Salman al-Ouda in May 2012
|Alma mater||the Faculty of Sharia and Religious Principles in al-Qassim, Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University|
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 cleric or Sheikh and Muslim scholar. Al-Ouda is a member of the International Union for Muslim Scholars and on its board of trustees. 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.
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, for which he was imprisoned during 1994–1999. In 2007 he was viewed as a government supporter. He was detained by the Saudi authorities in September 2017. As of July 2018[update], he remained in solitary confinement without charge or trial. Officials imposed travel bans on members of his family. 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.
Al-Ouda was married to Haya al-Sayari and had children with her. 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. Condolences to al-Ouda over this accident were given on Twitter by Mohamad al-Arefe, Aid al-Qarni, Ibrahim al-Dawish, Hassan al-Husseini, Ziyad al-Shahri, Nayef al-Sahfe, Moussa al-Omar, and Muhammad al-Yaqoubi. His wife's name was Haya Al Sayari.
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 Sheikh Saleh Al-bleahy. 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.
He graduated from the Faculty of Sharia and Religious Principles in Qassim, then became a teacher at the Scientific Institutes in Qassim. He wrote the book (Arabic: أفعل ولا حرج) (English: Do No Wrong), which became well-known.
Career and legal cases
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.
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.
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.
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. Moreover, Sheikh Abd al-Aziz Ibn Baz issued a fatwa, that unless al-Ouda and al-Hawali repented their former conduct, they would be banned from lecturing, meetings and cassette-recording.
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).
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. The name was removed from the list shortly before its expiration (2 May 2019), without explanation.
Books and online publishing
Among the roughly fifty books that he has published 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 after the Sunset Prayer 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 coexistence 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 He gives classes and lectures over the Internet and by phone to a wide range of listeners. 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.
In 2006, around 20,000 young British Muslims in London's East End listened to a speech by al-Oulda. "Dr. al-Ouda is well known by all the youth. It's almost a celebrity culture out there," according to one British Imam.[who?] Sheikh Salman had[when?] over 4,000 Facebook friends and over one million fans[clarification needed] through the site. He had[when?] 14 million followers on Twitter.
Rebuking Osama bin laden
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?
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...al-Rubaish 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.
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