With extremists uprooted, Saudis look forward to a calm Ramadan

The political turmoil and conflicts that some countries of the region are passing through are posing numerous challenges

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Undersecretary of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance Tawfiq al-Sudairi expressed confidence that the upcoming Ramadan season will be one of the calmest in the Kingdom with all radical elements within religious establishments rooted out.

He hoped imams in mosques would strictly comply with Shariah conditions while delivering Friday sermons, organizing iftars (fast-breaking meals) and holding the special supplications (qunoot) in Taraweeh (special congregational prayers on Ramadan nights), according to Al-Watan newspaper.

Al-Sudairi did not rule out some form of violations in some of the biggest mosques in the country, but he expected them to be within the “expected margin.”

The political turmoil and conflicts that some countries of the region are passing through are posing numerous challenges for the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, which is striving to distance sermons and prayers in local mosques from such external issues.

Al-Sudairi said he does not see there is any keenness on the part of anyone in this regard due to the ministry’s firm and stern stance against radicalization of Friday sermons over the past few months. The measures included dismissal of violators who repeatedly ignored the ministry’s warnings.

As for the most notable violations detected by the ministry during previous fasting seasons, Al-Sudairi said: “Last year and the year before, the violations were very limited and were dealt with immediately by the ministry’s concerned branches. The violations had to do with providing iftar or the volume of loudspeakers.”

Al-Sudairi expects the violations to decrease during the upcoming season, as the ministry has been keen throughout the year on controlling the affairs of mosques and their personnel, concerning collecting donations, Friday sermons or guidance activities.

“This will have a positive effect on the upcoming fasting season,” he said.

Al-Sudairi lauded the level of awareness reached by imams of mosques in general. He said awareness and firmness by the ministry toward some violators had a great effect in keeping mosques within their proper role according to the Shariah.

Asked whether the Ministry of Islamic Affairs intends to intervene to set a specific duration for Taraweeh prayer, al-Sudairi ruled this out. He said this is left to the imam of the mosque and residents of the neighborhood who pray in the mosque.

He said there is a general outline explained by the Sunnah of the Prophet, so all should abide by this. He expects a calm season that is devoid of violations and is characterized by spirituality, which Muslims seek to observe during the holy month of Ramadan.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on June 3, 2014.

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