In his controversial sermon on Friday that appeared to signal he spoke on the importance for Muslims to respect other faiths and highlighted several stories about interactions between Jewish people and the Prophet Mohammed.
Imam Sudais is a senior religious leader in Saudi Arabia. He is the imam of the Grand Mosque of Mecca and the president of the General Presidency for the affairs of the Two Holy Mosques.
In his sermon Imam Sudais spoke at length about the prophet’s early days in Mecca and his interactions with people of different faiths. He said the Isamic community needed to “correct and purify the Islamic faith from false and suspicious beliefs.
The imam’s remarks about peaceful coexistence with other faiths are not controversial in any way, but the timing of the sermon amid geopolitical changes in the region sparked online debate.
Users on social media furiously debated the imam’s speech. Many Israeli users saw the imam’s remarks as a sign of impending change in the Saudi position on Israel. Meanwhile, Israeli media reports suggested the sermon is a clear signal of an approaching normalization agreement with Israel.
However, that the sermon was well received in Israel made supporters of a free Palestine suspicious of its intent.
“A zionist tweets, loves and praises the Imam of Makkah,” commented one social media user. Even more sarcastic, another Twitter user posted a picture of Mecca’s Grand Imam with the caption: “I am a rabbi, not an imam.”
“Very sad to see Sudais go from making dua for the Palestinian cause & praise Sh Ahmed Yassin whom he refers to as Sheikh al-Mujahid, to now praise the tyrant rulers & their strengthening of ties with Israel” wrote Umar ibn Al Khattab.
Sheikh Muhammed al-Sagheer twitted “He is paving the way for normalisation and treason from the holy Meccan pulpit”
“Biggest hypocrite of Muslim world is Imam e Kaaba. Sudais Sermon suggests Saudi Arabia on its way to normalizing ties with Israel – The Jerusalem Post” twitted Altaf Qadir
Notably in 2017 Abdul Rahman al-Sudais claimed “Donald Trump, the US and Saudi Arabia are steering the world to peace”, in comments during a visit to New York that sparked an outcry on social media. Muslim Mirror