Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- Clerics in Saudi Arabia have warned against the exploitation of Dua al Qunut (Prayer recited during Tarawih prayers in Ramadan) for political ends. Some sheikhs and imams in mosques are manipulating the platform provided by these prayers to launch political rants. The calls come as a reaction against the tremendous amount of attention afforded to political issues in the region by Saudi imams and preachers.
Sheikh Saleh al Luhaidan, the imam and preacher of Abu Bakr al Siddiq mosque in Riyadh publicly warned against the transformation of prayer into political speeches.
During last Friday’s sermon, al Luhaidan said, “There are imams who digress from prayer to the point where it becomes a news bulletin. Qunut prayer is not an occasion to mention friends and enemies.”
However, the majority of Saudi imams are using Qunut prayers as an opportunity to pray for Muslim victory in Chechnya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and other Muslim countries going through similar crises.
Sheikh al Luhaidan stressed that Dua al Qunut must be brief and focused, “the Qunut prayer should not exceed the duration of prostration. This is because prayer during prostration is more favorable,” he said.
Moreover, the preacher further elaborated on the subject matter by saying that it was possible to do without Qunut prayers during some days in Ramadan. His view is that the prayer is not a necessary daily requirement.
Before al Luhaidan, Sheikh Salih al Sadlan, faculty member at Imam Muhammad Bin-Saud Islamic University in Riyadh had broached the subject. Moreover, he said that some imams had transformed their preaching pulpits into “United Nations Organizations” by virtue of the volume of political issues that are discussed during prayer.
Dr. Tawfiq al Sudairi, the undersecretary of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Da’wa and Guidance told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Qunut prayer has legal regulations to which all imams must abide. He added that such regulations include: prayer must not be aggressive or of an abusive nature, prayer should adhere to the form that was handed down from the honorable Prophet Mohammed, and the Qunut prayer must not be lengthened further than what is necessary.
Al Sudairi went on to criticize some of the ministry-affiliated imams. “There are some imams who begin to cry and wail during the prayers. The holy Quran is more entitled to affect the hearts of those imams than the Qunut prayers,” he concluded.