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The Sheikh and Football… Who's Guiding Who? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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After reading Sheikh Aed al Qarni’s article on the World Cup, published in Asharq al Awsat last Sunday, along with the views of other preachers, politicians and artists on the global football extravaganza, I sat and reflected on our reader’s comments on that particular article, including those not published.

I was amazed at some of the feedback I read! Attacks, accusations, criticism and defamation! Their criticism: how can the Sheikh write about football while Palestine is calling and Iraq is hurting! This was the opinion of a reader in Kuwait. Other readers in Germany, Australia and Sweden, or Muslims living in Europe, severely condemned the Sheikh. Many wrote from the United States and Saudi Arabia. Some even praised the Sheikh’s comments but this is not what the discussion is about.

I wondered who was guiding whom? Was the sheikh leading his students or were the student steering the Sheikh? Does the sheikh express himself in accordance with his knowledge and convictions, or does he take into consideration what the public reject and accept? It is infuriating when religious scholars submit to the wishes of the people! The outcome of which results in leaders becoming politicized, and here I speak of the world in general.

What if the Sheikh had said something and found out that he had spoken too quickly or had made a mistake and sought to revise his words, or some new information emerged and the sheikh believed disproved a saying or a fatwa? Does he bow to his knowledge and rationality or does he submit to his followers? This attack on al Qarni is entirely due to the Sheikh revealing his humane side and saying he followed the World Cup.

This problem in our region is not exclusive to the case of Sheikh al Qarni and his followers. It is present in all activities and domains, including politics and politicians, who fear the public as if it had the ability to bring down a government, or what is referred to as a democracy of chaos, and not a democratic system.

Iraq and Palestine are a case in point; all political leaders sitting on the negotiating tables in either case know who is obstructing solutions and who is promoting his objectives at the expense of more bloodshed, but they do not disclose this, out of fear of the public’s reaction!

The issue also reaches the economy and those involved in it, and of course the education sector as well. Primarily, the Arab media is also tainted, including some of its institutions and individuals. Some flatter a certain section of society so that it does not attack them or in order to gain its praise. Imagine if a doctor took into consideration the public’s views while the patient under his care was facing death!

Unfortunately, such is the situation and the question is justifiable: who is guiding whom?

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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