Saudi’s large souk for fatwa merchants: Get your fatwas here!
Souk= marketplace, traditionally open-air, now on the internet and over satellite TV channels.
Farcical fatwas, often at odds with each other, flood Saudi sites, satellites as faithful seek spiritual answers.
By Habib Trabelsi
Women are banned from sitting on a chair or surfing the Internet in the absence of a male guardian, prohibited from playing football or learning English: According to preachers, the scope of lawful shrinks like a shagreen in Saudi Arabia, a juicy souk for merchants of fatwas.
Investors in the lucrative market of fatwas
"The fatwa market should be banned. It is illegal to use religion for profitable goals," said Sheikh Abdel Mohsen Al-Oubikane, member of the Advisory Board and advisor at the Ministry of Justice. He deplored "the great mess created by the anarchic fatwas, especially flourishing during Ramadan,” the Muslim month of fasting, the daily al-Riyadh reported on September 25, 2008.
Dozens of clerics and preachers poured into satellite television channels to issue religious decrees, mostly preposterous and sometimes bloody.
False solutions to false problems
Others offer their services “à la carte”, responding to specific issues and providing false solutions to false problems via the Internet or, even better, by charged SMS. According to al-Riyadh, a Saudi preacher has reached a record 150,000 subscribers. "Fatwas On-Live: Ask a question which the Sheikh will directly answer. Only subscribers can access it. Sign up by clicking here. Above all, do not deprive yourself of the good," said one of the many offers on the Internet.
So now we find out that in recent years an individual, perhaps maliciously inclined, can ask for a fatwa on just about any subject. How strange is that? and how fair?
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Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel