The following are excerpts from an interview with Saudi author Khaled Al-Dakhil, which aired on Al-Daleel TV on January 1, 2010.
Khaled Al-Dakhil: The notion of dialogue was unacceptable to begin with. The Saudi religious discourse is based on the rejection of dialogue. The mufti, or the cleric, issues a fatwa, and you are supposed to obey it. Have you ever seen a cleric who sits down to conduct a dialogue? No. You recite, he interprets, and issues a fatwa, and you must implement it. This type of relation has begun to crumble.
Liberalism is not at odds with Islam. The prevalent notion is that liberalism means decay and secularism, and that secularism is tantamount to heresy. To be honest, this notion is extremely naïve. Liberalism does not mean decay, and secularism does not mean heresy, atheism, or anything of the sort. Let me bring the United States as an example. It is the Ka'ba of capitalism, of secularism, and of liberalism. Did you know that one of the ceremonies of the US president is to go to church with his wife on Sundays, carrying the Holy Book? This is almost 300 years after the establishment of the US.
How many forms of Islam do we have today?
TV host: There are many models, but...
Khaled Al-Dakhil: We have many forms of Islam.
TV host: Yes.
Khaled Al-Dakhil: These are various forms of Shia and Sunnis, Khawarij, Sufis, Mu'tazila, American Islam, European Islam, Saudi Islam...
TV host: Let us adopt the Islam approved by the rulers of this country.
Khaled Al-Dakhil: Even the rulers are not eternal. A certain ruler, in certain circumstances, with certain interests, at a time of certain local, regional, and international circumstances, which force him to adopt certain positions – you cannot limit Islam to this person and say that he represents Islam. You have no choice but to adapt to the changes of history.
When you tell me that this is Islam, it means I have no alternative. You quote Sheik Ibn Baz... Sheik Ibn Baz at one point believed that the Earth is not round, on the basis of religious evidence. What was the outcome?
TV host: But when he was shown...
Khaled Al-Dakhil: I know that. People used to say that mixing men and women is forbidden. The Authority for the Prevention of Vice would raid on restaurants and markets, and would torment people, because the mixing of the sexes is forbidden. Now, people in the Salafi movement itself say that this is not true. At one point, they said military uniforms are forbidden. At one point, they said that it is forbidden to drink coffee. If you want to rely on religious scholars – fine. They should present their opinion, and if the majority supports it, so be it, but don't tell me that this is Islam.