ARAFAT: Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh yesterday denounced the conspiracies hatched by enemies of Islam to undermine its strength and urged the Muslim Ummah to forge unity among its ranks to foil their designs. Delivering the haj sermon from Masjid-i-Nimra in Arafat, where over two million pilgrims have converged to perform the main ritual of haj, Waqoof-i-Arafat, the mufti particularly targeted the self-styled Islamic State (IS) group, also called Daesh.

Condemning the terrorists, the grand mufti cautioned Muslims against those who are misusing the name of Islam and indulging in sabotage and terrorist activities. “They have not spared even mosques and peaceful citizens. These elements have gone astray and are strengthening the hands of Islam’s enemies,” said Sheikh Aziz.

The grand mufti said that Deash was a misguided group, and that such terrorist organisations following extremism want to take Islam back into the Age of Ignorance. “Daesh is busy trying to destroy the Muslim Ummah in the name of Islam. Groups like Deash present incorrect interpretations of Islam.” They (terrorists of all kinds in Muslim garbs) are disfiguring the image of Islam and serving the cause of its enemies, he said, urging the Muslim Ummah to make concerted efforts in their individual and collective lives to spread the true message of Islam as a religion of peace, love and brotherhood.

Sheikh Aziz said that such groups were trying to misguide the Muslim youth towards the path of violence in their efforts to hurt Islam. In his sermon, Sheikh especially addressed the youth asking them not listen to those who are spreading anarchy. Instead, they should “direct their energies towards constructive pursuits and spread the true message of Islam,” he advised.

Sheikh stressed on the need for Muslims across the world to be pious and be obedient to God. God says that the true religion is only Islam, he said. It is God’s blessing that you were given Islam, he added. Islam has given humans the best code of life, he said. The grand mufti said Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) declared all types of injustices as forbidden (Haram) and added that no human being would take the life of another human being. He said injustice is destined to be eliminated sooner or later. “We should make our lives a beacon of light for people living around the world,” he added.

He urged rulers of the Islamic world to take care of the needs of their people and concentrate on efforts to promote unity among the ranks of the Ummah. He asked scholars to improve the way in which they spread the teachings of the religion. He called upon media to discharge its professional responsibilities in an honest manner, putting across what is right and justice.

Saying that there is a dire need for Muslims to create unity in their ranks as their enemies are getting united, he specially referred to plans to divide Masjid-i-Aqsa and said our efforts to liberate the Qibla-i-Awwal have weakened. The grand mufti asked Muslims in distress all over the world to demonstrate patience and perseverance, adding that soon their difficulties would be over. On this occasion, prayers were also offered for the well being and unity of Muslims.

Earlier, the pilgrims reached Maidan-i-Arafat to attend the annual haj sermon. The pilgrims, after the Waqoof-i-Arafat, were to spend the whole night under the open sky at Muzdalfa where they will offer their Maghrib and Isha prayers. Today (Thursday), the pilgrims will return back to Mina and perform Rami and sacrifice animals. They will put off their Ihrams after offering sacrifices, and shave their heads followed by Tawaaf-e-Ziara which could be performed within three days. This practice will formally complete the haj rituals. Over two million Muslims including 143,368 from Pakistan are performing haj this year.