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Head of the National Dialogue Sheikh Saleh Al-Hassien states | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Mecca-Despite the old sadness in his eyes, sheikh Saleh Bin Abdel Rahman Al- Hassien managed to lead the National Dialogue across the desert of Mecca like a skilled captain. He did not look to the sky for the guidance of intangible stars when faced with clashing waves and the strong blusters of liberal and conservative variations. It was clear that he had controlled the situation with help from his Bedouin nature, his practical expertise and his knowledge in leadership.

People are the witnesses of God in His land. After the failure of all attempts to convince him to speak, his refusal remained as firm as the “Sarawat” mountains. He says, “In psychiatry there are cases that suffer from ‘unjustified fear’ like a lonely person in a desert, or a person who is faced with an enormous wall. I am one of those for I suffer from press phobia.&#34

Sheikh Salman Bin Fahad Al Ouda, the supervisor of “Islam Today” web-site describes sheikh Saleh Bin Abdel Rahman Al-Hassien as “a modest man who honorably puts others before himself. He is also very honest, sincere and frequently engages in intelligible discussion.” Al Ouda added, “Sheikh Saleh expressed his objection on the description ‘Islamsits’ and told me that he was working for 50 years and still does not understand the meaning of this description.

He was very adamant to give space for women’s voices in the dialogue.” Amira Bint Dawood Khashghari, PhD in literature and philosophy goes as far as saying “he was distinguished in his administration of the dialogue. We in the women’s hall were satisfied of the rules and regulations that he had set. He never favored any party over the others “. Dr. Abdullah Bin Saleh Al Obied, a member of the Shura Council says, “Sheikh Saleh is a whole nation in one man. He is a man of commitment, law and Islamic Law, and he possesses a conciliatory character as a result of his wide knowledge and prospective.” He added, “Sheikh Saleh is a man who takes time in contemplating the exact meaning of words and what is beyond the texts. As a result, he is always sharply present and is more able to attract whoever is around him.”

Hashem Bin Mohamed al-Salman the Secretary General of the Shiaa’ Academic Congregation in the eastern Saudi province of Ihsaa’ could not find a better description of the sheikh except by saying “ he is a father for all. He has paternal values without any distinction between the sons. He has never interrupted a conversation. Justice and equality in both small and big matters characterize his moderation. He never differentiated between us. Whenever, any tensions arose he would explain different views and try to rectify opinions. His stands always aimed at correcting viewpoints. ”I asked him how did you find the “Salafi” sheikh? Hashem al Salman answered, “I do not like to describe him as such. I find him a sincere model of the Islamic character with no further titles&#34. He made you feel that he belongs to a specific faction or forum”

The former ministry of Hajj deputy, Mr. Amin Bin ‘Aqil Al ‘Attas, says that &#34since knowing Sheikh Hassien for 35 years I can say that he is a calm, rational and neutral man”. He added, I also know him as “a man who is God fearing, remains close to mosques, and a man whom God dignified with the management of the affairs of the two holy mosques.” He added “he was the best man to administer the national dialogue. The dialogue included various ideas and various religious parties. He was able through his experience to remove the barriers between them. There was no settling of old scores but rather the infiltration of ideas to enhance national unity and integration” Al ‘Attas revealed that “ the signs of the ascetic nature of sheikh Hassien include the absence of desire for money, his carefree attitude towards appearances, and the fact that he is a man who has willingly resigned from a ministerial position (Ministry of Culture & Information) during the reign of the late King Faisal when many were strongly aspiring to that position. “

Researcher in Islamic Studies, Sheikh Hasan Bin Moussa Al Saffar retells a story illustrating the modesty and sincerity of the sheikh. “He had asked me to prepare a study on a certain subject. When I had it ready, he rose from his seat and bent over me. Out of respect I tried to rise up but he insisted that I keep seated, he did not ask me to deliver the paper to him but rather, he came over to me and took it himself.” He also asserts that “all those who have dealt with him have agreed on his high approachability, his sincerity and his concern to bring success, all in the interest of Islam and the nation”. Mohamed Saeed Tayeb who works as a lawyer and a legal consultant described the administration of Sheikh Hassien to the national dialogue by saying, “he was a safety valve to the dialogue and his moderation was positive, amiable and decisive. He seems soft from the outside but when his determination is tested, one would find a strong and influential man who is also very disciplined” He adds “this man is objective, positive, strong and possesses a high culture and a varied range of experiences” Tayeb clearly adds “he was able to win hearts belonging to all factions. This is not strange for a man whom Allah dignified with the role of washing the Honorable Kaa”ba every year. ”