Khaled Almaeena
Khaled Almaeena

The Minister of Islamic Affairs has issued directives for an investigation into the rantings of an Imam of a mosque in Asir, who condemned the Saudi actor Nasser Algassabi and accused him of heresy. Algassabi, well known for his satire in previous shows like “Tash Ma Tash”, has been the object of vilification and scorn by many hard-liners before. But he is again the target of incoherent attacks for his irreverent double entendres on television. However, this time Saeed Bin Farwa, the mosque Imam, has gone too far with his ravings, outgunning his own ilk in his accusations. Other preachers also appeared on social media some invoking God’s wrath on Algassabi. These people apparently have acted for many reasons, known only to them. Personally I think it gets them attention and followers, and that’s why they are quick to shoot from their lip. Secondly, it seems their lack of knowledge of true religion contributes to their hysterical outbursts. The program that Algassabi acts in is informative, reflective and educative and it opens the eyes of society especially the elders to be aware of the influence of evildoers — those that operate under the cloak of religion. However, while people have taken comfort in the fact that action has been taken by Shaikh Saleh Al Shaikh to stop these firebrand preachers, many, however, question the ministry’s control over mosques. Over the years many directives have been issued by the ministry but have fallen on deaf ears. Even while told not to attack other sects or faiths many Imams in their subversive ways have used the pulpit to vent hatred and intolerance. Forget that, even a simple instruction as not to use blaring loudspeakers outside the mosque, disturbing people in hospitals, homes and elsewhere has been deliberately ignored and some Imams have added more loudspeakers. It seems the ministry does not have the means to implement its own directives. After a horrible sermon criticizing other sects, I informed an Imam that this is against our teachings. He looked at me in the eye and said, “This is my opinion.” Apparently people are indifferent. They have become inured to the fact that the preachers can make any incoherent speech with impunity. For too long, we have kept quiet as they used the mosques and all other forms of communication to spread their nonsense. We have allowed these Imams a free reign to spew hatred and spread falsehood. These people should be advised to think before they speak, for they are in a position to manipulate thought. Earlier, many Imams were illiterate. However now the situation is different. Imams have to be educated, cultured, worldly and focused on themes of national unity and other social issues. We do not need divisive rhetoric. And some Imams know they can get away by doings things — from using hate speech to increasing the number of loudspeakers — should also realize that the ministry can and will take action. Has the Ministry lost its hold? I hope not . — Reprinted with permission of the Saudi Gazette and Khaled Almaeena. The writer is Editor-at-Large. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena