Several leading Saudi scholars attending a forum here have warned that extremist ideas propagated by some groups are a misinterpretation of Islam’s sacred texts and threaten Muslim unity. They were speaking on Wednesday at a forum organized by Madinah Islamic University in collaboration with King Abdul Aziz Center for National Dialogue. Abdullah Al-Mutlaq, chairman of the center’s board of trustees and member of the Council of Senior Scholars; Abdul Rahman Al-Sanad, president of the university; and Faisal bin Muammar, secretary-general of the center, participated in the event. “Almighty Allah has prohibited extremism, which is based on a false understanding of Islamic law. Religious texts were revealed to save mankind. However, Satan creates confusion in the minds of people who do not correctly understand religious knowledge, who therefore mislead people. We hear and read speeches by extremists full of [misinterpreted] religious texts,” Al-Mutlaq said in his address to the forum.
He said extremism is a scourge that has affected Muslims over the centuries, and warned parents to protect their children from people peddling these ideas. Intellectual confusion was worse than having a physical illness, said Al-Mutlaq. Al-Sanad said the forum was being held to fight extremism. He said the acquisition of correct knowledge was the most potent weapon to counter the “preachers of evil.” Universities in the Kingdom, including Madinah Islamic University where 20,000 students from 92 countries are studying, are the pillars of resistance in this struggle, he said. He said the university has held several conferences and forums to discuss the issue. The university is equipped to work with the national dialogue center in its fight against extremism, said Al-Sanad.Addressing the forum, Faisal bin Muammar said the university is a shining example of unity because it brings together Muslims from all over the world. He said the dialogue center also provides the ideal environment for individuals and groups to discuss challenges facing the Muslim world, and promote solidarity and moderation in Islam.
He said the center was committed to ensuring that Muslims have a chance to freely express their views, and was working to strengthen communication between local and international groups and individuals. He said the rise of extremism had made many Muslims more determined to stand together and fight this menace.