Sheikh Salman Al Ouda was born and raised in the city of Buraida in the Qaseem region north of Riyadh. He holds a PhD in Suna the prophet Muhammed’s (PBUH) sayings and actions.
The sheikh is really two persons in one; there’s the sheikh pre-prison and the sheikh post-prison. The pre-prison was basically a bin Othaimeen clone, same mentality and type of fatwas. And that’s not a surprise considering that he studied under him. He instructed followers to go to Afghanistan and Jihad in its most violent versions. A Youtube video has a copy of one of his audio lectures where he tells listeners that the only real way to spread Islam is through violence. He pretty much stuck to the norm for ultra conservative Qaseemi sheikhs. Then he deviated into Saudi politics and economy and that’s when he ended up in prison for five years starting in 1994.
Sheikh Salman came out of prison a changed man. You would think he spent his sentence in a western culture. His whole ideology took a 180 degree turn. Now he reminds me more of an Egyptian Azhar sheikh rather than one from Qaseem. My sister saw him in a mall in Dubai with his wife and kids. The real shocker is that his wife was wearing a niqab and her abaya was on her shoulders and NOT tent style over her head! That’s the Saudi equivalent of seeing a priest’s wife sunbathing topless.
That is nothing compared to the fatwas that he has come out with like discouraging Muslims from violent jihad and most recently he said on his show on the MBC network that it is alright to celebrate personal holidays like birthdays and anniversaries just as long as you don’t call them “Eid”. Now this is a biggie here. A sign of a true muttawa is that they only celebrate the two religious holidays and nothing else, not even the Saudi national day or the beginning of a new Hijri year. Last December, I threw my son a big party for his sixth birthday and all my in-laws boycotted it because they say it is Islamically prohibited. And that is typical for muttawas, so when sheikh Salman challenged that, there was a huge backlash in newspapers, on websites and even on Youtube. There you’ll find a video titled in Arabic the idiocy of Sheikh Salman Al Ouda in which they show him giving fatwas pre-prison and then giving recent fatwas that contradict his old ones. In many ways this has discredited him as a sheikh for the central region’s ultra conservatives. It also took him out of the running as a contender for the position Sheikh bin Othaimeen left vacant since he passed away. This just shows that Saudi Sheikhs are not allowed to change their minds no matter how long their career span might be.