In session held under Vice Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques:

Cabinet assigns King Abdullah City for Science & Technology to consider draft project on space exploration

Sheikh Sudais dissociates Islam from acts of violence, terrorism

Egypt’s Mufti: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ dialogue initiative is optimal reply to anyone accusing Islam of terrorism

Vice Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud chaired the Cabinet session held at Al-Salam Palace.

At the outset of the session, the Vice Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques briefed the Cabinet on the meetings and consultations the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz held with a number of world leaders on bilateral relations as well as the developments at Arab, regional and international arenas.

Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz briefed the Cabinet on the meeting the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa held in Casablanca during which they discussed the overall developments at Gulf, Arab, Islamic and international arenas as well as the position of the two countries on such developments in addition to ways of enhancing cooperation between the two countries.

In a statement to Saudi Press Agency (SPA) following the session, the Minister of Health and Acting Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabiah said that the Cabinet reviewed a number of issues on domestic affairs including the preparations contained in the plan of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet's Mosque during the month of Ramadan to serve Umrah performers.

Dr. Al-Rabiah also said that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Crown Prince have directed to redouble efforts to provide all services and facilities to pilgrims.

'The Cabinet highlighted the advancement of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from the fourteenth rank to the eighth rank in the field of attracting foreign direct investment according to the Report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in 2010 despite the global crisis and its implications in 2009,' Dr. Al-Rabiah said.

Acting Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabiah said that the Cabinet reviewed a number of issues on its agenda and issued the following decisions:

The Cabinet approved the final account of the Human Resources Development Fund for the fiscal year 1428/1429H.

The Cabinet approved the final account of the Saudi Railways Organization for the fiscal year 1428/1429H.

The Cabinet approved the assignment of overseeing the health training centers and institutes to the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties in addition to the assignment of issuing permits and approvals necessary for the these centers and institutes to conduct the activity, without prejudice to the powers of the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation laid down in its regulation.

The Cabinet authorized the President of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology - or his deputy - to discuss and sign with the Brazilian side a draft agreement in the field of exploration and peaceful uses of outer space between the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the government of the Federative Republic of Brazil.

The Cabinet approved a number of appointments as follows:

1- Dr. Saad bin Saud bin Majed Al Fahid is appointed to the position of Education Adviser (Rank 15) at the Ministry of Education.

2- Dr. Abdulaziz bin Saad bin Abdulaziz Al-Howaimel is appointed to the position of Director General of Administrative and Financial Affairs (Rank 14) at the Ministry of Interior.

3- Nasser bin Abdullah bin Ibrahim Al-Hamidi is appointed to the position of Assistant Undersecretary for Female Student Affairs and Examinations (Rank 14) at the Ministry of Education.

4- Ali bin Saleh bin Ali Al-Ghamdi is appointed to the position of Director General of Legal Affairs (Rank 14) at the General Auditing Bureau.

Crown Prince Sultan has issued directives to treat Iraqi girl Hiba Dhafer Hussein at Sultan City for Humanitarian Services in Riyadh.

In the last nine years, the girl who suffers from amnesia and stiffness of the lower limbs has undergone several operations in Baghdad.

The girl has arrived in Riyadh and examined by doctors who developed a therapeutic and rehabilitative plan, said Executive President of Sultan City for Humanitarian Services Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Shamekh.

The girls mother expressed her thanks and appreciation to Crown Prince Sultan for his humanitarian gesture and prayed to Allah to protect him for the service of the Muslims and the Ummah.

Meanwhile, the chief cleric and Imam of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, Sheikh Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais met at the Islamic Cultural Centre with the directors and heads of Islamic centers and associations in Britain.

Following the meeting, the Director of the Islamic Cultural Centre, Dr. Ahmed Al-Dubayan told reporters that the meeting covered the latest developments at the Muslim community arena in the United Kingdom, and its current issues and the relationship between Muslims and others as well.

Dr. Al-Dubayan described the meeting as productive and helpful, pointing out that everyone benefited from the guidance of his eminence Sheikh Dr. Al-Sudais.

Sheikh Sudais met Saudi students on scholarships in the city of Cardiff in Wales.

He urged them to be best representatives of their religion and country and to show the bright image of Islam and Muslims.

Sheikh Al-Sudais also visited Al-Manar Mosque in Cardiff and the Islamic Centre in South Wales.

Earlier, Sheikh Al-Sudais visited Islamic charity in Wheaton and met with imams and heads of Islamic centers in the region.

In his speech, he focused on coexistence, respect for the regulations of the country, and preservation of its security.

On the other hand, some of the most noted scholars in the Islamic world have added their voices of support this week to those of senior sheikhs in the Kingdom for King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.

Earlier this month the Secretary General of the Board of Senior Ulema in Saudi Arabia spoke of Kaust as a “beacon of science and welfare for the entire world”, following another member of the board, Sheikh Abdullah Suleiman Al-Mane’e, who had earlier described the university as a step toward “the Islamic World recovering its leading role in science”.

In the last few days the head of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, Yousef Al-Qaradawi, put forward his views, and now the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Ali Jum’ah, has given his backing.

Speaking to Okaz newspaper in Cairo, Grand Mufti Juma’h said that King Abdullah’s determination to promote scientific development would “give a good impression of the Muslim Ummah, which is concerned to see scientific development” while also “protecting the fixed principles of religion”.

Scholars from both the Kingdom and abroad have been keen to make known their stances following controversy in the media concerning coeducation at KAUST, and the Grand Mufti is of firm conviction on the subject.

“There is no harm in co-education between male and female students within Shariah rules and within a learning environment. This is permissible according to Shariah,” Al-Jum’ah told Okaz. “The university will unquestionably take into consideration the morals and rules of Shariah Law because the Kingdom is earnest in this area,” he said.

“In early Islamic practices and thereafter, the mere presence of men and women in the same place was not forbidden (haraam) in itself,” he continued.

“It is forbidden in a social setting if there are violations of the Shariah, such as women revealing parts that ought not to be seen according to Shariah, or if gatherings are conducted to practice a vice (munkar), or if there is illicit seclusion (khulwa).

These conditions, however, do not apply to places of learning where the basic intention is to seek knowledge, following the saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him): ‘Seeking knowledge is an obligation for every Muslim.’”

When asked to cite further from the Prophet’s Sunnah, Jum’ah gave four instances from the Prophet’s time and the explanations of religious scholars like Al-Imam Al-Bukhari and Al-Qurtubi, such as permitting a wife to serve her husband and his associates.

“Explaining that Hadith from Al-Imam Al-Bukhari, Ibn Al-Battal said: ‘Separation of women from men in terms of place or in direct dealings is not obligatory for the women of the believers, but only applies to the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him),’” Al-Jum’ah said.

“It is also permissible for a man to speak to an unrelated woman to ask her about issues if they are of public benefit,” he said.

“The Muslim woman used to join men in public social life while abiding by Shariah Law in dress and keeping to Islamic rules and morals. Some females among the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to enjoin virtue and prevent vice, such as Samra Bint Nuhaik, who wore thick clothes and a veil, and used to hold a whip, teach people morals, and promote virtue and prevent vice.”

“As to men receiving Shariah knowledge from women and from a knowledgeable woman, an example is found in the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) who used to spread religious knowledge and propagate the religion. Men and women mixing to seek knowledge while abiding by Islamic Shariah morals is permissible according to Shariah.”

“Nobody can deny the permissibility of coeducation to seek knowledge,” Al-Jum’ah concluded. “It is based on evidence from the Prophet’s Sunnah and Islamic history, and it is wrong to let inherited customs and traditions from a particular time and place govern religion and the Shariah. On the contrary, the Shariah should supersede them, and not the other way round.”

The Grand Mufti was effusive in his praise for King Abdullah’s initiatives, describing them as “courageous” and “steadfast and strong” in their support for “dialogue and interaction with others”.

“It follows the standpoint of Islam’s call for cooperation with others and not isolating or cocooning ourselves,” he said.

“Civilizations do not clash as some mistakenly claim, instead they cooperate and help one another for the wellbeing and benefit of all mankind. For this reason, everyone should follow the morals and ethics of dialogue, and no rational person would speak of the clash of civilizations since dialogue is the correct path. It should therefore be based on a humanitarian method.”

“Throughout the ages there has been an onslaught by the aggressors against Almighty Allah, His messengers and prophets, His revealed books and the Islamic Shariah since its emergence to this day,” Al-Jum’ah continued.

The reason for the aggression could be due to malice, or for political interest or the desire to hold to this worldly life that has blinded them from the truth and the Hereafter.”

“The latent goal of the continued insults against the Prophet (peace be upon him) and Islam is to keep Muslims preoccupied and distracted from their duty that Allah Almighty has delegated to them,” Al-Jum’ah said. “It is to keep them occupied with marginal battles and lead the Muslim Ummah from moderation to some kind of overstepping of all bounds and away from the call to Almighty Allah, which brings happiness in this world and the Hereafter, as well as the approach of the Prophet (pbuh) which he left behind for us to follow.”

“The best way for Muslims to defend their religion and the Prophet (peace be upon him) is to adhere to the way of Almighty Allah and adhere to His Book and the approach of the Prophet (pbuh) in all events, ordeals and crises. They should also acquaint people with Islam in a correct and continuous fashion so that all just people and seekers of truth may hear,” the Grand Mufti said.