Invoking a long list of names of 'Shaykhs' most of whom are establishment scholars from Gulf states known for their obsession to narrow sectarianism, the leader of UMNO's so-called 'Young Ulama' has accused the renowned contemporary Muslim scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi of being a 'Kharijite'.
■ ULAU IN ACTION ... Fathul Bari has defended everything from UMNO's Malay nationalism to MCA's opposition on Islamic laws
'Kharijite' refers to a group which emerged during the early years of Islam after the death of Prophet Muhammad, and many Muslims have argued that it did not represent mainstream Muslims. The group is distinct from Sunni and Shia Muslims, and best known for its rejection of the caliphate of Ali, the fourth Muslim caliph.
But while the story of the 'Kharijite' is one which took place 1,400 years ago, it did not stop UMNO's Fathul Bari Mat Jayaha from invoking the term on Muslim scholars who do not share his Wahabi interpretation of Islam.
According to Bari whose video message was posted on a Facebook 'parody page' of the Young Ulama of UMNO, shortened to 'ULAU', he has no problem with the suggestion that Qaradawi could be branded a 'Kharijite'.
To strengthen his argument, Bari indulged in a litany of names of past and present Arab Muslim scholars who he said have criticised Qaradawi, who currently leads the International Union of Muslim Scholars, a grouping formed to encourage dialogue between Muslims of all schools of thought.
The boyish-looking Bari among others claimed that Qaradawi's encouragement on Egyptians to take to the streets to denounce the American-backed regime of Hosni Mubarak, as well as his declaration that it was lawful for Muslims to kill the late Libyan tyrant Muammar Gaddafi, as proof of the Egyptian scholar's 'Kharijite' traits.
Bari's outburst however is no surprise, mainly due to the fact that Qaradawi had many times angered UMNO leaders over his defence of PKR de-facto leader Anwar Ibrahim against accusations of sodomy. Despite that, Qaradawi was bestowed the BN government's 'Maal Hijrah' award in 2009 in recognition of his contributions.
Prior to this, Bari and his ilks in 'ULAU' had issued several 'fatwas' condemning the third Bersih rally for electoral reforms as 'haram' in Islam. Recently, another pro-UMNO Muslim 'scholar', Idris Sulaiman, said the struggle by the Palestinians against the Zionists should not be considered 'jihad' because they were facing a stronger enemy (see here).
Meanwhile, in an immediate reaction on Twitter, Anwar said the latest 'fatwa' by 'ULAU' was part of UMNO's tradition of "lies without limit".