Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi Arabia’s highest religious authority issued a statement on Wednesday reaffirming that terrorism is a “heinous crime, injustice and aggression” rejected by Islamic Shari’a law, as part of the Kingdom’s ongoing efforts to clamp down on extremist ideology.
The declaration came after the authority, the Council of Senior Scholars, met earlier this week to discuss the threat of terrorism and ways to address it.
It also follows Saudi Arabia’s increasing efforts to combat terrorism—particularly the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)—in recent weeks, hosting an international anti-terror conference in Jeddah and agreeing to join an international alliance against ISIS.
“Terrorism is contrary to the purposes of the great religion of Islam which came as a mercy to the world . . . and to ensure the system of worldly coexistence,” the council’s statement said, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
The council, headed by Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Al-Sheikh, highlighted Islamic tolerance, adding that this was one of the leading characteristics of Islam. The Council praised Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz’s latest efforts against terrorism, calling on Arab and Islamic nations and the international community at large to stand together against the phenomenon, which it said aimed to distort the “pure and humane” image of Islam.
“Terrorism has nothing to do with Islam, which is innocent of this deviant ideology . . . [terrorism] is nothing more than corruption and criminality rejected by Islamic Shari’a law and common sense,” the statement added.
The Council of Senior Scholars explicitly put forward examples of terrorism and terrorist groups, including ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq, Hezbollah and the Houthis, as well as the “crimes of terrorism practiced by the Israeli occupation [and] criminal acts practiced by some groups affiliated to Islam.”
“They [these groups] are all forbidden and criminal because of their attacks on the sanctity of life and [national] security and stability,” the statement said.
The Council made a number of decisions during this week’s meeting, including authorizing “deterrent punishment according to the provisions of Islamic Shari’a law” for anyone found guilty of terrorism-related crimes.
The Council also announced its support for Riyadh’s initiative to “track” those who belong to terrorism and criminal groups in order to “protect the country and people from their evils and ward off sedition.”
“Everyone should cooperate in eliminating this dangerous phenomenon [terrorism] because this cooperation is based on righteousness and piety,” the Council said.
The religious authority called on scholars to “do their duty and intensify their guidance of people regarding this serious matter to clarify the truth,” and also denounced writers and religious preachers who are inciting terrorism and promoting extremist ideology.
The Council reaffirmed previous legislation prohibiting Saudi nationals from traveling abroad to areas of conflict and strife, pledging to also prosecute anyone found guilty of facilitating this process.
“They are advocates of misguidance and division and incitement to disobey the ruler, and that is one of the greatest sins,” the statement said, according to the SPA.
“This is a warning to the advocates of division, strife and sedition [and] a warning to those who follow them,” the statement concluded.