Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais
|Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais|
|عبد الرحمن السديس|
|Alma mater||Umm al-Qura|
February 10, 1960 |
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Imam of Mosque
Known for Imamah (leading the prayer), Recitation of the Quran
Abdul Rahman Ibn Abdul Aziz as-Sudais (Arabic: عبد الرحمن السديس (ʻAbd ar-Rahman ibn ʻAbd al-Aziz as-Sudais), born Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 1960) is the imam of the Grand mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and was the "Islamic Personality Of the Year" in 2005. Al-Sudais has called for efforts to combat terrorism, preached Islam's opposition to "explosions and terrorism", and has called for peaceful inter-faith dialogue. He actively speaks out against what he believes to be the persecution of Palestinians by Israeli settlers and the state of Israel, and has pleaded for medical supplies and food to be sent to the Palestinians. However, Al-Sudais has been sharply criticized for vilifying non-Muslims and Jews in his sermons.
Life and career
Al-Sudais comes from the Anza clan, and he had memorized the Quran by the age of 12. Growing up in Najd, Al-Sudais studied at the Al Muthana Bin Harith Elementary School, and afterwards the Riyadh Scientific Institution from which he graduated in 1979 with a grade of excellent. He obtained a degree in Sharia from Riyadh University in 1983, his Master's in Islamic fundamentals from the Sharia College of Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University in 1987 and received his Ph.D. in Islamic Sharia from Umm al-Qura University in 1995 while working there as an assistant professor after serving at Riyadh University.
In 2005, Al-Sudais was named by the Dubai International Holy Quran Award (DIHQA) Organising Committee as its 9th annual "Islamic Personality Of the Year" in recognition of his devotion to the Quran and Islam. When accepting his award in Dubai, he said: "The message of Islam and Muslims is modesty, fairness, security, stability, sympathy, harmony and kindness."
Statements on conflict resolution
In 2003, Sudais stated that he believes that youth need to be taught Islamic law, including the precepts of the prohibition on killing oneself and the prohibition against attacking non-Muslims living in Islamic countries. Sudais has also said that Islamic youth should not "indiscriminately hurl the label of atheism and not to confuse between legitimate jihad and…the terrorizing of peaceable people."
Sudais has said that there is no room for extremism and sectarianism in Islam and that Islam teaches a moderate path. He said the solution to problems that Muslims face in Palestine, Somalia, Iraq, Kashmir and Afghanistan lies in following the teachings of Islam in letter and spirit. He called for resolution of conflicts through dialogue and negotiations taking into consideration the social and economic benefits that can be achieved by resolving these disputes.
Sudais also criticized the Lal Masjid administration during the 2007 Red Mosque crisis in Islamabad, Pakistan. He urged the militants and the government to agree to a peaceful resolution through dialogue and urged both parties to protect peace.
Sudais is also known for his sermons calling on believers to help other Muslims in war-torn regions.
Prayers for inter-faith peace
In June 2004, Sudais led a following of 10,000 in prayers for inter-faith peace and harmony. Racial Equality Minister Fiona Mactaggart attended Sudais' sermon at the East London Mosque. Prince Charles, who was in Washington, took part by a pre-recorded message Britain’s chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, sent a message of support.
Controversial statements on Jews
Al-Sudais has been described as an antisemite for publicly praying to God to ‘terminate’ the Jews, and as a result has been barred from conferences in the United States and been refused entry to Canada.
In a May 2003 interview with NBC's Tim Russert, the foreign policy adviser to the Saudi crown prince, Adel al-Jubeir, confirmed al-Sudais's statements, agreed that they were “clearly not right”, and stated that he was reprimanded, but was still allowed to preach. He also said that "if he [Sudais] had a choice he would retract these words - he would not have said these words."
Al-Sudais not only attacked Jews, but other non-Muslims as well, such as Hindus and Christians. John Ware on the BBC program Panorama entitled "A Question of Leadership" from August 21, 2005, cited Al-Sudais referring disparagingly to Christians as “cross-worshippers” and Hindus as “idol worshippers”. Ware pointed out the discrepancy between Sudais's sermons to Saudis with his speech to Western audiences.
The Muslim Council of Britain questioned the veracity of quotes given in the interview, calling them “deliberately garbled” and the program as a whole “deeply unfair”. The Council urged caution, and while condemning any form of anti-semitic remarks, requested verification that these words were indeed spoken by Al-Sudais. After a series of exchanges, the BBC's Panorama editor, Mike Robinson, posted a response to each of the Muslim Council's allegations, accusing them of “unwarranted and wildly inaccurate attacks” and “bad faith allegations”.
In August 2009, the Board of Deputies of British Jews protested a visit by Al-Sudais to Britain in which he gave lectures at several mosques and attended an event with Tory MP Tony Baldry. Baldry subsequently defended his decision to work with Al-Sudais, stating that "If I had written a text of what a moderate Muslim would say, his would have been a word-perfect example."
- "Ninth Session". Dubai International Holy Quran Award. 2006. Archived from the original on February 2008. Retrieved 2007-03-19.
- "Fight terrorism jointly: Al-Sudais". Arab News (Saudi Arabia). September 12, 2009. ISSN 0254-833X. OCLC 4574467. Retrieved January 22, 2012. "More than three million Muslim faithful attended juma, taraweeh and Qiyamullail prayers at the Two Holy Mosques on Friday as the imam of the Grand Mosque in Makkah called for joint efforts to combat terrorism."
- Bin Mahfouz, Taleb. "Al-Sudais to offer 10 solutions to terrorism". Saudi Gazette (Saudi Arabia). ISSN 1319-0326. Retrieved January 22, 2012.
- Masood, Azhar (June 2, 2007). "No Room for Terrorism in Islam: Al-Sudais". Arab News (Saudi Arabia). ISSN 0254-833X. OCLC 4574467. Retrieved January 22, 201. "Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, Imam of Makkah’s Grand Mosque, has called for spreading the message of Qur’an in order to correct the misconceptions about Islam in the West. Delivering Friday sermon at Islamabad’s Faisal Mosque, Al-Sudais said, “We must make efforts to send a message across the world that Islam is a religion of peace.” Unfortunately anti-Islam forces are bent on demonizing Islam, he said, adding Qur’anic teachings alone can correct the wrong impressions created by anti-Islam propaganda. Al-Sudais said the teachings of the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) are enough for true guidance. He said Islam abhors explosions and terrorism. It teaches peace and harmony and is against sectarianism."
- "Sudais Leads Prayers for Inter-Faith Peace and Harmony". Arab News (Saudi Arabia). June 12, 2004. ISSN 0254-833X. OCLC 4574467. Retrieved January 22, 2012. "More than three million Muslims attended jumu'ah, taraweeh and Qiyam al-Layl prayers at the Two Sacred Mosques on Friday as the imam of the Grand Mosque in Makkah called for joint efforts to combat terrorism.…Also on hand for the launch of the 10-million-pound ($18 million) London Muslim Center were guests including…Racial Equality Minister Fiona Mactaggart. Prince Charles, in Washington for the funeral of former US President Ronald Reagan, also took part by way of a pre-recorded message."
- "Shaikh Al-Sudais, Imam of Al-Haram Mosque in Makkah Calls on Muslims to Work Towards Lifting Israeli Siege of Gaza, and Liberation of Al-Aqsa Mosque". Cross-Cultural Understanding. Al-Jazeerah. November 2010. Retrieved January 22, 2012. "The Sheikh demanded an end to the Israeli siege against the Gaza Strip, calling on the Palestinians to unite and put aside their differences.…Calling for the liberation of Palestine, Al-Sudais said now is the time for Palestinian factions to bury their differences. “These differences have only added to the miseries of our brothers and sisters in Palestine. This inhuman blockade has made life hellish for them.”"
- Ghafour, Abdul (February 2, 2008). "Sudais Warns of Gaza Catastrophe". Arab News (Saudi Arabia). ISSN 0254-833X. OCLC 4574467. Retrieved January 22, 2012. "The imam rebuked Western countries that speak profusely about human rights, freedom and democratic values for keeping mum on the continuing Israeli atrocities in occupied Palestinian territories. Delivering his Juma sermon to the thousands of faithful who thronged the large mosque complex, the imam called for quick delivery of relief supplies such as food and medicine to the people of Gaza. "Our brothers in Gaza are facing death and destruction, hunger and siege…After God, only you can boost their morale and save them from this trial," Al-Sudais told Muslims all over the world. "Help them, donate for them, especially in this harsh weather condition. They are living in dark without electricity, hunger and poverty. They don't have water or food and medicine. The economic siege has made their lives extremely difficult," the Saudi Press Agency quoted the imam as saying."
- Sacranie, Iqbal; Abdul Bari, Muhammad; Kantharia, Mehboob; Siddiqui, Ghayasuddin (August 21, 2005). A Question of Leadership. Interview with John Ware. Panorama. BBC. London, England. Retrieved 2007-03-30. Sheikh Abdur-Rahman Al-Sudais, Imam, Ka'ba, Mecca, Saudi Arabia: The history of Islam is the best testament to how different communities can live together in peace and harmony. Muslims must exemplify the true image of Islam in their interaction with other communities.
John Ware: Sheikh Sudais is a leading Imam from the great mosque in Mecca, Islam's holiest city. He had one voice for his Western audience - another for his followers in Saudi. Sheikh Abdur-Rahman Al-Sudais: The worst…of the enemies of Islam are those…whom he…made monkeys and pigs, the aggressive Jews and oppressive Zionists and those that follow them: the callers of the trinity and the cross worshippers…those influenced by the rottenness of their ideas, and the poison of their cultures the followers of secularism…how can we talk sweetly when the Hindus and the idol worshippers kuffar... indulge in their overwhelming hatred against our brothers…in Muslim Kashmir…
- Moore, Charles (July 9, 2005). "Where is the Gandhi of Islam?". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2008-10-31. "In Mecca two years ago, al Sudais described Jews as ‘scum of the earth’, ‘rats of the world’ and ‘monkeys and pigs who should be annihilated’. Yet, criticise al Sudais, and Mohammed Abdul Bari leaps furiously to his defence."
- Za'za', Bassam (October 24, 2005). "Islam 'will never support terror or violence'". Gulf News. Retrieved January 22, 2012.
- "Mecca police chief to head Saudi security". Al Jazeera. July 12, 2003. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
- "No room for sectarianism, extremism in Islam : Imam-e-Kaaba". Associated Press of Pakistan. June 1, 2007. Archived from the original on September 2007. Retrieved January 22, 2012. "Imam-e-Kaaba, Al-Sheikh Abdur Rehman Al-Sudais Friday said there is no room for sectarianism and extremism in Islam and called upon Muslims to adopt moderate approach to meet challenges. "Islam rejects sectarianism and extremism, and focuses on adopting a moderate path in accordance with teachings of Islam," He said in his 'Juma prayer sermon' at Faisal mosque. ... He called for resolution of conflicts through dialogue and negotiations taking into consideration the social and economic benefits that can be achieved by resolving these disputes."
- Wajid, Ali Wajid.Imam slams Lal Masjid over standoff. Gulf News.
- Butt, Riazat (August 4, 2009). "Sheikh al-Sudais: coming to a mosque near you". The Guardian. Retrieved January 9, 2012. "…the Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks sent a message of support.…This article was amended on 6 August 2009. The original article wrongly said that Jonathan Sacks attended the al-Sudais sermon at the East London Mosque. This has been corrected."
- "Canada – A Saudi Imam is Banned From Entering the Country". Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism. May 18, 2004. Retrieved 2007-03-18. "The Canadian Government has decided to prevent the entry into the country Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, the Imam of the Great Mosque of Mecca, because of his preaching of hatred of the Jews.…The decision to ban the Imam's entry into Canada is part of the authorities' campaign against antisemitism, in the light of recent events in Toronto and Montreal, and against racist incitement in general."
- "Canadian Embassy Denies Refusing Sheikh Al-Sudais Visa". May 20, 2004. Retrieved August 22, 2012. "The issue of Sheikh Al-Sudais’ visit was raised during the question hour at the Canadian Parliament recently. A Canadian legislator, Jason Kenney, called on the government to block the entry of the Islamic scholar to Canada on the grounds that some of his sermons were anti-Semitic."
- Jacobson, Susan (December 3, 2003). "Islamic Conference Speaker Draws Wrath". Retrieved August 22, 2012. "Some anti-hate groups are outraged that a Saudi cleric who called on God to "terminate" the Jews and urged Muslims to shun peace with Israel is the invited keynote speaker at an Islamic conference scheduled this month in Osceola County."
- "Saudi Imam Preaches Hate". International Broadcasting Bureau. April 25, 2002. Archived from the original on July 12, 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-28. "On April 19th, a prominent Saudi imam said in a sermon broadcast on radio and television that Arabs ‘must say farewell to peace initiatives’ with the Jewish state. Even worse, the sermon by Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais [shake ahb-d’l-RAHKH-mahn ah-soo-DAYSS] was filled with anti-Semitic vitriol. Preaching at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam’s holiest shrine, Sheikh Sudais called Jews ‘the scum of humanity…the rats of the world…prophet killers…pigs and monkeys.’ He prayed to God to "terminate" the Jews. In addition to spewing such villainous bile, Sheikh Sudais also claimed falsely that the Israelis ‘aspire to tear down the al-Aqsa mosque [in Jerusalem] to build their so-called temple on its ruins.’ In fact, the Israeli government has never expressed any interest in tearing down the mosque, which is built near the ruins of a Jewish temple. On the contrary, Israel respects Muslim holy sites and has pledged to keep them accessible to all."
- Al-Jubeir, Adel (May 18, 2003). Adel Al-Jubeir, Foreign Policy Advisor to Crown Prince Abdullah on NBC's ‘Meet the Press’. Interview with Tim Russert. Meet the Press. NBC. Washington, DC. Archived from the original on December 12, 2007. Retrieved March 30, 2007.
MR. RUSSERT: But it went on and on, and you mention imams in Saudi Arabia. This is what a top Saudi Arabian religious leader said, using inflammatory anti-Semitic rhetoric -- "Pray to Allah to terminate Jews. Urge all Muslims to shun peace with Israel." Shaikh Abdelrahman al-Sudais, one of the top imams in Saudi Arabia, called on Muslims to say farewell to peace initiatives with these people, Jews. He prayed to the Muslim God to terminate the Jews, whom he called the scum of humanity, rats of the world, prophet killers, pigs and monkeys.
MR. AL-JUBEIR: That's also incorrect. And he was reprimanded for this.
MR. RUSSERT: He was reprimanded?
MR. AL-JUBEIR: Oh, yes.
MR. RUSSERT: Is he still preaching?
MR. AL-JUBEIR: Yes, he is. But he's not -- I think if he had a choice he would retract these words -- he would not have said these words. It's clearly not right. You cannot -- you cannot defile, you cannot malign other people, certainly not when it comes to their faith.
- "Shaykh Abdur Rahmaan As-Sudays". www.alharamainsermons.org. April 19, 2002. Retrieved 2007-03-19. "Read the history to know that yesterday’s Jews are evil predecessors and today’s Jews are worse successors. They an ingrate people, they altered God’s words, worshipped calf, killed Messengers and denied their Messages. They are exiled people and the worst of mankind. Allaah cursed them and cast His wrath upon them. He turned some of them to monkeys and pigs and worshippers of creatures. They are worst in position and are astray from the right path.…History of Jews is full of deception, trickery, rebellion, oppression, evil and corruption. They always seek to cause mischief on the earth and Allaah loves not the mischief-makers."
- "Islamic Anti-Semitism in Historical Perspective" (PDF). Anti-Defamation League. 2002. p. 6. Retrieved 2007-03-18. "Read history and you will know that yesterday's Jews were bad predecessors and today's Jews are worse successors. They are killers of prophets and the scum of the earth. God hurled his curses and indignation on them and made them monkeys and pigs and worshippers of tyrants. These are the Jews, a continuous lineage of meanness, cunning, obstinacy, tyranny, evil, and corruption. They sow corruption on earth…O Muslims, the Islamic nation today is at the peak of conflict with the enemies of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, with the grandsons of Bani-Quraydah, Al-Nadiri, and Qaynuqa [Jewish tribes in the early days of Islam]. May God's curses follow them until the Day of Judgment…The conflict is exploding and magnifying, the exploitation and greed are increasing, and the indulgence in humbling Arabs and Muslims and their holy places has become very serious by the world rodents that have revoked pacts and agreements. Treachery, sabotage, and cunning dominate their minds and injustice and tyranny flow in their veins…They cannot but remain arrogant, reckless, corrupt, and harmful. Thus, they deserve the curse of God, His angels, and all people."
- "John Ware's Panorama programme - A witch-hunt against British Muslims" (Press release). Muslim Council of Britain. August 20, 2005. Retrieved January 22, 2012.
- "A Look At John Ware’s Panorama Programme About British Muslims" (Microsoft Word). Muslim Council of Britain. August 21, 2006. p. 5. Retrieved 2007-03-28. "Anti-semitic Remarks
The Muslim Council of Britain strongly abhors any form of racism, including anti-semitism. Islam as a faith is famously colour-blind and was revealed to bring peoples of all nations together in worship of the One True God. Ware quotes the Imam of the Ka’bah as making allegedly anti-semitic remarks. If this was the case then we would condemn them completely. However, based on Ware’s ‘selective’ quotations which we have highlighted earlier in this response we would urge caution and verification that these were indeed uttered by the Imam of the Ka’bah."
- Robinson, Mike (September 30, 2005). "Response to MCB complaints". BBC. Retrieved 2007-03-28. "You have claimed that the programme maligned certain organisations affiliated to the MCB, even though the programme highlighted their sermons, documents and conduct which were sectarian or which demonised other faiths and races, and which were likely to foment division. Such views were either advocated by these affiliates or appeared to be tolerated by them. You have also publicly accused us of being engaged in a "Witch-hunt against British Muslims." I simply cannot accept that highlighting sectarian and racist language amounts to persecution. You have expressed scepticism that Sheikh Al Sudais, who was an honoured guest at the East London Mosque where the MCB's Deputy General Secretary is Chairman, had previously said in Mecca that Jews were "monkeys and pigs", "rats of the world" and the "offspring of apes and pigs"; that Christians were "cross worshippers…those influenced by the rottenness of their ideas and the poison of their cultures the followers of secularism", and that Hindus were "idol worshippers." I can assure you that he did. His sermons are available from a Saudi website covering mosques in the holy cities of Medina and Mecca and the translation we used was verified by BBC Monitoring, a fluent Arab speaker on our production team, and a translator outside the BBC."
- Hate Shiekh’s British tour sparks outrage by Leon Symons,Jewish Chronicle, August 6, 2009.
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