Islam does not encourage or promote violence, but its ethics and values narrated in Quran and hadiths do not show any indications that peaceful protests are forbidden.
Rabat – Saudi cleric Assim Alhakeem stirred backlash and controversy after claiming that protests are forbidden in Islam.
The cleric’s tweet was a response to a social media user who asked about the ruling of Islam on demonstrations.
“It is not permissible to protest in Islam,” Alhakeem wrote on May 31.
It is not permissble to protest in Islam. https://t.co/i5wJJAdB2x
— Assim Alhakeem (@Assimalhakeem) May 30, 2020
The response generated a wave of backlash from people across the world.
One Twitter user heavily criticized the cleric, saying that the prophet of Islam asked his people to stop oppression with their hands.
The user referenced a hadith from Prophet Muhammad, which was narrated by Abu Sa’id al-Khudri — one of his “sahabah,” or companions.
The hadith, or the account of the prophet stipulates: “Whoever amongst you sees an evil, he must change it with his hand; if he is unable to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is unable to do so, then with his heart; and that is the weakest form of Faith.”
Another Twitter user said the Quran tells Muslims to “stand firmly against injustice even if our near & dear ones are the perpetrators. If that isn’t a permission for protest, what is it? The Prophet (SAW) strove against injustice all his life.”
The Quran preaches us to stand firmly against injustice even if our near & dear ones are the perpetrators. If that isn’t a permission for protest, what is it? The Prophet (SAW) strove against injustice all his life.
— Irena Akbar (@irenaakbar) May 31, 2020
Islam stands for peace and submission as it does not promote violence. Its ethics and values narrated in Quran and hadiths do not show any indications that peaceful protests are forbidden.
Some Twitter users suggest that the statement is in line with Saudi Arabia’s policy.
“If you see his location you would know the reason why he said that. Just say it is not permissible to protest in Saudi Arabia not Islam.”
If u see his location you would know the reason why he said that. Just say It is not permissble to protest in Saudi Arabia not Islam
— ayoo (@oxvcj) May 30, 2020
Saudi Arabia’s history on non-violent dissent
The 2019 Human Rights Watch World Report criticized Saudi Arabia for its crackdown on non-violent activism in 2018.
“Saudi authorities stepped up their arbitrary arrests, trials, and convictions of peaceful dissidents and activists in 2018, including a large-scale coordinated crackdown against the women’s rights movement beginning in May. In June, Saudi Arabia ended the long-standing ban on women driving, but authorities continued to discriminate against women and religious minorities,” one of the report’s passages reads.
In response to the backlash, the cleric shared a new video in which he described the criticism as “violent and abusive” and coming from ignorant people.
He said that the remarks he received were from people without influence.
“Whenever you check their followers, you will find 30 or 60 followers, which tells you that they are nobody or they are paid to have an impact on Twitter and social media. We call them electronic flies. We have a lot of them here,” he said.
He said that people who criticized him lack knowledge of the Quran and Sunnah.
“This is an issue of hallal and Haram. If you would like to comment on it, the least is to be qualified. Without going to a lot of details, protesting is not an Islamic concept,” he said.