Hajj is the largest gathering of people on Earth. This year, authorities believe that over 1.4 million Muslims have traveled to follow in the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). During last year’s Hajj, Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz delivered an important message that “Islam does not allow terrorism at any cost,” and that “Islam condemns all violence.” Sadly, this year’s sermon has taken a different direction and could increase confusion, paranoia and violence among Muslims.
Addressing the Hajj sermon at Arafat, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz gave a sermon that was steeped in paranoid conspiracy theories.
Addressing the Hajj sermon at Arafat today, he said enemies are hatching conspiracies against Islam and responsibility lies with the Muslim rulers to tread the righteous path to foil the nefarious designs of anti-Islam forces.
“The Muslim rulers should keep the interests of Ummah supreme and work towards their welfare and wellbeing.”
He urged the Muslims to remain faithful to their rulers and extend a helping hand to them in meeting the challenges and promoting the teachings of Islam. He said the enemies want to weaken Muslims and they incessantly plotting against Muslims. He said “polices should be framed to safe our future generations from bloodshed and any anarchy. Deviation from Islamic teachings is also one of the reasons for the problems faced by us.” He said the media of Muslim countries should also play its role for raising the flag of Islam in the world.
This statement is a breeding ground for extremism. It begins with conspiracy theories about invisible enemies and it moves on to talking about ‘deviation from Islamic teachings’ without telling what those deviations are. By failing to fill in the details, the Grand Mufti has left wide open the doors for others to fill them in themselves.
Hafiz Saeed will gladly tell you who the invisible enemies are as he guides you on a path to violent jihad, and Malik Ishaq is more than happy to tell you who is ‘deviating’ from Islam as someone places a gun in your hands.
The truth is that most of our problems are not the result of hidden hands and invisible enemies of Islam, they are self-inflicted. If we are going to “safe our future generations from bloodshed and anarchy” as the Grand Mufti correctly hopes, we need to return to his sermon of last year and abandon violence. We need, as requested by PM Nawaz, religious scholars to play their role in countering terrorism, not fueling it with convenient excuses and paranoid conspiracy theories.