Monday, March 19, 2012

Destroy All Chrurches!!

        In this article, 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. Saudi Arabia’s top cleric made the comment in observation of a longstanding 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 (in the Islamic faith a futwa is a juristic ruling concerning Islamic law issued by an Islamic scholar). Last month, Osama Al –Munawer, a Kuwaiti parliamentarian, said he wanted to ban the construction of churches and non-Islamic places of worship in the Gulf state. Shortly after, Osama Al-Munawer announced on Twitter he planned to submit a draft law calling for the removal of all churches in the country. He later clarified that existing churches should remain but the construction of new non-Islamic places of worship should be banned.
        Interestingly enough, there is no actual position of Mufti in Islam. They are self appointed authorities, with no official authority placed upon them by Allah. There are arguments that the Grand Mufti does not officially "represent Islam" yet he is one of the most influential and visible leaders of Islam. That sounds to me like someone who does represent Islam. In this unfortunate situation, it is likely that the Grand Mufti's fatwa is influenced by his political needs.
        I disagree with the rhetoric of destroying any religious place, be it a church, synagogue, temple or mosque. Muftis in Arab are more politically influenced. In Islam it’s not about what a Mufti would say, it’s about what the Quran and sahih hadeeths (saying of prophet Muhammad) recommend. According to Islamic law, Islam preaches tolerance and religious freedom, and I don’t believe there is a single verse in any sacred Islamic scripture which mandates a destruction of others faith by force. Islam condones peace and acceptance by faith and not force. Islam is purely based in belief and faith. Just like any other religion it cannot be forced, and if it is forced, there is no longer any faith. No faith and hence no Islam. You can destroy churches but you cannot destroy somebody's beliefs or faith. There's a battle for the heart and soul of Islam.
        As Americans we have an impassioned belief in religious freedom. Now, at a time when our nation and surrounding nations are faced with severe religious instability, the challenge emerging again is how to preserve religious liberty for all. There may be temptation to legislate against an Islamic center being built near Ground Zero or to prohibit a pastor from publicly burning Qurans, but coercion is the wrong road to take. The taking away of religious freedoms in any nation, will result in violent religious persecution and conflicts are likely to increase. Religious liberty cannot be taken for granted, and all faith groups have a stake in protecting the fragile rights of religious freedom.


bethd said...

Very disturbing story. Living in the U.S. we usually take for granted religious freedom afforded to us. This article brings to light the issues quite a few countries face. It is clear from the article how there is no separation of religion and politics, this becoming even more complicated by the fact that in most Islamic nations, the religious leader is also responsible for making the legal laws.

crunchycheetos said...

Awesome blog post Calli!! This article was not only controversial but thought provoking too. I am curious if this decision is potentially linked to the recent Islamic outrage over American soldiers degrading and disrespecting Islamic soldiers?

I wholly agree churches (of any kind) should be banned from being built. We have learned in class there will always be religious dissenters and the problem is not fixed by taking or limiting rights of other groups.

Preston L.

Kyle I. said...

I hope that, in the course of this class, we have come to a better understanding of the tensions and even limitations of our legal, judicial, and political conception of the relationship between the state and religions. While its is fair to say that our system does seem to provide better protections for religion that the situation you are describing in your article, it is also true that many religious groups have found it quite difficult to freely practice in the United States. I do think these limitations of our system don't necessarily outweigh the positives, but I do think those situations should force us to recognize and attempt to address some real difficulties that can be found in our attempts to constitutionally protect free exercise.

Carrie B said...

Very interesting article. Along with Kyle's concern over the limitations of the legal system, I think it is important to try to contextualize the relationship of Islam and Islamic law. Although you reference Islamic holy books, the disconnect between one version of Islam does not necessarily entail how Islam is practiced by everyone. The interpretation and enacting of law will vary greatly according two who is interpreting the law.

Sachin G said...

I agree that banning new non-islamic religious centers in saudi arabia is definitely not a good idea. The reason being is because it will create "divide and rule". There are already a lot of divisions based on religions and sects. It will only lead to a war between the minority and majority religion. What I still don't understand is that, if religion is a private matter, then why is it being publicly persecuted?

Charlesha L. said...

I agree with Preston's comment about the fact that there will always be religious dissenters. In this case Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia is the dissenter. He seems to be acting on Saudi Arabian law which i find un-comprehensive for the simple fact that this religious figure is in action for law over liberty and religious freedom.
Maybe this case should be view or interpreted in a different way from what we observe in America's protection and freedom of religion.