Islamic theologian blasts head of top religious body for kowtowing to Turkish leader

Liberal Islamic theologian İhsan Eliaçık blasted the head of Turkey’s Religious Affairs directorate for his comments on children who don’t study the Quran, accusing him of delivering religious rulings on the order of the state leader, T24 reported.

‘’The Quran clearly states who is with the devil, and that is a religious scholar who delivers a decree on the order of the king,’’ Eliaçık said on Twitter, in an apparent reference to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Eliaçık’s statement is a response to Turkish Religious Affair Directorate head Eli Erbaş, who on Friday said, ‘’Children who are not with the Quran will be with Satan and devilish children.’’

Eliaçık pointed to Chapter 7 (Surah 'A'raf) verses 175-176 of the Quran, which begin with:

‘’And recite (O Muhammad) to them the story of him to whom We gave Our Ayat but he threw them away, so Shaitan (Satan) followed him up, and he became of those who went astray.’’

The exegesis of the verses explains the story of a scholar who gained knowledge, but chose to throw it away to side with power.

Eliaçık, in April of this year, was sentenced to six years and three months in jail for “conducting propaganda for an armed terror organisation” for a speech delivered during a conference in the majority-Kurdish city of Diyarbakır, has been a vocal critic of Turkey’s state-run Religious Affair Directorate, which employs all of Turkey’s imams.