A STATEMENT AND PETITION REQUESTING THE RELEASE OF Dr. SALMAN AL-ODAH
We cannot look the other way when a travesty of justice and a blatant abuse of human and civil rights plays out in the land in which prophet Muhammad , peace and blessings be upon him, received a divine revelation which remains inscribed on the entrance of the Harvard Law library, “O you who believe, stand up firmly for justice as witnesses for God, even if it be against yourselves, your parents or family. Rich or poor, God’s justice is better for them. So don’t let your selfish desires cause you to be unjust. But if you sway or turn away from justice then know that God is fully aware of all that you do.” (Quran 4:135)
As people of moral conscience we are obliged to register our utter shock and dismay at the news of Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor seeking the death penalty against a prominent scholar and preacher of Muhammad’s message, Dr. Salman Al-Odah. His crime? A tweet.
After having spent a year detained without charges, Dr. Al-Odah was then tried in a secret court in September 2018.
The tweet that could cost this widely-revered scholar his life dared to offer a prayer to the almighty asking Him to heal the rift between Saudi Arabia and Qatar: “May God harmonize between their hearts for the good of their people.”
Detaining a scholar for praying for reconciliation against discord is shocking to say the least. Concocting thirty-seven baseless crime-less charges against him is both cynical and unjust. While seeking the death penalty is simply an abomination and a slap to the face of Muslims all over the world.
Dr. Salman Al-Odah is known by scholars and laymen around the world as an erudite scholar, notable for his gentle approach, his pragmatic wisdom, and his special ability to connect common people to the beauty of Islam. He has consistently used his expansive social media platform to address critical, social and spiritual issues affecting the Muslim community, from racism and extremism, to unsound religious interpretations.
Dr. Al-Odah has exhibited no interest in politics; instead, he has commited his life’s work to preaching the mainstream moderation at the core of Islamic spirituality and religious practice.
We hereby call on all moral people of conscience to demand the immediate release of Dr. Salman al-Odah. We call for him to be afforded the full freedom to return to his family and to his students; we demand the dismissal of the spurious charges against him.
We further call on Saudi authorities to similarly emancipate all other political prisoners held on baseless charges, whether scholars or human rights activists.
Lastly, we call on the Saudi government to ensure that all those who are accused of crimes receive a speedy, fair and public trial based on evidence to be judged with the storied evenhanded justice enshrined in Islamic Shariah and the UN council of human rights of which Saudi Arabia is a member.