Only time will tell if he is sincere, and how much the nation’s Wahhabi clerics will allow him to do. But one statement from this article is flatly false: MBS says “there should be no punishment related to a religious matter except when there is a clear Quranic stipulation, and this penalty will be implemented based on the way that the Prophet applied it.” The article’s author, Kamel Abderrahmani, comments: “In this case, according to this criterion, only 10% of the valid hadiths remain, which are those converging with the Koran. In addition, some Islamic laws would disappear, such as stoning, scourging, amputating the hands of thieves, as well as Islamic criminal laws, such as the death of the apostate and homosexuals.”
That’s not at all true. Stoning is not in the Qur’an, but it is in several mutawater hadiths, including this one:
The Jews came to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and told him that a man and a woman from amongst them had committed illegal sexual intercourse. Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said to them, “What do you find in the Torah (old Testament) about the legal punishment of Ar-Rajm (stoning)?” They replied, (But) we announce their crime and lash them.” `Abdullah bin Salam said, “You are telling a lie; Torah contains the order of Rajm.” They brought and opened the Torah and one of them solaced his hand on the Verse of Rajm and read the verses preceding and following it. `Abdullah bin Salam said to him, “Lift your hand.” When he lifted his hand, the Verse of Rajm was written there. They said, “Muhammad has told the truth; the Torah has the Verse of Rajm. The Prophet (ﷺ) then gave the order that both of them should be stoned to death. (`Abdullah bin `Umar said, “I saw the man leaning over the woman to shelter her from the stones.” (Bukhari 4.61.3635)
Amputating the hands of thieves is clearly and explicitly in the Qur’an itself: “As for the thief -male or female – cut off the hands of both. This is a recompense for what they have done, and an exemplary punishment from Allah. Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.” (5:38)
Actually, the death penalty for apostasy is arguably based on the Qur’an: “They wish you would disbelieve as they disbelieved so you would be alike. So do not take from among them allies until they emigrate for the cause of Allah. But if they turn away, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them and take not from among them any ally or helper.” (Qur’an 4:89)
There is also a mutwater hadith that depicts Muhammad saying: “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him” (Bukhari 9.84.57).
The situation is the same for the death penalty for homosexual activity. Another hadith depicts Muhammad saying: “Whomever you find doing the actions of the people of Lut then kill the one doing it, and the one it is done to.” (Jami` at-Tirmidhi 3.17.1456) This hadith is graded hasan, which means that it is regarded as less strongly attested than hadiths that are graded sahih (reliable), but is still generally accepted as authentic.
So don’t expect Saudi Arabia to give up stoning or killing apostates and homosexuals any time soon.
“Mohammed Bin Salman attempts to reform Islam,” by Kamel Abderrahmani, Asia News, May 8, 2021:
Paris (AsiaNews) – On April 27 Saudi Arabian Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman (Mbs), gave a long television interview to the Saudi channel “Al-Arabiya“[i], dedicated to his economic and social program for a new country in the framework of the 2030 vision, first unveiled in 2015.
In the interview he spoke of moderation in the application of Islamic laws, challenging Wahhabism, an ideology developed by Mohammed ben Abdelwahhab, an 18th century Saudi preacher, who reigned for a long time in the country and elsewhere, after promoting it for many decades in the Muslim world.
It would seem that MBS has come out in favor of the reform of Islam, when he stated: “All Muslim jurists and scholars have been talking about the concept of moderation for over a thousand years. So, I do not think I am in a position to clarify this concept, as much as I can … abide by the Saudi constitution, which is the Quran, the Sunnah, and our basic governance system and to implement it fully in a broad sense that is inclusive of everybody.”…
MBS also declared that “the Constitution of Saudi Arabia is the Koran” and that his country is “obliged to implement the Koran in one form or another”; that is: all citizens will be respected as such and in their differences. To be more explicit, he stressed that only what is only said “unequivocally” in the Koran should be applied: “In social and personal affairs, we are obliged to implement only the stipulations clearly enunciated in the Quran. Thus, I cannot apply a sharia punishment without a clear or explicit Koranic stipulation of the Sunna.”
If this is to take place, says MBS, then Islam needs reform and sources of religious legislation need review. In saying as much, MBS has placed himself alongside Muslim intellectuals such as Mohamed Arkoun, Mohamed Shahrour, Faraj Fouda and others. It must be said that many of these intellectuals have been persecuted, imprisoned, interdicted, or killed because they had defended a contemporary view of Islam, or tried to cure Islam of its illness: Wahhabism, or political Islam.
MBS says the reform is clear: “The government, where Sharia is concerned, has to implement Quran regulations and teachings in mutawater (well-known) hadiths[ii], and to look into the veracity and reliability of ahad hadiths[iii], and to disregard “khabar” hadiths[iv] entirely, unless if a clear benefit is derived from it for humanity. So, there should be no punishment related to a religious matter except when there is a clear Quranic stipulation, and this penalty will be implemented based on the way that the Prophet applied it.”
In this case, according to this criterion, only 10% of the valid hadiths remain, which are those converging with the Koran. In addition, some Islamic laws would disappear, such as stoning, scourging, amputating the hands of thieves, as well as Islamic criminal law laws [sic], such as the death of the apostate and homosexuals.
The announcement of the crown prince establishes a distance, a fundamental break with Wahhabism and constitutes a real change of ideological direction, in the sense that it favors recourse to the direct interpretation of the Koran and the hadith, without worrying about the different schools of thought and the ulama who forged Wahhabi Islamic thought.
The crown prince also added that “to implement a penalty on the pretext that it is a Sharia penalty while there is no stipulation for such a penalty in the Quran or in the mutawater hadith, then this is also a falsification of the Sharia […] When we commit ourselves to follow a certain school or scholar, this means we are deifying human beings. God Almighty did not put a barrier between Himself and people. He revealed the Quran and the Prophet PBUH implemented it and the space for interpretation is open permanently.”
Mbs continues: “If Sheikh Muhammad bin Abdulwahhab were with us today and he found us committed blindly to his texts and closing our minds to interpretation and jurisprudence while deifying and sanctifying him he would be the first to object to this. There are no fixed schools of thought and there is no infallible person. We should engage in continuous interpretation of Quranic texts and the same goes for the sunnah of the Prophet PBUH, and all fatwas should be based on the time, place, and mindset in which they are issued. For example, 100 years ago, when a scholar would issue a certain fatwah not knowing that the Earth was round and not knowing about continents or technology, etc. that fatwah would have been based on the then-available inputs and information and their understanding of the Quran and Sunnah, but these things change over time and are different right now.”…
In any case, it is curious to note that on the part of the leaders of Wahhabism there has been no reaction, if not some expression of support published in recent days[v]….
[ii] The hadiths are linked to a large number of transmitters, so it is impossible for them to have agreed on the falsehood, at each link in the chain of transmission, from start to finish.
[iii]It is said of a hadith that it is transmitted by an important number of people, but their number does not reach that of the well-known hadith.
[iv] It is different. Hadith is what comes from the Prophet, but information [al-khabar] is what comes from another.
[v]  https://arabic-cnn-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/arabic.cnn.com/amphtml/middle-east/article/2021/04/29/saudi-mbs-council-senior -scholars? amp_js_v = a6 & amp_gsa = 1 & usqp = mq331AQHKAFQArABIA% 3D% 3D # aoh = 16203252485819 & referrer = https% 3A% 2F% 2Fwww.google.com & amp_tf = Source% C2% A0% 3A% 20% 251% 24s % 2Farabic.cnn.com% 2Fmiddle-east% 2Farticle% 2F2021% 2F04% 2F29% 2Fsaudi-mbs-council-senior-scholars