Sheikh Yousuf Al-Ahmad: "cast fear in the hearts of Allah's enemies"
The very useful Memri folks who translate statements made by Islamists have provided a clip with English subtitles (as well as a transcript) of the statements in an interview uttered by a professor of Islamic law at Al-Imam University in Riyadh, Sheikh Yousuf Al-Ahmad, expressing hardline opinions concerning -- among other topics -- the owners of 'liberal' Saudi television channels, e.g., Al-Walid bin Talal. He maintains that they "should be tried in an Islamic court of law and sentenced to death."
When challenged by the interviewer, who insisted that "Islam is a religion of tolerance and leniency," Al-Ahmad retorted:
Allah says otherwise. Islam is lenient, but the infidel West trembles in fear of it. Allah has ordered us to prepare: "Prepare for them what force and steeds of war you can, to cast fear in the hearts of Allah's enemies and of your own." Our human nature may tell us that stoning is unacceptable, but this is a punishment decreed by Allah. If Allah decrees death -- this is how it should be. If the Islamic scholars ruled that the punishment for drug dealers is death, this is how it should be.Al-Ahmad seems to be citing the Qur'an, "Al-Anfal" 8:58-59:
58 Let not the unbelievers think that they can get the better (of the godly): they will never frustrate (them). 59 Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom Allah doth know. (Yusuf Ali Translation)The sura "Al-Anfal" is understood as referring generally to the spoils of war, but from Al-Ahmad's interpretation -- and, indeed, from the above verses -- "war" would appear to be quite broadly defined.
Be that as it may, Al-Ahmad's remark on the necessity of carrying out Allah's decrees no matter what we might think about them suggest that he is of the opinion that Allah could order anything at all, no matter how cruel, and we would be compelled to carry it out or face the consequences -- a position remarkably similar in principle to that expressed by Ibn Hazm, who held that "God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practise idolatry" (Pope Benedict XVI, "Faith, Reason and the University: Memories and Reflections," September 12, 2006).
The Pope admits that Christians have sometimes construed God in nearly Islamic terms as pure will -- and I think that Prostestants are more guilty of this than Catholics -- but the mainstream of Christian thought has emphasized faith and reason, such that God's will is not entirely inscrutable, for God is essentially rational.
That would appear to be missing in Al-Ahmad's theology, but I await further enlightenment.