Rabat – As more than two million Muslims worldwide gathered in Mecca this year to perform the Hajj pilgrimage, Sheikh Saad Al Shathri, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars and advisor to the Saudi Royal Court, delivered the Arafat Day speech for the first time in his life.
Amid tight security, tens of thousands of Muslim pilgrims came together on Wednesday to listen to Al Shathri’s speech. In his address, the sheikh stressed that “there is no violence in Islam. It is the religion of peace and it prevents all Muslims and other people from any wrongdoings with others.”
The top Saudi cleric called on the Muslim community around the world to stop persecuting each other and to rebuff divisions based on regional politics, adding that Islam opposes extremist parties and forbids shedding blood of non-Muslims as well.
He asked pilgrims to fulfil the responsibility of uniting the Muslim Ummah through sagacious use of social media, to avoid plunging into sectarian chasms, and to “fear Allah the way it ought to be
Al Shatri urged his audience to demonstrate unity to face present day challenges, stating that the “Muslim Ummah is passing through a difficult time and can overcome these difficulties only through unity.”
Al Shathri further said terrorism is the biggest problem. He proclaimed Islam has no link with terrorism and denounced terrorists, who he said have no religion. “Teachings of Islam are based on justice,” he stressed.
The cleric also reminded the pilgrims that the belief in the oneness of God is in fact the stepping stone of piety, stating that “no wonder, then, that only pious ones will enter the Jannah.” Al Shatri further added that monotheism constituted the basic element of teachings of all the messengers of God.
“All praise be to Allah, I testify that Allah has no partners. Worship Him and prostrate before Him. I instruct myself, and all of you, to fear Allah,” the scholar proclaimed.
The Hajj sermon also touched the socio-economic dimensions of life, as Al Shatri reiterated that
Islamic teachings established brotherhood among human beings. The Saudi cleric reminded his audience that Zakat obliges Muslims to reserve certain portion of wealth for the needy.
Al Shatri was assigned to deliver Arafat Day speech by King Salman Abdel Aziz, who re-assigned the cleric as member of the board of the Council of Senior Clerics back in 2016, after he was sacked from his position in 2009 by late King Abdullah over his statements opposing gender mixing at the first coed
university in the kingdom.
In September 2009, Al Shatri gave an interview on the Al Majd television channel in which he expressed his views regarding the recently-opened King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, which was the first co-educational establishment of its kind in Saudi Arabia, saying that genders should not mix at university.
The king had called the university a key part of Saudi Arabia’s drive towards economic modernisation, and a “beacon of tolerance.” Shathri retorted that “mixing [genders] is a great sin
and a great evil … When men mix with women, their hearts burn and they will be diverted from their main goal [of] education.”