Saudi Arabia sets up authority to monitor use of “extremist” hadith

Saudi Arabia's King Salman announced new royal decrees on Monday

Saudi authorities have created a new authority to monitor interpretations of Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) hadith to prevent them being used to justify violence or terrorism.

A royal order issued this week by King Salman established a global body of scholars based in the holy city of Madinah to root out and eliminate fake and extremist texts, the Saudi Culture and Information Ministry said.

The King Salman Complex will become a “trusted source of the correct and authentic hadith”, said an announcement from the Saudi ministry. It described the move as an “unprecedented initiative.”

Saudi Arabia’s most senior Islamic authority, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Al Sheikh, thanked the King for issuing a royal decree to establish the centre.

Sheikh Dr Mohammed bin Nasser Al Khazeem, vice president of general affairs at the Holy Mosque in Makkah, described the centre’s purpose as: “To learn and understand the Hadiths. To liberate people from the darkness of thought, the extremism and misinterpretation of the book of God, and the teachings that have been passed down to us through the Prophet.”

The chairman of the body has been named as Sheikh Mohammed bin Hassan Al Sheikh, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars, which serves as Saudi Arabia’s highest religious body.

Saudi Arabia has government centres for Islamic study which establish a universal method for teaching Islam both in the kingdom itself and abroad in Saudi Arabia’s many state-sponsored schools.

However, the study of the hadiths, which number in the thousands, have often been less studied and have been the source of debate.

Saudi Arabia has acknowledged the presence of extremist ideology in the country and has pledged to combat it. Saudi is routinely accused by countries such as Iran, as well as many Western countries, of incubating extremist ideology.

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