The Islamic Post Blog

Opinion: Saudi Rehabilitation or Debilitation? by ipinfo2
March 25, 2009, 6:12 am
Filed under: March Volume 2009, Religion, World | Tags: ,

By Jameelah Kareem
Islamic Post Staff Writer

News agencies are reporting U.S. lawmakers will continue sending some Guantanamo Bay detainees to a rehabilitation program in Saudi Arabia. General Mansoor al Turki, interior ministry spokesman for the Saudi government, told CNN, “Such a re-education program will help the police to make sure these people get rid of the ideology that penetrated their brains [and to] make sure, when they leave prison, [they] can lead [a] normal life.”
There are approximately 240-250 detainees left at Guantanamo, most with little to no evidence of terrorist involvement. Nevertheless, a reform program is still seen as appropriate and the Care Rehabilitation Center in Riyadh, which focuses solely on ‘religious education,’ claims a 95% success rate. While the two Saudis who were said to have gone back to Al Qaeda, Said Al-Shihri and another man, bring that rate down by only about one percent (218 processed with 9 rearrests), there are more pressing questions regarding whether ‘religious education’ of the Saudi Arabian government is rehabilitating, or debilitating, for their Islamic morality.
The first thing which weakens Islamic principles of men is the common teaching of Wahhabism, which originates in Saudi Arabia, that it is not necessary to follow the Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him. Although there is a general outward appearance of flowing robes, the code which is largely followed is tribal custom. There is no harm in local customs as long as they do not transcend the laws of decency and human brotherhood. When these laws are bypassed, as is happening in many so-called Islamic countries, the result is an extremist stance that results in violent acts and the oppression of women justified with false interpretations of Islamic texts.
One of the publishing houses which caters to the raising of an intolerant mindset is Darussalam Publications which uphold distortions of Islam, even mistranslating the traditions of the Holy Last Messenger, peace be upon him, to suit their ends (See Darussalam Publications: Enjoining Wrong, Forbidding Right, Islamic Post January Volume I.)
Another primary source of misinformation is the translation and commentary of the Holy Qur’an by Yusuf Ali, which is the main Qur’anic text available in the West, in particular, as millions of copies are donated freely to mosques, Islamic centers, campuses and libraries. Freedom House’s Center for Religious Freedom cites no less than $75 billion dollars leaving the Saudi monarchy in donations to locations abroad. These monies are used for mosque-building assistance and salaries for those who agree to preach Wahhabism in their locales. For those who accept this assistance, the Yusuf Ali translation, Wahhabi books and literature are all mandatory to be placed therein and the teachers are given them as textbooks.
Majlis Ulema of South Africa published a book in the 1980s titled Errors of Yusuf Ali in which was listed 16 major mistakes in translation and commentary. Majlis Ulema asserts that in his erroneous commentary, Yusuf Ali promoted that following the Holy Messengers of Islam is unneccessary. If following the broad minded tolerance of the Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his interpretation of Qur’an (which is, in fact, his lifestyle) is not mandatory, but optional, it surely leaves room for a different, fallacious interpretation. This is the interpretation which originates from the Saudi Arabian government and religious bodies. Sending people who have already been accused of extremism to Saudi Arabia for reformation may not be the correct route to take.
A reformer is a scholar, not one who rejects the scholars for his own vain interpretation of Islam. It is also imperative that scholars know the entire text of Holy Qur’an, and above all, possess thorough understanding of the occasions for which various sections and lines of Holy Qur’an were revealed, including the abrogated verses, and those that replaced them. This can only be done by someone who has spent his life studying the science of the traditions of the Holy Last Messenger (peace be upon him) and knows them by memory, as well as the Holy Qur’an itself. Also he should be well versed in the historical events that precipitated revelations.
He must also be well acquainted with the character of the Holy Last Messenger (peace be upon him) and his Holy Companions and also the enemies and allies of the believers. Foes and friends existed outside the Islamic community and also within. As is today, there were many hypocrites who had apparently followed the religion, but only with a view to riding on the power of Islam. Needless to say, being fluent in classical Arabic and the shades of meaning used by Hijazi Arabs of the time is absolutely essential. Finally, the scholar to be must be infused with knowledge of God, awareness of Him, and a profound dislike to commit errors or do what the Almighty dislikes. To embrace all these qualities and profound knowledge can prove very challenging. Because of their love of and spiritual connection to the Holy Last Messenger (peace be upon him), his descendants have, throughout history, become the finest and most prolific scholars of Islam.
Therefore, not every Tom or Abdullah can pick up Holy Qur’an offhand, and begin to explain the text therein according to his own opinion. Muslims and non-Muslims alike are impressed upon to seek knowledge of Islam, its Messenger (peace be upon him), history, language and culture to enhance his or her understanding of Islam’s Divine text, which was sent for the entire human race. This can be done by sitting for lessons with a scholar of Islam or, failing this, reading his books and discourses. In Islam, it is only the deviates and arrogant people who say they will only follow Holy Qur’an or Hadith (authenticated, recorded traditions of the Holy Last Messenger, peace be upon him) while dismissing the work of scholars who spent their lifetimes studying and writing on the same in detail.
All this being said, there are very specific circumstances which occasion jihad, or defensive warfare, in the Holy Qur’an and Islam, just as there are injunctions for the same in the Bible. It is not befitting for those who are not scholars of the Word of God, whether they be Muslim or non-Muslim, to misinterpret such injunctions for any reason, least of all to advocate wanton bloodshed. On numerous occasions Wahhabi teachings have been found to be lacking in this regard.
However, for some, extremism provides opportunities. According to Newsweek: “There have also been concerns that Bush administration holdovers were deliberately playing up the [recidivism] cases in recent weeks in an effort to undercut Obama. One former senior U. S. counter-terrorism official noted to Newsweek that the Pentagon waited until the day after Obama signed his executive order mandating the closure of Guantanamo to confirm Mr Al-Shihri’s renewed Al Qaeda ties.”


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