Reported in Asharq Al-Awsat, the views of the Muslim religious leader were made public during a lecture at Al-Rajihi Mosque, in Riyadh.
Asked for a ruling on whether a person can pray in his house if he fears going to the mosque as a precaution against being infected by the swine flu, the sheikh said that it was not possible to “know how serious this epidemic is.”
He backed his claim by saying that during Ramadan, there was no rise in the number of funerals over last year. In addition, the Islamic scholar-cum-improvised virologist said he knew people who had not been vaccinated and who did not develop the disease.
“This is due to God's care and protection of Kaaba's visitors,” he explained.
Sheikh Saleh's statements prompted Dr Khalid Abdul-Ghafar Al Abdul-Rahman, the dean of the College of Medicine at the Islamic Imam Muhammad Bin-Saud University, to respond and emphatically said that the “epidemic does exist and has been scientifically proven."
All that can be said about the low number of cases during Ramadan is that it happened despite the huge influx of pilgrims to Makkah.
On one point, religious scholar and medical expert agree: in the end God’s hand helped the pilgrims avoid the contagion.