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December 9, 2007 Clip No. 1656

Former Dean of Islamic Law at Qatar University Abd Al-Hamid Al-Ansari: The Innocent Pay the Price for the Incitement by the Preachers of Hatred

Following are excerpts from an interview with former dean of Islamic law at Qatar University Abd Al-Hamid Al-Ansari, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on December 9, 2007

Abd Al-Hamid Al-Ansari: In my opinion, the people who try to impose a single religion, a single culture, or single political regime oppose the will of Allah. Allah created human beings, and the Koran says: "but they will not cease to differ" until Judgment Day.

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Why did Allah create human beings different from one another? The development of the world, the enrichment of life, and the progress of Man and society can only take place when there is such diversity.

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When we follow those who preach hatred, confrontation, and conflict, we are the ones who end up losing. We do not have the power or the means for a confrontation. This means that our sons will turn into bombs. If we incite them against others, this means that instead of building our society, and establishing a culture of dialogue within the society, we use the religious pulpit and satellite TV for incitement. Of course, the people who incite get away with it, and are never held accountable, but my son is the one who will pay the price. That is the problem, and unfortunately, the law does not punish those who incite. It punishes my son – the perpetrator.

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The people who say that America and the West are the enemy, and who focus on conspiracy theories, want to create an imaginary enemy. We will not benefit from this in any way.

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There is no such thing as eternal friendship or eternal hostility – only eternal interests. I acknowledge that there are many issues on which we differ with the U.S. and the West. But I am supposed to turn these differences into criterion or standard by which I view others? I think not. I may have differences of opinion with my friends, but there are also many positive things, so why should I focus on the negative only, and ignore things that are positive?

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The religious and cultural discourse prevalent in the media mentions only the negative aspects of the West and America: It supports our enemy Israel, arms it, and so on. But our countries are the allies of that same country which we criticize, accuse, and curse day in and day out. This generates a kind of schism in the minds of our children. How can the leadership, the government, and the state possibly say that America is our strategic ally?

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When I talk about "culture of dialogue," I mean a culture that deals with its own defects and flaws more than with the flaws of others. What is happening today, as far as the culture of dialogue is concerned, is that we are busy following and exaggerating the defects o others. If somebody in the West disparages the Prophet or the religion of Islam, or says something abominable, we immediately blow this out of proportion, and this makes the preachers of hatred happy. They say to us: Didn't we want to tell you that the West was hostile, and that it was constantly conspiring against us? But the truth is that there are many "wests," and America does not consist of a single sect or a single opinion.

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I would like to tell you about something I read in the Saudi Al-Watan newspaper, a mother who wrote a letter to the Saudi journalist Layla Al-Ahdab. In it, she wrote that her eight-year-old daughter, in the 3rd grade, was told by the teacher, during a lesson on monotheism, that there were three ways to disavow the polytheists: First, hating them. This means we should hate non-Muslims. We should emigrate from their countries. In other words, the Muslim communities in [the West] – the 8 million, or I don't know how many, in Europe, and the 6 million in America – should all return to their countries, and if they are forced to stay there, they must harbor hatred towards them, because this is monotheism, it is part of our belief. This is not a personal opinion... Thirdly, we must reveal their falsehood.

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The mother wrote in her letter: Do they expect me to the Jewish scientist who discovered insulin, which I use to treat my mother? Am I supposed to teach my daughter that she should hate Edison, who invented the light bulb, which lights up the Islamic world? Should I hate the scientist who discovered the cure for malaria? Should I teach my daughter to hate people merely because their religion is different? Why do we turn our religion into a religion of hatred towards those who differ from us? One of the great sheiks of the Council of Islamic Scholars, whose name I won't mention, in order to avoid slandering him, responded to the mother: This is none of your business. Don't interfere in things that don't concern you. We know better than you, when it comes to school curricula. He said that cooperation with the infidels is permitted, but only as a reward [for services] and not out of love. In other words, there should be no friendship. I would like to know how this can possibly be, when Allah allows me to marry a woman from among the People of the Book. How can I possibly not love the mother of my children? How can I harbor hatred towards her, and at the same time, sleep with her? I don't understand how this is possible.

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