Thursday, August 9, 2012

Saudi ministry asks imams to stop praying for the destruction of Jews and Christians

Saudi ministry asks imams to stop praying for the destruction of Jews and Christians

This will be tough to enforce, since it is mainstream in Islam: the final two verses of the Fatihah, the most common prayer in Islam (repeated seventeen times daily by a pious Muslim who prays his five daily prayers), ask Allah: "Show us the straight path, the path of those whom Thou hast favoured; not the (path) of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who go astray." The traditional Islamic understanding of this is that the "straight path" is Islam -- cf. Islamic apologist John Esposito's book Islam: The Straight Path. The path of those who have earned Allah's anger are the Jews, and those who have gone astray are the Christians. Praying that one be not allowed to follow their path is not identical to praying for their destruction, but in Islam the two go hand-in-hand, since the Qur'an commands Muslims to make war against Jews and Christians, which it says are under Allah's curse (9:29-30).

The classic Qur'anic commentator Ibn Kathir explains that "the two paths He described here are both misguided," and that those "two paths are the paths of the Christians and Jews, a fact that the believer should beware of so that he avoids them. The path of the believers is knowledge of the truth and abiding by it. In comparison, the Jews abandoned practicing the religion, while the Christians lost the true knowledge. This is why 'anger' descended upon the Jews, while being described as 'led astray' is more appropriate of the Christians."

Ibn Kathir's understanding of this passage is not a lone "extremist" interpretation. In fact, most Muslim commentators believe that the Jews are those who have earned Allah's wrath and the Christians are those who have gone astray. This is the view of Tabari, Zamakhshari, the Tafsir al-Jalalayn, the Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn Abbas, and Ibn Arabi, as well as Ibn Kathir. This interpretation is venerable and mainstream in Islamic theology.

"Saudi ministry requests imams stop praying for the destruction of Jews and Christians," from [1] Elder of Ziyon, August 7:
According to [2] numerous Arab [3] websites (including [4] UPI Arabic), the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs sent out an alert to mosque imams not to pray for the destruction of Jews and Christians in their Friday sermons, noting that the "correct" prayers should be against "aggressors" only.

Apparently, religious incitement in Saudi mosques is so widespread that even the government has to get involved to tone it down....