Saudi Arabia to vet use of Prophet’s sayings to counter extremism

Updated 19 October 2017
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Saudi Arabia to vet use of Prophet’s sayings to counter extremism

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, 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.
The ministry said the body would serve Islam by creating “a solid scientific reference to vet and verify the authenticity of hadiths,” which are second in importance only to the Qur’an in Islam. It did not say what form the reference would take.
The decree issued by the king, whose official title is Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques — Islam’s most revered places in Makkah and Madinah — said the body would be chaired by Sheikh Mohammed bin Hassan Al-Sheikh, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars, which serves as Saudi Arabia’s highest religious body.


More scholarships for Saudi students in Pakistan to boost ties

Updated 7 min 27 sec ago
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More scholarships for Saudi students in Pakistan to boost ties

  • Both countries exploring new educational avenues, says Kingdom’s cultural attache in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: New scholarships to increase the number of Saudi students studying in Pakistan will strengthen interpersonal and cultural ties between the two nations, Saudi Arabia’s cultural attache to Pakistan said. 

The scholarships are among a wide range of education initiatives to bolster links between the two countries.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have been staunch allies with the Kingdom assisting Pakistan financially in recent decades. In recent years, efforts have also been made to strengthen cultural ties. About 3 million Pakistanis currently live in Saudi Arabia. 

“We plan to bring Saudi students to study here in engineering and medical colleges since there are excellent universities here,” Dr. Ali Mohammed Hawsawi, the Kingdom’s cultural attache, told Arab News in an interview.

The cultural envoy said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were exploring new educational avenues, including more scholarships for Saudi students to study in Pakistan, joint research ventures and faculty exchange programs between universities in both nations.

“I have visited some universities and will visit more in Lahore,” Hawsawi said. “We hope to build relationships and collaborations between our universities in research and across academic operations.”

Last year, Saudi Arabia announced 583 fully funded scholarships for Pakistani students in all disciplines, except health and medicine, at 23 leading universities in the Kingdom. The Higher Education Commission of Pakistan will process all applications and award 400 scholarships for bachelor’s degrees, 100 for master’s degrees and 83 for Ph.D. students wanting to pursue an education at Saudi universities.

“I expect a list of Pakistani students will arrive at my office within two to three weeks. We will send applications to the ministry of education in Saudi Arabia,” Hawsawi said. “Then we will be happy to welcome Pakistani students from next year.”

Hawsawi said students coming to Saudi Arabia would receive monthly stipends as well as accommodations and study materials.

“Everything will be free for them,” he said. “Scholarships between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have a long history, and you see many graduates of Saudi here today in Pakistan,” he said.

Previously, students from Pakistan were limited to pursuing Islamic studies and Arabic languages in Makkah, Madinah and Riyadh, but now they can study all subjects across universities in Saudi Arabia, Hawsawi said.

“Now studies are open in everything — science, biology, all the subjects. Similarly, the whole country is now open to Pakistani students. Through my office, we have found universities across Saudi Arabia that can give scholarships.”

The envoy said the Kingdom was home to a large Pakistani diaspora, and cultural similarities had created lasting bonds between the two nations.

“In Saudi Arabia, there are almost 3 million Pakistanis and nobody feels out of place,” he said. “Especially with Makkah and Madinah — Pakistani students are very happy when they find a chance to go there.

“A Pakistani student in Saudi Arabia will feel like they are in their own country; there is comfort in this,” Hawsawi said. “In eating, drinking and worship, our mosques, masjids — the student won’t find or feel that he is in a strange place.”

Amna Shahnawaz Qureshi, a Pakistani university student in Riyadh, said: “Saudi Arabia appreciates cultural diversity. The educational initiatives being taken are going to make the Saudi-Pakistan bond stronger and longer lasting.”