Published: 00:01 GMT Daylight Time - Saturday 09 April 2011
Lent Prayer - Saudi Arabia
Country/Region: Saudi Arabia, Middle East and North Africa
The Saudi king’s official title is “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques”, indicating the importance that the royal family attaches to Islam and the fact that Saudi Arabia is home to Islam’s two holiest sites, Mecca and Medina. It is one of the most conservative Sunni Muslim countries in the world, following an extreme and puritanical version of Islam, Wahhabism. It claims that the Quran is its constitution and that all its laws and regulations are promulgated in accordance with sharia (which prescribes the death sentence for converts from Islam).
|The Ka'ba in Mecca is Islam’s holiest place. Christians are not allowed to enter the city (Source: Wikimedia Commons)|
The government forbids all public places of worship other than mosques, and all forms of public religious activities other than those consistent with its own interpretation of Sunni Islam. Although the government’s claim that none of its citizens are Christians is untrue, the number of Saudi Christians is known only to the Lord, as most keep their faith secret because of the likelihood of severe persecution and possibly death if their conversion from Islam becomes known.
Conservative Sunni Muslim clerics reportedly pray for the death of Christians and issue fatwas approved by the government that justify violent acts against Christians. Virulently anti-Christian sentiments are also expressed in the country’s official media. The authorities issue textbooks and other educational material that teach hatred towards Christians and, in some cases, promote violence. Christians are vulnerable to the mutawaah, the dreaded religious police, who ruthlessly enforce the practice of Islam.
Millions of foreign workers from South Asia, Africa and the West are living in Saudi Arabia, many of whom are Christians. The government has stated that expatriate Christians are free to worship in private. However, the mutawaah still sometimes raid private worship services, as they did quite frequently before the government announcement. On 19 March 2010 four mutawaah officers and a police officer raided an Indian Christian prayer service that was held in a private home. They took photographs and a video, confiscated Bibles, and arrested the pastor and two worshippers, detaining them in the local police station for five days.
Pray that Saudi Arabia’s attempts to spread Wahhabi Islam will not succeed. Pray for Saudi Christians, who must keep their faith secret, that they will find ways to grow to maturity in Christ. Pray that the government will follow through on its repeated promises of reforms and restrain the activities of conservative clerics and the mutawaah. Pray also for expatriate Christian workers who are forced by their employers to convert to Islam or lose their jobs, and for the many who live and work in very difficult conditions.
This article is taken from
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