A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, February 12, 2010

Breaking: Saudi Traffic Fines Not Usury

I guess I should end this week of snow and Iranian heavy-handedness with something lighter, though not everyone will consider it so: in the controversy over whether or not the doubling of Saudi traffic fines constitute usury under Islamic law, a senior scholar is siding with the government, which disagrees with a ruling by the Saudi Grand Mufti, Sheikh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Al al-Sheikh. (For those not familiar with the KSA, the name "Al al-Sheikh" refers to descendants of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, founder of the Wahhabi interpretation of Hanbali Islam.) (No, it's not a "sect," whatever you may read elsewhere.)

Another English-language Saudi account here, and isn't it interesting how when it's a government-imposed policy, suddenly those who disagree with the Mufti ("Grand Mufti" is actually, I think, a term the British created for Amin al-Husseini; I think the proper title is just Mufti of Saudi Arabia) get good government press?

Afterthought: Could this explain traffic in most major Middle Eastern cities? Sorry, we can't ticket anybody, it's haram?

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