So Much for Free Thinking

During the few days after the inauguration of KAUST, some Saudis complained that the coverage of the event in the international media focused too much on the fact that it is the first time for a university in Saudi Arabia to have coed classes. Those have argued that KAUST has much more to offer to the country than mixing of the sexes, which could be true, but whether we like it or not, the issue of mixing was at the heart of the debate that accompanied the official launch of KAUST, and the opinions seemed divided between those who have a problem with it and those who don’t.

People at both ends of the sociopolitical spectrum have expressed their views on the issue in the media and on the web, but one influential voice was notably absent from the discussion. The absent voice I’m talking about here is that of the official religious establishment, especially the Council of Senior Ulema which holds the highest religious authority in the country and includes the most prominent clerics in its membership. Although notable, this absence was unsurprising at all. It has always been a common practice of the official religious establishment to keep silent when it finds itself in a confrontation with the political will of the ruling family. Some call it pragmatism, some call it hypocrisy. Your call.

shethri_2So it was business as usual, until Shiekh Sa’ad al-Shethri has spoken, and suddenly all hell broke loose. Al-Shethri, who is one of the youngest members of the Council, criticized mixing at KAUST during a fatwa show on al-Majd TV saying “mixing is a great sin and a great evil.” He also wanted a religious committee to look into the studies being conducted at the university and their compatibility with Shariah Law. Again, no surprise here: everybody knows exactly how conservatives feel about the relative freedom in the new campus, like how men and women can intermingle freely and the fact that women are not forced to wear abayas or cover their hair.

The real surprise, at least to me, came in how al-Shethri’s comments were received. The large number of articles written in response to the comments and the aggressive tone of these articles were nothing short of staggering. It started with a strongly-worded editorial by Jamal Khashoggi in al-Watan daily, who said al-Shethri would not be where he is if it was not for the support of King Abdullah, and therefor he should not speak publicly against the King’s university. Two dozens of articles in the local media followed Khashoggi’s steps and echoed pretty much the same idea, all attacking al-Shethri and telling him to keep his mouth shut.

This verbal assault was interesting to watch, but also sad. The so-called liberals proved they are no better than their opponents when it comes to taking cheap shots to gain political capital. The fact that both parties use the card of official support against each other is pathetic. Liberals claim the King is on their side and that their opponents are standing in the way of reform and development. Conservatives make the same claim regarding the King and accuse their opponents of being a novelty who try to destroy the very basis on which this country was founded. No constructive debate whatsoever, just a shouting match where everyone is a loser.

I believe there are at least two conclusions to make from this hoopla. First, free thinking does not yet exist here, especially not amongst the conservatives and not even amongst the so-called liberals. Second, opposing the royal will is still a red line that shall not be crossed by those who wish to continue climbing the ladder of influence. Al-Shethri was sacked from his position in the Council of Senior Ulema last night by a royal decree.

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76 thoughts on “So Much for Free Thinking

  1. It’s so sad that our country is so full of hate and disrespect….
    I think we are in bad need of university that teaches love…

    Insightful post!
    Thanks

  2. One of your best articles Ahmad, thanks.

    I have always thought you yourself had what you call “official support” but I could be wrong. The only thing I am happy about is that this support is in the right direction now. LONG LIVE THIS KING, and may Allah bless him.

  3. I disagree, Ahmed. No Doubt Shithry stumbled all around in one of his ridicules McFatwas that was asked by a clearly pro-Alqaida person claiming to be from Qatar (I bet u he’s from and in Saudi).
    But obviously this is a brilliant political opportunity for reformists to strike back at the religious institution when you have a situation clearly backed by the King/Gov and then one of those half-jurist officials publicly denouncing it.

    It is true that you have to choose your battles, and I think this one was presented in perfect circumstances and fought well with good analytical arguments against a defensive/apologetic Shithry. I salute the sacking decision.

  4. Ahmed:

    I disagree with your idea that “First, free thinking does not yet exist here, ”

    I believe that there does exist some free thinking here.

    Not free action, of course, but what is in our mind is in some cases free.

    However, the fact that liberals are required to seek support from governmental leaders is not due to a lack of free thinking.

    Rather, it is due to the reality that in order to transform free thought into any form of action, one must gain some level of support from the government.

    We are not, after all, disembodied intelligence, and thus we must gain support from those who are the ruling government.

    The fact that we are able to at least gain some level of support from such governmental leaders is a mark of the pragmatism of such leaders.

    Yet, I too, wish that we would be in a situation in which notions defined as “universal human rights” by the United Nations did not have to be begged for in our country.

  5. The religious establishment cannot be blamed for keeping silent against ruling family’s liberal ideas. They do not have any choice but to accept as they do not have any authority over the King. The scholars who are brave enough to criticize the ruling family have been demoted and threatened by members of royal family. Freedom of expression does not exist when it comes to speaking against the king – one of the disadvantages of living in a monarchy.

  6. “The fact that both parties use the card of official support against each other is pathetic. ”

    As if the only opinions that matter are those that are bought and paid for.

  7. This is a very thought provoking article on a core issue. Thank you.

    I would only remark that it is common for those debating, particularly in relatively closed system, to appeal to the recognized authority as being on their side in order to advance their argument.

    As Andrew pointed out this is a way to safely advance reform in a way that will help the country evolve rather than simple result in rejection or silencing of the viewpoint being advanced.

    ADNISA–“Freedom of expression does not exist when it comes to speaking against the king – one of the disadvantages of living in a monarchy.”
    I believe you left out the word “absolute monarchy” (eg Saudi Arabia) or “oppressive monarchy (eg Morocco under Hassan II, a constitutional monarchy in name only) , as it is quite possible to speak out against the King or Queen, and even call for a Republic to replace the monarchy in such constitutional monarchies as the British one (governing all the Commonwealth countries), Belgium, the Netherlands, etc. Short of serious threats of physical harm of course, but that would be the same of threats against any individual.

  8. I’m all with this university and don’t mind at all the co-ed part, but the attack on and the demotion of Dr. Alshethri was shocking and sad.
    The guy was asked his “opinion” and said what he thought right to be said, as politically correct as possible, too.
    Not much of the “free thinking” the university promotes.
    @Z theory : ” No Doubt Shithry stumbled all around in one of his ridicules McFatwas that was asked by a clearly pro-Alqaida person claiming to be from Qatar (I bet u he’s from and in Saudi).”
    What difference it makes if he were from Saudi or Qatar ? doesn’t he for some extent speaks for a majority of other people in the Arabian peninsula and other Muslims around the world ?
    He only asked for the cleric’s insight and opinion on what’s going on and how Muslims like him should perceive the situation. They ask clerics about everything in their life. why would he be now a ” pro-Alqaida ” person ?
    It only proves -as Ahmad said- that you are no better than your opponents when it comes to taking cheap shots, and a jerk, I may add.

  9. It is true we should support expressing each other’s perspective even though we disagree; however, the discharge of al-Shithri was needed to a degree. I believe that after that decree, many muslim clerics were just waiting to see the reaction before speaking up and supporting that idea. Take for example aldowaish who has been supporting alShithri’ s decree through writing in different forums.
    Add to that that the government did not spend billions of dollar to see it being blown up by a fundamentalist through an implied incitement by the shake. It is true that the shake was not explicit about this but we all know that islamic decrees are the fuel and dynamic machine of people’s life in Saudi Arabia, that is, if a shake says this is Haram then it is Haram if he (there is no she :) ) says it is not or keeps silent then it is not and the government knows this well.

    What is rather funny in what alShithri said is that a committee of muslim clerics should be appointed in order to check and see if what is taught in KAUST is not against the islamic teachings. This is extremely funny and one would deduce that the islamic Ulama know every thing about every thing and would not hesitate interfering in the business of these very scientific colleges and faculty.

  10. @NYer:
    Apparently you have not listened to or read the guy’s actual question and Shithri’s answer so allow me to enlighten you.
    The guy was not asking for as you said “how Muslims like him should perceive the situation…[or] ask clerics about everything in their [his] life”. The guy did not even ask for Shithri’s opinion or insight, he has already formulated his own. He was asking Shithri for 2 things and I quote “to address this university” and “from the jurists who mostly address the Mujahidin [i.e terrorists] and condemn them, to hold this as evidence [for incompetency] against the ruler”. He even uses the term “the land of the 2 holy mosques” instead of Saudi Arabia in typical Alqaida ideology.

    You see, the problem with Shithri is that he was not supposed to even dignify this question/demand with an answer, yet alone stumble all over trying to please the religious institution and the King at the same time just to stay in office. Even his chaotic response was deprived of what jurists call ذوق فقهي, roughly translated as jurisprudential suavity, though I wasn’t expecting much form Shithri since he is yet to be even close to a true Mujtahid so good riddance.

    I will not go into a critique of what Shithri said, I also don’t really care if that guy is from Qatar or Saudi I just mention this because his dialect is clearly Saudi Najdi, so his claim to be in or from Qatar would have raised a red flag for Shithri if he was even suspicious of this guy’s intent.
    “Freethinking” is a principle of Islam even before this uni promotes it, and so is this guy’s entitlement to his opinion that the uni is “secular” and “co-ed”, even if idiotic. But when “freethinking” amounts to treason then it’s a different issue. Though my heart goes out for those freethinkers who lose the integrity of their arguments by petty name calling :)

  11. So calling Saudi Arabia “The land of the 2 holy mosques” is Al Qeada ideology?

    Of course, let’s forget that the term comes up freqeuntly in official Saudi documents.

  12. A very thought provoking issue indeed. And while, like you, I found the strong worded appeals to silence Al Shithri from the Saudi Liberals to be quite appalling, a case of the pot calling the kettle black, I tend to agree with relieving Al Shithri from his council seat. While he is free to his opinions (of course), he should be more careful in sounding them in a public podium given his official powers. Diplomatic and military personnel are forbidden from showing their political leanings for that very same reason.

  13. As I mentioned in John’s blog. Al Shetri demotion might seem to some as a very aggressive move. But it does seem to me its not just about his statement against Kaust. He is the youngest member, he spoken in criticism in public. He back paddled about it later and tried to excuse his position with the interview condition and that he was cornered into talking about the issue.

    It seems like the King realized that Al Shetri is a bad choice to be in that position if he cannot evade such a controversial topic and they rather remove him from that post because if he were to stay, he will be an easy target to drag others down.

  14. Someone out there is thinking right , a member of government very close to king Abdullah giving him all the indications .Long live this guy

  15. What ever category you put the caller in, whatever agenda he holds and group he belongs to, the question was raised from the first minute people in Saudi knew that this University is having mixed classes and no abaya needed there, hell, my mother first thing said when I told her about it, what’s gonna be the clerks say in that?. I knew all about it 3 years ago. It was only a matter of time and a person (any person) for that question to be publicly discussed.

    Mujahidin not necessarily means terrorists !!

    – “He even uses the term “the land of the 2 holy mosques” instead of Saudi Arabia in typical Alqaida ideology.”
    Another cheap shot! Nearly EVERYONE calls Saudi the land of T2HMs, it’s not an ideological mentality term. Perhaps he used it just to emphasis the contrast between having T2HMs and (what seems to him wrong) having a mixed education.
    Stop reading too much into ones ideology and over-analyzing.

    -“trying to please the religious institution and the King at the same time just to stay in office.”
    Can’t you assume, just for a change, that the man might have an opinion of his own and doesn’t have to please anyone? He’s a clerk after all. And everyone says good stuff about the King, he want’s to stay in office cause he did so? remember the king favored him enough to assign him in his ex-position.
    “Even his chaotic response was deprived of what jurists call ذوق فقهي, roughly translated as jurisprudential suavity, though I wasn’t expecting much form Shithri since he is yet to be even close to a true Mujtahid so good riddance.”
    Jurisprudential suavity? How else could he put it? Do you know how answering religion questions goes? ever heard of لا تأخذه في الله لومة لائم ?
    Please, explain how to answer that question with ذوق فقهي !

    Honestly, I smell a strong, stinky prejudice, intolerance and manipulation, among others, in your post. That’s not healthy and thus won’t lead to a fruitful debate. Maybe your heart should stay where it’s needed figuratively and literally.

    • – The caller referenced the Mujahidin who the Saudi clerics often condemn for acts of violence. Which Mujahidin do you think he was talking about? Alqaida terrorists.

      – If you have ever read Alqaida literature, you would notice their refusal to acknowledge Saudi Arabia and use L2HM instead, out of their dissent against the ruling family. As an academic principle, in order to comprehend a correct overview, you must read the term in the context of the caller’s whole question.

      – لا تأخذه في الله لومة لائم is a norm and a prerequisite for all jurists in Shari’a and Fiqh, it is not an option card that a jurist may elect to use or not, even if “for a change”. With all due respect, I can sense that you lack grounding in Islamic jurisprudence so any further discussion would be futile.

      I really cant see any novel arguments in your response so not to repeat my self, I refer you back to my previous posts and I also, as a principle, withdraw from any other arguments once the mutual intellectual respect is lost.

  16. It is not true that there is no free thinking in SA: this blog and the discussions on it are evidence that there is some. Maybe not much, but some.

  17. whether i agree with him or not i salute the sheikh for speaking his mind as opposed to those other hypocrites he works with (no they are not pragmatists).

    we need more ppl like that in the arab world who are not afraid to stand for what they believe in even if it might piss off the powers that be.

    whats interesting is that i read the news of his firing on the front page of asharq alawsat today and i was like why is this on the front page??? oh and the brief snippet made absolutely no mention of why he was fired.

  18. The sheikh is brave. But don’t call the other people he works with as hypocrites. They want to speak up but they are wise enough to understand the consequences. Not everyone can live without a job.

  19. There are Fatwa shows on television???
    I just got a really weird vision here..

    Women will be allowed to drive and not be forced to wear abayas and headscarfs?
    Waw!
    And it’s such an amazing place! I wish I could go to study there!

    ADNISA He could just as well be stupid instead of brave.
    But scholars who’s business it is to stand for religion and who keep silent if they are convinced somethings wrong, and then don’t stand up for their convictions because they don’t want to lose a plushy job are hypocrites and cowards.
    Their business is religion yet they prefer money?
    That is the reason why I think there shouldn’t be any religious scholars anyway. It certainly shouldn’t be a job with power and money for that will attract all the wrong people. As is illustrated constantly, aspecially in the fatwa department. There are so many fatwas about you can find one for anything you like, for and against.

    Anybody who is really so very keen on religion should be a scholar in their own time, after finishing the job with which they make their money.

  20. It is easier said then done.Aafke. Everybody needs money to live. If you can’t live without money, how will a scholar. Ofcourse just like good people and bad people there are good scholars and bad scholars. Many scholars in muslim countries are politically threatened to say what they say rather than being paid. And it’s not a sin to be scared of a powerful person.

    Plus, how much time can one expect to put in religious government duties after having a tiring 9 – 5 job.

  21. Well yeah, you’d need true commitment. But don’t you think that’s worthwhile?
    Its certainly better as the hollowed out, currupt run for power and money and influence which seems to galore in all religions. I by no means mean Islam alone, Just think of the catholic church sending abusing priests from place to place while excommunicating those parents who dare to complain!

    No Religions are corrupt and twisted the world over, religion and money should be kept wide apart, and religion and power as well.

    No, especially in religion, which claims to take care of morals, and people’s souls, there is no room at all for secundary opportunism.

    At least that’s how I see it. It’s clear from what’s going on in the world that’s not how other people see it.

  22. “What is rather funny in what alShithri said is that a committee of muslim clerics should be appointed in order to check and see if what is taught in KAUST is not against the islamic teachings.”

    And if they are, what then? Can it be that the reason why he was fired was because the King didn’t want to confront that very question?

  23. That might be a reason ….. but it does not make any sense that some islamic clerics who are specialized in islamic studies decide for bioscience and biological engineering colleges what to teach. With all respect it is beyond their qualifications to even absorb one article about these very scientific majors …. I think it is the right time that people like alShithri understand that and stop intervening in everything …

  24. I think the subjects are completely beyond their understanding, but they are too arrogant and blinded to even realise that.
    And too power-hungry not to try…

  25. Dr. Alshithri mentioned the evolution theory as an example of an unaccepted teaching as it conflicts with the Quran – and we all know the Islamic say in that matter.
    Quran and Hadith covered all aspects in life, and based on them beside Analogy (قياس) and Unanimous opinion of Muslim scholars (إجماع)
    Scholars can at least have an opinion in major topics that clearly contradict with Islamic teachings and facts. In vitro fertilization, cloning, stem cells and genetics engineering, space limits and the creationism .. etc. All had an Islamic say in them.
    These subjects and sciences should be rooted and evaluated from an islamic point of view, so it won’t cause a conflict and contradiction in the muslim’s minds. I guess that wasn’t too much to ask.
    And finally, lets not forget this country first and foremost is an Islamic one, where everything boils down to Islam and its teachings. At least, that’s what I’ve heard and claim.

  26. “They want to speak up but they are wise enough to understand the consequences.”

    thats what im saying .. we need more ppl who are not afraid to speak up regardless of the consequences .. as opposed to the خرفان status quo

  27. @ NYer
    OMG! So muslims are as shortsighted and deluded as christians when it comes to evolution and scientific proof?
    And I thought Islam promoted learning? The KAUST-project seems a beacon of light.
    By all means: keep the scholars far away from it!

    • yes, Muslims are in cahoots with Christians about creationism. However, its not an issue that they are vocal about or the majority of them are aware of… The educational side will teach Darwin social philosophy, though evolution is not mentioned thereafter the debate about evolution and creationism is not something you would hear of often.

      Al Watan Newspaper used a title that phrased that “adri” the recent unearthed fossil as the fossil that disproved Darwin evolution theory.. even though the article says something else completely and affirms to evolution..

  28. “The sheikh is brave. But don’t call the other people he works with as hypocrites.”

    sorry but when the ulama or the hay2a only apply their rules to certain ppl and other ppl are considered above the law so the rules dont apply to them this is hypocrisy, it might be justifiable but its still hypocrisy

  29. In case some of you don’t know.
    It’s possible to be a christian and still accept evolution. As you might know even the catholic church has accepted evolution theory.
    The catholic church did in fact fight modern science, and had not a few scientist killed. And did it help the church.

    • An excellent point! The Vatican has accepted evolutionary science, and it is taught in the Catholic science curriculum for primary and secondary schools.

  30. To an extent, I won’t deny I respect Al-Shetri and his courage to stand up and speak his opinion against the King. Although I don’t agree with the teaching ‘secular ideologies’ part. Education, both religious and secular should be studied by Muslims.

    Free Mixing all of a sudden like this will bring more bad than good. When Islam tells us something, there is hikmah behind it. Now imagine, a society where there is strict regulation when it comes to free mixing and then some of the youth is all of a sudden allowed to free mix.

    All in all, there needs to be a balance & I guess that is where all Muslim nations are lacking.

    • As usual in Engineering faculties women are in a minority (though catching up), and of the KAUST faculty only 4 are women and only 1 of those Saudi, who trained in the US.
      I would imagine the men and women students have been selected in part for their ability to concentrate on their studies in non-segregated universities as most have a bachelor’s degree from a Western university.

      Statistically most “nonsense” at universities is done by undergrads (more of them, many not terribly studious, young, away from home for first time, late adolescent brains not fully developed especially re: inhibitory responses). I doubt there will be overly much “monkey business” at KAUST unless they start doing studies on primates (unlikely).

  31. Solid post.

    And congratulations to the ppl of KSA for KAUST!

    I’m glad that fundamentalist got sacked – “mixing”, a “great sin”? The King should toss more of those guys.

    I think there’s a fair amount of free thinking in KSA :)

    Sexuality is a reality. Get used to it. Segregation is counter-productive. When “mixing” is a part of everyday life, sexuality becomes (largely) invisible. Think of all the people (of the opposite sex) that you never get to meet!!

    Regardless, you Saudis gotta learn that there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of sexual tension.

    Ruff.

  32. I agree with you Ahmed. The sacking of Sheikh Sa’ad al-Shethri was not really a victory for the liberals. It just highlighted the fact that no one can go against the king’s wishes and get away with it unscathed.
    As you point out there is seldom a civilized debate about issues in the kingdom.
    I posted a link on Facebook about Shethri being fired and my friends all said how awesome King Abdullah was for firing him, which I thought was sad and missed the point that we do live in an absolute monarchy, where we have no freedom of expression. It’s depressing but true. I’m glad that you pointed this out.

    • Rasheed, imagine you work for a government branch and you go on the record to public with a statement that contradicts the Organization view and would create controversy for the organization? What would you expect? Al Shethri was removed from the Council of Senior Ulema because it is the body that will give legitimacy to controversial policies of the government.

      Freedom of expression has been six feet under for a long long while before Al Shethri, he doesn’t fit the criteria for it however. I’d call it that when he is sacked from his university post for those statements.

  33. Hello Ahmed, I think you misunderstand what freedom of expression means. He was free to say what he wants. From what I have heard he wasn’t punished in a legal sense. The sheik in question wssn’t quite a private citizen, he was a member of an important government body, and that government isn’t a democracy. If he wants to opposed the king in public he should have had the sense to resign first.

    • I did not say that al-Shethri’s right to freedom of expression was denied. This is not the case. He spoke his mind and he should take the consequences of his words. I’m just trying to put the incident in context by looking at the big picture.

  34. @Aerinndis :
    Islam has an absolute science within it. Whatever mankind comes up with, that conflict with it, is denied and rejected. That’s part of our faith.
    Muslims -needless to say- also believe in God existence! what does that makes them from an atheist point of view, Aerinndis ?
    I can’t argue with you about evolution -or anything else for that matter- from an islamic perspective when you don’t believe in it’s own creator! There’s a huge gap in basics.

  35. But he has freedom of speech doesn’t he? Nothing serious has happened to kim? Not in jail or anything? ) as has happened to others who spoke out)
    And I’d think that if an emplaoyee harshly crtitisises the employer, while being in a position of trust, the employer is free to loose trust and sack him!

  36. “Islam has an absolute science within it. Whatever mankind comes up with, that conflict with it, is denied and rejected. That’s part of our faith.”

    The problem is not “what mankind comes up with”, it is what nature comes up with.

    I would suggest that if there appears to be a conflict, it is because people have not thought deeply enough about their faith. The Catholics had to rethink their beliefs about astronomy and biology, and the apparent conflict dissolved away.

    I read recently about a boy in Afghanistan who believed the Earth is flat, because that is what he had been told by his Imam. No doubt the Imam considered that to be an article of faith.

  37. Don Cox : You don’t need to go more than a little generation back to find high regarded saudis who were ‘flat-earthers’.
    If anything it’s an example that in the course of time something can change.
    Regarding religion and science let’s se. When NY’er concludes : In vitro fertilization, cloning, stem cells and genetics engineering, space limits and the creationism .. etc. All had an Islamic say in them.” All you can say that this activity hasn’t much to do with science, because the answers is given beforehand.I’m sorry to say it but it reminds me of communism, and the russians attempt to document the universal materialistic laws of science behind everything.They of course succeeded.But when they tried to verify it on new areas, of course they went nowhere. Science isn’t like that.

    • @ Don Cox & NielsC:
      The previous highest ranking religious authority in Saudi, the Mufti, Ibn Baz wrote an essay affirming the flatness of Earth and geocentrism. Reportedly, however, he went back on the flatness claim but never on his geocentric claim.
      ((الأدلة النقلية و الحسية على جريان الشمس و سكون الأرض ))

  38. Z theory:

    Thank you, I recall having been told that.

    When such individuals hold significant governmental power, why do we continue to wonder why our nation would be incapable of developing major science efforts?

    One cannot such individuals, for example, supporting an effort to direct spacecraft into the cosmos, above the supposed flat planet.

    And, if physical science is very difficult, it would be infinitely more difficult for disciplines such as social science or the arts to truly flourish.

    A visit by the Russian ballet corps is unlikely to occur anytime very soon.

    We can and must do better.

  39. i empathise with ur views.. not because ive read the articles or know enough about the people at hand (in fairness i havent even read the comment thread) but i empathise because while your liberalism is undeniable based on your blog – at times – people you would expect to align with betray the very values you believed that you share..

    i often get that from the peace camp in israel as well as the zionist camp..

    i applaud you for being genuine enough to scope out your own beliefs and views without blind subscription to the masses or submasses..

    the world needs more people to do exactly that..

    ur point is very valuable..

  40. “Reportedly, however, he went back on the flatness claim but never on his geocentric claim.”

    Well, the positions of the Sun and planets are relative to one another, so you can actually take any atom and arbitrarily define it as the “centre” point. There is no absolute centre to the Universe.

    It is easier to understand the shape of the solar system if you think of the Sun as its centre, but the calculations are no simpler if you need accuracy (as when landing a probe on Titan).

    So one could argue that the old boy was right on the “centre” question.

    • The beauty of theoretical arguments is in its ability to broaden one’s horizon of knowledge. The centrality of our universe would then shift between theories of an ever expanding or ever shrinking universe. Even though I believe our old boy was talking about the centrality of our solar sys.

      But the point is: is a theologian qualified to make any cosmological or astronomical claims as facts rather than theories?. In other words, are theologians qualified to make unquestionable claims in any social or scientific discipline that touches human life such as economics, medicine, sociology, …?. Unfortunately, this is the practice in Saudi where theologians have the final say in such matters.

  41. Man who the hell do you think you are to speak like that?
    The tone of your rhetoric, the thoughts expressed and the writing, all betray a big ego and a good dose of arrogance on your part!

    I’ve been following your blog for a while now. And i’ve had enough!

    For someone young like you and studying Pharmacology, you seem to know a lot about Global Economy, Geopolitics, Sociology, Politics, Psychology, Philosophy…i mean the whole gamut! You probably read and mastered all the great Greek classics, Kant and Nietzsche, Curie and Einstein, Ibn Khaldun, E. Durkheim and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. And yo didn’t stop there you went on with Niccolò Machiavelli, Plato… i could go on and on.

    From where do you get your info. and knowledge dude?! You probably have some special access to global powers and deciders? Or you just woke up one day and overnight realized: ” I am omniscient! i’ve got to write a blog to enlighten those dark backward Islamic Scholars and their followers! Hey what the heck! I could enlighten the whole world not just them! I was on CNN afterall!”

    I have news for your dude: you know ziltch but maybe what you were taught about pharmacology! Anything else is just simple arrogant rambling from someone who had the misfortune one day to be on CNN. They made you believe in your own self-feeding, conceited importance when they had nothing else on their radar screen to beat down Muslims and Saudi Arabia !

    Yes dude! You are just a simple student in Pharmacology living in Saudi Arabia who as Ibliss the outcast think that you’re better than others and know it all! Just don’t forget the end of the arrogant!

    You are neither omniscient, God (exalted be He) only is! Nor are you important in the grand scheme of the Universe. So just can it and try to increase your true actual knowledge. Less talk and more actual learning would do you good.

  42. Sheesh Bruno Paris, if you are that brilliant you think you can come down on Saudi Jeans why don’t you get a life? Start a blog and improve the world with your own pearls of wisdom???

    And stop boring us overhere. :roll:

  43. Bruno Paris: graciousness and humility, my friend.
    “And the servants of (Allah) Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, “Peace!” – Alfurqan 63

  44. Samir: You’re childish! You ought to stick to the subject at hand. I raised some questions. If you think they’re not valid or legitimate: argue that! If you think they are: say so or keep quiet. But to miss the point and tell me i’m jealous is indeed childish. Not having knowledge is not a crime or a flaw, for God only gives knowledge to whom He wills. But to not know and go around town declaring and acting like you know is ARROGANT!

    Chiara: although i’m impressed by your language skills and you make an excellent point indeed, you are too missing the point. Stick to the subject at hand! It’s basic 101 reading writing skills! You totally missed the point i made or wanted to ignore it.

    Aafke: Your bitterness is as brutal as the New England winter. Rest assured i do have a life. Probably not yours but it suits and pleases me. That ought to be enough. You too are missing the point!

    Z Theory: My dear friend, i can tell that your intentions are good. And that’s enough for me to communicate with someone. But here you too are not only missing my point but you are making one hell of an assumption about me that is no way warranted by my previous comments.

    Nowhere will you find in my comments any remark or assumptions made about myself, my education, my wealth, my knowledge or my status. It was all about the author’s. The fact that i raise questions about his own educational and intellectual background says nothing about myself. If you are trying to attend a book club, or any association of individuals, you ought to wonder who are those people? why do i want to associate myself with them? will i learn from them? will i be of use to them? Those are legitimate questions.

    And if you do this little simple exercise in intellectual honestly, you will have to wonder about the author of any blog’s authority and level of KNOWLEDGE!

    Furthermore:
    “And the servants of (Allah) Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, “Peace!” – Alfurqan 63

    “when the ignorant address them” not the ARROGANT!
    God hates the arrogant and so should we. Because they take after Ibliss.

    If i showed arrogance anywhere in my comments, or in raising what i consider legitimate questions, feel free to let me know at BrunoParisNYC@Gmail.com I will look into it with as much sincerity and honesty as i can with God’s help.

    But i will not have the arrogance and dishonesty to criticize the owner of this blog and keep visiting it.

    Again: Not having knowledge is not a crime or something to be ashamed of. For God only (exalted be He) gives knowledge to whom He wills. But to not know and go around town, around the world, declaring and acting like you know is indeed ARROGANT! Just as the arrogant Ibliss mislead Adam and Eve (peace and blessings upon them) pretending he knew best about the tree! And it is my duty to denounce them.

    Peace.

  45. Z Theory, very true comment! And you at least follow your own words from what I read in your comments, even if you do not agree. Which is the true test.

    Bruno, OMG, you did not notice any arrogance in your comment????
    Well, rest assured we all noticed it very well. I see you are completely unaware of your own arrogance and supercilliousness. I think you should retreat a bit and try to get to grips with your inconsistencies and personality problems. Perhaps read a bit and try to follow the example of the prophet a bit more.

    And what bitterness? I like Saudi Jeans, I think he’s cool, and if some weirdo comes along with a long boring comment about how crap he is, without having anything to show for himself, so being a hypocrite, I tell him so. Nothing bitter about it, just a natural reaction to your arrogance, and delusions.
    What New England? What have I got to do with new england? Get a grip on reality!

  46. Bruno.
    What I read your first comment I said ok may be he is irritated and sounds not only arrogant but harsh. But besides that your second comment shows that you force your points on others and think you are important, an accusation that you place it on others.

    First, in your first comment you did not raise questions you were just attacking Ahmad and then you asked people to stick to the point you made. Where is that point?
    Second, your request for Ahmad to stay focused on his major at college and never write about other areas is ignorant. If you had been following saudijeans you would have noticed that it focused on Saudi Arabia. It is true that he touches on different areas but what I have noticed is that this blog focuses on current issues on politics and daily life of saudis, hence, sociology. Two things which are hard to be separated. What Ahmad does is he describes an issue and then states his own perspective. Now he could be wrong sometimes but you do not have the right to first belittle someone and second take a right of his which is representing his point of view.

    In general you should think of this well-known line :
    لا تنهى عن خلق وتأتي مثله عار عليك إذا فعلت عظيم

  47. Bruno–Merci pour le compliment. I do believe I got the point of your earlier comment which was a well developed argument for why you believe Saudi Jeans is arrogant and assuming knowledge on topics where he has none, in your opinion. My response was on point: you don’t have to read any particular post, comment or blog, and you are responsible for your actions (existentialisme 101). The topic of this post is freedom of thought and the freedom to express it. In allowing your comment to be published and remain so, Saudi Jeans/Ahmed has preserved your rights.

    I do hope in the future he will exercise the same excellent blog moderating ability as he has in the past and delete any comment that is a personal attack only, with a mention that that is the reason for the deletion and a reminder to debate the substance of the post. Ahmed is obviously more willing to come to the defense of other commentators who have been personally attacked than to curb criticism of himself.

    However, this type of discussion that you have instigated is a distraction for commentators interested in discussing a post, and good blog moderators don’t allow it to go on very long, if at all.

  48. I agree with Nyer.My q is what did he say that was wrong?Iam sure you all guys have internet.Do u know what is happening in the universities in the name of education.There are many mms every month or less of scandals of male and female students also of some
    professors.Even just to satisfy peers a student has to do unislamic things. So never mind the sheikh.The
    question to the intellectual muslims are:
    1.Does the shariah allow mixing of sexes?
    2.If so why isn’t it allowed in rest of saudi arabia?
    3.The scholar must answer to Allah,not the king.
    The Supreme court is above the prime minister or leader of a country.

    4.Here the scholar’s decision will affect the rest of the ummah.
    5.Will allowing something unislamic enhance technological knowledge?

  49. i agree with the sheikh the mixing AT KAUST is HARAM AND EVRY MUSLIM KNOWS THIS VERY WELL.. coz if it was not haram then evry single school in saudi wouid be mixed and there wouid be no such thing as hijab..

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