What should we do with those that can predict the future?

There is a Muslim man named Ali Hussain Sibat -- he traveled to Saudi Arabia to participate in the Umrah, a lesser pilgrimage than the Hajj. He was arrested in Saudi Arabia because he was the host of a Lebanese call-in TV show where he would take call-ins and predict the future.

Predicting the future? That sounded like sorcery to the religious authorities in Saudi Arabia, so they tried and sentenced him to death (TV presenter gets death sentence for 'sorcery'). The death sentence is apparently going to go forward in the next two days unless something official happens according to an updated CNN article: Beheading planned in Saudi sorcerer case.

There's not much to more to add than what Amnesty International said in a press release where Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa programme, said "Ali Hussain Sibat appears to have been convicted solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression. Further: The organization urged the authorities to desist from charging and convicting people for "apostasy" as it violates the legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of expression and freedom of religion."

We have another example of faith giving us a terrible solution to an imagined problem:

Q: What to do with those that can (or try to) predict the future?

A: Current answer in Saudi Arabia: Behead them.

One of my complaints about how these kinds of news stories are reported is that they frequently seem to imply that the religious courts "claim they decided to behead a person for religious reasons" -- as though this might not be the true motivation. Are all executions religiously based? No, probably not. If there are reasons to doubt the motivations, bring them up, but if there aren't, I think that they should mention that the Holy Scriptures of Islam are used directly to come up with the sentencing.

Here are just a few verses on the topic so that you are told the relevant source material.

Koran 2.102
YUSUFALI: They followed what the evil ones gave out (falsely) against the power of Solomon: the blasphemers Were, not Solomon, but the evil ones, teaching men Magic, and such things as came down at babylon to the angels Harut and Marut. But neither of these taught anyone (Such things) without saying: "We are only for trial; so do not blaspheme." They learned from them the means to sow discord between man and wife. But they could not thus harm anyone except by Allah's permission. And they learned what harmed them, not what profited them. And they knew that the buyers of (magic) would have no share in the happiness of the Hereafter. And vile was the price for which they did sell their souls, if they but knew!

Koran 4.051
YUSUFALI: Hast thou not turned Thy vision to those who were given a portion of the Book? they believe in sorcery and Evil, and say to the Unbelievers that they are better guided in the (right) way Than the believers! (source)

Koran 20.069
YUSUFALI: "Throw that which is in thy right hand: Quickly will it swallow up that which they have faked what they have faked is but a magician's trick: and the magician thrives not, (no matter) where he goes." (source)

Or the charges for sorcery show that he is no longer a Muslim, and so the punishment for apostasy is appropriate -- the punishment for which is death according to the most authoritative Hadith the Sahih al-Bukhari:

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 260:
Narrated Ikrima:
Ali burnt some people and this news reached Ibn ‘Abbas, who said, "Had I been in his place I would not have burnt them, as the Prophet said, ‘Don’t punish (anybody) with Allah’s Punishment.’ No doubt, I would have killed them, for the Prophet said, ‘If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.’"

Volume 9, Book 84, Number 57:
Narrated ‘Ikrima:
Some Zanadiqa (atheists) were brought to ‘Ali and he burnt them. The news of this event, reached Ibn ‘Abbas who said, "If I had been in his place, I would not have burnt them, as Allah’s Apostle forbade it, saying, ‘Do not punish anybody with Allah’s punishment (fire).’ I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah’s Apostle, ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.’"

Volume 9, Book 83, Number 17:
Narrated ‘Abdullah:
Allah’s Apostle said, "The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: In Qisas for murder, a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse and the one who reverts from Islam (apostate) and leaves the Muslims."

Hopefully we can bring more awareness so that international pressure builds against this kind of violent superstition.

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