Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – Saudi Arabia’s top cleric Sheikh Abdul Aziz Aal al Sheikh has responded to Iranian calls to use the Hajj pilgrimage season to distance oneself from those who attribute partners to God by saying that this call “is false.” He warned against the danger of using the pilgrimage season to serve “personal goals.”
This is the Saudi Arabian religious institution’s first response to calls made by the Supreme Leader of the Iranian Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who both used a strong tone in reference to the government of Riyadh last week over allegations of mistreating Iranian pilgrims.
In a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Aal al Sheikh condemned the statements given by Khamenei and Ahmedinejad without referring to them directly by highlighting the danger of “those seeking to transform the Hajj pilgrimage from an act of devotion and worship into a platform to spread false propaganda and misleading slogans.”
Sheikh Abdul Aziz Aal al Sheikh, who heads the Council of Senior Ulema and the Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Fatwa also called on all Hajj pilgrims to maintain discipline at the holy sites.
“Muslim pilgrims should maintain discipline in reference to behaviour, words and actions. They should know that they are in a holy place, the holy mosque of Mecca, the best place on earth that the Prophet (PBUH) sanctified by saying ‘Almighty God made this town inviolable the day He created the heavens and the earth. It was not made inviolable by people, and it will remain holy until Judgment Day by virtue of the inviolability Almighty God granted it.’”
The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia had a strong-worded message for those who intend to confuse pilgrims during the Hajj season, deeming their calls “dishonest and false.”
The Grand Mufti said, “Those who want to use the pilgrimage and spread falsehoods and propaganda for their personal goals and needs are not on the right path. Rather, they are doing this to take advantage of the occasion and this is forbidden. We are a Muslim nation and we face the holy sites with a unified heart and loving spirits. No pre-Islamic slogans should divide us but rather [there should be] a call for the truth and guidance.”
The Grand Mufti’s message came as he spoke to a large crowd. He said, “Respect this holy place and these holy sites. You came as pilgrims to testify that God is One, to mention His glorious name and to respond to His call.” He also prayed for the success of the political leadership of Saudi Arabia, represented by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the Crown Prince and second deputy and called on the government to do all it could in the best interest of the pilgrimage season this year.