Top Saudi scholar says Muslims may pray in churches and synagogues

Abdullah bin Sulaiman Al-Manea
Updated 10 November 2017
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Top Saudi scholar says Muslims may pray in churches and synagogues

JEDDAH: Abdullah bin Sulaiman Al-Manea, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars, has said that Islam is a religion of tolerance and mercy, not of violence, intolerance, or terrorism. Al-Manea stressed that Muslims should spread true Islam and follow the tradition of the Prophet in his tolerant treatment of people from different religions.
Al-Manea gave a fatwa (religious advisory opinion), reported by Al-Anba’ Kuwaiti newspaper, stating that Muslims may pray in Shiite or Sufi mosques, churches or synagogues. He noted that all lands belong to God, and cited the Prophet’s words: “The earth has been made a place of prostration and a means of purification for me.”
Al-Manea said that Islam is a religion of coexistence not of violence, and noted that Muslims cannot have differences in the basic principles of Aqidah (creed) of Islam, but they may differ in the branches.
Concerning dealing with non-Muslims, Al-Manea cited an occasion when the Prophet received a delegation of Christians from Najran in his mosques, and he allowed them to perform their own prayer facing Jerusalem. Al-Manea also cited other sayings of the Prophet which reflected his kindness and mercy with non-Muslims.
Al-Manea stressed that Islam spread in many countries, such as Indonesia and Malaysia, because of the good manners of Muslim merchants, which attracted the citizens of these countries to embrace Islam.
Al-Manea stated that the Prophet explained all aspects of good and warned of everything evil. Al-Manea called upon Muslims to be thankful to God for the blessing of faith and warned against rushing into giving fatwas.
The office of Al-Manea issued a statement 10 years ago stressing that Muslims are allowed to enter churches to look around and gain more knowledge about these places of worship. The statement referred to the incident when Omar bin Al-Khattab, the second Muslim Caliph, refused to pray at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem because he did not want Muslims to bother Christians in their church. Instead, he prayed in a nearby area, where a mosque was built with the name Omar Mosque. Yet, Omar did not say that Muslims cannot enter churches.
Al-Manea stressed that Muslims “may enter churches to learn about them, and Christians are allowed to enter mosques — except the Grand Mosque in Makkah — and pray in them.”


Riyadh to host forum to observe World Heritage Day next year

Riyadh hosts the sixth National Urban Heritage Forum in April with its focus on investment opportunities in the urban heritage. (Reuters)
Updated 19 October 2018
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Riyadh to host forum to observe World Heritage Day next year

  • Forum will encourage private investment to capitalize on the country’s rich urban heritage
  • Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage hosts the forum each year in a different part of the Kingdom

RIYADH: The Saudi capital will host the sixth National Urban Heritage Forum (NUHF) next April to coincide with World Heritage Day, with its focus on investment opportunities in urban heritage.

“The four-day National Built Heritage Forum will be launched in Riyadh on April 15,” said Majed Alshadeed, a spokesman for the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), on Thursday, adding that the forum will culminate on April 18, World Heritage Day. World Heritage Day is celebrated every year on April 18 with the aim of preserving the human heritage and recognizing the efforts of the relevant organizations in the field.

Organized by SCTH under the umbrella of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cultural Heritage Program, the 6th forum will encourage private investment to capitalize on the country’s rich urban heritage.

The forum will look at developing business models in the management and development of — and investment in — urban heritage sites, as well as the development of crafts and handicrafts.

The heritage forum is organized each year by the SCTH in a different province in collaboration with the relevant governorates, municipalities and local universities, following the recommendations of the first International Conference for Urban Heritage in the Islamic Countries, which was held in Riyadh in 2010.

The first session of the NUHF was organized in Makkah province, the second in the Eastern Province, the third in Madinah province, the fourth in Asir province and the fifth in Al-Qassim province.

Next year’s forum seeks to invest the expertise, knowledge and experience that the SCTH has gained and transfer it to the four economic sectors working in urban heritage. These sectors are construction, restoration and contracting, site operation, human resources development, and services and industries related to urban heritage.

The forum will include the distribution of prizes to the projects winning the Prince Sultan bin Salman Urban Heritage Awards, exhibitions, scientific sessions, workshops and business meetings with Saudi and international experts and consultants to discuss investment opportunities in urban heritage. There will also be a specialized expo for companies and institutions working in the sectors of the economics of architectural heritage, restoration and engineering consultancy.