The Killers’ Questions

In the past, the Kharijites, the Islamic group who chose armed struggle against whoever deviated from their interpretation of Islam among Caliphates and their entourage, surrounded Abdullah bin Khabbab bin Al-Aratt, a son of one of Prophet Mohammed’s companions, and asked him questions: “What do you say about Othman bin Affan?” and “What do you say about Ali bin Abi Talib?” The aim of asking these questions was not dialogue, understanding, nor even acquaintance. On the contrary, the aim was to classify the questioned person, and to specify the doctrinal destination that he belonged to. The same thing happened before that, when Quraysh, the Prophet Mohammed’s tribe, examined the belief of followers of the new religion, Islam. It also happened after that, when the Abbasid Caliphate Al-Ma’mun examined the Faqihs (jurists) and scholars. In every historical period, there has been a dominant culture that has its own conservatives and apostates, and to distinguish between them there were critical issues, specific questions, that were asked in order to determine one’s pertinence and allow others to stereotype him. Nowadays, we as Saudis have similar questions such as: “What is your opinion regarding women driving?” and “What is your opinion regarding CPVPV (Committee for Promotion the Virtue and Preventing the Vice)?” According to those “stereotypists”: it is enough for you to answer these types of questions and you will be directly stereotyped!
The categorization here is not for functional purposes such as organizing. Instead, it is a vehicle dragging behind it a numerous number of judgments. For example, The above mentioned questions that were directed to Abdullah bin Khabbab bin Al-Aratt caused his death, and those directed to the jurist Ahmed bin Hanbal in the Al-Ma’mon era almost went away with his soul in their hands. The situation is the same with our contemporary questions. They put anyone answering them in one of no more than two categories- an Islamist, or a liberal. When this is done, and after the one who is questioned is wrapped with the ready judgment, no more questions are necessary as these few questions are adequate to allow the “stereotypist” to not only predict, but assert, the other opinions in multiple issues held by the questioned one. These questions act as a sunflower which can distinguish the acid from the base by just looking to the color that it turns to after dipping it in a solution.
This kind of mentality is superficial reductionist. It simply relates a number of views with a specific ideology, so any one who holds this particular opinion would necessarily belong to a particular ideology regardless of his arguments and evidences supporting his opinion. Thus, who goes with women driving will be considered a liberal and, therefore, without doubt he supports the separation of the religion from the state. On the other hand, anyone who disdains pornography will be considered “obscurantist”. When this mentality tries to read one’s opinions, it does not do it for the sake of understanding, but to figure out which category this person belongs to. At this point, the act of reading stops being a source of knowledge; instead, it becomes a tool for judgment.
This mentality in the case of its spreading, as the situation we have in Saudi Arabia, will kill all the meanings of tolerance, understanding and dialogue. Also, it will clothe the whole scene with a cloak of monism, intolerance and “cockfighting”.
The categorization here is not for functional purposes such as organizing. Instead, it is a vehicle dragging behind it a numerous number of judgments. For example, The mentioned questions that directed to Abdullah bin Khabbab bin Al-Aratt caused his death, and those directed to the jurist Ahmed bin Hanbal in Al-Ma’mon era almost went away with his soul in their hands. The situation is the same with our contemporary questions. They put anyone answering them in one of no more than two categories- an Islamist, or a liberal. When this done, and after the one who is questioned is wrapped with the ready judgment, no more questions are necessary as these few questions are adequate to allow the “stereotypist” to not only predict, but assert, the other opinions in multiple issues held by the questioned one. These questions act as a sunflower which can distinguish the acid from the base by just looking to the color that it turns to after dipping it in a solution.
This kind of mentality is superficial reductionist. It simply relates a number of views with a specific ideology, so any one who holds this particular opinion would necessarily belong to a particular ideology regardless his arguments and evidences supporting his opinion. Thus, who goes with women driving will be considered a liberal and, therefore, without doubt he supports the separation of the religion from the state. On the other hand, anyone who desdains pornography will be considered “obscurantist”. When this mentality tries to read one’s opinions, it does not do it for the sake of understanding, but to figure out into which category this person belongs to. At this point, the act of reading stops being a source of knowledge; instead, it becomes a tool for judgment.
This mentality in the case of spreading, as the situation we have in Saudi Arabia, will kill all the meanings of tolerance, understanding and dialogue. Also, it will clothe the whole scene with a cloak of monism, intolerance and “cockfighting”.

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