Sultan Al Shamsi takes issue with uniform sermons

The lawyer asked Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for FNC Affairs, about the possibility of introducing sermons that are more topical and are localised.

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ABU DHABI // After practising law for seven years, Sultan Al Shamsi has had the upper hand when it comes to discussing bills.

He has made many contributions and proposed amendments to bills in the FNC. He has also questioned the Government.

In 2012, he expressed particular concern about the uniform Friday sermon, which is read in all mosques across the country.

Mr Al Shamsi asked the Minister of State for FNC Affairs, Dr Anwar Gargash, about introducing more topical content to the sermons.

“The sermon does not reflect what Muslims in the Muslim world go through,” he said at the time.

Mr Al Shamsi said that if such matters were included in the invocations it “would help to keep other Muslims’ feelings in mind and lessen the pain they carry”.

For six months before he raised the question, he said the sermon featured announcements that had little to do with faith.

“On February 10, there was an announcement on the dangers of plastic bags to the environment,” he said.

It would have been better for the sermon to cover the Emirates Red Crescent’s relief efforts that were due to start in Syria the following Sunday, Mr Al Shamsi said.

“Muslims could have been encouraged then to give to charity for this campaign, but that did not happen.”

He received a 17-page response from the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments, but still wished to summon the authority’s chairman, insisting that sermons needed to include more relevant issues.

Dr Hamdan Al Mazrouei, the chairman, visited a few weeks later.

Dr Al Mazrouei explained that the uniform sermon included issues that helped UAE policies, dealt with local, religious and international events, highlighted ministry and government departments’ concerns, and discussed timely topics.

But Mr Al Shamsi asked for more relevant topics, “like divorce and illnesses”, and security issues such as “respect for the leaders and deterring people from sedition”.

In April, he called for increased bonuses for imams who lead Quran memorisation lessons in mosques.

Apart from his role as deputy head of the legal and legislative affairs committee, Mr Al Shamsi is a member of the foreign affairs, planning and petrol, mineral resources and agriculture and fisheries committees.