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Sheikh al Obeikan and the Ardha - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Sheikh Abdul Mohsen Al Obeikan is a courageous religious figure since he has upheld his various positions despite having to swim against the tide. He would adopt a bold and logic view based on a convincing argument no matter how many opponents, whose efforts can be described as non-innocent, were recruited against him.

A video clip of Sheikh al Obeikan has been circulated via the internet recently showing him participating in the Saudi Ardha dance at a relative’s wedding. Words of objection were hurled against the Sheikh’s performance in forums using abusive language. After a short silence, Sheikh al Obeikan commented on this story and its repercussions by confirming and taking pride in the fact that he had participated in the Ardha, which is an acceptable practice.

At such events, what is required is that people display their happiness and pleasure rather than appearing to be serious. This controversy is a new chapter of fruitless talk that the Prophet [of Islam] did not like. The Prophet’s Seerah [biography] and the Sunnah [Prophetic traditions] both clearly approve of Sheikh al Obeikan’s actions. However, exaggeration and over-theorizing that afflicts the Islamic world has led to closing the door on the limited concept of reasoning. It is as if the gloomier a man is the stronger a believer he is!

The odd protest against Sheikh al Obeikan demonstrates the fact that the phenomenon of ignorance is strong. It is controlled by hidden buttons that have been pushed by a certain issue or public figure.

The great writer Jalal Amin described this phenomenon perfectly in his famous book entitled, ‘Thahirat al Jamahir al Ghafira’ [Phenomenon of the Masses]. Any commodity is sold to these masses that are driven and led by others and that accept any merchandise thrown its way even if it completely contradicts what is promoted by this group.

The issue is not about whether dancing is prohibited or permitted in religion; it is about dwarfing and limiting religion to one realm and this is incorrect.

The campaign that has been launched against Sheikh al Obeikan is not the first of its kind and will certainly not be the last and the more he becomes inclined towards moderation and tolerance, the more skepticism and tension will surround him. The issue here does not focus on dialogue or discussion about argument and evidence; it is about a decisive and necessary confrontation to protect religion from some of its affiliates. Religion defeats any of those who seek to be strict or intrude upon it. This is the truth.

Best wishes to Sheikh al Obeikan for his courageous position. I would like to personally take part in the next Ardha with him.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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