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Friday prayers to be limited to selected mosques — minister

By Sawsan Tabazah - Aug 16,2016 - Last updated at Aug 16,2016

AMMAN — The Awqaf Ministry will not reverse its decision to limit Friday sermons to one mosque in each area, Minister Wael Arabiyat said on Monday. 

In a meeting at Al Rai Centre for Studies, the minister explained that even in areas with several mosques, Friday prayers would only be held in one selected mosque, in which an expert sheikh would deliver a sermon.  

He said that the decision would go ahead, despite any opposition, adding that the ministry’s ifta department had issued a fatwa (religious edict) declaring that Friday prayers would only be held in the selected mosque in each area, except for emergencies.

There are around 6,200 mosques across the Kingdom, including 1,720 in Amman, the minister said, noting that only around 800 are under the supervision of the ministry. 

The Friday sermon is potentially a dangerous media channel, according to Arabiyat, who noted that not all those who deliver sermons are trained or qualified to explain a hadith (saying of Prophet Mohammad) or a verse of the Koran. 

The ministry plans to train imams to deliver sermons, both in the field and at institutions in Jordan, he said. 

Moreover, the ministry has a budget to send imams on training courses in other fields like environmental protection and water conservation. 

Recently, the ministry dispatched a number of imams to Germany for training in environmental protection, the minister noted. 

Imams running in the upcoming parliamentary elections are suspended from delivering Friday sermons, the minister said, adding that those who try to influence voters indirectly will be suspended. 

Arabiyat also discussed the ministry’s role in protecting Jerusalem’s shrines, noting that the issue is a priority for the Kingdom. 

Regarding the upcoming Hajj (the greater Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca), the minister said the first pilgrims would depart on August 30, the 26th of Dhul Qadah in the Islamic lunar calendar.  

The ministry will dispatch teams of lawyers, technicians, engineers and administrators to Medina and Mecca before the pilgrims’ arrival, and they will ensure that the pilgrims’ accommodation is consistent with the housing promised in their contracts with travel companies.

 

Asked about the ministry’s role in the national plan to fight terrorism and extremism, Arabiyat said the issue was cultural and fell under the work of the Ministry of Culture. 

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