Gulf feud reveals ideological divide over political Islam?

March 7, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-world


Doha, capital of Qatar

Qatar, March 06, 2014: The divide within ideological Islam is growing. This week saw Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates withdraw their ambassadors from Doha in protest at Qatar’s interference in their internal affairs.

Qatar is the epicentre of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is banned in most other Gulf states as well as in Egypt. Saudi Arabia is the centre of Wahhabi-Salafist Islam. The Muslim Brotherhood wants to reconstruct society according to sharia, using Islam as a movement of political change. Wahhabi-Salafism wants Muslim societies to be fashioned according to the Islam of 1,400 years ago, under Muhammad and the “Rightly Guided Caliphs”, i.e. the first four leaders of the Islamic state after Muhammad. Qatar has described the other Gulf states, Egypt and others as dictatorships that must give way to a new political order. Saudi and Egypt believe that Qatar is destabilising Muslim societies in order to impose their own brand of ideological Islam.

This open confrontation has serious consequences for the House of Islam, for it will affect countries such as Turkey and those as far away as Malaysia and potentially countries in the West, where Muslim minorities are increasingly being radicalized. Which way will governments go such as those of the US and UK, which are allied with both Qatar and Saudi Arabia? Which side they will take? The US and UK governments are both assisting the Muslim Brotherhood in that they have allowed it to use their countries as bases of operation from which it is destabilising moderate Muslim countries.

This movement towards sharia embodied in political Islam is now reshaping countries such as Brunei, which is in the process of implementing in phases a new sharia penal code, many parts of which are applied to non-Muslims.

A Brunei government official has recently announced the following:

  • Non-Muslims will be punished for committing zina (adultery) with a Muslim, for drinking alcohol in a public place, and for khalwat (close proximity) with a Muslim. The penalty is a fine of up to B$4,000 (£1,900) and/or one year in prison.
  • For adultery between a married Muslim and a married non-Muslim, both parties can be punished by stoning to death if the offence is proven by confession or the testimony of four eye-witnesses.
  • Any person who instigates any Muslim man or woman to divorce, or neglect duties towards a partner, can be fined up to B$4,000 (£1,900) and/or jailed for a year.
  • Any Muslim parent who surrenders his child into the care of a non-Muslim can be fined up to B$20,000 (£9,400) and/or jailed for up to five years.
  • Non-Muslims are banned from using 19 Islamic words, including “Allah”.

Other sources report further restrictions affecting non-Muslims, all punishable by a fine and/or prison sentence:

  • Propagation of any religion other than Islam
  • Persuading a Muslim or non-Muslim to change religion
  • Teaching any non-Islamic religion to a child under the age of 18
  • Printing, distributing, selling or having in one’s possession any Christian literature

It is also reported that criticising Islam or bringing it into contempt will be punished by a death sentence or 40 lashes and 30 years in prison.

It seems strange that a country the ruler of which has been awarded several prestigious honours at the hand of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom (including Honorary Knight Grand Cross of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath) and with which the UK has close ties, should make such a move. It is not so much a retrograde step as a huge leap backwards into the past, reviving attitudes and practices that should have been consigned to history. It puts paid to Muslim arguments of being a religion of tolerance and peace.

– dr. patrick sookhdeo

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