Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi Misdemeanor Court on Monday looked into the case of 19 persons accused by Shaikh Waseem Yousef, former preacher and imam of the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, of insulting and slandering him on social media.

During the hearing, 21 lawyers announced that they had volunteered to defend the accused, and demanded that they be given time to prepare defense notes.

For its part, the court decided to adjourn the hearing of the case of 16 defendants to January 23, and set Sunday, January 26, for a verdict against three defendants who failed to show up at the court.

The preacher has filed lawsuits against a group of citizens and residents, accusing them of publicly insulting and slandering him on social media (Twitter and Facebook).

The defendants say they were responding to Yousuf’s abusing of great Muslim scholars including Imam Mohammad Al Bukhari - one of the most distinguished scholars of Prophet’s (PBUH) Hadith in Islamic history. His book Sahih Al Bukhari, in which the Prophet’s (PBUH) words, actions, or habits were collected, is one of the greatest sources of the prophetic influence in history.

The Emirati preacher has sparked widespread controversy due to his statements about Al Bukhari, as he stressed that some of the hadiths published in this book may be doubtful.

Yousuf published a video clip of the hadith scholar Nasser Al Din Al Albani, saying that any book other than the Holy Quran was written by humans, in reference to the possibility of questioning the authenticity of some Hadiths attributed to the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).