Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat-Sheikh Saleh al-Luhaydan, member of the Senior Ulema Council, recently sparked controversy when he rejected the existence of the 2009-H1N1 Influenza [swine flu] epidemic in a lecture about the “jurisprudence of the patient”.
Sheikh Saleh’s statements prompted the dean of the College of Medicine at the Islamic Imam Muhammad Bin-Saud University who took part in the lecture to respond by asserting that the “epidemic does exist and has been scientifically proven.”
Al-Luhaydan voiced his opinion while taking part in a lecture at Al-Rajihi Mosque in Riyadh after being asked for a ruling on whether a person can pray in his house if he fears going to the mosque as a precaution against being infected by the swine flu.
Sheikh Al-Luhaydan ignored the question and voiced his opinion rejecting the existence of this epidemic. He said in his answer: “I do not know how serious this epidemic is. For example, it did not emerge that funerals during Ramadan were more than last year. On some days, there are two times when we do not pray at funerals at Mecca Mosque so where is this epidemic which the people are talking about?” He then expressed his fear that the epidemic was something to do with commercial matters and this prompted Dr. Khalid Abdul-Ghafar Al Abdul-Rahman, the dean of the College of Medicine at the Islamic Imam Muhammad Bin-Saud University, to respond and stressed that the epidemic exists and has been scientifically proven. In his response to the member of the Senior Ulema Council, he said that what deserves to be examined is that only few cases were recorded in Mecca despite the population density during Ramadan and this is due to God’s care and protection of Kaaba’s visitors.
The Saudi doctor stressed that the swine flu is of moderate danger and milder than the normal flu and praised the health measures taken by his country to fight the swine flu epidemic.
Sheikh Al-Luhaydan returned to argue with the dean of the College of Medicine stressing that he knows persons who did not have the anti-swine flu injection and did not became sick and added “this is the blessing of God Almighty for He decides matters.” But the dean reiterated the dangerous consequences of being infected by this epidemic as its mutations could endanger human lives.