Saudi scholar slams critics of MBC’s Omar ibn al-Khattab TV series


Professor of Islamic law at Saudi Arabia’s al-Qassim University, Khaled al-Musleh, lashed out at critics of the TV series depicting the life of Islam’s second Caliph Omar ibn al-khattab and accused them of agitation.

“The issue of impersonating the prophet’s companions has always been controversial with some scholars sanctioning it and others considering it prohibited,” Musleh was quoted as saying by the Saudi newspaper al-Hayat.

Musleh cited the example of prominent preacher Sheikh Abdul Rahman bin Saadi and who attended a reenactment of one of the prophet’s battles, namely the Battle of Badr, at the Scientific Institute of Riyadh.

“That was 50 years ago and he did not see a problem with that.”

Musleh also explained in an interview with al-Safwa TV channel that the crew of the series, currently aired on MBC, had every right to choose one of two stances on the impersonation of revered Islamic figures and act accordingly.

“They choose to go for the opinion that it is religiously permissible to impersonate them. That does not give those who adopt the opposite view the right to start slandering them.”

The war waged by critics of the series against those who took part in it, Musleh noted, is like promoting sedition.

“Those who slam the series and its team are inciting hatred and creating an atmosphere of hostility and conflict.”

Musleh argued that instead of attacking people who believe impersonating the prophet’s companions is not against Islam, it is better to set the criteria that determine how they are impersonated.

“Strict rules should be imposed on the way those figures are presented to the audience in order to avoid any possible mistakes that could provoke the other side.”

For Musleh, Muslim figures can also be impersonated by non-Muslim actors as long as the intended message is still conveyed in the same way.

“Take the example of the film about Libyan freedom fighter Omar al-Mukhtar and you will realize that there is no problem if non-Muslim actors play the role of Muslim figures,” he concluded.