Yasir Qadhi had recently posted an article by the notorious Wahhabi Shaykh al-Ouda, or Awda (see picture on left), on the subject of terrorism.
This Wahhabi scholar was among the “Awakening Shuyukh” who was jailed for his critical views of the Saudi government, but then later released. After leaving the jail, he toned down his criticism of the Saudi monarchy and instead supported them in much of their domestic and foreign policy.
Moving on, the article was supplemented with excerpts by Yasir Qadhi, Yaser Birjas, Tawfique Chowdhury, and Waleed Basyouni.
Though it is ludicrous for a Wahhabi to write against terrorism — because Wahhabis terrorized Sunnis and Shi’ahs throughout much of their history for having different interpretations of the Islamic Sources — it is disturbing to note that contributers to al-Ouda’s article see him as a role model in the subject of terrorism.
Yasir Qadhi says:
“Sh. Salman [al-Ouda] is someone whom I know personally, and consider a mentor.”
What a coincidence. Osama bin Laden — Terrorist #1 — also admired Shaykh al-Ouda! Osama said:
“When the Saudi government transgressed in oppressing all voices of the scholars and the voices of those who call for Islam, I found myself forced, especially after the government prevented Sheik Salman al-Awdah and Sheik Safar al-Hawali and some other scholars, to carry out a small part of my duty of enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong.”
(Source: http://www.anusha.com/osamaint.htm )
That’s a view Yasir Qadhi and Osama bin Laden have in common, and that’s disturbing for obvious reasons. The problem is that having al-Ouda as a “mentor” is tantamount to supporting a man who considers it okay to kill civilians in Jerusalem. No surprise why Osama bin Laden admires him. To Shaykh al-Ouda, they are not civilians, but occupiers. What does Qadhi think about the ‘civilians’ in Jerusalem?
In al-Ouda’s website (http://islamtoday.com/), one can read the transcript of an interview of al-Ouda by the NY Times at
Others who normally comment were unaware that Yasir Qadhi was supporting a man with very extreme and controversial views on civilians in Jerusalem. An astute commentator at Muslim-Matters spills the beans in detail. It is worth quoting his detailed exposition of al-Ouda’s answers to the NY Times reporter:
Sorry, I am not being “disingenuous” as you claim and I have no “goal” other than to discuss the facts. I am being as objective as I possibly can and have gone to great lengths to prove my point.
First, the NY Times interview of Shaykh al-Ouda is on his own website, which is under the Shaykh’s “general supervision”, as clearly stated in his website. Therefore, there is reason to believe that he still holds those views.
There is no reason to believe that Shaykh al-Ouda has changed his views, as you said, unless something to the contrary illustrates that. I can find no evidence to the contrary and it seems like nobody else can either. Just because the interview was from 8 years ago does not automatically translate to him no longer holding those views, as you suggest — again, unless evidence to indicate this change is demonstrated. I don’t understand what you mean by “dirty politics”. We are discussing the facts extracted directly from his interview.
Second, when you quoted Shaykh al-Ouda, you missed a very important quote of his in the interview. It was the first one, as follows:
“Regardless of whether the attacks were against civilians, the fact [is] that they were within the realm of resisting occupation, is there any international law that denies the people the right to resist with any means they can?’’
Shaykh al-Ouda then differentiates the Sept. 11 attacks from the suicide bombings of civilians in Jerusalem by saying that the former was unacceptable whereas the latter (the Jerusalem suicide attacks) was a resistance against occupation. The understanding thus far is that he is not against the suicide attacks against ‘civilians’ in Jerusalem because he considers them occupiers.
Later in the interview, when the journalist presses Shaykh al-Ouda to discuss the 18 civilians (non-military) killed in the Jerusalem suicide attack, Shaykh al-Ouda says:
“There are too many things that are unknown dealing with the cause. Are these people who were killed, were they occupiers? And we have to look at solutions. Unless the situation can be removed, and the despair can be removed, we’re not going to solve the problem. A fatwa is not going to solve the problem.’’
Note that Shaykh al-Ouda is explicit about not condemning the victims because he deems them occupiers. When he is pressed by the journalist to answer, Shayk al-Ouda goes back to questioning the journalist: “Are these people who were killed, were they occupiers?” He is asking the journalist a question which he has already given his answer to, and wishes for the journalist to put himself in his shoes to answer the question himself.
Shaykh al-Ouda then makes it clear that it would be odd to explicitly condemn suicide attacks in Palestine/Israel:
“If all the ulemaa got together and condemned this activity, [suicide bombing in Israel] the people who are there will say these people don’t understand what’s going on, and we’re not going to pay attention to them.’’
This is in agreement with his earlier statements in which he says the attack is against occupiers (even if they are ‘civilians’).
Regarding suicide, he did indeed say that classical Islam never supported it. But you failed to notice what he said in his second statement that you quoted. Here it is again:
“If we accept the principle that war has been established and is going on, and the war is justified under Islamic law, and we happen to be in it at this time, in this case if a person gets involved in a suicide attack, then this is part of war, under the condition that innocents and civilians are not killed.’’
He said that “if a person gets involved in a suicide attack, then this is part of war, under the condition that innocents and civilians are not killed.” This means that while condemning the killing of civilians and innocents — not applicable to ‘civilian’ occupiers to Shaykh al-Ouda, as stated earlier — then this is a legitimate part of war.
From the aforementioned, we conclude the following:
(1) He supports suicide attacks against who he sees as “occupiers”. To him, they are not civilians, so it is okay to target them. But what if they are sitting and enjoying lunch or dinner at a restaurant, or if they are in a bus going somewhere? If it is okay to Shaykh al-Ouda to kill them, then he supports terrorism. Sorry.
(2) He supports suicide attacks in war.
I hope I’ve laid out the context clearly by the many quotes.
Let’s not love a scholar on this matter for the sake of loving him, even though he has done and said many good things for Islam.
Again, back to my original point: If we are writing against terrorism, is it sensible to use Shaykh al-Ouda in view of his statements above? I really don’t think so. Any sensible person would agree.
And Allah Knows Best.
The Muslim-Matters crew tried their best to prove “Mohammed Khan” wrong, but he stood his ground and seemed to have influenced the views of many who read his comments. One will note that the focus of many was on questioning al-Ouda’s stature as a scholar, and whether it made sense for someone like him to speak out against terrorism. The discussion of terrorism itself was more limited than what Muslim-Matters had anticipated.
Needless to say, the explicit evidence shows that Yasir Qadhi and his team support a scholar who deems it permissible to kill civilians in Jerusalem. How can such a person logically be used as a “mentor” who speaks against terrorism when he advocates terrorism at the same time?