An Egyptian Sheikh has issued a Fatwa declaring that Europeans are “People of the Interval” – and that therefore God won’t punish them for not accepting Islam.
Dr. Ahmed al-Tayyeb, Sheikh of Al-Azhar, made the comments in a TV show airing over the Ramadan period.
“People of the Interval” refers to those who have not been informed of Islam correctly, usually because they lived between prophets or because circumstances meant they could not receive word of Islam during their lives.
In this case, the label applies because Europeans have perceived the message of Mohammed in a false, fraudulent or repulsive manner.
“The people of Europe now do not know about Islam except what they see on television from killing and other things,” Sheikh al-Tayyeb said. “For this reason its has been applied to them what was applied to the ‘People of the Interval’”.
He used the rulings of other Sheikhs and Quranic sources to back up his reasoning, arguing that it also complicated the case of people living, for example, in Africa and who converted to a “wrong” type of Islam. Sheikh Shiltoot, the previous Sheikh of Al-Azhar, said that infidels only go to Hell when they have been told the message correctly but still deny God.
The question of who can legitimately be called “people of the interval” has long been a point of contention among Islamic scholars, with some arguing that even those who lived before the Prophet should have reached the truth using their own deep thinking.
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