11/29/2010, 00.00
SAUDI ARABIA

Grand Mufti condemns extremism and violence in sermon, experts discuss it

For experts, the Hajj sermon by Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh is of great significance. In it, the grand mufti urges Muslims to fight extremism and dangerous ideologies. Hundreds of media outlets around the Muslim world pick up his remarks.

Riyadh (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Hajj sermon delivered by the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh, at the Nmira Mosque in Makkah has raised interest levels among specialists because of its harsh condemnation of terrorism. Excerpts from the sermon, which condemns terrorism and urges moderation, were reprinted in hundreds of newspapers in the Arab and Islamic worlds. Some clips with English subtitles have appeared on the internet, posted on YouTube.

In his sermon, Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz urges Muslims to be united and faithful. He calls for the protection of the environment and stresses the need for security. He noted that when security is missing, women and children suffer, disorder follows and peace and prosperity vanish.

Speaking about Islam, he said that it is a religious of forgiveness and moderation. Violence is against Islamic ethics. The ultimate purpose of Islam is to spread peace and security. However, many observers focused on one interesting  part, namely intellectual security.

As he described what he meant by intellectual security, the mufti called on Muslim communities to guard against deviancy, especially extremism and fanaticism. He warned that recent advancements in media and technology have led to the spread of dangerous ideologies and cyber terrorism. He called on Muslim teachers, imams, scholars, think tanks and professors to spread the true message of Islam and fight the spread of extremism.

Experts note that the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia has never been regarded as a progressive thinker. Last year for example, he insisted that ten-year-old girls were ready for marriage. However, because he is rooted in Wahhabism, Islam’s most rigid and inflexible tradition, which is not very open to progress and change, his call for moderation and condemnation of extremism is of particular significance. As such, it has the potential of reaching the more radical intransigent elements in Muslim societies.

At the same time, experts believe that his sermon likely reflects a tendency towards moderation inspired by the Saudi ruling family, which is increasingly concerned about extremism and terrorist violence.

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