By SAMAR FATANY, ARABNEWS
Today we celebrate the National Day with greater hopes and aspirations about the future of our country.
It is encouraging to note that a major initiative has been taken to lead the Kingdom to a better future. The initiative aims at countering religious extremism and eradicating the takfiri militant ideology that has threatened our peaceful and spiritual society.
This militancy is one of the greatest challenges that our nation faces today. In order to address this threat, the government has begun a large-scale campaign nationwide to promote moderation and tolerance among Saudi citizens.
The government has begun in earnest a campaign to address the issue of “takfir,” the labeling of a Muslim as an “infidel” or “disbeliever”, which is one of the principal reasons behind the intolerance and strife that is prevalent among many in our society today. Unfortunately, this concept has been allowed to spread unchecked for too long and as a result we are now faced with a generation that has been misguided by a deviant ideology. We are compelled to tackle this dangerous ideology head-on as they have taken the liberty of distorting the Qur’an and Hadith.
We have identified there is a desperate need for an effective awareness campaign to inform the public about the dangers of extremism and to protect our youth from the instigators of instability within our society. Saudi citizens today should all support the Ministry of Interior in its goal of eliminating this threat. We should all commend religious scholars who are speaking out against the proponents of the takfiri concept.
One of the most recent initiatives of the Ministry of Interior was the inauguration of an international conference on takfir. In cooperation with Imam Mohammed bin Saud Islamic University, the “Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz International Prize for the Prophet’s Sunnah and Contemporary Islamic Studies” organized a three-day conference to address the impact of takfir on the future of Islam. Over 100 researchers from 45 countries were invited to participate. The key objective was to highlight the responsibility of social institutions in addressing the threat as well as draw up strategies to curb the spread of the extremist ideology. The conference was held in the holy city of Madinah and it coincided with lectures and workshops held nationwide. The participants discussed ways to tackle the concept of takfir and raise awareness about the distorted views that produced a negative impact on Saudi citizens in particular.
The conference is the first of many other initiatives that have been organized to curb the spread and influence of extremists on our youth. The ultimate goal is to protect Saudi society from the deviant ideology that promotes violence and hostility among one another. There are takfiris who believe that any Muslim who commits a sin, whether major or minor, is a kafir, and there are others who believe that it has to be a major sin. However, the more dangerous extremists label any Muslim who does not share their extreme religious views a kafir. They go as far as making the blood and wealth of this other a legitimate target to attack or kill. The distorted interpretation of the concept of takfir in Islam has misguided many of our youth who remain behind bars for committing terrorist acts and have become a danger to themselves and society. Religious extremists used this concept to recruit many young people, legitimizing their actions in the name of Islam. It is truly unfortunate that the perpetrators of this ideology have succeeded in manipulating the minds of innocent youths and they subsequently masterminded terrorist operations that continue to threaten the Muslim world at large.
The Saudi government campaign to address this dangerous phenomenon needs to be supported and encouraged by the whole of Saudi society and Muslim scholars all over the world. The takfiri ideology today threatens to create conflict between all Muslim communities. This phenomenon needs to be eradicated before it causes more chaos and instability within the Muslim world at large. Those who adhere to the extremist takfiri ideology have dissociated themselves from their societies and have chosen to be in constant confrontation with their fellow Muslims who reject their extremist views and principles.