mohammed's economic and social reform since his ascent in 2015 suggest that support among his scholars is not deeply rooted.

Prince Mohammed recently promised to push the kingdom away from its embrace of ultraconservatism and towards what it described as a more "moderate" form of Islam.

Speaking to the New York Times, Prince Mohammed argued that in the time of the Prophet Muhammad there were musical theaters, an absence of segregation of men and women, and respect for Christians and Jews, who were anointed as People of the Book in the Koran. "The first commercial judge in Medina was a woman!" Prince Mohammed asked.

The authorities days later prohibited the pilgrims from taking photos and videos in the Great Mosque of Mecca and the Prophet's Mosque in Medina, in line with An ultra-conservative precept prohibiting human images The ban was imposed after Israeli blogger Ben Tzion posted a selfie in Mecca on social media, and authorities banned non-Muslims from entering the two holy cities.

In a statement , the authorities said that the purpose of the prohibition was to protect and preserve the holy sites of Islam, to prevent disturbance of the faithful, and to ensure tranquility while performing acts of worship. [19659002FoundedbythepolemicserviceegipcioYousefal-QaradawioneofthemostactiveviolentmembersofIslamysecreatesthatisaspiritualleaderoftheBrotherhoodMusulmanIUMmembersincludeRachidal-GhannouchicfounderandtheintellectualleaderoftheBrotherhoodofTunisiathepartyhasbeeninspiredandthememberoftheparliamentandheadofthePan-MalaysianIslamicParty(PAS)AbdulHadibinAwang

Mr. Al-Qaradawi, a naturalized Qatari citizen who in the past justified suicide bombings in Israel but has since condemned them, was branded as a terrorist by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt in June as part of his diplomatic and economic boycott against Israel. Qatar. The alliance led by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia demanded that Qatar act against Mr. El-Qaradawi and dozens of others as a condition for lifting the six-month boycott.

Mr. El-Ghannouchi was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world in Time magazine in 2012 and the Top 100 Global Thinkers in foreign policy in 2011. She also received the prestigious Chatham House award. Mr. El-Ghannouchi is widely recognized for ensuring that Tunisia became the only Arab country that successfully emerged from the 2011 Arab popular revolts as a democracy.

The ILUM ban has also provoked a political controversy in Malaysia. Karima Bennoune, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights, recently noted an increasingly deep involvement of the Malaysian religious authorities in political decisions, developments that she said were influenced by "a hegemonic version of Islam imported from the Peninsula. Arabian "that was" at variance with the forms of practice. "

" Arab culture is spreading, and I would completely blame Saudi Arabia, "added Marina Mahathir, daughter of former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad

Critics The PAS demanded that Mr. Bin Awang, a vice president of the group, "clarify that he does not preach hatred," in the words of former PAS leader Mujahid Yusof Rawa, and asked the government to request information from Saudi Arabia to support their accusations. against the union. .

Mr. Bin Awang, referring to Saudi King Salman, said last week that he trusted the "Koran (as a guide) even though the ruler who is the servant of the Two Holy Cities has forged close ties with Israel and the United States. United, because my faith is not with the Ka'ba, but with Allah. "One of the most sacred sites in Mecca, the Muslims turn to the Kaaba when they pray.

"Like Qatar, PAS had tried to ingratiate itself with Iran in an attempt to cover both bases, along with Arabia, now the chicken has returned home and, like Qatar, the global small fish such as PAS are found caught in the middle between the two influencers of the Muslim world, "said Malaysian columnist Zurairi Ar.

Among other members of ILUM, there are scholars of Saudi Arabia's Salman al-Odah, who were among clerics, intellectuals, judges and activists arrested in the kingdom weeks before the most recent purge.

With millions of followers on social media, Mr. Al-Odah, a scholar who once served, converted a decade ago against jihadists like Osama bin Laden and played a key role in the kingdom's program to rehabilitate the militants, but maintained its opposition to the monarchy.

Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior member of the School of International Studies S. Rajaratnam, co-director of the Fan Culture Institute of the University of Würzburg and co-host of the New Books in Middle Eastern Studies podcast . James is the author of The turbulent world blog of the Middle East a book with the same title as well as Comparative political transitions between Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa co-author with Dr. Teresita Cruz-Del Rosario and Shifting Sands, Essays on Sports and Politics in the Middle East and North Africa.

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