Saudi Arabia is to monitor interpretations of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) teachings to prevent them being used to justify violence or terrorism, the Culture and Information Ministry has said.
This came as the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed El-Tayeb said Islam’s teachings and legacy face an unprecedented wave of distortion at the hands of those who issue fatwas without licences and adequate knowledge.
“Unfortunately, some have been allowed to issue flawed fatwas that distort Islamic Sharia and violate Islam’s true teachings,” said El-Tayeb, at a conference on “The role of fatwas (Islamic edicts) in stabilising society.”
He urged Islamic scholars and clerics to take utmost care when issuing fatwas.
El-Tayeb said “While some unlicensed figures were allowed to issue bizarre fatwas, others issued flawed fatwas that go against Islam’s teachings, such as equalising women and men in matters of inheritance.”
“I wonder why Al-Azhar faces a wave of programmed attacks every time it gives an opinion on a certain issue, such as the inheritance question,” said El-Tayeb, accusing the fatwa institution in Tunisia, which allowed equality in inheritance between men and women of making “a big assault on Islam.”
El-Tayeb also said muftis – or those who are officially entrusted with issuing fatwas – should have a deep background of Islamic learning and honesty in order to explain Islam’s noble values to the people.
In the same vein, Saudi Arabia is to monitor interpretations of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) teachings to prevent them being used to justify violence or terrorism, the Culture and Information Ministry has said.
In a decree, King Salman ordered the establishment of an authority to scrutinize uses of the “hadith” – accounts of the sayings, actions or habits of the Prophet that are used by preachers and jurists to support teachings and edicts on all aspects of life.
The ministry said late on Tuesday that the body’s aim would be to “eliminate fake and extremist texts and any texts that contradict the teachings of Islam and justify the committing of crimes, murders and terrorist acts.”
The body will be based in Madinah and overseen by a Council of Senior Scholars from around the world, according to the decree.
The ministry offered no specific details of how it would work in practice.
Militant groups such as Daesh and Al-Qaeda have used interpretations of hadiths – numbered in the thousands and pored over by scholars for centuries – to justify violence and to urge supporters to carry out attacks. Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said last month that thousands of extremist clerics had been dismissed, although he gave no timeframe.