BURAIDAH, 17 September 2007 — In a major blow to the ideology of Osama Bin Laden and his followers in the Kingdom, Sheikh Salman ibn Fahad Al-Oudah, a popular Saudi religious scholar, has criticized the way in which Bin Laden has ruined Islam’s global image. “We as scholars of Islam reject what Osama does,” Al-Oudah wrote in an open letter posted on his website www.islamtoday.com
. Al-Oudah also questioned the validity of Al-Qaeda using violence. “What have we gained from the destruction of a whole country such as Iraq and Afghanistan?” Al-Oudah said, adding that these wars have led to civil wars in the region. “Who benefits from turning countries like Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and Morocco into insecure places?” he asked.
Many experts considered the letter as a major setback to Al-Qaeda’s ideology, as it comes from an influential Saudi scholar, who is not part of the official religious establishment.
“Brother Osama. How many wars and how much bloodshed have occurred in the name of Al-Qaeda? How many innocents, old men, children are killed in the name of Al-Qaeda? Are you happy to meet God carrying this heavy burden on your shoulders?” Al-Oudah asked.
He also criticized the Al-Qaeda leader’s lust for power at the expense of thousands of Muslims, who have been killed in wars initiated by Al-Qaeda. “Who is responsible for promoting the culture of killing and violence that has led to the destruction of families and societies? Who is responsible for the youths sent to wars leaving their crying mothers and sons?” Al-Oudah said.
“The attacks of Sept. 11 resulted in the deaths of thousands of human beings. Unknown callers to Islam (missionaries) are by far better. They help tens of thousands become Muslims without shedding blood,” he said.
Al-Oudah further slammed Al-Qaeda’s violent philosophy and attributed a decrease in the work of Islamic charities to Al-Qaeda. “Who is responsible for pursuing every charitable project in the world?” he said, adding that Al-Qaeda is responsible for filling prisons with Muslim youth — a phenomenon that will lead only to more violent and extremist acts.
Al-Oudah expressed sorrow over the current negative image of Islam saying that it has been severely damaged because of Al-Qaeda’s violent acts. “The image of Islam is not the one it used to be. The world is talking of Muslims killing non-Muslims. Even the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not kill hypocrites who were mentioned in the Qur’an for fear of people describing the Prophet as a man who kills his companions,” Al-Oudah reminded Bin Laden in his letter.