Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad.

Banning Extremist Muslim Scholars

Recently, the Arab quartet Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt added two radical Islamic organizations and eleven extremists to their terror list; a step long overdue.

Dealing with the Union of Muslim Scholars, founded by Muslim Brotherhood and welcomed by Qatar, and the International Islamic Council should have been banned long ago, especially the Union.

Since its establishment, Union of Muslim Scholars posed a threat to Muslim societies all over the world. Its emergence, which coincided with al-Qaeda and all its leaders' first appearance, was like declaring a blatant war against traditional and moderate Islam in the region and the world.

The Union of Muslim Scholars was born as part of the domination project led by extremist religious groups as part of their different approaches which include: inciting jihadist political rhetoric, armed organizations, and parallel religious institutions that grant legitimacy to their practices and cancel moderate institutions.

At the time Qaeda carried out explosions killing people and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi beheaded people in the name of Islam, Union of Muslim Scholars was born in Qatar in 2004 for the same extremist project.

For that purpose, its members prepared fatwas, justified violence and engaged in ideological wars that deprived traditional muftis and scholars of their worth and ridiculed their fatwas.

Let’s not forget that traditional Salafists scholars of Saudi Arabia also issued fatwas prohibiting jihadist operations since the 1990’s as they viewed them as defiant to the state.

This angered the mufti of the Brotherhood and Qatar-affiliated union who justified “martyrdom operations” and wanted to religiously legitimize it. The union worked on destroying major religious institutions in the Muslim world, like the Council of Senior Scholars in Saudi Arabia and al-Azhar in Egypt.

Historically, the terrorism project hiding within Islam began around the same time organizations of extremist fatwas were established.

Like Qaeda and ISIS, these jurisprudence groups refused local-ism and viewed themselves as global and intercontinental organizations.

Qaeda’s birth in Afghanistan coincided with the emergence of the "European Council for Fatwa and Research" in 1997 in London. Is it by chance that it’s headed by Yusuf al-Qaradawi and his deputy Ali al-Qaradaghi, the two same figures who had been involved in extremist ideology for the past 20 years?

Just like Qaeda branched in the Middle East and Europe, extremist jurisprudence organizations established branches in the Gulf, Iraq, Lebanon, North Africa, France, Germany, Belgium, Britain and Ireland.

Through the slogans, statements, and activities of such religious institutions, as well as different nationalities of their members, we can see how they played the role of the religious reference which extremist groups, based on calls of extremism and jihad, needed during the dangerous years of unrest.

If we realized that the most dangerous aspect of terrorism is extremist ideology, we must also be aware that extremist ideology would not have existed, developed, and became armed organizations hadn’t it been for these religious figures and institutions that embraced extremist scholars.

In addition, it wouldn't have happened if Qatar hadn't protected and funded them, making it easier for them to gain influence on the intellectual and media levels and buy even some of those who are afraid of its control or don't agree with it.