Sheikh Dr Abdullah Al Manee, a member of Saudi Arabia’s Council of Senior Religious Scholars, who is knowledgeable in the field of religion, has expressed his disagreement with other scholars through his books, especially concerning economic matters in Islam. Due to his new post as head of the jurisprudence advisory council for a newly launched Islamic satellite channel, Dr. Al Manee is currently facing an organized campaign of verbal attacks that doubt the validity of his opinions by a number of extremist groups.
The objections that were addressed against Al Manee are concerned with controversial issues such as music, singing, the exposure of a woman’s face and the veil, opening up to other creeds, the jurisprudent teachings concerning residents in foreign countries as well as other debatable matters.
This opposition has not changed over time and stereotypes the Islamic world into a set of fixed and strict laws that dictate dress code and the like, and confines the authority of religious edicts to a small number of scholars who remain the only reference to the practice of early Muslims. The same opposing parties call for the complete elimination of the role of women in society.
The Islamic ideologies that are presented through satellite channels is a full reflection of the richness and multiplicity of the teachings of Islam, which certain groups seek to reduce to a narrow vision that limits the development of science and diminishes the facilitations and aspirations that are present in Islam. It further provokes an extremely isolated way of life. Clearly, the result of such a narrow perception of Islamic teachings would be a generation of extremists who follow one-way convictions, which they have been told is the “ultimate truth” and the “sole reality,” and that any other variations are merely deception and atheism coming into play.
Following the attacks that Dr. Al Manee faced, he issued an elaborate statement in which he called upon those who oppose him to “believe in his good intentions” and “allow him enough time.”
The commotion around such an established scholar as Dr. Abdullah Al Manee, who is known as a conservative scholar especially concerning fatwas (religious edicts), challenges the emergence of other non-conservative schools of jurisprudence.
How then will other figures that hold beliefs, edicts and outlooks that differ from the proposed replica of Islamic teachings, declare their opinions without being subjected to the same attacks that were waged against Sheikh Abdullah Al Manee?
I believe that what Al Manee had been subjected to is a public opinion that entails the major weakening of reality and an unacceptable change of established facts. The absent truth is that Saudi society is in need of moderation that endorses the fact that it is the heart of the Islamic nation. The promotion of edicts upon which only a small number of religious scholars in the Islamic world agree, is no longer acceptable as it violates the essence of the Islamic religion on the pretext that such practices are the correct teachings of Islam.
The organized rejection of Sheikh Abdullah Al Manee simply clarifies that the orientation of moderation must be endorsed and that a brighter future depends on that.