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Saudi Arabia: Shoura members want mosques to conform to a uniform standard


RIYADH, (Arab News): Members of the Shoura Council have criticized the performance of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance in the face of difficulties related to building of mosques as well as their maintenance and cleanliness.

They also called for an increase in the salaries of imams and muezzins besides having substitutes in their place when necessary, indicating there is a shortage of muezzins. Their number does not exceed 36,000.

The members also demanded the ministry monitor the mosques currently being built by philanthropists to ensure their compliance with specifications and standards. They suggested that the ministry direct wealthy philanthropists to build mosques in villages and small towns and distribute these projects all over the Kingdom instead of concentrating in the big cities.

“The Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance no longer
has any excuse to demand the provision of necessary funds and appropriations for the maintenance and cleanliness of mosques after the announcement of the recent budget, which is very large,” Shoura member Talal Bakri said.

He said the ministry had pointed out that 70 percent of the mosques did not have the approval of the necessary funds, and that there is a difference in the figures in the report of the ministry. He pointed out that the committee’s recommendations had not come up with anything new.

Shoura member Mohammed Al-Qoihs said a lot of water and air conditioning is being wasted in mosques and demanded the ministry pursue new designs of mosques, as the current design is Nabataean. “Why not redesign mosques in a way that suits every neighborhood and district in the Kingdom?” he wondered.

In the same vein, Abdullah Alfaifi asked: “Why does the ministry talk only about the difficulties of building mosques and problems concerning imams and muezzins, while there are 13 difficulties the ministry is facing? The most notables ones are the unsuitable endowment libraries in mosques that lack advanced systems, as well as the difficulty of extracting legal deeds of endowments due to the length of procedures in courts and municipalities.”

The recommendations of the committee of Islamic affairs include the adoption of the required funds for cleaning, building and renovating mosques in the approved development plan, in addition to the adoption of jobs of imams, muezzins, guards and janitors of mosques in accordance with the requirement included in the report of the ministry for the year 1433H.

The council agreed after discussions on the committee’s request to listen to its point of view on members’ interventions at a future meeting.
The council also approved the items in which there is a discrepancy between the Council of Ministers and the Shoura Council in the draft of a penal system for fraud crimes.

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