Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Ministry of Islamic Affairs and the King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue will organize short courses for imams throughout Saudi Arabia in order to spread a culture of dialogue and forgiveness, sources told Asharq al Awsat.
The courses will include lectures by senior ulema in Saudi Arabia, including the Saudi mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz al Sheikh and members of the Senior Ulema Commission, aimed at advising imams to spread a culture of dialogue and accept divergent opinions, while shunning extremism.
This breakthrough step will involve a large numbers of imams and khateebs (those who lead the prayers at mosques) in different regions of the Kingdom.
These sessions are part of a wider campaign by King Abdulaziz Center to spread a culture of dialogue, building on the recommendations of the first national dialogue in 2003, which stressed that Islam is a moderate religion that does not accept extremism and distinguishes between extremist attitudes and religious piousness, in addition to understanding that difference and intellectual diversity and sectarian pluralism are a fact of life and natural occurrences that ought to be exploited/ used to construct a strategy to deal with others using dialogue and advice.
Saudi government authorities are seeking, in collaboration with the King Abdulaziz Center for national dialogue, to increase awareness about the importance of national unity and its roots in Shariaa law, as well as the leading role of education and the ulema in Saudi Arabia in guaranteeing national unity through intellectual pluralism and the acceptance of different opinions and fighting extremism.
According to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, an estimated million sermons were delivered last year in Saudi Arabia , with the majority overseen by representatives from the Ministry to ensure the ideas they delivered were correct.