Saudi Grand Mufti: ‘Destroy all churches in the Arabian Peninsula.’ But, is it Islam?

Russian TV; The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia has said that all churches in the Arabian Peninsula must be destroyed. The statement prompted anger and dismay from Christians throughout the Middle East.

Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah made the controversial statement in a response to a question from a Kuwaiti NGO delegation. A Kuwaiti parliamentarian had called for a ban on the construction of new churches in February, but so far the initiative has not been passed into law. The NGO, called the Society of the Revival of Islamic Heritage, asked the Sheikh to clarify what Islamic law says on the matter.

The Grand Mufti, who is the highest official of religious law in Saudi Arabia, as well as the head of the Supreme Council of Islamic Scholars, cited the Prophet Mohammed, who said the Arabian Peninsula is to exist under only one religion.

The Sheikh went on to conclude that it was therefore necessary for Kuwait, being a part of the Arabian Peninsula, to destroy all churches on its territory.

In February, Kuwaiti MP Osama al-Munawar announced on Twitter that he was planning to submit legislation that would remove all churches in the country. However, he later clarified that existing churches should remain, while the construction of new non-Islamic places of worship would be banned.


23 replies

  1. The Muslim Times stands for the freedom of religion of the Christians and sanctity of the churches and feels that the Grand Mufti is totally wrong, does not understand the true Islamic spirit and the teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him and should consider resignation, to honor the Holy Prophet Muhammad!

  2. Mr Zia H. Shah
    with respect, if your comments are true, then why is the Grand Mufti citing hadith and Hz. Muhammads last words as his evidence for this reasoning.
    Did Hz. Muhammad not say this?
    What about abrogation?

    This is truly worrying, and another humans interpretation does not really mean anything – just because someone says so, isnt enough – if it is written, then it must be considered, The Grand Mufti comments are based on Muslim written truth, which is serious.

    Finally this story has not been reported fully, in order to hide other worrying points. Why is this?

    • All written things are not truth. Much is to be ignored based on common sense, which must prevail. The Saudi Mufti is just that a Saudi Mufti, nothing more, nothing less acting always in support of a an American and western back autocratic regime. That must be kept in mind. Here the intentions are political and nothing to do with real religion. Zia Sahib and others quote the real Islam which supports the dictates of human conscience and of course common sense. Ignorance will ultimately perish. The story is reported in full and can be seen through clicking on the hyperlink. We have no reason to hide it. We take a just view of issues and the reason why it has been put up here despite its abhorrent content, which we as Muslims, find abhorrent, is to give you a balanced view of the issue.

  3. I just sent the following message to the whole of the subscriber’s email list:

    The Muslim Times condemns the recent call by Saudi Grand Mufti to destroy all Churches in Arabia, in as much as it is against the teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him and the Holy Quran. The Saudi Grand Mufti is only showing his religious violence, whereas, the Quran says that defensive war or Jihad is for defending Churches, Synagogues and Mosques, in Sura Hajj! In other words, the Holy Quran ensures religious freedom of each and every person.

    Now, let me link the verses of the Holy Quran from Sura Hajj that are referred to:

    Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged — and Allah indeed has power to help them — Those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly only because they said, ‘Our Lord is Allah’ — And if Allah did not repel some men by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft commemorated. And Allah will surely help one who helps Him. Allah is indeed Powerful, Mighty. (Al Quran 22:40-41)

    • Saint Catherine’s Monastery has stood for 17 centuries and has a parchment written by Prophet (SAW) ordering Christian churches and monks be respected; is this agreed upon?
      Thank you for your response.

  4. A document from the Holy Prophet:

    In 628 C.E. the Holy Prophet of Islam (Peace be upon him) granted a Charter of privileges to the Monks of St. Catherine Monastery in Mt. Sinai. It consisted of several clauses covering all aspects of human rights including such topics as the protection of Christians, freedom of worship and movement, freedom to appoint their own judges and to own and maintain their properties, exemption from military service, and the right o protection in war. This document is excellent guidance for all Muslims States for dealing with non-Muslim minorities. The following is the text of the Charter.

    “This is the document which Muhammad, son of Abdullah, God’s Prophet, Warner and Bearer of glad-tidings, has caused to be written so that there should remain no excuse for those coming after. I have caused this document to be written for Christians of the East and the West, for those who live near, and for those of distant lands, for the Christians living at present and for those who will come after, for those Christians who are known to us and for those as well whom we do not know.”

    1) Any Muslim violating and abusing what is therein ordered would be regarded as violater of God’s testament and would be the breaker of His promise and would make himself deserving of God’s curse, be he a king or a subject.

    2) I promise that any monk or way-farer, etc., who will seek my help on mountains, in forests, deserts or habitations, or in places of worship, I will repel enemies with all my friends and helpers, with all my relatives and with all those who profess to follow me and will defend him, because they are my subjects and to them my shelter is extended, that is, they are on my covenant. And I will defend the covenanted against persecution, injury, and embarrassment from their enemies in lieu of the poll tax (Jizya) they have promised to pay.

    3) If they will prefer themselves to defend their properties and persons, they will be allowed to do so and will not be put to any inconvenience on that account.

    4) No bishop will be expelled from his bishopric, no monk from his monastery, and no priest from his place of worship, and no pilgrim will be detained from his pilgrimage.

    5) None of their churches and other places of worship will be desolated destroyed or demolished. No material of their churches will be used for building mosques or houses for the Muslims. Any Muslim so doing will be regarded recalcitrant to God and His Prophet.

    6) Monks and bishops will be subject to no tax or indemnity, whether they live in forests or on the rivers, or in the East or West, North or South. I give them my word of honor. They are on my promise and covenant and will enjoy perfect immunity from all sorts of inconveniences.

    7) Those who retire to the mountains and dedicated places, the produce if their cultivated lands will not be subject to tax or tithe and in times of scarcity of food they will not be compelled to contribute anything in the form of grain. No military service will be required from them, nor will they be urged to pay poll tax (Jizya). Not more than 12 dirham per annum will be taken from their (Christians) merchants, landowners and from the wealthy among them. None should be harassed and tyrannized for the payment of taxes.

    8) In religious controversies and disputes, they may be and should be protected from all troubles and injuries. He, who break God’s covenant and adopt a defiant attitude, will be regarded as His (God) enemy and violater of His testament.

    9) Every help shall be given to them in the repair of their churches. They shall be absolved from wearing arms. They will protected by the Muslims. Let this document be not destroyed till the judgment Day.

  5. “The Sheikh went on to conclude that it was therefore necessary for Kuwait, being a part of the Arabian Peninsula, to destroy all churches on its territory”. Truely analysed that it is a politically motivated statement and has nothing to do with real teachings of Islam. Hope S. Jessop understood the point.

  6. As if enough has not been done to defame Islam yet they are carving more strategies against it. It is true a wise enemy is better then an unwise friend.
    Brother Zia Saheb and Amtul Q Ferhat Sahibah, you have given more then enough evidence to prove this as Un-Islamic.
    What we can do is condemn this attitude. According to Islam It is the responsibility of the Islamic Government to protect the lives, properties, and even protect their worship places of non Muslims citizens. Not only this if they need help to repair their worship places Muslim should lend a helping hand courteously , without any wages.

    This is Islam that mullah has forgotten.

  7. It seems to me that all these developments are just so that the general public will one day be able to come to realize the difference between the Saudi Sheikh and Hadhrat Khalifa tul Masih IV.

    May Allah open the eyes of all the peoples!

  8. Please – I beg your pardon for this lengthy subscription and request your cool attention:-

    Whenever and Wherever, the context of an act, saying or an incident is lost and happens to go in conflict and confusion, it tends to land bewildered and then conclusions and results of choice become easy to deduce by all concerned (“stake-holders” in lingo of the vogue).

    Please – Verdict of the Grand Mufti in Saudi Arabia cannot be and should not be taken lightly. He is not simply a “NoBody” rather he, in his Exalted Clergy Position directly influences the belief and behaviour of many million Muslims around the world including many Heads of the States.

    If he goes the wrong way, the sovereigns and the masses following him are expected to do the same. That is why it becomes a Public Concern when The Grand Mufti opens up a religious stance conflicting to (at least) the Core Values of any peace loving communities – Muslims or Not.

    Pity is for that attitude which reflects and presents a tiny splinter of the glass as a huge and the only reflector of the true grandeur.

    The point of the verdict is already carried in the Muslim Traditions for the last 1500 years or so – founded upon a Hadith attributed to Hadhrat Muhammad pbuh.

    BUT should a few questions like the below not asked to find out any genuine relevance of it with the Quranic Assertions of being the “Word of God” and the “Teachings of Eternal Good” and the “Teachings of Peace”:-

    1. Whether the tradition is true or not?
    2. What was the context of the Hadith?
    3. What has been derived from it, is true or not?
    4. What would be its rationale in Toto?

    The following aspect of the matter relating to The Christians of Mount Sanai and Najran ALSO needs your attention:-

    Thanks must be offered to Amatul Q. Farhat for citing the Text of the Charter granted to the (christian) monks of Saint Catherine’s Monastery, Mount Sinai, Egypt.

    And a glance must be shed towards the Document of Protection given to the Christians of Najran, Yemen (at that time) as well.

    The Najrani Christians were (then) later on “EXPELLED” from Najran to Mesopotamia (Iraq) during the Caliphate of Hadhrat Umer ra.

    This act sounds to be in direct contradiction with the given Documents Ratified by Hadhrat Muhammad pbuh and meant to stand till the last day.

    Were they really Expelled – or – they were asked to move from their place in an administrative state action for any reason(s) like “they violating the conditions of the promised protection”?

    Problem arises when the words are taken for their literal meanings and (perhaps forgetfully) no heed is paid to the Exalted Literate Meanings of a Superb Language named “Arabic” – famous for pioneering the Poetic Diction and Imagery – (no doubt the mother of all languages).

    Anyways – the current dilemma resolves, if:-

    1. The Quranic Verses are translated in their harmonized meanings (within the realms of the linguistic rules and grammar) falling in row with its “BIGGEST” assertion of being the “Religion of Peace”.

    2. Time-Line (Shaane Nazool) of the Quranic Verses is ascribed to the meanings.

    3. Hadith is then examined against that Highest Bar of Meanings (of the Quranic Verses) and in the Context of the Event that caused it to be voiced.

    4. The tradition is accounted for its own historical scope.

    Nonetheless, many of the historical accounts are found mutilated with “Personal Opinion” many a times undermining their factual standings.

    Therefore, the situations as the metaphorical saying goes “Attraction of Ali and Revulsion of Muawiya” – have been causing “oblivion” amongst the masses – from past eras to date.

    Please – view the situation as:-

    1. Exasperation towards the Teaching of Islam; (which proclaims to be the Religion of Universal Peace).

    2. Improper account of the Hadith;

    (which can also mean that the Islamic Teachings will eventually win all the hearts and only Muslims will dwell in the Arabian Peninsula – as a Prophecy).

    And all Muslims will obviously uphold the Charter(s) and Protection(s) given by Hadhrat Muhammad pbuh in accordance with the needs of the time as they may evolve and change.


    It surely needs to be reviewed on the accepted “Principles of Interpretation & Reasoning”; to which Great Muslim Scholars have significantly contributed.

    In amazement of it all I wish to say, the “Principles of Interpretation & Reasoning” were very well instituted by Hadhrat Muhammad pbuh and became the “Tresure Lost” for a long time and are resurrected by the Promised Messiah a.s.

  9. The Quran Sharif says: لا اکراہ فی الدین۔ قد تبین الرشد من الغی ; that is, there is no compulsion in religion, verily right has become manifestly distinct from wrong. So we cannot stop Christians from performing their rituals or from offering their prayers, by destroying their churches; even though theirs is not the right religion anymore. This is because we are not allowed to use force/coercion. Next, churches come under “masajidallah”. If anyone finds it hard to believe he/she should read from al-Kahaf: قال الذین غلبو علی امرھم لنتخذن علیھم مسجدا , that is those who won their point said, “We will, surely, build a place of worship over them (at their place)”. So the place of worship, which was an earlier version of a church, is called a masjid in the Quran.
    Next, the Grand Mufti cannot prove from the Hadith that he had in mind that the Prophet (SAW) clearly stated that churches and synagogues be destroyed. The reason for my belief is that the Prophet (SAW) allowed Christian clergy, who had come to meet him, to hold mass in the Grand Mosque the Masjid-e-Nabawi. (I like to think Masjid-e-Nabawi as the first Muslim & Christian place of worship). Another reason for my belief is that the Prophet (SAW) issued a charter that assured the Christians that their churches and monasteries would remain intact and their clergy protected. The assurances do not end at that, but I want to be brief. (Actually the charter included an order for all Muslims for all the times to see to it that those assurances are respected.)
    It could be that the Grand Mufti was reacting to the news that some politicians in the West were moving to limit the numbers of mosques in their countries. Well Mr. Grand Mufti, if a dog bites you, you do not bite the dog back. And you do not have to be a Grand Mufti to see the point. It could also be that the Mufti thought if there are churches there would be Christians and so would be their missionaries and they might convert Muslims to Christianity. If that is the case, I am afraid; the Mufti has no faith in Islam.
    Finally, if the Mufti has up his sleeve some Hadith that supports his point then that Hadith goes against the Quran and Sunnah. Does the Mufti know what Imam Abu Hanifa would say about such a Hadith? Imam Abu Hanifa is reported to have said about a false Hadith, ”It is not a saying of the Prophet, it is a saying of Satan. Go tie it to a pig’s tail.”

  10. I strongly feel that through this Fatwa, Mr Mufti is inviting some other men to this land to repel the present occupants. its very simple, if anybody tried to dismantle the churches or synagogues, foreign intervention will come and it may come through security council. rather I can conclude from this verse that Allah will send some other men to protect the places of worship of commemorators.
    How do they ignore the clear directions of Prophet (saw) for the protection of places of worship.
    If we read Urdu translation of Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, it shows the chances of war
    ( اور اگر اللہ کی طرف سے لوگوں کا دفاع اُن میں سے بعض کو بعض دوسروں سے بِھڑا کر نہ کیا جاتا تو راہب خانے منہدم کر دیئے جاتے اور گرجے بھی )

  11. In the Name of Allah the Most Gracious Ever Merciful
    I wonder, if it is true that the Verdict is from the Great Mufti of Saudi Arabia, if so, how he is deprived of call of common sense, with the verdict to destroy all the Churches in Arab Peninsular why the non-Muslim will not follow the same for Our Masajid (Mosques)
    The Holy Quran has prohibited to destroy any place of worship and permitted of sword to protect the freedom of Religion and to safeguard all places of worship, whether Synagogues Churches Temples or Mosques. If any place of worship is let to be destroyed there is no surety of peace in the world
    Zarif Ahmad

  12. The said Mufti is a mouthpiece for the Saud family and his actions have nothing to do with Islamic teachings, as already mentioned by others. His reference to Kuwait indicates that the Saud family want to take all the emirates under their Wahabi umbrella, an example being Bahrain. It’s a political game, hiding behind the veil of Islam. When the black gold runs out there will be no more Saud.

  13. How can the highest religious authority of the most muslim country be so wrong ? Its just as if a catholic did say that the pope does not understand his religion and that the pope has a completely wrong understanding of his own tradition.

  14. Dear Pierre Paul, well, please compare the highest religious authority of Saudi Arabia with the one that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community considers the highest authority: Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul-Masih V.

  15. If the words attributed to him are true, it can inferred that Grand Mufti has a distorted and incomplete understanding of Islam. The Quran prohibits to destroy any places of worship or to constrict others from their worship. It’s a kind of hate speech devoid of any logic and good sense

  16. We cannot draw interpretations from any individual verse of Quran unless it is read and understood in conjunction with all other verses. And when we read and understand any verse of Quran in conjunction with all its verses we will find that Quran asks us to respect other religions and their worshipping places. It encourages and promotes brotherhood and peaceful coexistence with other religions / nations / tribes until and unless the opposition drives us out of our house and fighting with them to save my honour and dignity remains the only option and the last resort.

  17. I have just read the opening post. The ignorance of the grand Mufti is Grand. Zia Shah sahib, Amtul Q Farhat (16-3-2012) and other friends have explained very well.
    The Mufti ignored the Quran and went after a singular Hadith. That was bad. He ignored the Hadith about the Charter of peace given by the prophet s.a.w.s. to Christians of Mount Sinai monastery. He ignored the charter of complete peace given by hazrat Umar Rz.a. to the people of Jerusalem as per their wishes…
    The Muslims should shun all the maulvis in toto in order to lead the world towards peace and happiness.

  18. “Beware!  Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim minority, or curtails their rights, or burdens them with more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will; I (Prophet Muhammad) will complain against the person on the Day of Judgment.” (Abu Dawud)

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