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Tariq Al-Suwaidan: “Freedom Comes Before Sharia'”

Tariq_Suwaidan

Muslim scholar Tariq Suwaidan

I am unfamiliar with this scholar’s prominence but he seems to have some impact considering this was reported in AlArabiyya. What he said seems pretty uncontroversial, it is similar to what many other Muslims have said and is a point that Suwaidan himself made “three years ago.”

Suwaidan also said that, “If Islamists start to become tyrants in the countries that were hit by the Arab Spring, we will revolt against them just like we did against their predecessors.”

Islamophobes will likely say this is “taqiyaa” or that this man is not following Islam as he should because you know they are the experts on Islamic doctrine:

Prominent Kuwaiti Muslim scholar says ‘freedom comes before Shariah’

(Al’Arabiyya English)

A prominent Kuwaiti scholar and popular TV talk show host reiterated his belief that freedom must come before Sharia.

Tariq al-Suwaidan, who is head of the Kuwait-based Al-Risala TV station, and has his own TV program, was speaking at the al-Nahdha conference for a graduates association in Kuwait on Saturday when he said “If Islamists start to become tyrants in the countries that were hit by the Arab Spring, we will revolt against them just like we did against their predecessors.”

“Freedom is a holy right and is one of the principles in Islam … Freedom is to do and say what a person wishes but in a polite manner and without hurting others.”

Suwaidan who was later defensive over his remarks, took to his Twitter page and wrote: “I gave the same lecture three years ago, and [my views] do not represent the views the graduates association or the al-Nahdha Conference, but are my beliefs.”

The scholar, who said that it was liberals who eradicated slavery in Islam and not the Islamists, added, “a human being is free in his movements and where he wants to belong, and convictions are what move people, and not force…”

Suwaidan has spoken before on freedom coming before Sharia on his TV program three years ago and was reiterating his belief.

He also questioned how Muslims shun Christian missionaries in their countries while Christians allow Muslims to propagate Islam on their lands.

He also expressed his disdain on not allowing churches to be built in some Muslim countries.

(Written by Dina al-Shibeeb)

*I’d also like to point out that we are not familiar with Suwaidan’s views, and as one commenter has pointed out he has said, “In 2006 he demanded that the European Union, as well as the rest of the world, enact “a law that forbids the insult to religious figures and religious sacred opinions.” A stance which Loonwatch certainly does not agree or support.

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  • Géji

    GW Says: “Ali, I think you are living in the wrong part of the world if you agree with sharia punishment. It is a brutal archaic form of retribution that will never be accepted on this continent. So I guess what you are advocating is that if a man steals a loaf of bread his punishment should be amputation?”

    @GW, your paragraph above addressed to Ali is driving more than anything else by the misplaced arrogance typical of most ignorant westerners, showing your lack of knowledge about the multiple forms, varieties, and diversities within Sharia, or it’s punishments.

  • Truth Hurts

    “Freedom comes before Sharia”

    BEFORE???

    Surely Sharia is meant to be an integrated concept with relative NOT absolute “freedom”?

    His understanding of “Freedom” needs to be clarified.

    I could not help but think of that other proponent of supernatural freedom credo as an idol i.e. Satanist evil mastermind Aleister Crowley >

    “Do what thou wilt that shall be all of the Law.”

  • Relief

    Thank you all for your replies. They are not as reassuring as I would hope,but I can see your points, and I do have more questions. I am busy with other matters today but will come back.

  • Mohamed S.

    Tariq Al Suwadian is fairly well know but I’m uneasy with him ever since he launched his Satellite channel, Al Risala, which is being funded by Al Walid bin Talal, a Saudi prince who is known for making a lot of money off of decidedly unislamic things.

    He’s like Rupert Murdoch when it comes to unscrupulousness (and it’s no surprise that Walid bin Talal owns a stake in Fox)

  • Sulayman

    Abdul Rehman, I think the point being made was not that liberals freed slaves, but that liberal Muslims put into action the recommendation in Quran, the freeing of slaves.

    I have a question about about Tariq Al Suwaidan, is he appointed by the Al Sabah ruling family? Because all the Gulf rulers are terrified that the populist rising in the Middle East threatens their dictatorships.

    Until we know more, i’d say take it with a pinch of salt.

  • Zakariya Ali Sher

    Except, Relief, that despite the protestations of some members of our community there are indeed a variety of Islams. If there wasn’t, we wouldn’t have distinctions like Sunni and Shi’a, Salafi and Liberal. Even the Alaouis to whom you refer are generally regarded as ‘Muslim.’ Bashir al-Assad, the President of Syria, is an Alaoui, along with his family. Each country has its own interpretations of Islam because of differences in language and culture, differences in how Islam arrived (and from whom), and even petty things like which interpretation the ruler preferred. So Saudi Arabia is a Wahhabi state, Iran is a Ithna’Ashari Shi’a state, Morocco is a Maliki Sunni state and so forth.

    There is no one Islam, and there is no one Shariah. It’s much like claiming that there is one form of Christianity. If that were true, which one? Roman Catholic? Latter Day Saints? Southern Baptists? Coptic Orthodox? Seventh Day Adventist? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of churches, each teaching its own doctrine, and there have been many, many more throughout history which have fallen into obscurity. You familiar with Arianism? Or Nestorianism? Or the Bogomils? They have precious little influence today. If Christianity were “all the same,” then wouldn’t a Christian majority country like the United States be exactly like Brazil, or France, or Russia? After all, they are all Christian, right?

    As far Shariah law, it depends on what issues now doesn’t it? For things such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and the like, yes I would absolutely prefer Shariah. Western secular law, in my experience, always favors giving child custody to the mother, even in cases where she is grossly incompetent as a parent. Fathers are absolutely shortchanged in that system, and I have actually seen it happen a couple times. Why wouldn’t I prefer a more just alternative. Likewise, you talk about how horrible a punishment crucifixion is (and no doubt it is) but truth be told there are plenty of people who deserve it. Rapists absolutely deserve it, as do horrible excuses for humanity like Charles Manson and his ilk.

  • aiman

    “Former dean of Islamic Law at Saudi university says Islamic law permits possession of slaves.”

    Different western countries, even territories within them, have many different laws. On that basis, can we have a coherent idea of what western law is? What about countries in the East of Europe, or in the Mediterranean? What unites this countries? Is it heritage, tribalism, racialism, or secularism? I think all of those. Your analysis of Islam is incredibly monolithic, even if all these countries are relatively democratic while Middle Eastern countries are autocratic. Then you quote a Saudi source to make your point that Islamic law permits slavery. Islamic law, like any law, is in flux. It has been in flux and open to interpretation and revision since the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). But some things are constant in law: justice, compassion, forgiveness, etc. Would you take up this agenda if we travelled back in time to the tenth century? Would you then still make these statements?

  • fox news

    It would be hypocritical to show taboo against “law preventing insult of religious figures” if the same people are OK with a law that prevents insults against the holocaust. Js.

    What Tariq Suwaiden says is quite significant because the end of slavery is a change of Islamic law itself. This has quite bit or relevance in understanding what then is exactly Islamic law that could change and that which cannot change. The ban on slavery is in effect a ban on what the Quran allows, ban on what the prophet and muslim community for years practised. This ban means that it is possible for something from the Quran, the prophet and global Islamic communitys unanimious agreement to be made unlawful. Muslims today reconcile the ban with Islam but it would not have happened if those dynamic innovated thinkers against slavery did not exist and pressure did not exist against Muslim countires. But Muslims are yet to recognise that it is possible for something which Quran, prophet and ijma recognised to be permissible, to be opposed by a qiyas proof. The commonly used arguments such as “the prophet allowed it, so are you better than the prophet ?”, “why didn’t the prophet ban it”, “islam is complete and thereofre any such ban implies islam is not complete”, Etc fails here and noone seems to be using these arguments to bring back slavery under the slogan of “return to the way of the salaf”.

    I hope a scholar would write a PhD paper on the implications of this in light of the principles of the four Sunni schools of law.

  • aiman

    “then being told that any Muslims or Islamic texts that reflect badly on Islam are not really Muslim or Islam.”

    I would suggest Muhammad Asad’s “The Message of the Qur’an” to understand Islam. It is partially based on Muhammad Abduh’s interpretation. And Muhammad Abduh was the most learned modern day Muslim scholar and I think surpasses current scholars, too. Yahya Emerick has also written a good biography of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). To understand Islam you have to go to sources which show the best learning. Issues with polygamy and slavery have already been covered by Abduh as back as the 19th century. That we continue to have these debates makes no sense to me.

  • aiman

    “Former dean of Islamic Law at Saudi university says Islamic law permits possession of slaves.”

    Saudi Arabia is the last country on earth to be conveying the values of Islam. Its whole theological doctrine, including the Qur’an translations that it exports, is constructed to legitimise the wasteful monarchy. I have personally come across so egregious errors in its translations that I wouldn’t mind nailing the word “heresy” on their doors. I doubt this dean would be saying this if he himself was a slave. On this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if the rich Gulf Arab states take this defence to maltreat workers from developing countries.

  • aiman

    P.S. If liberalism means tolerance, I would say it is already part of Islam. But if liberalism means elitism as the western public sphere suggests that it is, then it would not be. Islam has always been egalitarian. We have to work for equal rights for women, non-Muslims, and other disadvantaged groups in Muslim countries. I support Tariq Suwaidan’s brave and necessary critique.

  • aiman

    “Just had to make one point, it is Allah SWT himself in the Qur’an al-Kareem who commanded the freeing of slaves (not “liberals”) freeing them from a system of slavery that existed in pre-Islamic Arabia (in addition to forms of slavery and servitude existing all over the world from Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Africa itself, etc).”

    True but the scholar made a fair point that the Islamists have not made any ethical or positive contribution to Islam. Islamists have merely reacted against colonialism in ways that are antithetical to Islam. What they call Shariah is not even Shariah.

    I don’t agree with his appropriation of the word “liberal”, it was efforts of great Muslim scholars like Muhammad Abduh that challenged slavery and called for women’s rights. They claimed and provided with enough evidence to be true Muslims. But you have to agree that it takes human beings to understand God’s message. The Islamists have only broken laws like the ancient Israelites.

  • Relief

    See, this is what I and many others find hard to take: Being told to look at what Muslims do and what Islam says, and then being told that any Muslims or Islamic texts that reflect badly on Islam are not really Muslim or Islam.

  • GW

    Ali, I think you are living in the wrong part of the world if you agree with sharia punishment. It is a brutal archaic form of retribution that will never be accepted on this continent. So I guess what you are advocating is that if a man steals a loaf of bread his punishment should be amputation?
    Wow that is truly enlightened stuff…

  • Relief

    Ali – I don’t quite understand your reply.

    Are you saying those imams and scholars MEMRI translated are wrong? If so, how can they be so far off base about the religion they have spent their lives teaching and studying? They know the context, they know the langauge, all of those things we are told are too complicated for mere non-Muslims to grasp. No offense, but you seem to be saying “pay no attention to what those imamas are saying, just believe me when I tell you they are wrong”. Considering how often we see this sort of thing from Muslim clerics, that is a bit hard to swallow – surely you and other readers here can see that.

    And what sharia punishments do you agree with? I mentioned only two: crucifixtion and amputation. Are you saying you agree with those? If so, that too makes me uneasy. I do not want crucifixtion or amputation as punishment in my country (I don’t know where you live) – they are barbaric and intentionally cruel punishments. And if they are Sharia, are they not Islamic rather than cultural? If Islam incorporates such cultural things in its law, do they not then become Islamic?

    To say there is no proper Islamic state today is no comfort. If there were, wouldn’t it be worse than what is quoted here? If these things are a part of Sharia and Sharia is Islamic law, then wouldn’t things like crucifixtion be happening?

    What about Saudi Arabia? You are saying that is not a “proper Islamic state”?

    You say to look at what Muslim countries do, which is what I am doing in my post, yet you tell me that is not really Islamic. I appreciate your attempt to help, but I still feel nothing is clear.

  • @Emperor,

    “Islamophobes will likely say this is “taqiyaa” or that this man is not following Islam as he should because you know they are the experts on Islamic doctrine:”

    Off course. But either way, they fail.

    One, if they claim he’s lying just becouse he’s a Muslim, we can point out how bigoted that is. Even ignoring the fact that the taqiyya is lying for Islam idea is utter nonsense, you can make the taqiyya conspiracy theory unfalsifiable. All you have to do is basically claim that any Muslim who doesn’t sound like an extremist is practicing taqiyya, and any ex Muslim who says that taqiyya isn’t lying for Islam, is still secretly a Muslim. If you can’t prove it false, even if false, than we have no reason to take you seriously, and every reason to think that you’re just assuming that their lying because they have an Islamic background.

    Second, If Muslims themselves go against the teachings Islam so much, than doesn’t that make Islam not much of threat in the first place, even assuming those are the teachings of Islam?

  • ali

    @ Relief

    Yes we all know in those countries people take culture as religion.
    I agree with the Sharia punishments, but the thing is there is no such thing is a proper Islamic state today. Look at whats in Islam and what Muslim countries do.

    Those people in the mid east are only human, they themselves make grave errors.

  • dominicdecocco

    A moderate Islamist is one who is 1.7metres tall, has a body temperature of 37 celcius, complexion not pale and not dark and he is always neither here nor there.

  • Relief

    Good to hear even though his idea of freedom is not quite what many of us mean by freedom. For exampple, hurt feelings are never reason to curtail the freedom of speech and thought.

    But this from a commenter: “there is no such thing as a liberal muslim and a radical muslim in islam, rather these names are given by ppl themselves.

    Only Muslim”

    This is one of the legitimate concerns that people you like to call bigots have about Islam. This echoes the Turkish Prime Minister:

    “Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan rejected attempts to call Turkey the representative of moderate Islam. “It is unacceptable for us to agree with such a definition. Turkey has never been a country to represent such a concept. Moreover, Islam cannot be classified as moderate or not,” Erdoğan said, speaking at Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies late Thursday.

    Erdoğan also wanted Western societies to be more open to cooperation and dialogue with the East. “It should be known that adopting a malicious and offending approach toward the sensitive issues of Islamic world by hiding behind some democratic freedoms like freedom of speech and right of free publication is unacceptable,” he said.

    Or these from MEMRI: Egypt: Muslim cleric calls for implementation of Sharia punishments: crucifixion and amputation

    Syria: Muslim cleric says it is permissible to kill Alawite women and children

    Former dean of Islamic Law at Saudi university says Islamic law permits possession of slaves.

    Are these three men not muslim? Are they, in that often seen phrase, misunderstanding islam? If so, how can that be? They are religious leaders in the very heart of the Islamic world.

    Why do you consider people to be bigots for their concern over this sort of thing in the Islamic world as we rapidly accept more and more muslims into the west.

  • DawahTweet

    Freedom itself is an integral part of the sharia,the sharia is basically the constitution for the muslim ummah.
    But freedom does not mean tht u call ppl to falsehood,do illegal things.
    Freedom whch essentially does not damage society as a whole is highly encouraged in islam,ppl shld stop wth this liberal and islamist buisness,there is no such thing as a liberal muslim and a radical muslim in islam, rather these names are given by ppl themselves.

    Only Muslim

  • Abdul-Rahman

    Just had to make one point, it is Allah SWT himself in the Qur’an al-Kareem who commanded the freeing of slaves (not “liberals”) freeing them from a system of slavery that existed in pre-Islamic Arabia (in addition to forms of slavery and servitude existing all over the world from Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Africa itself, etc).

    Qur’an al-Kareem Surah 24:33- But let them who find not [the means for] marriage abstain [from sexual relations] until Allah enriches them from His bounty. And those who seek a contract [for eventual emancipation] from among whom your right hands possess – then make a contract with them if you know there is within them goodness and give them from the wealth of Allah which He has given you. And do not compel your slave girls to prostitution, if they desire chastity, to seek [thereby] the temporary interests of worldly life. And if someone should compel them, then indeed, Allah is [to them], after their compulsion, Forgiving and Merciful. (Sahih International translation)

    Also we have clear hadiths from the Prophet SAW saying that one of the people he SAW will be against on the day of judgement is the person who sells a freeman and eats the price (i.e. makes money off of it) along with an employer who doesn’t pay his employees for the work they performed, etc. Also Islam makes it very clear that slaves are to be treated as ones brothers and that the only legitimate way someone would become a “slave” in an Islamic state is from the prisoners of war the Muslims capture in a just Jihad (war of defense).

    Al-Adab al-Mufrad al-Bukhari – Being a master – SunniPath Library – Hadith

    194. Ma’rur said, “We passed by Abu Dharr and he was wearing a garment and his slave had a robe on. We said, ‘Why do you not take this and give this man something else instead of the robe?’ He replied that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘Allah has put your brothers under your authority. If someone has his brother under his authority, he should feed him from what he eats and clothe him from what he wears and not burden him with what will be too much for him. If he burdens him with what will be too much for him, he should help him.'”

  • Hl

    What does he mean “freedom comes before Shariah”? If a nation has sharia law as part of it’s legal system even if in limited form, they can just simply ignore it. What does he mean by ‘liberals’ and ‘Islamists’? Everyone’s being called an Islamist these days, I don’t even know what it means anymore. On his wiki page he’s referred to as an “moderate Islamist” also it states,
    “In 2006 he demanded that the European Union, as well as the rest of the world, enact “a law that forbids the insult to religious figures and religious sacred opinions.”

  • Omar

    He is a prominent scholar, most of his “fans” are Women and young people. haha the funny thing is that both Liberals and Salafists despise him..but again, Arab liberals are retarded for the most part..

  • mindy1

    Good for him 😀

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