Imams in Saudi mosques are not immune to the Peter Principle, writes Abdo Khal in Okaz, the Arabic sister-paper of Saudi Gazette. While they may be good at a certain level, they get promoted to beyond their level of competence. Then, they take advantage of their position of power and attempt to inflict their own, personal views on the congregation.

The recent dust-up in a Riyadh mosque when the imam took it upon himself to criticize the Egyptian government — a point of view in direct opposition to Saudi Arabia’s official policy — suggests that better vetting and education of imams is needed. More to the point, they should not see the minbar as their private soap-boxes from which they grind their personal axes.

Need to discipline imams
Abdo Khal | Okaz

The fight that took place among devotees at Al-Firdous Mosque in Riyadh following the Friday sermon further confirms the fact that mosques are often unregulated. There are imams (preachers) who are not properly educated and do not have sufficient knowledge of the political, philosophical or economic realities of life. Regardless, these imams do not shy away from talking about such issues and tend to forget that times have changed and that some of the attendees may be more knowledgeable than them even in religious matters.

During his sermon in the Al-Firdous Mosque, the imam did not realize that he was agitating people with inflammatory statements. Those in the congregation are usually a mixture of people with different political beliefs that should not be attacked. Controversial issues should not be tackled by the imams so as to preserve peace among all people in the mosque.

Climbing up the dais, many imams blurt out things without realizing their inherent danger. They talk without depth about certain issues and without any consideration for the feelings of those in attendance. They speak on controversial issues in which political, economic, social and cultural factors intertwine, and end up making matters worse.

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