Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdulaziz al Sheikh, reiterated his call for moderation* in Islam and condemned extremists saying, “Fanatical zeal cannot be considered part of religion, even if they [extremists] falsely pretend to be devout.”
During a meeting with the press that followed a workshop at the headquarters of the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Chair for Contemporary Islamic Studies at King Saud University, the Mufti stressed the need for moderation and tolerance which he said lie between “extremism and estrangement, and excess and renunciation.”
He added that moderation “protects the youth of the nation and guides then towards the good whilst warning them against perversity, fabrication and ideological, moral and behavioral deviance.”
Furthermore, Sheikh Abdulaziz al Sheikh emphasised the importance of self-reform before embarking on reforming others. He also acknowledged the critical role played by modern technology and media in the education of the younger generation.
The Mufti stated that media outlets, “play an effective role in reforming the nation and guiding it – provided that their programs urge towards aspiring to what is good and righteous and calling for ethics and virtue and strengthening one’s faith.”
The Mufti’s statements coincided with the announcement that Saudi would be hosting an international conference entitled ‘Wastiya’ at the beginning of next year, which will include the participation of a number of senior Muslim clerics. Initial preparations for the conference will take place during this April and May.
Meanwhile, the technical committee in charge of the programs at the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Chair for Contemporary Islamic Studies is seeking to obtain permission from the Saudi government to hold the international conference.
Dr. Khaled al Qassim, head of the technical committee told Asharq Al-Awsat that they will begin with the preliminary arrangements for the forthcoming conference next week. He also added that there are expectations that senior clerics from the Islamic world will be in attendance.
The idea behind the first international Wastiya conference was born of the same goals that the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Chair for Contemporary Islamic Studies aspires to in terms of confronting and remedying aberrant thought and destructive ideologies that misguide and harm in a systematic and continuous manner, in addition to combating the phenomenon of extremism among Muslims.
Dr. Abdullah al Othman, Rector of King Saud University, also confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the international conference is planned to be held at the beginning of next year.
According to al Othman, through 58 research departments at the King Saud University, of which the value is estimated at 300 million Saudi Riyals (approximately US $80 million), the university seeks to “implement a number of strategic goals that aim to propel Saudi Arabia into an advanced position in the knowledge industry.”
*Aqeedat-il-Wastiya: the moderate nature of Islam