x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Sermon changes proposed

An FNC member has urged that local sermons should be allowed to address local and regional issues.

An FNC member yesterday called for the head of the Islamic authority to meet the council to discuss allowing Friday sermons to address local and regional issues.

Sultan Al Shamsi (Ajman, elected) called for them to cover news such as the recent upheaval in Syria and to encourage Muslims to pray for others in the Muslim world.

"The sermon does not reflect what Muslims in the Muslim world go through," he said, adding that if such matters were included in the invocations it "would help to keep [other Muslims'] feelings in mind and lessen the pain they carry".

Mr Al Shamsi said that over the past six months, the unified Friday sermon, read at all mosques across the country, has featured announcements that had little to do with faith.

"On February 10 ... there was an announcement on the dangers of plastic bags to the environment," he said, adding it would have been better for the sermon to cover the UAE's relief attempt due to start in Syria the following Sunday, carried out by the Red Crescent.

"Muslims could have been encouraged then to give to charity for this campaign, but that did not happen," said Mr Al Shamsi.

In a 17-page response, the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Awqaf, said one of the purposes of the Friday sermon was to raise Islamic awareness in society.

It said the topics helped empower the UAE Government's strategy, coincided with religious and government holidays and with ministries' needs. Topics have ranged from the importance of the Arabic language to volunteering.

Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for FNC Affairs, promised to put Mr Al Shamsi's comments to the general authority. He said it was possible that more coordination was needed over the sermon.

Mr Al Shamsi asked for the head of the authority to join the council at the next session in three weeks.