Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdulaziz Bin Abdullah Bin Mohammed al Sheikh, did well when he issued an explicit and unambiguous fatwa [religious edict] prohibiting Saudi youth from traveling abroad under the pretext of jihad.
The sheikh was absolutely clear in his words and distinctly said that Saudi youth have become, “a tool in the hands of foreign forces that manipulate them [Saudi youth] in the name of jihad, whilst fulfilling their shameful goals and objectives in foul operations that are far removed from religion so that our youth have become a commodity to be bought and sold.”
Credit and gratitude are due to the sheikh for saying that our youth have become a commodity to be bought and sold; unfortunately, this has become a tangible reality that manifests everywhere we look. Many were tricked and exploited while the instigators never hesitate to employ all kinds of pretexts and pretenses. Today, the redeeming factor is that these words belong to the Grand Mufti of Saudi.
But Sheikh Abdulaziz had previously warned of the danger of corrupting our youth. Moreover, he deserves credit for saying the truth at a time when the Arab public only heard what it wanted to hear, or what the inciters among the sheikhs had to say. At that time, prior to September 11, the Mufti issued a fatwa banning suicide operations, which caused a huge uproar. Today, after the succession of violent events around the world, many have followed suit, some of whom are ‘politicized’ sheikhs who have recently emerged on the scene and what a wide variety that is!
The Mufti’s fatwa stated things as they are, it was neither slanted nor hesitant; however most importantly, it hit on an important nerve in terrorist operations; its funding. The sheikh explicitly said, “I advise caution to those with financial means so that their money does not end up harming Muslims.” This is particularly more pronounced because it coincides with the time of giving Zakat [during the month of Ramadan], and scores have been deceived into financially backing the merchants of death and destruction.
The true value of this fatwa lies in that it has proven that those whom we consider traditional sheikhs in Saudi Arabia, and the Grand Mufti above them all, do not issue fatwas that cause discord or divisions among the society. Although not everyone agrees with what they say, one cannot call them instigators or accuse them of advocating discrimination. It must be said that the Grand Mufti has been calling against terrorism since 20 April 2001 both internally and abroad.
Saudi’s Mufti was never one to propagate such [terrorist] ideas or call for a false jihad or adopt a political position. It has also proved that the traditional sheikhs, no matter how different their social fatwas might be, were always right to have stressed the importance of cooperation within society whilst fending off sedition and preventing the manipulation of the state at the hands of those who seek to wreak havoc. This is especially so since we have witnessed the extent of the corruption and mischief in the land practiced in the Arab and Muslim world today, which happens at everyone’s expense under a religious pretext to serve political goals.
This is why Sheikh Abdulaziz al Sheikh’s fatwa is an imperative one. Although it is true that those who have passionately embraced Al Qaeda and its ideology might already be hopeless cases; still, the importance of the fatwa lies in its far-reaching impact especially on the parents. Another value is that it has snatched away a card that some politicized sheikhs have been exploiting.
Gratitude is due to the sheikh for this effective confrontation; it is now up to the society’s institutions to play their part particularly in education.