Saudi grand mufti raps fatwas against writers

Don't "rush to call people infidels," says al-Sheikh


Saudi Arabia's top Muslim jurist has taken a rare stance against radical colleagues who brand some writers as infidels, press reports said on Monday.

Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul-Aziz al-Sheikh said in a lecture last week that clerics should be careful before rushing to denounce writers as apostates from Islam, a practice known as takfeer, which al Qaeda uses to condemn many Muslim rulers.

Sheikh Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak, a highly revered independent cleric, said in March that two newspaper columnists should be put to death if they did not renounce their "heretical articles" in public. He was supported by 20 other clerics.

"Perhaps someone wrote what he did out of ignorance or misinformation ... We should not rush to call people infidels, except if their articles are a result of invalid belief and bad intentions," the Grand Mufti said in the comments reported in al-Hayat newspaper.

"(Takfeer) should come from knowledge, perception, understanding and awareness of the issue, and study," he said.

The Mufti's statement came days before a Saudi-sponsored "interfaith dialogue" in Spain this week among Muslims and other faiths and philosophies.