MIDDLE EAST

On strange, ignorant fatwas

Now and then, clerics and preachers issue controversial fatwas (religious edicts) sparking media criticism, sometimes across the entire world. Some examples are the fatwa to kill Mickey Mouse or to breastfeed adults. A cleric once even said that driving might negatively affect women’s ovaries. Most recently, Egyptian preacher Sabri Abdel Raouf issued a fatwa saying men can have sex with their dead wives!

This recent fatwa made headlines across the world, just like any other shocking or illogical fatwa. These matters are no longer local affairs that concern a certain country as these news are now covered by CNN or Russian, British and even Japanese dailies.

The Journalists Syndicate Council in Egypt decided to suspend Ahmad Abdoun, the host of the program, “What are they wondering about?”, which airs on the satellite channel LTC, because he hosted Sabri.

The syndicate said in a statement that it suspended Abdoun after the legal committee detected “the moral and professional error live during the show” as he aired an immoral fatwa that says men can have sex with their dead wives, which is called by some as “farewell intercourse.” 

Stirring up controversy 

Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, Doctor Saad al-Hajri, a preacher who also issues fatwas, stirred up controversy after he said women cannot drive because they lack in reason and their reason will further deteriorate the more they drive.

There are so many strange fatwas and opinions which the media cannot be blamed for covering because it’s always looking for strange stories to report on. Does it get weirder than this?

There are so many strange fatwas and opinions which the media cannot be blamed for covering because it’s always looking for strange stories to report on. Does it get weirder than this?

Mashari Althaydi



Fatwas are in the end a “live” interaction between a religious guide with facts and contexts of a different “era” which in all cases require an “appropriate” perspective.

Scholars during the first centuries were braver than their present day counterparts. One can take a look at what scholars in Andalusia, Morocco, Egypt, the Levant and Hejaz did to see the difference.

What’s worth noting is that fatwas and statements no longer target a local audience as they now reach everyone everywhere.

Suspending Sabri or Hajri is a subsequent procedure but the main story is that criticism now comes from all over the world as these stories become noticed.

This article is also available in Arabic.
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Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy.

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Last Update: Friday, 22 September 2017 KSA 16:49 - GMT 13:49
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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