The Friday sermon by Abdulrahman al-Sudais, the Imam of the Grand Mosque of Mecca that hinted at a possible normalization of ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel, has stirred a debate on social media.
In his Friday sermon, al-Sudais spoke of peace and kindness with non-Muslims, making specific reference to Jews.
The comments came less than a month after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – a close ally of the Kingdom in the Gulf – recognized Israel, leaving questions on Saudi Arabia’s next move in this regard.
Avoid any misconceptions about correct beliefs in the heart coexisting with having healthy dealings in interpersonal exchanges and international relations.
He stated several events from the Prophet Mohammad’s (PBUH) life in which he maintained peace with non-Muslims, especially Jews.
He mentioned how Prophet dealt with a Jewish neighbor who eventually converted to Islam.
When the course of healthy human dialogue is neglected, parts of people’s civilizations will collide, and the language that will become prevalent is one of violence, exclusion, and hatred.
He also advised people to remain loyal and obedient towards the leaders and authorities and to stay away from the “misguided factions and groups.”
The statements have caused unrest among Muslims on social media who blame the cleric for exploiting the platform of Islam’s holiest mosque to make ground for the Saudi government.
دائما يُردّد آل سعود – ابعدوا الحج والحرمين عن السياسة
لكن إن كانت لهم حاجة جعلوا منابر الحرمين مُسخّرة لها pic.twitter.com/klTeI34h6Y
— دبلوماسي قديم (@d_iplo) September 4, 2020
The user interpreted the sermon as Sudais preparing for normalization between Saudis and Israel. He said that the sermon was against Sudais’ traditional stance on the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
استغلال #السديس منبر الحرم الشريف لتسويق التطبيع، والدعوة إلى طاعة الحكام القتلة، دليل جديد على أن مستقبل الإسلام في خطر إذا استمر الحرمان الشريفان بيد حكام سفلة، وكهنة لا ضمائر لهم..
— محمد المختار الشنقيطي (@mshinqiti) September 5, 2020
Muhammad al-Mukhtar al-Shinqiti, a Mauritanian author, saw the sermon as a misuse of the Grand Mosque from Sheikh al-Sudais to promote normalization and call for the obedience of the ‘murderous rulers.’
Another Twitter user shared the videos of two contrasting sermons of al-Sudais. One, in which he calls to save Al-Aqsa Mosque from the abomination of aggressors, and the second, which prepares the ground for acceptance of Israel.