Every once in a while a Muslim scholar surprises me with his somewhat enlightened thinking. It doesn't happen often, but when it does it's quite refreshing. Kuwaiti scholar Tariq al-Suwaidan is obviously one of the more progressive, liberal Muslim types willing to take a stand against the increasingly conservative tide in the Middle East. Surprisingly, he believes that freedom trumps Shariah.
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.
Indeed. But they're not only shunned, they're also killed, like teacher Joel Shrum who was murdered in Yemen for proselytizing, even though this was not the case.
Apparently, Suwaidan was also highly critical of the recent call to ban churches in certain Muslim-majority countries.
One has to wonder how long he's going to last before a fatwa is placed on his head. Or maybe this is the beginning of a trend towards modernizing a religion in major need of change?