Last Updated: Mon Nov 01, 2010 11:42 am (KSA) 08:42 am (GMT)

Saudi cleric bans Muslims from joining al-Qaeda

The cleric said those that join Qaeda are deviating from Islam
The cleric said those that join Qaeda are deviating from Islam

A prominent Saudi scholar has issued a fatwa banning Muslims from joining al-Qaeda and labeled it a violation of Islam's teachings, press reports said on Tuesday, amid concerns about the growing strength of operatives in Yemen.

Sheikh Abdul Mohsen al-Obeikan, a top religious scholar and an advisor in the court of King Abdullah, said Muslims who join the militant group and engage in terrorist operations are deviating from the right path of Islam, Saudi newspaper Okaz quoted him as saying.

"Affiliation with the so-called al-Qaeda group is haram," meaning banned in Islam, al-Obeikan told the paper, adding "It is strictly prohibited to legitimatize the shedding of blood of other Muslims without having the right to do so."

An image of Sheikh Abdul Mohsen al Obeikan

Obeikan reiterated the official Saudi view that Qaeda's ideology was one of forbidden "takfirism," which accuses others of apostasy to justify murdering them.

Anyone who joins al-Qaeda "belongs to a group that has adopted takfir thinking," he said.

Although there are no more al-Qaeda members in Saudi, the terrorist group is gaining ground in neighboring Yemen, which is now becoming the main base of their operations in the Arabian Peninsula.

Obeikan, who has played a major role in rehabilitation programs of repentant militants, called on al-Qaeda members in Yemen to repent and turn themselves in to the authorities.

The cleric also warned that "Muslims should not also rise against their leaders or create strife among people."

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