Recently, the international press reported on a new fatwa issued by the Saudi Arabian Mufti, Shah Abed al-Aziz Al-Ishaih who called for the demolition of all Christian churches in the Gulf region and the prevention of the construction of new ones. (www.almasry-alyoum.com, 3/25/12).
Such an irresponsible religious fatwa by one of the highest Islamic religious officials in Saudi Arabia is a slap on the face for the Saudi king, who has been personally advocating a peaceful coexistence among the three monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
The fatwa by the Saudi Mufti has created international protests by Christian religious leaders in several western countries and Russia.
As of March 30th, 2012, I have not read any official reactions from the Saudi government regarding the fatwa. Keep in mind that there are over 3 million Christian foreign workers in Qatar, the Emirates, Yemen, Oman, and Bahrain who are entitled to practice their religious beliefs freely.
The Saudi religious leader who issued the “fatwa” must be ignorant of the content of the Quran that refers positively to the followers of the holy books “Christians and Jews”.
Furthermore, such an irresponsible religious statement will further fuel the discrimination against Islam and Muslims, especially in the U.S. and other western countries. Every religion tends to have its own share of ignorant and fanatic people who will take advantage of any opportunity to discriminate against the members of other faiths. Such fanatic and un-enlightened people want to be the authority on earth to judge other people and ignore the basic teachings of their own religions, such as that God is the only judge.
It is unfortunate to say that throughout history in all of the three monotheistic religions, some religious leaders want to interpret religion the way they want it to be and not the way it is written in the holy books.
In democratic and open societies, the matter of constructing places of worship is the responsibility of the civil authorities and not the religious ones, especially in terms of building zoning codes and safety in addition to the practice of religion.
The Wahabi religious hierarchy in Saudi Arabia is living in total isolation in terms of the changes that have been taking place worldwide. They should learn a lesson from the influences of the Arab Islamic civilization on the world more than one thousand years ago. May the all mighty open the eyes of these fanatics in Saudi Arabia to see the light and protect Islam from their fanaticism.