Saudi may sack imams preaching politics

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia is considering taking legal action against preachers who discuss political and “controversial” topics, a media report said Friday.
The Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowment and Guidance “is considering firing preachers who discuss political and controversial topics or make either explicit or implicit statements against any individual, establishment or country,” the Arab News quoted a source as saying.
“Ministry officials often oblige imams to sign pledges promising they will not use the Friday platform to discuss sectarian issues or make inflammatory remarks against leaders or government institutions. Our committee has already sacked several preachers who transgress the scope of religious teachings and guidance,” the source added.
The ministry has also urged preachers to keep their Friday sermons short and concise.
“Ministry inspectors have received complaints from worshippers that preachers make their sermons unnecessarily long and often repeat the same sermons several times throughout the year,” the source told the daily. “Boring sermons make worshippers inattentive and defeat the purpose of attracting people to faith.”
A recent study conducted by the King Abdul Aziz Center for National Dialogue revealed that more than half of worshippers fail to recall the last Friday sermon, either due to tardiness or an inability to focus on what is being said.
The ministry is also taking measures to introduce online connectivity initiatives with preachers after the same study found that three-quarters of worshippers do not have any direct contact with their local imam in spite of the fact that more than half of all topics discussed social issues.
Two-thirds of participants, however, had said that the sermon reinforced their social and humanitarian values.—Agencies