Dammam, Asharq Al-Awsat – Sheikh Abdul Mohsin al Obaikan, adviser to the Saudi Ministry of Justice and member of the Shura Council has condemned rumors that are being circulated via the internet about a video clip that shows the Sheikh taking part in a traditional Saudi ‘Ardha’ dance at a wedding. He considered the images an attempt to damage [his reputation].
Sheikh al Obaikan, who has long been at odds with religious hardliners over his religious edicts that call for more tolerance and respect for the law, told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, “I took part in the dance and I do not care about those who seek to turn our weddings into funerals.”
Al Obaikan took part in the ‘Ardha’ sword dance whilst attending his nephew’s wedding in Riyadh. He said, “I am surprised at those who have condemned me for taking part in the ‘Ardha’ as they know that demonstrating [one’s skills with] arrows and swords is religiously permitted and that the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) approved of that as stated in Sahih al Bukhari.”
Al Obaikan added, “Taking part in special occasions and displaying one’s happiness are permitted and encouraged in Islam just as Ibn Hajjar says in [the book] Fatah al Bari.”
With regards to the ‘Ardha’, which is part of local Saudi culture, al Obaikan told Asharq Al-Awsat that he had asked the late Sheikh Mohammed Bin Saleh Bin Athimin, a prominent Saudi jurist, about it and he had approved of ‘Ardha’ in his fatwas.
Al Obaikan launched an attack on religious hardliners who “seek to turn our weddings into funerals,” and accused those who want to preach at weddings of “heresy”. He said, “There is no report from the Prophet or any of the early Islamic leaders saying that they turned weddings into occasions for preaching.” He called for society to “get rid of restrictions that are being set by the ignorant.”