The Islamic scholar Saïd Djabelkhir who made the headlines recently after stating that fasting during ramadan was not compulsory, pleaded this time for the application of secularism in Algeria. The founder of the Circle of Lights for Free Thought (CLPL) sees the separation of religion from politics as a necessity in Muslim societies, in order to preserve Islam from instrumentalization.
Saïd Djabelkhir asserted that debating the religion is taboo in a society that “makes religion a consumable rather than making it a matter for reflection with critical tools and modern questioning that reflect today’s needs of societies“.
The scholar bases his reasoning on examples of the evolution of religious practice in islam’s history to denounce the regressive nature of today’s scholars, particularly in regards to the interpretation of religious texts.
Saïd Djabelkhir also criticised the Muslim Brotherhood and its ideology: “Sayed Kotb, the lead theoretician of the Muslim Brotherhood, was behind the first armed jihadist movements that emerged in the East, although he did not invent anything, because Hassan El Banna had already founded, well before him, a secret armed organization which carried out several attacks in Egypt and assassinated several Egyptian politicians at the time of King Farouk I“.
The scholar equally criticised Saudi Arabia for its role in the spread of religious radicalism “it should be noted that the Saudis alone, since 1979 to date, have spent more than $ 64 billion to propagate islamic fundamentalism. This figure can give you an idea of the extent of the damage done to societies“.
Saïd Djabelkhir concluded with a call for “religious reform” and “a large work of sensitisation for which enlightened religious elites should engage urgently“. He argues for a separation of religion from the state in Muslim countries and warns that “if the Muslims do not do it, the other nations will one day force them to do it in spite of themselves. The world is changing, and if we do not change with it, it will force us to change or worse: eliminate us“.
Calls to murder Saïd Djabelkhir
Following the scholar’s interpretation of the Quran, under which he suggested that fasting was not compulsory, Saïd Djabelkhir received numerous death threats. A hate campaign was initiated, with TV programs broadcast to vilify him.
A facebook page went as far as publishing a call to murder him. The administrator of the page provided the address of the scholar in the municipality of Blida, inviting people to attack him “We must deal with it today, not tomorrow“.
Despite the threats, the scholar did not retract and has called for more reason in dealing with religious matters. He refuses the diktat of those whom he calls “charlatans who instrumentalize religion“.
As a reminder, according to the Algerian constitution, islam is the state’s religion with the other minorities excluded, these minorities are often demonised and harassed by the government.