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Saudi Cleric Warns: Freedom of Speech Might Lead to Freedom of Belief

Reader comment on item: A Democratic Islam?

Submitted by Jared (United States), Apr 24, 2008 at 12:01

Freedom of speech is a basic tenet of a democracy, as is freedom of religion. Both are embodied in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Saudi Cleric Muhammad Al-Munajid is against both because they would undermine Islam. Hence, clerics and others of Al-Munajid's ilk are against democratic Islam. MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1908 has the latest from Al-Munajid on these aspects of a democratic society from an interview which aired on Al-Majd TV on March 30, 2008.

Muhammad Al-Munajid: "Some of these heretics say: 'Islam is not the private property of anyone.' So what do they want? They say: 'No sect has a monopoly on Islam.' So what do they want? They say: 'We want to issue rulings.' Someone who is ignorant, who does not know any Arabic, or who has no knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence wants to issue rulings?! They say: 'We reinterpret the texts.' There is a very dangerous conspiracy against the religion of Islam in newspapers and in what these people say. A journalist, or one of those lowlifes, wants to... These people are a mixture of Western, local, and imported ideologies, but they want to express their views with regard to religious rulings. This is the prerogative of religious scholars, not of ignorant people – the prerogative of knowledgeable people, not of fools or heretics.

[...]

"The problem is that they want to open a debate on whether Islam is true or not, and on whether Judaism and Christianity are false or not. In other words, they want to open up everything for debate. Now they want to open up all issues for debate. That's it.

"It begins with freedom of thought, it continues with freedom of speech, and it ends up with freedom of belief. So where's the conspiracy? They say: Let's have freedom of thought in Islam. Well, what do they want?

"They say: I think, therefore I want to express my thoughts. I want to express myself, I want to talk and say, for example, that there are loopholes in Islam, or that Christianity is the truth.

"Then they will talk about freedom of belief, and say that anyone is entitled to believe in whatever he wants... If you want to become an apostate – go ahead. You like Buddhism? Leave Islam, and join Buddhism. No problem. That's what freedom of belief is all about. They want freedom of everything. What they want is very dangerous.

[...]

"Freedom of thought, within some constraints, is blessed. Islam calls for thinking, for interpretation, and for the use of the mind. But as for freedom of heresy, which allows anyone to criticize whatever he wants in Islam, saying, for example, that he does not like the punishment for apostasy, that he doesn't like the punishment for drinking alcohol, or that he does not like the punishment of stoning adulterers – this is barbarism.

"They ask: Why should a thief have his hand chopped off? Some of them say that this is 'too much.' Two-three much on you and your rotten mind. If you abolish this punishment, you will see the rise in thefts. On the other hand, people feel their property is secure because of this punishment."
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