Abdul Rahman Ibn Abdul Aziz as-Sudais (Arabic: عبد الرحمن السديس (ʻAbd ar-Rahman ibn ʻAbd al-Aziz as-Sudais), born Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 1960) is the imam of the Grand mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and the “Islamic Personality Of the Year” 2005. He has also called for peaceful inter-faith dialogue.
In some of his sermons, al-Sudais has vilified non-Muslims and has called for the annihilation of Jews. However the Muslim Council of Britain, responding to some of these accusations, has declared them as being a “witch-hunt” and “deliberately garbled”.
Al-Sudais has called for efforts to combat terrorism, discussed ways to combat terrorism, and has preached Islam’s opposition to “explosions and terrorism”. He actively speaks out against what he believes to be the persecution of Palestinians by Israeli settlers and the state of Israel, and has pleaded for medical supplies and food to be sent to the Palestinians.
Life and career
Al-Sudais comes from the Anza clan, and he had memorized the Quran by the age of 12. Growing up in Najd, Al-Sudais studied at the Al Muthana Bin Harith Elementary School, and afterwards the Riyadh Scientific Institution from which he graduated in 1979 with a grade of excellent. He obtained a degree in Sharia from Riyadh University in 1983, his Master’s in Islamic fundamentals from the Sharia College of Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University in 1987 and received his Ph.D. in Islamic Sharia from Umm al-Qura University in 1995 while working there as an assistant professor after serving at Riyadh University.
In 2005, Al-Sudais was named by the Dubai International Holy Quran Award (DIHQA) Organising Committee as its 9th annual “Islamic Personality Of the Year” in recognition of his devotion to the Quran and Islam. When accepting his award in Dubai, he said: “The message of Islam and Muslims is modesty, fairness, security, stability, sympathy, harmony and kindness.”
Statements on conflict resolution
In 2003, Sudais stated that he believes that youth need to be taught Islamic law, including the precepts of the prohibition on killing oneself and the prohibition against attacking non-Muslims living in Islamic countries. Sudais has also said that Islamic youth should not “indiscriminately hurl the label of atheism and not to confuse between legitimate jihad and…the terrorizing of peaceable people.”
Sudais has said that there is no room for extremism and sectarianism in Islam and that Islam teaches a moderate path. He said the solution to problems that Muslims face in Palestine, Somalia, Iraq, Kashmir and Afghanistan lies in following the teachings of Islam in letter and spirit. He called for resolution of conflicts through dialogue and negotiations taking into consideration the social and economic benefits that can be achieved by resolving these disputes.
Sudais also criticized the Lal Masjid administration during the 2007 Red Mosque crisis in Islamabad, Pakistan. He urged the militants and the government to agree to a peaceful resolution through dialogue and urged both parties to protect peace.
Sudais is also known for his sermons calling on believers to help other Muslims in war-torn regions.
Prayers for inter-faith peace
In June 2004, Sudais led a following of 10,000 in prayers for inter-faith peace and harmony. Racial Equality Minister Fiona Mactaggart attended Sudais’ sermon at the East London Mosque. Prince Charles, who was in Washington, took part by a pre-recorded message Britain’s chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, sent a message of support.