- The decision to suspend prayer is difficult and it is much more difficult to see the loss of worshipers as a result of the spread of the epidemic in mosques.
- We closed two mosques at the beginning of the return of prayer to the mosques for lack of commitment, and it was a clear message for the mosques.
- We have 1600 mosques in Kuwait and the percentage of worshipers adhering to health requirements has approached 100%.
- The extremist ideology has not disappeared, but it has disappeared due to the efforts of the “endowments” and the ministries that are members of the “was Atiya”.
- The number of Kuwaitis appointed in the positions of the imamate, call to prayer and preaching does not exceed 130-150 citizens and those who work on the bonus item reach 1000, and we need 3200 Kuwaiti imams and muezzins for Kuwait 100%.
The interview was conducted by: Osama Abu Al-Saud
Kuwait News, March 29: The Undersecretary of the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs, Eng. Farid Asad Emadi announced that the Ministry of Endowments has completed its preparations to receive the blessed month of Ramadan in all mosques, where prayers and Taraweeh prayers will be held in the mosques and there will be no Ramadan centers so that no congestion occurs.
In the first meeting since the beginning of the Corona crisis, the agent Emadi revealed the difficult moments prior to the issuance of the first fatwa to suspend Friday and congregational prayers in Kuwait at the beginning of the Corona pandemic in March 2020, where he stressed the saying: “The decision to suspend prayer is difficult and painful .. What hurts more is to see the fall of worshipers as a result The spread of the epidemic in the mosques ».
He added, “We deliberately not published the fatwa and gave it to the Minister of Health first in order to assess the health situation in the country, because the fatwa stipulated that.”
Emadi confirmed that the Ministry of Endowments has 1,600 mosques, and the percentage of worshipers ’compliance with health requirements approached 100%, adding,“ With the testimony of the brothers in the Ministry of Health, mosques are the most compliant place in the country with health requirements. ”
With regard to confronting extremist ideology and spreading moderation, Emadi stressed that the extremist ideology has not disappeared while it exists … but it has diminished and decreased to low levels due to the efforts of the endowments and the member ministries of the “supreme” to strengthen the moderation.
The Awqaf’s Undersecretary stated that the number of Kuwaitis appointed to the positions of the Imamate, Azan and Rhetoric does not exceed 130-150 citizens.
The details of the meeting are as follows:
At the outset, we congratulate you on the confidence of the political leadership and renew you in the position for the next four years. What are your plans for development during that stage?
We ask God Almighty to help us to obey Him and perform trustworthiness, and this position is not an honor, rather it is an assignment, and there is no doubt that the renewal of confidence carries us a great responsibility before God Almighty and before the political leadership and also before this responsibility that we ask God to help us to perform it to his satisfaction and to achieve The general interest of Kuwait and of Islam and Muslims.
A year full of events, during which Kuwait topped the world leaders that made a decision to suspend Friday and congregational prayers in mosques due to the Corona pandemic, and the first country in which the call to prayer was raised followed by “Pray in your homes or your travels” according to the Prophet’s biography in that, how did you take this urgent decision, especially since the fatwas Issued by the Endowment Authority in response to your personal question?
٭ The Corona pandemic is one of the calamities that afflicted the whole world today in all life activities, whether in social, functional, economic or political aspects.
Among the first signs of this pandemic, the Ministry of Endowments had a vision and visualization to anticipate what this pandemic will lead to, especially since we were at its inception, and the guidance was from His Excellency the Minister at that time – and the fact that we were working as one team – that we must anticipate what will happen in the future. .
For example, we saw that there were decisions issued by the Council of Ministers at the beginning of the crisis to prevent gatherings and close markets and other parks and other things, and the mosques remained.
In fact, we thought that the mosques were also a place for gathering, and the worshipers were not spaced between them, but rather they were close together according to the provisions of group prayer, so we were, in fact, expecting something to happen to the mosques.
Therefore, before any decision was issued by the health authorities to close mosques, the matter first concerned with a Sharia ruling, and therefore the minister directed at that time to ask the Fatwa Authority a question before the Ministry of Health requested the closure of mosques, and this was in the beginning of March 2020.
Indeed, I addressed a question to the Fatwa Commission regarding Friday and congregational prayers, and after meetings of the Fatwa Commission, it issued its Sharia opinion on March 11, 2020 regarding the permissibility of disrupting congregational prayer in mosques and stopping Friday prayers if the health authorities decide to do so.
The ruling depends on the opinion of the health authorities if they see that the mosque and the presence of the worshipers in it can be a place for the spread of the epidemic, and of course the health, safety and preservation of human beings takes precedence over the rite of congregational prayer.
The Muslim can perform his prayer and enforce it in his home, so holding prayer in congregation is undoubtedly a great virtue and it has great rewards and some people of knowledge consider it obligatory. On the human soul and other legal rules.
Therefore, the fatwa was issued permitting the suspension of Friday and congregational prayers.
But did the fatwa only spread to people inside the mosques on Friday, March 13, 2020?
٭ Of course, we did not publish the fatwa and deliberately did that, because the fatwa was in the hands of the Minister of Endowments and he handed it to the Minister of Health because those who have the decision to prevent prayer at that time are the health authorities, and this is what the Fatwa Commission has already emphasized by linking the issue with the decision of the health authorities.
Indeed, on Friday morning, the Minister of Health received information about the results of the examinations for those coming from outside the country at that time, and gave large numbers and indicators of injuries, so the Minister of Health feared for the lives of people and informed the Minister of Endowments half an hour before Friday prayers of the necessity to suspend Friday prayers.
We only had to try as much as possible to inform the people – it was true that it was a late time – but we were actually able to inform a lot of people who followed the means of communication, and our minister made a statement to Kuwait TV live before the prayer and warned people and asked them not to go to Friday prayers According to the legal fatwa.
Indeed, the decision to suspend prayer was a difficult decision, and as His Highness the Prime Minister said, it is easy to stop many things, such as the airport, markets, malls, etc., but stopping prayer is difficult.
Therefore, the minister, in consultation with His Highness the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health, the end of Friday prayers was approved, and congregational prayer was stopped from that afternoon, March 13, 2020.
So the fatwa in Kuwait was the first in issuing its legal opinion before Al-Azhar, the Two Holy Mosques and various countries of the world?
٭ Indeed, Kuwait was the first country in the world to issue this fatwa from the Ministry of Endowments, and in fact, despite the difficulty of the decision, the Fatwa Commission’s reliance on the Sharia rules was sound, and what confirmed the safety and correctness of what the Kuwait Fatwa Commission went to is that it follows up all fatwa bodies in the Islamic world.
The previous fatwa of the Ministry of Endowments prompted many fatwa bodies in the world to adopt the same opinion and went to the same thing the Fatwa Commission went to by stopping Friday and congregational prayers. The Fatwa Commission was in Egypt, Morocco, Qatar, Bahrain, and later in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Fatwa bodies in Europe and many others. All of them went to what the Fatwa Commission of the Kuwaiti Ministry of Endowments went to.
This, in fact, gives us the integrity of the legal opinion that the Ministry of Endowments went to and the leadership of the Ministry that it was a pioneer in such a legal ruling in which it preserved human lives, and we ask God that we have taken the right step.
And as we said that the matter of stopping prayers in mosques is painful, but what hurts more is that the mosques are open and we see many worshipers fall as a result of the spread of the epidemic in the mosques, and praise be to God, the mosques were not and will not be – God willing – places for the spread of the epidemic.
The return of prayer and the commitment of the worshipers
Prayers have returned to the mosques on Friday and in groups. We are talking here about the ministry’s role in implementing health measures and also the extent of worshipers ’commitment?
٭ After the return of normal life little by little, prayers returned to mosques gradually, and we had many pressures from people to open mosques for prayers, especially in Ramadan, and that it is the season of worship and prayer in mosques.
We were apprehensive, and the health authorities asked that mosques not be opened last Ramadan, especially in Ramadan, which is witnessing a large presence of worshipers, and thus the opportunity for the epidemic to spread is much more.
After coordination with the Ministry of Health after the month of Ramadan, we did not prefer to open mosques once so as not to have a big crowd. First, then we moved to areas with a higher population density and then higher until we reached the last stage and opened all mosques in all areas of Kuwait, and today we do not have a closed mosque.
With regard to Friday prayers, we also included it after people took on health measures, and we intensified our efforts in that by making advertisements, brochures, booklets, video messages and representative clips that are broadcasted on various communication means to educate the public in more than one language.
Therefore, when we opened mosques, people began to learn little by little, and the percentage of compliance with health requirements in mosques is very high, and I may not exaggerate when I say that it is 100%.
Failure of worshipers was rare and in a few mosques. We have 1,600 mosques in Kuwait, and the number of mosques that did not adhere to sanitary procedures reached two or three mosques, and they were immediately closed according to the ministerial decision, and this is not a punishment for the worshipers, but in order to preserve the safety of the worshipers.
Are these mosques closed for a long time?
٭ It was closed for a while until we make sure of its commitment, and this matter pushed others to adhere to all health requirements and it was an important message, and indeed, our imams, muezzins and mosque workers were an example of adherence to and adherence to these health measures, and this is according to the testimony of the brothers in the Ministry of Health that mosques are the most committed place in the state to health requirements thanks to God.
Preparations for the month of Ramadan
We move to the Ministry of Awqaf’s preparations for the month of Ramadan and the Ministry’s readiness to receive the masses of worshipers. Will there be Ramadan centers this year?
٭ It must be pointed out that during the last month of Ramadan, which witnessed a comprehensive ban in the last half, we had an experience with the beginning of the pandemic, and the outlook and vision were clear that the epidemic was spreading, and therefore the decision was to stop Ramadan centers and close the mosques, so we thought of another method because Ramadan is a season of obedience. And worship and draw closer to God Almighty, and people will be on the verge of worship, and the ministry must be active with all its tools to serve the Muslim masses.
Therefore, we thought about how to communicate this spiritual atmosphere to all Muslims while they were at home during the blessed month of Ramadan last year, so we created an electronic application on smartphones and we called it “Ramadan in your home”, and because there were no mosques or revival of the rituals of prayers, tarawat and qiyaam, all prayer was in homes.
We are completely preparing for the coming month of Ramadan in a few days, and the mosques will be open for prayers, Tarawih, and qiyaam, and God willing, the pace of vaccination will accelerate the end of this epidemic and life will return to normal, and we are still continuing to communicate through our electronic means through the ministry’s website and communication sites to deliver the ministry’s message to Muslims And we will not stop that, God willing, during the blessed month of Ramadan.
What about Ramadan centers and the Great Mosque?
٭ According to the minister’s decision and taking into account the state of health in the country, there will be no Ramadan centers this year, and prayers in mosques will be satisfied according to the announced controls, and the problem of Ramadan centers is that they cause more congestion than normal.
Therefore, this year we will only be satisfied with praying Tarawih and standing in the mosques without Ramadan centers, and if things return to normal, we will return to Ramadan centers in the coming years, and of course what applies to mosques applies to the Grand Mosque.
Incentives for Imams and Muezzins
We move to the functions of the imam and the call to prayer. There are 230 Kuwaiti imams and muezzins who passed the exams recently, and there is a package of incentives provided by parliament members to support Kuwaiti imams and muezzins. Is there coordination between you and the representatives in this regard?
٭ Of course, when the representatives of the National Assembly made this proposal, not at the request of the Ministry of Endowments, but through the imams, muezzins, and preachers who communicated with them as citizens.
Originally the proposal submitted by the deputies, we had submitted it to the Civil Service Bureau more than 3 years ago by setting up a special cadre of imams. Today, we have a dearth of the Kuwaiti element in the imams, preachers and muezzins.
What percentage of citizens are appointed to the posts of Kuwaiti imams, preachers and muezzins?
٭ The percentage of citizens appointed in the positions of the imamate, call to prayer and rhetoric does not exceed 130-150 citizens, but those who work on the bonus item reach 1000 citizens, and we have 1600 mosques, meaning we need 1600 imams and 1600 muezzins, meaning if we want to set up those jobs, then we need 3,200 imams. And a Kuwaiti muezzin.
And if we put all of the approximately 1000 appointees on the bonus item, we would have a large deficit, and that is why we said that in order to attract Kuwaiti youth, there must be a financial incentive.
All graduates of the College of Sharia go to appointment at the Ministry of Education or a teacher at the Ministry of Endowments because the teacher’s cadre is a good cadre. Therefore, we asked the Civil Service Bureau to approve incentives so that the imam’s cadre becomes similar to or close to the teacher’s staff.
The imam bears responsibility and a great workload, so his association with the mosque over the course of the five daily prayers is sufficient and he cannot fulfill his social duties or his own needs, and he cannot move away from the mosque because the prayers are distributed throughout the day and he must be present.
That is why we submitted our proposal to the Service Bureau years ago, but because of the budgetary conditions, the cadre’s suspension, and the direction that the bureau took to suspend all cadres for reconsideration, then the salary unification project and the strategic alternative were presented, all of which were issues on the table at that time, and for this matter was stopped.
And now the project submitted by the brothers the representatives goes in the same line that we have proposed for years, and we hope that this category will be taken into consideration so that we can shape the functions of the Imamate, the call to prayer and the rhetoric in Kuwait.
But you previously provided a set of incentives, such as providing direct housing and a number of other privileges to attract Kuwaiti youth to the imamate and the call to prayer?
٭ Indeed, we have provided a set of incentives that fall under our hands, as we gave priority to the Kuwaiti imam and muezzin in endowment housing, and he is considered an incentive for them – even if not a strong incentive – and we said that the Kuwaiti who is appointed in the ministry in front of or muezzin has priority in housing a year after the appointment Whereas a non-Kuwaiti may wait 7-10 years to obtain housing, and this is an advantage that we have set, in addition to rewards for lessons and other incentives approved by the Bureau, but they are all insufficient to attract the Kuwaiti element to perform this job.
Confronting extremism and terrorism
We are talking about the ministry’s efforts to spread moderate thought and fight extremism and terrorism. Where did these efforts arrive, especially with what the security services recently monitored of a number of young people joining ISIS and coordinating between you in this regard?
٭ There are great efforts to confront extremist ideology undertaken by several government agencies, foremost of which is the Ministry of Endowments. The extremist during the past years, through the activities and programs that were carried out based on the strategy of the Supreme Committee to enhance moderation, which was approved by the Council of Ministers.
It must be emphasized here that the extremist ideology has not disappeared while it is present, but has disappeared and decreased to lower levels.
And with the testimony of all observers of the situation of Kuwait, there is a big difference between us and the countries of the surrounding region, and the images of violence related to religious extremism have been greatly reduced, although the manifestations of violence may be present in the behavior of young people that have reached the point of murder for the trivial reason.
4000 visitors to terrorist sites
From your point of view, what is the rate of this success in confronting extremism in Kuwait, and what success has been achieved in this regard?
٭ There is a study carried out by American agencies specialized in monitoring cases of extremism, indicating that the number of those who were visiting ISIS and extremism websites through websites from Kuwait specifically in 2014 was 4000 visitors, and in 2016 it decreased to 40 visitors and this is a clear indication of the extent of the decrease in the number of followers .
Here, it must be emphasized that saying that we do not have an extremist ideology or that it has ended in Kuwait is incorrect, because this thought will still exist in every time and place, but it is active and decaying as the Prophet, may God’s prayers and peace be upon him, said about it. This matter may intensify during a period of time. The periods are fading again.
Our role is for this thought to remain low in light, and the important thing is to immunize people against these ideas. Today, we were able to educate and immunize Kuwaiti youth through a number of efforts, including the “fortification” project in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, through the establishment of a number of discussion sessions with young people in Thousands of young people have benefited from these courses, seminars, workshops and seminars.
And also the immunization and awareness of teachers, as they are the element that confronts youth and touches them throughout the school day.
Coordination with the Interior Ministry to regulate traffic in front of the Grand Mosque during Ramadan.
During the meeting, Undersecretary Emadi revealed that the Cultural Affairs Sector will coordinate with the Ministry of Interior to regulate traffic to enter and exit the Grand Mosque, which enjoys privacy for Kuwaitis during the month of Ramadan.
Emadi stressed the ministry’s readiness to receive the month of Ramadan through an aggressive plan developed by the ministry’s leaders during separate meetings since the beginning of this month to stand ready for the blessed month in exceptional circumstances imposed by the emerging coronavirus pandemic.
He emphasized that the plan included sectors (mosques, cultural affairs, media, Qur’an affairs, and Islamic studies), and specified activities inside mosques, including Friday sermons, lessons, and thoughts, with a duration of no more than 5 minutes, taking into account all health requirements, while prohibiting i’tikaaf in mosques and not allowing the opening of prayer halls. For women due to health conditions.
He explained that the capacity of the mosque will be limited due to the application of health requirements, and to prevent the exploitation of the external squares of the mosque, but rather to be satisfied with the mosque’s campus and inside the mosque’s courtyards only.
He pointed to the establishment of a media studio in the mosque sector to record lectures and activities with the participation of all sector departments and to benefit from the archive of educational lectures and broadcast them through various media, as well as an electronic plan that includes preparing brochures about fasting, business virtues, zakat and other religious topics and publishing them through social media.
The media sector plan included preparing educational clips for one minute only and broadcasting them on state television and satellite channels, and implementing a comprehensive plan to highlight all activities and events during the holy month of Ramadan, including preparing programs, posts, designs, and infographics.
Commitment to the mosque charter and there are no imams arrested because of extremist ideas.
The representative of the Awqaf affirmed that there are no imams who were arrested because of extremist ideas, and there are some imams who were arrested for violating the mosque’s charter, and these numbers do not exceed the fingers of one hand, so annually in our mosques in Kuwait receive 50 thousand sermons Friday, and in the 50,000, no more than 10 preachers violate the mosque charter, which is nothing.
However, we did not tolerate this matter, as penalties were passed between warning, temporary or permanent suspension, and we do not have a permanent suspension, perhaps only one imam, and praise be to God, the level of awareness among the preachers is good, and there is a full commitment to the mosque’s charter, and he is the ruler in that.
In fact, one of the things that helped us in controlling mosques is the development of the mosque’s charter and we issued it in the year 2018 in a new fashion, and this charter was approved and approved by a ministerial decision after it was also approved by the fatwa sector, and we worked on it for a whole year between the revision and the increase and it came out in a beautiful way and it was circulated to all Imams and preachers abided by it.
Today, any imam, muezzin, or preacher who deviates from this charter is held accountable, and therefore everyone is committed to it, and the violations are numbered, and this is a natural thing, so there is no commitment to any law by 100%, even the Qur’an of the Lord of the servants, people do not abide by what was stated by 100%, There are those who disobey God Almighty and fall into taboos.