Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, Imam and Khateeb of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, was appointed head of the Presidency for the Two Holy Mosques at the rank of minister by royal decree on Tuesday.
Whenever Sheikh Al-Sudais travels to any foreign country, he is ambushed by admirers and fans. He has delivered several lectures both inside and outside Saudi Arabia, and over the past two years he has visited India, Pakistan, Malaysia and Britain. Hosting a seminar at the Higher Institute for Advanced Islamic Studies in Malaysia last year, al-Sudais spoke about Islamic civilization against the backdrop of modern challenges, stressing that Islam is facing challenges both from within and outside the Muslim community.
Al-Sudais has held the position of Imam and Khateeb of the Grand Mosque in Mecca over the past three decades, and this has afforded him a certain amount of fame and renown in the Islamic word. Muslims across the world recognize him for his leading of prayers at the Grand Mosque, or the emotional sermons he issues which are broadcast worldwide. He is also known for his characteristic voice and his stirring recitations of the Quran, in accordance with the art of Tajweed.
Sheikh al-Sudais has an extremely resonant and captivating voice which has been capable of energizing the Muslim community, whilst his rousing recitations of the Quran have a profound impact on the hearts of the listeners, transporting them to another realm.
Sheikh al-Sudais was born in Riyadh in 1962, and he seemed destined to become an Islamic cleric from an early age, having memorized the Quran before the age of 12. He later graduated from the Riyadh Scientific Institute in 1979, going on to obtain a degree in Islamic Sharia Law from the Faculty of Sharia in Riyadh in 1983. He obtained his Master’s degree from the Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University in 1987, and his Ph.D. in Islamic Sharia from Umm al-Qura University in 1995 while working there as an assistant professor. Sheikh Abdul Rahman al-Sudais is known for his commanding voice and his inspiring recitation of the Quran. He was named the “Islamic Personality of the Year” for 2005 by the Dubai International Holy Quran Award.
Sheikh al-Sudais took up his imamate in 1984, at just 22-years of age, conducting his first sermon at the Grand Mosque in Mecca in July of that year. Even at this young age, Sheikh al-Sudais was able – through his sermons and recitations of the Quran – to energize and pierce the hearts of his listeners, and his fame grew throughout the country to the point that other sheikhs and imams began to copy his recitation style.
Sheikh al-Sudais is particularly known for his leading of prayers and sermons during the holy month of Ramadan, where the prayers at the Grand Mosque in Mecca are broadcast to the approximate 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide. Al-Sudais is also known for his sermons calling on believers to help other Muslims in war-torn regions.
In June 2004, Sheikh al-Sudais led a following of 10,000 in prayers for inter-faith peace and harmony at the East London Mosque and surrounding streets.
Sheikh al-Sudais was appointed head of the Presidency for the Two Holy Mosques by royal decree on Tuesday. The announcement for his appointment read:
A royal order was issued here today accepting a request by Sheikh Saleh bin Abdulrahman Al-Hussein, General President of the Grand Mosque and Prophet’s Mosque Affairs, to relieve him of his post for health reason, and appointing Sheikh Abdul Rahman Bin Abdulaziz al-Sudais as his replacement at the rank of minister.”