Salman al-Ouda

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Salman al-Ouda
Salman al-Ouda.jpg
Salman al-Ouda in May 2012
Born (1956-12-14) December 14, 1956 (age 64)
NationalitySaudi Arabia
ChildrenAbdullah Alaoudh[1]
Main interest(s)Sharia
Alma materthe Faculty of Sharia and Religious Principles in al-Qassim
Muslim leader

Salman bin Fahd bin Abdullah al-Ouda (Arabic: سلمان بن فهد بن عبد الله العودة‎) or Salman al-Ouda (Arabic: سلمان العودة‎), Salman al-Oadah, Salman al-Audah, or Salman al-Awdah (Arabic: سلمان بن فهد العودة‎) - kunya: Abu Mu'ad (أبو معاذ)- (born 1955 or 1956) is a Saudi Muslim scholar. Al-Ouda is a member of the International Union for Muslim Scholars and on its board of trustees.[4] He is a director of the Arabic edition of the website Islam Today and appears on a number of TV shows and authors newspaper articles.[5]

In 1993 al-Ouda was one of the leaders of the dissident group Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights (CDLR) that challenged the Saudi government,[6] for which he was imprisoned during 1994–1999.[7] In 2007 he was viewed as a government supporter.[7] He was detained by the Saudi authorities in September 2017. As of July 2018, he remained in solitary confinement without charge or trial. Officials imposed travel bans on members of his family.[8][9][10] He was arrested for his refusal to comply with an order by Saudi authorities to tweet a specific text to support the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar. In a 4 September 2018 legal hearing, prosecutors applied for al-Ouda to be sentenced to death.[11][12]

Personal life[edit]

Al-Ouda was born in 1955 or 1956 in al-Basr, near the city of Burayda in Al-Qassim in central Saudi Arabia.[citation needed] He spent his early years in al-Basr, then moved to Burayda.[citation needed]

Al-Ouda was married to Haya al-Sayari. [13] His eldest son is named Maaz, or Mu`âdh. In January 2017, a traffic accident killed al Ouda's son Hisham and his wife Haya.[14][15][16] Condolences to al-Ouda over this accident were given on Twitter by Mohamad al-Arefe,[17] Aid al-Qarni,[18] Ibrahim al-Dawish,[19] Hassan al-Husseini,[20] Ziyad al-Shahri,[21] Nayef al-Sahfe,[22] Moussa al-Omar,[23] and Muhammad al-Yaqoubi.[24]


Al-Ouda joined an educational institute in Burayda, where he spent six years. He studied under scholars such as Abd al-Aziz ibn Abd Allah ibn Baaz, Muhammad ibn al Uthaymeen, Abdullah Abdal Rahman Jibreen, and Saleh Al-bleahy.[citation needed] In Burayda, he studied Arabic grammar, Hanbali jurisprudence and hadith under the guidance of local sheikhs. He completed a B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. in Islamic jurisprudence at Imam Muhammad bin Sa'ud University.[citation needed]

He graduated from the Faculty of Sharia and Religious Principles in Qassim, then became a teacher at the Scientific Institutes there. He wrote the book (Arabic: أفعل ولا حرج‎) (English: Do No Wrong),[25] which became well-known.

Career and legal cases[edit]

In 1990 Salman al-Ouda was a teacher at the main mosque in Burayda. He gave weekly lessons for the general public at the mosque and other lessons where he gave commentary on the book Bulûgh al-Marâm. He gave daily lessons after the Morning Prayer, where he talked about the authoritative collections of Hadith - Sahîh al-Bukhârî, Sahîh Muslim and discussed the Qur'an. He described the content of the books Kitâb al-Tawhîd, al-Usûl al-Thalâthah, and Nukhbah al-Fikr.[citation needed]

The 1990–1991 Gulf Crisis and War, in which an American-led coalition of forces aligned against the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein in response to its seizure of Kuwait, proved an opportunity for al-Ouda and others to tap into an already-existing current of discontent within the Kingdom. When the then-Grand Mufti Abd al-Aziz bin Baz issued a fatwa lending Islamic justification for the regime to invite American forces to defend Saudi Arabia from Hussein, al-Ouda raised questions about the ability of the Saudi military to defend the Kingdom with so much investment in U.S. armaments. During the war, al-Ouda was a moving force behind two reform petitions addressed to the King. The first, in 1991, was known as the Letter of Demands and was signed by leading Saudi religious, mercantile, and socially prominent figures seeking changes in the form of government, notably the establishment of a Shura (consultative) Council. A year later, the second petition, known as the Memorandum of Advice, which was signed by more than one hundred religious scholars, including establishment Ulama, called for a Shura Council as well as media censorship under religious guidance and review of all the kingdom's laws to insure their conformity with Shari'a. Both petitions expressed loyalty to the house of Sa'ud while opposing the lack of representation in the existing government. Meanwhile, audiotapes of al-Ouda's sermons gained wide circulation and encouraged to other opposition voices after the first Gulf War, as the United States military settled in for a long stay at an airbase outside the capital.[7]

Al-Ouda was one of the leaders of the Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights (CDLR) that was a Saudi dissident group created in 1993 and was the first ever opposition organization in the Kingdom openly challenging the absolute monarchy, accusing the government and senior Saudi scholars of not doing enough to protect the legitimate Islamic rights of the Muslims.[6]

In September 1994 Salman al-Ouda was imprisoned for alleged "anti-government activities." He and Safar al-Hawali were arrested together with a large number of their followers in the city of Burayda, Qasim region.

Following his five years of imprisonment for having incited opposition to the Saudi government, al-Ouda emerged "rehabilitated" in 1999 to become one of the kingdom's most prominent religious spokespersons. With a television program and a website in four languages, he was viewed in 2007 as a supporter of the Saudi government, operating under its protection and in competition with the government-sponsored establishment Ulama (clergy).[7] He was also an advocate for Sunni-Shia dialogue,[26] calling for a more inclusive society that would end the marginalization of Saudi Shia citizens.[27]

In May 2017 he was banned along with Bilal Philips and four others from entering Denmark for a period of two years over concerns that they would preach hate towards Danish society and indoctrinate others to commit violence against women and children and disseminate ideas about a caliphate.[28][29] The name was removed from the list shortly before its expiration (2 May 2019), without explanation.[30][31][32]

In September 2017, Al-Ouda, along with other prominent preachers and activists such as Awad Al-Qarni and Ali Al-Omari, were arrested by the Saudi authorities for "terrorism and conspiracy against the state".[33] Calls have been made by "international and Islamic personalities and organisations for their release" and concern has mounted since 37 Saudis were executed in April 2019 for what authorities said were “terrorism-related crimes”, [34] one of the charges against Al-Ouda. According to Amnesty International, al-Ouda was arrested "a few hours after posting a tweet welcoming reports of a possible reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Qatar" which Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman had blockaded since June 2017.[34] Lynn Maalouf, the Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International, stated that as of mid 2019,

Sheikh al-[Ouda] has gone through a terrible ordeal, including prolonged pre-trial detention, months of solitary confinement, incommunicado detention, and other ill-treatment – all flagrant violations to his right to a fair trial,”[27]

As of December 2020, Al-Ouda's son, Abdullah Al-Ouda, stated that his father had "lost almost half of his ability to hear and see" in prison.[33] In an op-ed piece in The New York Times, Abdullah Alaoudh highlighted the deteriorating condition of his father Salman al-Ouda, who was kept in solitary confinement in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi scholar and activist said that due to three years of abuse and isolation, his father’s physical and mental condition has been declining at a greater pace. He also appealed President-elect Joe Biden to push the Saudi government to release his father and other political prisoners.[35]

Books and online publishing[edit]

Among the roughly fifty books that he has published[36] are:

  • The First Strangers,
  • Characteristics of the Strangers,
  • Withdrawing from Society and Participating in It',
  • A Discussion with Sheikh Muhammad al-Ghazâlî,
  • Who has the Right to Engage in Independent Juristic Reasoning?, and
  • Guidelines for Studying Islamic Law.

The anti-government content of some of his books and some of the lessons that he had given was a factor in al-Ouda's 1994–1999 imprisonment. He was quoted by Osama bin Laden in his 1994 Open Letter to Shaykh Bin Baz on the Invalidity of his Fatwa on Peace with the Jews. After his release, al-Ouda resumed his activities from his home, giving lessons from Wednesday to Friday weekly on topics such as Qur'anic commentary, ethics, education, and personal reform.

Al-Ouda stated that he supports peace and tolerance with other religions. He announced that this was a result of deeper understanding of Islamic teachings.

Al-Ouda is in charge of the popular website[36] He gives classes and lectures over the Internet to a wide range of listeners.[37] He works daily in answering the questions that people send to him in addition to compiling and preparing a number of his writings for publication. He had a show on MBC TV.[38]

In 2006, around 20,000 young British Muslims in London's East End listened to a speech by al-Oulda. Sheikh Salman has[when?] over 4,000 Facebook friends and over one million fans[clarification needed] through the site.[39] He has[when?] 14 million followers on Twitter.[40]

Rebuking Osama bin laden[edit]

Al-Ouda is known not only for criticizing the September 11 attacks, but also for directly criticizing Osama bin Laden. In 2007, around the sixth anniversary of September 11, he addressed Al Qaeda's leader on MBC, a widely watched Middle Eastern television network, asking him:

My brother Osama, how much blood has been spilled? How many innocent people, children, elderly, and women have been killed ... in the name of Al Qaeda? Will you be happy to meet God Almighty carrying the burden of these hundreds of thousands or millions of victims on your back?[41]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Alaoudh, Abdullah (13 February 2019). "Opinion | My Father Faces the Death Penalty. This Is Justice in Saudi Arabia". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 26 February 2019. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  2. ^ Pashayan, Araks. "Saudi Arabia on the Road to Modernization: Reality or Myth?." Ժամանակակից Եվրասիա= Contemporary Eurasia 8.1 (2019): 34-44.
  3. ^ Robert G. Rabil (26 Sep 2014). Salafism in Lebanon: From Apoliticism to Transnational Jihadism. Georgetown University Press. p. 55. ISBN 9781626161177.
  4. ^ "" Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine islam way..
  5. ^ Murad Batal Al-shishani (2009-11-25). "Ibrahim al-Rubaish: New Religious Ideologue of al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia Calls for Revival of Assassination Tactic". The Jamestown Foundation. Archived from the original on 2009-12-06. released a book criticizing Shaykh Salman al-Ouda because of the latter's "alliance" with the Saudi regime. The shaykh, who directs the website Islam Today, has condemned the 9/11 attacks and used his media access to rebuke Osama bin Laden as a killer of innocent people.
  6. ^ a b Kapiszewski, Andrzej (2006). "Saudi Arabia : Steps Toward Democratization or Reconfiguration of Authoritarianism?". Journal of Asian and African Studies. 41 (5–6): 459–482. doi:10.1177/0021909606067407. S2CID 144162867.
  7. ^ a b c d "Awda, Salman al- (1955–) - PERSONAL HISTORY, INFLUENCES AND CONTRIBUTIONS, BIOGRAPHICAL HIGHLIGHTS, PERSONAL CHRONOLOGY:, Arrest and Imprisonment - Saudi, Islamic, Awda's, and Government - JRank Articles". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2016-05-05.
  8. ^ Mohammed bin Salman's reign of terror will not make Saudi Arabia stable Archived 2018-07-23 at the Wayback Machine, Madawi al-Rasheed, 16 July 2018, Middle East Eye
  9. ^ Saudi cleric Salman al-Awda called for reform. Now he's in solitary confinement. Archived 2018-07-26 at the Wayback Machine by F. Brinley Bruton, Jan.27.2018
  10. ^ Saudi Arabia’s crown prince is taking the kingdom back to the Dark Ages Archived 2018-12-16 at the Wayback Machine, by Abdullah Alaoudh, July 19, 2018, The Washington Post
  11. ^ "Public prosecution calls for further beheadings, including execution of Sheikh Salman Al-Ouda, in unjust trial". European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights. 2018-09-04. Archived from the original on 2018-10-20. Retrieved 2018-10-20.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-09-04. Retrieved 2018-09-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ سلمان العودة (معتقل) [@salman_alodah] (2017-01-25). "#هيا_السياري حين رحلتي أدركت أني لا أستحقك اللهم في ضيافتك وجوارك" (Tweet) (in Arabic). Retrieved 2021-01-07 – via Twitter.
  14. ^ صـ ـحـ ـيـ ـفـ ـة سبق المملكة [@sabqqorg] (2017-01-25). "عاجل: #سبق_المملكة . . وفاه زوجه الشيخ #سلمان_العوده وابنه في حادث مروري . #وفاه_زوجه_سلمان_العوده_وابنه" (Tweet) (in Arabic). Retrieved 2021-01-07 – via Twitter.
  15. ^ Twitter. أخبار السعودية. 25 Jan 2017 Archived from the original on 2017-02-04. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  16. ^ Twitter. أخباركم. 25 Jan 2017 Archived from the original on 2017-02-04. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  17. ^ العريفي, محمد (25 Jan 2017). Twitter Archived from the original on 2017-01-25. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  18. ^ القرني, عائض (25 Jan 2017). Twitter Archived from the original on 2017-01-25. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  19. ^ ابراهيم الدويش [@Ibrahim_aldwish] (2017-01-25). "#وفاه_زوجه_سلمان_العوده_وابنه أحسن الله عزاءكم @salman_alodah وعزاء الأهل والأسرة،عظم الله أجركم ورزقكم الصبر،رحمهم الله وأسكنهم جنة الفردوس" (Tweet) (in Arabic). Retrieved 2021-01-07 – via Twitter.
  20. ^ الحسيني, حسن (25 Jan 2017). Twitter Archived from the original on 2017-02-04. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. ^ الشهري, زياد (25 Jan 2017). Twitter. Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Archived from the original on 2017-02-04. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  22. ^ نايف الصحفي [@alsahfe2] (2017-01-25). "اللهم ارحمهم برحمتك الواسعة وتجاوز عنهم يارب العالمين #وفاه_زوجه_سلمان_العوده_وابنه" (Tweet) (in Arabic). Retrieved 2021-01-07 – via Twitter.
  23. ^ موسى العمر [@MousaAlomar] (2017-01-25). "أتقدم بأحر التعازي للشيخ سلمان العودة بوفاة زوجته وولده بحادث سير أليم.. آنسهم الله رحمهم الله عوضهم الله الجنة وإنا لله وإنا لله راجعون " (Tweet) (in Arabic). Retrieved 2021-01-07 – via Twitter.
  24. ^ Al-Yaqoubi, Muhammad (25 Jan 2017). Twitter Archived from the original on 2017-02-05. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  25. ^ "" Sheik Salman Al-Audah's website.
  26. ^ "A Muslim appeal for Saudi Arabia to show mercy". The Economist. 2 June 2019.
  27. ^ a b Dissident Saudi cleric faces death sentence for his peaceful activism, Amnesty warns|| Friday, 26 July 2019 |accessdate 4 January 2021
  28. ^ Jensen, Teis (2 May 2017). "Denmark bans six 'hate preachers' from entering the country". Reuters. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  29. ^ "Rabiate religiøse forkyndere får indrejseforbud til Danmark — Udlændinge- og Integrationsministeriet" (in Danish). Ministry of Immigration and Integration. Archived from the original on 2017-05-06. Retrieved 2017-05-25.
  30. ^ Ritzau (12 April 2019). "Saudiarabisk forkynder er fjernet fra dansk sanktionsliste". (in Danish). Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  31. ^ This archive of the sanction list, dated 15 February 2019, includes him (number 005). "Den nationale sanktionsliste - Religious preachers with entry ban" (in Danish). Danish Immigration Service. Archived from the original on 2019-02-15. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  32. ^ This archive of the list, dated 11 April 2019, no longer includes him, nor does the Google cache dated 27 March 2019."Den nationale sanktionsliste - Religious preachers with entry ban" (in Danish). Danish Immigration Service. Archived from the original on 2019-04-11. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  33. ^ a b "Al-Ouda's son: 'My father lost half his ability to see and hear'". Middle East Monitor. 4 December 2020. Retrieved 3 January 2021.
  34. ^ a b "Trial of Saudi scholar Salman al-Awdah postponed, says son". Al Jazeera. 28 July 2019. Retrieved 3 January 2021.
  35. ^ "Saudi Arabia Is Slowly Killing My Father". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
  36. ^ a b "Islam Today". Archived from the original on 2018-12-05. Retrieved 2019-03-04.
  37. ^ "Sheikh Salman al-Ouda Articles". Archived from the original on 2016-05-06. Retrieved 2016-05-05.
  38. ^ "Sheikh Salman al-Ouda TV Show on MBC Channel". Archived from the original on 2008-10-11. Retrieved 2008-09-12.
  39. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-11-18. Retrieved 2010-11-23.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  40. ^ "Muhammad bin Salman cracks down on his perceived opponents". The Economist. 21 September 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-09-22. Retrieved 2017-09-22.
  41. ^ "The Unraveling by Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank. The jihadist revolt against bin Laden". Archived from the original on 2009-01-02. Retrieved 2008-05-27.

External links[edit]