Iraq’s Kurdistan bans 500 Islamic books “deemed to promote violence”

Iraq’s semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan banned 500 books by 10 Muslim religious scholars deemed to promote extremism and violence, Al-Jazeera reported. Among the books are the works of the13th century Islamic scholar Ibn Taymiyyah, whose work had considerable influence in contemporary Islamic fundamentalism and Jihadism.

AlJazeera's report on the ban.

The ban also includes works of contemporary Islamic scholars like Saudi Arabia’s late Sheikh Abd-al-Aziz Bin Baz whose religious rulings and views reflected the strict Wahhabi doctrine.

A list of the banned authors.

A list of the banned authors.

As Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti and head of its council of Islamic scholars, Bin Baz had the last say on religious issues and his rulings on every aspect of daily life carried the weight of the law.

On the list of banned books are also works of the late Saudi religious scholar Muhammed Ibn al-Uthaymeen, whose views are considered definitive for many ultra-conservative Salafi Muslims.

Also banned are works of the late Sheikh Muhammad Nasreddine al-Albani, an Albanian religious scholar, considered one of the main figureheads of Salafism.

The instigator of the ban, Marivan Nakhshbandi, is an official at the Ministry of Islamic Endowments of Kurdistan.

The ban, a joint decision of the ministries of culture and endowments, was enforced at the annual book fair of the regional capital, Erbil.

The fact that there was hardly any official publicity about the ban at the book fair reveals the highly sensitive nature of banning religious books in Kurdistan.

Salafis in Kurdistan object to the move to consign these religious books to the banned list.

Kamran Abd-al-Karim, a Salafi bookshop owner, sees the ban as a “negative decision that will affect Kurdistan and its people”.

The banned authors had a positive influence on youth, he said. “They stopped them joining terrorist groups like ISIS.”

These authors, he added, wrote “moderate books” to fight takfir—Muslims accusing other Muslims of apostasy—a main mantra of militant groups.

An example of “moderate books”, he said, is Al-Albani’s book “the sedition of takfir”.