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.”


Bangladesh to sign MoU with Saudi Arabia on military cooperation during Hasina’s visit

Updated 39 min 3 sec ago
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Bangladesh to sign MoU with Saudi Arabia on military cooperation during Hasina’s visit

  • Hasina visited Saudi Arabia in April to witness the final march of the joint military forces
  • Saudi Arabia had been building a military alliance with Muslim countries in recent years and, especially after the Yemen crisis, this demand is now felt even more than before

DHAKA: Bangladesh is set to sign a deal to enhance military cooperation with Saudi Arabia during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s four-day visit to the Kingdom, Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister A. H. Mahmood Ali said on Monday.
Hasina, along with her entourage, left Dhaka on Tuesday on a special Biman Bangladesh flight. The premier is visiting the Kingdom on the invitation of King Salman.
The memorandum of understanding on defense cooperation between the two countries is scheduled to be signed during the meeting of Sheikh Hasina and the Saudi king on Wednesday in Riyadh.
The foreign minister did not give further details of the deal.
Security analysts in Dhaka expressed their high expectations and welcomed any military cooperation with the Kingdom.
Maj. Gen. (retired) Abdur Rashid, a renowned Bangladesh security analyst, told Arab News that any deal with Saudi Arabia will bring Bangladesh closer to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) nations and during any emergency it will enable the country to seek military assistance from friendly countries, including Saudi Arabia.
“On the Rohingya issue, Bangladesh is receiving direct support from the OIC countries on different regional and international platforms. So this kind of military agreement with Riyadh will definitely help Bangladesh to gain more support from the Saudi-bloc countries in the Middle East to resolve the crisis,” Rashid added.
He said Saudi Arabia had been building a military alliance with Muslim countries in recent years and, especially after the Yemen crisis, this demand is now felt even more than before.
“Any military cooperation deal should be based on a win-win situation, and if Bangladesh signs the agreement with Saudi Arabia, it will increase the capacity of the military alliance led by Saudi Arabia, since Bangladesh is one of the largest Muslim nations in the world,” Rashid added.
Saudi Arabia holds a very strong military might among the Middle Eastern countries, and when the country goes for any up-gradation in its military power, it may share the military logistics with Bangladesh, which will eventually strengthen the latter’s military capacity. Rashid considers that this military deal will give Bangladesh a “strategic advantage” in the defense arena.
As an expression of brotherhood, Bangladesh has stood beside the Kingdom on several occasions at different forums. This year, it participated in a 23-nation joint military exercise led by Saudi Arabia.
Hasina visited the Kingdom in April to witness the final march of the joint military forces.
During her visit, the Bangladesh; premier will also sign another deal on cooperation in the information and communications technology sector. She is also scheduled to attend a business seminar in Riyadh organized by the Council of Saudi Chambers.
Golam Moshi, Bangladesh’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said: “The Bangladesh PM will focus on increasing the labor migration in Saudi Arabia. She will also ask for more investments from Saudi Arabia in solar power, cement, special economic zones, and the oil-refining sector of Bangladesh.”
Hasina will inaugurate the newly built permanent Chancery building of the Bangladesh Embassy in Riyadh on Wednesday.
She will also lay the foundation stone of the Bangladesh Consulate in Jeddah on land Bangladesh bought recently. Hasina will perform the Umrah in Makkah on Thursday and is scheduled to return home the next day.
She previously visited Saudi Arabia in May 2017 and June 2016 as head of the incumbent Bangladesh government.