Tripoli, 24 June:
The Grand Mufti of Libya and Head of the Supreme Council for Fatwa (Dar Al-Iftaa), Sheikh Sadik Al-Ghariani says that some Libyans have converted to Shiism and Christianity. He spoke about his concerns in an interview with Libya Herald’s Ashraf Abdul-Wahab.
AA: You mentioned in your lecture in the Murad-Agha Mosque in Tajoura on Saturday, 25 May 2012 that Iran is trying to convert young Libyans to Shiism. Have you any proof of that?
GM: Yes, Iran is playing an active and suspicious role in Libyan towns and cities to spread the Shiite doctrine. About two months ago, a group of people were caught in Tripoli trying to organise a book fair in which books were being circulated without prior permission! Libyans from different backgrounds are being constantly invited to make free trips to Iran. Afterwards, these Libyan visitors are given questionnaires to fill in order to find-out the strength and weakness and hospitality offered in Iran. They are also offering state and non-state organisations their willingness to provide Libyan youth with training and sports activities as well as different other activities. Just this week an Algerian Shiite man was caught distributing free Shiite books and literature.
AA: Have any of the Libyan youth embraced the Shiite sect? And have any of the youngsters whom they tried to convert come to you for guidance?
GM: Yes, we had some calls from families informing us about the conversion of their sons into the religion of the atheist Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani [founder of the Ahmediyya sect] who claimed he had received a divine revelation and who had also claimed that he was a reincarnation of God! His doctrine has been widely followed in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India.
AA: Some media reported that there have been attempts in the eastern parts of Libya to convert people to Christianity. The sources also spoke of some books, literature and fliers being confiscated. Is this true? If so, what is the Iftaa Office’s response to this campaign? Has the Iftaa Office made any plans to combat such phenomena? What is the impact of it on the Libyan youth?
GM: Christian missionaries also became a cause of great concern, because of the chaos and lack of security and and border controls, this made it very easy to enter the country. Anyone can bring in what he wants, such as publications and subversive ideas and by using the temptation of money, they will also use other means like encouraging adultery and pornography, which appeal to some young people. Some Libyan families informed us that members of their families converted to Christianity because they [missionaries] managed to cast doubts in their hearts. The role of the Fatwa Office is warn people about such schemes and to spread awareness and clarify any misconnects in people’s minds through propaganda using the various media, websites, mosques and all other means.
AA: People have noticed that recently a newly formed organisation has emerged, the “Commission of the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice”. Many people have disapproved of the way this body was formed, especially since it was put under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Culture, but should instead be under the supervision of the Ministry of Awqaf & Religious Affairs or under the Fatwa Office. What is the exact role of this body? Will it have any judicial authority? Will it have its own courts, prisons, laws and penalties? Is it a clone of the one in Saudi Arabia?
GM: There have been several attempts by some good people to establish a body acting on guidance, correction and advice, in order to minimise corruption and evil which is now widespread and prevalent due to the lack of security and control over the state borders, such as illegal and corrupt relationships on beaches, roads and public parks, the spread of alcohol and cannabis and the smuggling of corrupt and illegal goods, etc.
The body has good and useful programs, inviting people to the path of God with wisdom and good counseling. However, to my knowledge this body has not yet been formally appointed nor has it been affiliated with any ministry.
The state is requested to adopt this body because it will play an important role in implementing the law and minimize wrongdoing. I have met a group of people from this organisation and they showed me some of their programmes which I believe to be of benefit. Their work seems to be based on compassion, moderation and justice. It is commendable and should be appreciated because they are carrying out duties on behalf of the nation. They should not frowned at, as suggested in the question.
This body is not a copy of what is found in any other country. It has no special courts. It is nothing like that. Its role is to enlighten and inform using gentle words. The duty of its members is to inform the proper authorities of any violations that are seen as contrary to values of this society. The role and activities of this body can be beneficial to every citizen, regardless of orientation. Among its roles are the protection of consumers, market surveillance, the prevention of fraud and harmful substances, smuggling, and the like. I would suggest that the name of this body should be the “Sharia Supervisory and Consumer Protection Board”, and should include within its membership, specialists in different fields — economists, management experts, food specialists and so on. It should not be limited to only Islamic scholars.
AA: Libya is an Muslim country and all its people are Sunni, but in recent times some politicians who have adopted the doctrine of secularism and have delivered lectures and held conferences on the issue and have tried to sway young people and convince to take up this ideology in order to turn Libya into a secular state. What is the opinion of Fatwa Office in this respect? Is there a particular fatwa or decision issued by Fatwa Office to fight this phenomenon? Will the Ifta Office be holding discussions and debates between the two parties, the “secular and Islamic” to underline the dangers of secularism?
GM: Secularism is a deviation from the law of God. It wants the neutralisation of the law of God. It says that state affairs should not been governed by the divine laws of God rather that divine laws should be confined to the mosque. Secularists are saying that public life — in politics, the economy, the media, family affairs and transactions and dealings — should not be managed by Islam but by man-made laws because they are better, so they claim.
Such claims leaves us in no doubt that secularism in this sense is an atheistic doctrine because it goes against God’s commands and prohibitions.
The instinct of the majority of the Libyan people would firmly reject an approach that wrongfully considers the words of mankind as being much better than those of God.
AA: Recently there appeared in the scene what people would call “false revolutionaries”. They are people who committed crimes such as theft, murder, assault, torture, illegal trafficking, alcohol and drugs abuse. What is the role of the Fatwa Office in this respect? Will it issue laws and guidelines to fight such crimes perpetrated by these youngsters? Is there a specific plan to prepare a course or curriculum or set up seminars for them, to guide them and return them to the right path?
GM: The Fatwa Office strongly condemns such crimes reported by various media sources, but has no authority to make any legislation.
AA: What advice can the Fatwa Office offer on the following issues: a) the armed clashes between the regions, for example: the Tuareg and the people of Ghadames, between the Tebu and the Zway tribe, between Rigdalin, Jumail and Zuara; b) the government’s role at present which was described as weak; c) the upcoming elections and especially the right of women to vote and run for candidacy?
GM: All parties must be aware that these clashes are being plotted against the 17 February revolution. They are malicious because they play on tribalism. I therefore urge all people of reason and sound faith to be constantly alert so as not to provide any opportunity for enemies of the revolution to achieve their evil desires — for tribalism and secularism are indeed doomed to failure.
With regard to insecurity and lack of respect for police officers and traffic police, it is not permissible for a Muslim to transgress or violate state laws and regulations, be they traffic laws, police laws, public money matters or anything else. The government must bear responsibility in this respect and enforce the law by punishing offenders. If state officials fail to carry out their duties then they must be considered traitors to this nation. People have given them their trust and they must respect that trust.
All people must participate in the elections to the National Congress to choose the fittest, the just and the righteous, those who would govern by the just, merciful and wise laws of God. The enemies of Islam are constantly trying to frighten people against applying the laws of God. Their arguments are totally rejected because God Almighty informed us: ”We sent thee (Muhammed) but as a mercy to the worlds” (Quran, 21:107).
There is no compulsion, oppression, tyranny or injustice in God’s religion.
Those who do not want the rule of Islam may very well try to tarnish the image of Islam. It is possible that they hire people to plant bombs or carry out assassinations that seem to have a religious nature in order to mislead the public into thinking that these acts of evil were perpetrated by Islamists or Salafists or otherwise. Such people are constantly trying hard to turn people away from the path of God.
As to those individuals who are trying to cling to their positions are being dishonest and deceitful because a position is about responsibility and trust. It is not about privilege and status as some people may see it.
Regarding national reconciliation with former regime associates, especially with those who were involved in corruption and stole the Libyan people’s money, I agree that it should be established — but not before applying justice and retribution against those who were involved in bloodshed. There has to be the recovery of looted funds, not only from those who were involved in the past dark era, but even those who looted money and shed blood after the revolution.