Saudi Arabian Islamic scholar Sheikh Salman al-Oud was found visiting holy sites in Makkah from the back of a small motorbike. It was the busy Hajj season , and he did so in order to avoid traffic on the roads. However, it’s become a minor controversy in the nation, where religious figures like al-Oud are expected to adhere to traditionalist ways.
People on “Twitter” posted and re-tweeted a picture of Sheikh Salman al-Ouda riding the motorcycle , giving the cameraman a puzzled look. It first made the rounds on Saudi’s active social media spheres and is now sparking a Saudi debate from a religious view point
Saudi religious scholar Hamad al-Majid argues in his English-language column asharq-e that Prophet Mohammed would probably be okay with this.
“This has aroused stark controversy amongst the social networkers, between those who view this as a form of overcompensation and unworthy of a religious scholar and student, and those who viewed this as normal activities,” al-Majid writes a full week after the original photo, in a sign of just how long this controversy has lasted. He recounts a hadith, or piece of Quranic scripture, in which the prophet’s wife challenged him to a race as evidence that al-Oud’s motorbike ride would be acceptable.
Hamad al-Majid uses the controversy to gently make a broader point. “Religious scholars and students are being embarrassed by some actions or behaviours that the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, did not find embarrassing,” he writes, hinting at exaggerated Saudi sensitivities around religion. “This includes some Islamic scholars being embarrassment to meet with representatives of other religions, from priests to rabbis.” He reminds readers that Mohammed often met with other religious leaders.