Iraq News

Moderate sermons reign once again over Mosul mosques

By Alaa Hussain in Baghdad

Iraqi men pray outside a mosque in Mosul on January 27th. Eastern Mosul is now free of radical preachers following the defeat of the 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant'. [Martyn Aim/AFP]

Iraqi men pray outside a mosque in Mosul on January 27th. Eastern Mosul is now free of radical preachers following the defeat of the 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant'. [Martyn Aim/AFP]

Now that the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) has been pushed out of most of Mosul, a moderate message is returning to the city's mosques.

At Hajj Dhiyab al-Iraqi Mosque in eastern Mosul's al-Muharibeen neighbourhood, Sheikh Salih Hamoudi delivered the sermon during the first Friday prayers since ISIL was driven from the area.

He delivered a moderate sermon that was a far cry from the messages of incitement propagated by extremist preachers, describing the difficult past two years in Mosul as "foam" that washes away -- a metaphor found in the Qur'an.

Sheikh Hamoudi's sermon served as a testimony to the Islamic values of tolerance, co-existence and compassion, Ninawa provincial council services committee member Hosam Eddin al-Abbar told Diyaruna.

Al-Abbar called on all preachers in the province to deliver constructive sermons that offer a message of unity and urge everyone to work towards reconstructing their city and restoring security and stability.

Mosul is an ancient city with a history dating back more than 5,000 years, and cannot be changed by the deviant ideology introduced by ISIL, Ninawa deputy governor Hasan al-Allaf told Diyaruna.

"The Friday prayers sermon with its message of moderation and tolerance is directed to the entire Muslim nation," he said.

It makes it clear that "ISIL’s religion is not Islam, but something else that is extremist and barbaric, rather than being a religion of compassion, justice and progress", he said.

A new plan for managing mosques

Ninawa's Sunni authority has revealed a new plan to oversee the province's mosques in the post-ISIL era, which will ensure they are used to promote moderation and denounce extremism and bigotry.

"The plan devised by the Sunni Endowment Diwan and discussed with the local authority in Ninawa requires all mosques to be under the supervision of the endowment," said Abu Bakr Kanaan, head of the Sunni Endowment in Ninawa.

Those that do not adhere to this guidance will be held accountable, he told Diyaruna, noting that going forward, all preachers, servants or Qur'anic readers in the mosques will be officially appointed by Ninawa's religious guidance office.

Only officially designated preachers will be able to deliver sermons, Kanaan said, adding that the Sunni Endowment will ban any "religious figure" who used to preach under the control of ISIL from returning to the city.

The office of religious endowment has focused on several very important topics in the sermons, he said, such as to stand together and encourage people to rebuild their neighbourhoods and areas and to work with the relevant authorities on whatever is needed.

"The office of religious endowment in Ninawa will play a decisive role in managing the mosques and banning any imam or preacher that does not have official documentation, so as to avoid confusion," he said.

ISIL has tarnished the image of Islam and of the city's mosques, he said, which once served as beacons of enlightenment that guided people along the righteous path, and will do so again now that ISIL has been banished.

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