Imams meet authorities to set holy month objectives

Sermons after aser should last no more than eight minutes.

ABU DHABI // In its final preparations for Ramadan, the Islamic authority yesterday met imams from Abu Dhabi to standardise services during the holy month, and to prepare for tomorrow's imam convention in Ajman. "The authority is fully prepared to achieve objectives of this country's leadership in instilling a moderate, middle of the way [approach to Islam]," said Dr Hamdan Muslim al Mazrouei, the president of the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments.

The authority is also "prepared to tackle with wisdom and flexibility local societal issues through Friday sermons and organised classes at mosques", he said. Dr Mazrouei said imams should keep any preaching after aser prayer, the third prayer of the day, to a maximum of eight minutes so as not to cause hardship for fasting worshippers. Preaching after taraweeh prayers, the traditional Ramadan night prayers, should be limited to five minutes.

Sermons on Friday are limited to 20 minutes during the summer and 30 minutes during the winter months. Mosques will stay open through the night, starting from the aser prayer, to facilitate itikaf, which is the voluntary act of spending days and nights in worship and contemplation. The authority had completed its mosque beautification campaign, which included the upgrading of interior furnishings, Dr Mazrouei said.

The campaign is the latest in the authority's efforts to standardise mosques and religious services. Every week, the authority issues a sermon and expects imams to preach within the prescribed topic. Imams must also adhere to a standardised dress code in accordance with Sunni tradition. Dr Mazrouei asked that the mosques be kept up to high aesthetic and hygienic standards, and that the imams ensured that speakers, air conditioning and other equipment in the women's section were in good working order.

The authority has invited 30 ulama, or Islamic scholars, from 11 countries to deliver lectures throughout the country during Ramadan.

Published: August 25, 2008 04:00 AM