Saudi Arabia will monitor interpretations of Ahadith or the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to “counter extremism.”
In a decree, King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud ordered the establishment of an authority to scrutinise uses of Ahadith – accounts of the sayings, actions or habits of the Prophet (PBUH) that are used by preachers and jurists to support teachings and edicts on all aspects of life.
Saudi’s Culture and Information Ministry said that the body’s aim would be to “eliminate fake and extremist texts and any texts that contradict the teachings of Islam and justify the committing of crimes, murders and terrorist acts”, according to news agency Reuters.
The body will be based in Madina and overseen by a council of senior Islamic scholars from around the world, according to the decree. The ministry offered no specific details of how it would work in practice.
According to Reuters, senior Saudi clergy have denounced “militant doctrines such as those of al Qaeda or Da’ish, while the government, which vets clerics in Saudi Arabia’s 70,000 mosques, has sacked many for encouraging violence or sedition.”
Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir said last month that thousands of “extremist” clerics had been dismissed, although he gave no timeframe.
The ministry said the body would serve Islam by creating “a solid scientific reference to vet and verify the authenticity of hadiths”, which are second in importance only to the Holy Quran. It did not say what form the reference would take.
The decree issued by the king, whose official title is Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, said the body would be chaired by Sheikh Mohammed bin Hassan al Sheikh, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars, which serves as the kingdom’s highest religious body.