A senior Saudi religious scholar has rejected a proposal to mention the sect, race or ideology of citizens and residents on their identity cards, reports said.
“Since the establishment of the Islamic state in the seventh century, all Muslim countries have had people from various religious, sectarian and ideological backgrounds,” Shaikh Abdullah Bin Mohammad Al Mutlaq, member of the Senior Scholars Commission and Adviser at the Royal Court, said.
“In fact, there were Muslims, Jews and hypocrites who lived in Madinah during the time of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). There were also atheists who came to Madinah for trade. The Prophet (PBUH) never asked to label anyone or to force them to wear or put anything that indicated their tendencies,” he said.
Shaikh Abdullah was answering a query during a live radio talk when a listener said people needed to know the religious background of those with whom they were dealing. “Suppose someone came to you to rent a flat or to engage in a business deal or any form of transaction,” the listener was quoted by Saudi news site Al Marsad as saying. “I suggest it would be better to know his sect, ideology and inclinations. It is about time you recommend that the authorities mention whether he is Sunni, Shiite or has secular tendencies, so that his background is known.”
Several social media users applauded the scholar’s response and criticised the listener, accusing him of sowing divisions and inciting sectarianism in the country.
Some suggested that he be put on trial for attempting to erode national unity and undermine social peace.