The development has triggered a huge debate in the Qatari community which presently stands at a crossroads between modernity and tradition. The debate is healthy, though, with a lot of criticism being made by the people, which is ultimately in the larger interest of society.
The more progressive elements in the Qatari community are not quite happy about the negative public reaction in the local social media to the sculptures that have been recently installed in Doha. They say if this is the way people are reacting to the work of art then how the country would be mentally prepared for a transition from traditionalism to modernity.
“This is a serious dichotomy and needs to be addressed. While we have accepted to host the World Cup in 2022, we are refusing to change our thinking and outlook on life,” says a prominent psychologist.
Dr Moza Al Malki said hosting the World Cup was not just about holding the event. “So many things go with it. For two months there will be so many people here from different parts of the world, so we need to be ready not only physically but mentally, too”.
About the sculptures, she said the criticisms are basically on account of religion. “People think they are idolatrous and ‘haraam’ (forbidden) in Islam, but the fact of the matter is that they are not”.
People should not look at the sculpture from this angle. “People were worshipping idols so Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) declared them ‘haraam’.”
But that practice having gone, sculptures now have a different role — they reflect historical events and figures and act as a constant reminder. Pre-Islamic Egypt was full of statutes and sculptures but the Muslims didn’t destroy them when they began their rule. They exist even to this day. “If they are not ‘haraam’ in one Islamic country, why should they be here?” wondered Al Malki.
“Our problem is that we spend our time discussing irrelevant issues. When in the early 1980s television came people were discussing its disastrous impact on our families and culture.”
And now the topic of heated debate in the GCC communities is the new and emerging technology, she said. “People feel threatened by things that are new.”
The mufti of Al Azhar in Cairo, Egypt, which is the most respected Sunni Islamic body in the world, Dr (Sheikh) Ahmed Al Tayeb, issued a fatwa (edict) on June 7, 2010 that says that sculptures and statues are not ‘haraam’.
“As we do not worship the statues and sculptures anymore, making and buying and selling them are not forbidden in Islam,” said the mufti. “People here would do better to refer to this fatwa,” said Al Malki.